Romford Film Festival: Event seeks BAFTA accreditation in sixth year as Gavin and Stacey's Larry Lamb joins guest list

Romford Film Festival

The volunteer Romford Film Festival team with founders Spencer Hawken and Natalie Bays pictured bottom left in black - Credit: Romford Film Festival

The Romford Film Festival is returning for its sixth year with a star-studded guest list including EastEnders and Gavin and Stacey actor Larry Lamb.

It comes as the event works towards securing British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) accreditation in a bid to attract bigger films and audiences to Romford.  

Founded by Harold Wood-born Spencer Hawken and Natalie Bays, the independent festival will spring into action screening films from every genre on May 19 until the final night of May 25.  

Over the course of the festival 183 films will be shown, and at 9.45pm on the opening evening, Oscar-qualifying German comedy Sweet Disaster will play.  

Spencer, who is centre manager of The Mercury Shopping Centre and a consultant for Netflix, said the pair formed the event in a bid to “make an honest festival”.  

It comes after the 49-year-old found that even when he paid an £100 fee, his own submissions sent to other festivals were sometimes left unwatched.

Throughout the week, 81 filmmakers from across the world will attend the festival. 

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This includes creatives from Central Asia as the event welcomes The Eurasian Creative Guild, including films from Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. 

Spencer said: “People in Romford don’t know there’s a Romford Film Festival, but in Rome they do. 

“When you’ve got people from other countries that want to have their film shown at your festival, you know it’s time to get accreditation.” 

On Sunday night (May 22), a film called Pretty Boy - which Spencer said will be released through Paramount Pictures at the end of the year - will be screened at 9.30pm. 

Sunday also marks a first for the event, as the Romford Horror Festival will take over and only the most terrifying creations will be screened. 

“Romford is a town that is often forgotten when it comes to culture and especially cinematic culture," Spencer added.  

“This is a great opportunity to come down and see films you might not know of, but maybe next year, you’ll be able to watch them on Netflix, Amazon or even in the cinema."

On Monday night (May 23), Larry Lamb will be attending and “an army of Gavin and Stacey fans” have already booked their tickets, Spencer revealed.   

The finale night (May 25) will feature an awards ceremony to honour some of the best films shown, plus film-themed cocktails will be on offer at the Premiere Cinemas bar. 

To book tickets, visit www.romfordfilmfestival.com

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