'I'm so proud': Romford Film Festival launches fifth annual event

Cllr Christine Vickery and husband Tom (l) on the red carpet with festival director Spencer Hawken (l)

Cllr Christine Vickery and husband Tom (l) on the red carpet with festival director Spencer Hawken (l) - Credit: Sally Patterson

A Romford festival of independent films has kicked off its annual event for the fifth year running. 

The Romford Film Festival celebrated its launch on the evening of June 24 and is set to run until June 28, showcasing over 200 films. 

The red-carpet event, held in The Mercury Shopping Centre, included a viewing of locally-made documentary Romboys: 30 Years of RAD, which follows the reignition of Romford’s skate park by its original proprietors and a team of street artists. 

premiere cinemas

Premiere Cinemas in The Mercury Shopping Centre is hosting its annual film festival - Credit: Sally Patterson

Speaking at the launch event, festival director Spencer Hawken told this paper he was pleased to welcome people he hadn’t seen in a long time. 

He said: “For me, the social element is so important. 

“Getting to meet people, speak to film-makers, see them make those connections.” 

Spencer explained film-makers who had met at last year’s event had gone on to make films together. 

“We’ve got people who are brand new, and people who have been making films for years, so it’s a nice, broad spectrum - it's nice connecting them up.” 

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The youngest film-maker at the festival is 17-year-old Adam Daniels, who has entered psychological thriller Stayover. 

Adam Daniels

Adam Daniels is the film festival's youngest film-maker - Credit: Sally Patterson

He said: “It’s my eighth or ninth film - I started filming on my phone, and just got hooked and started to focus more on it. 

“It just stepped up and up, and now I’m here.” 

Over the past three years the festival has partnered with the Eurasian Film Festival, showcasing feature and short films made in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, as well asnat Russian language films. 

a plaque for Kyrgyz writer Kazat Akmatov 

Mayor of Havering Cllr John Mylod unveiled a plaque for Kyrgyz writer Kazat Akmatov - Credit: Sally Patterson

Enjoying the evening with husband Tom, Havering deputy mayor Cllr Christine Vickery (Havering Park, Conservative) said: “It’s absolutely wonderful to return to the festival. 

“It goes from strength to strength. 

“Spencer and Natalie [festival co-founder] really pull out all the stops, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for the people involved in the films to get together. 

“I’m so proud of this event, for residents from within Havering and outside, to come to.” 

Cllr Jason Frost (Mawneys, Conservative) added: “I think it’s a great thing we have here. 

“It’s often been said in this part of London we’re lacking some of the more glamorous ventures, so this is a wonderful testament that if we really try, we can create our own wonderful enterprise like this.” 

Cllr Christine Vickery (l), Julie Frost, mayor of Havering Cllr John Mylod and Cllr Jason Frost (r) joined the event

Cllr Christine Vickery (l), Julie Frost, mayor of Havering Cllr John Mylod and Cllr Jason Frost (r) joined the event - Credit: Sally Patterson

His wife Julie Frost, director of Romford BID, said it was great to be back for the second year running. 

She added: “It’s great to see something happening post-Covid.” 

The full programme can be found on the Romford Film Festival website.