Festivals / Staff Review / Stratford East Picturehouse

The Sci-Fi London Film Festival at Stratford Picturehouse

Dalek Stratford Picturehouse

Marketing manager Samantha Buttigieg writes about the Sci-Fi London Film Festival. 

Hello all! My name’s Samantha, and I’m the new Marketing Manager at the Stratford, East London branch of the best independent cinemas in the land. It’s a great location, so if you haven’t already paid us a visit, don’t be afraid to come in for a chat. We’re as passionate about the arts as you are, and it’s true what they say – we are (ever so slightly) obsessed with cinema!

In this, my very first blog post, I want to tell you about Sci-Fi-London, the exciting festival of science-fiction, fantasy and fantastic film from around the world, which took up residence at Stratford Picturehouse from 30 April to 6 May.

Sci-Fi-London first moved here last year, and they’ve decided to make themselves at home, much to our delight. It’s bags of fun, and when I first found out it was coming here, I was seriously ecstatic. It’s a festival I’ve actively followed through the years – in fact I’m the Sci-Fi-London anime reviewer. Several events were also taking place at our neighbour venue, Stratford Circus, as well at the BFI, but Stratford Picturehouse was the festival’s main base.

The festival had something for everyone, with workshops, shorts and feature-length films, Q&As, all-nighters, and the infamous 48-hour filmmaking challenge, which gave filmmakers a weekend to put together a five-minute masterpiece. This year an overwhelming 180 teams successfully completed the challenge; the winners were announced during the festival, and you can watch all of the shortlisted movies on the Sci-Fi-London webpage.

sci fi london film festival The fun was kick-started by the Sci-Fi-London costume parade. Hundreds of people came, some of whom dared to don their Sunday (cosplay) best, putting together their finest and most creative alter egos, while others simply came to see the spectacular array. The costumes spanned every imaginable inch of the sci-fi spectrum, and with the 50th anniversary of Dr Who upon us, there were of course plenty of Doctors and daleks along the way. Check out our photos of the event on Facebook – and if you see yourself in there somewhere, be sure to tag yourself!

Another huge highlight was the festival’s opening night film, a preview of Neil Jordan’s highly anticipated BYZANTIUM. This is Jordan’s (INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE) return to the vampire genre with a story about two mysterious women who take refuge in a run-down coastal resort. The film goes on general release on 31 May, so if you didn’t make it to the premiere, be sure not to miss it next time – it will have you on the edge of your seat (just try not to fall off) with its remoulding of the vampire concept.

To end the festive fun, the closing film was the world premiere of DARK BY NOON, a time-travelling thriller set in an alternative 1993, when world history has taken a different course.

But my favourite part of the festival has to be its all-nighters. These late-night movie marathons are most definitely the linchpin of the festival, and have been so for the past twelve years; the fact that they’ve been running for over a decade just goes to prove the point! This year there were three parallel all-nighters to choose from, all starting late on Saturday 4 May and running until 7.00am on Sunday. The fun started early in our cosy bar, and as they headed off to catch some zzzz’s on Sunday morning, the happy insomniacs all claimed goody bags packed full of treats.

The people behind Sci-Fi-London, including the volunteers, are a very lovely bunch – and so were all of you who came. We had a brilliant time, and we can’t wait for our next dose of festival fun.


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