As the second Cardiff International Film Festival draws to a close, Shaunna Harper talks to award winners Lisa Brenner and Deborah Frances-White about their experiences at the festival.
The second Cardiff International Film Festival awards ceremony was held at the historical Exchange Hotel in Cardiff Bay last night. Including Marc Zicree (link to previous article), the panel of judges crowned winners from ten categories and also awarded the lifetime achievement award to Dame Sian Phillips and named Indian director and writer Anurag Kashyap as the first recipient of a Golden Dragon award for excellence in cinema and the arts.
One of the ten winning films, Say My Name, which was named as Best Welsh Feature Film, starred American actress and director Lisa Brenner and was written by stand-up comedian and screenwriter Deborah Frances-White.
Shaunna Harper: Welcome to Wales both of you and congratulations on your win. Tell us a little about Say My Name.
Lisa Brenner: I’m the producer and lead actress; it is a romantic comedy set off a fictional coast in Wales. It’s a screwball comedy.
Deborah Frances-White: It’s about a one-night stand that goes horribly wrong. The woman is the beating heart of the story – she can get them into trouble, she can get them out of trouble. And they certainly get into a lot of trouble. And it was all shot in Cardiff and Porthcawl.
Lisa Brenner: We chose Cardiff because for producing we got a fantastic tax credit, and also because the crews in Cardiff are fantastic. I didn’t have to worry about infrastructure, we shot here at a time of the year where a lot of the shows that are made here were on hiatus, so we got top-notch crews every day. They were so efficient.
So what were your impressions of the festival?
Lisa Brenner: I didn’t have many expectations as this is only the second festival – we just did Liverpool last weekend. We just love the reception we had, and this lovely dinner. So far it’s been a lovely welcome.
Deborah Frances-White: What I was excited about was that the films were free for local people. Because a lot of festivals are prohibitively expensive and you think, “Well, I don’t know if I’ll like it, should I take my money to the cineplex?” What’s great is these films are free. It’s encouraging the love of film. That’s what wonderful about it. Yesterday, the room was full. People were asking questions, they queued up to meet us – it couldn’t have been a better reception.
What else can Wales do to promote itself as a location to the US film industry?
Lisa Brenner: Well, the Cardiff International Film Festival is huge. It’s such a huge step, it definitely is bringing a lot of attention to the area.
Deborah Frances-White: A lot of smarts, a lot of glamour. It feels like this is a celebration of films that are made here. It’s not just the amazing locations and finding the spaces, financial incentives, brilliant actors. Everyone that worked with us was amazing. Now in fact we’re creating a very ‘Hollywood’ scene, where there are awards and festivals, where there’s the other accoutrements we associate with Cannes and other big festivals, it’s absolutely right on the money.
The full list of winners at the Cardiff International Film Festival was:
WELSH FEATURE FILM
Say My Name
Dreaming in Voices – Francois Verster (Lesotho)
Susu – Yixi Sun (China)
Super Glued Up – Robert Gregor Greiner
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH WALES – SHORT FILM
Maggie’s Farm – Patrik Krivanek, Alexandros Mattei
Shipwrecked – Sabrina Marengo (UK)
Girl and A Scar – David Cave (UK)
FEATURE FILM – ENGLISH LANGUAGE
Boogie Man – Andy Morahan (UK)
FEATURE FILM – FOREIGN LANGUAGE
Modern Love – Takuya Fukushima (Japan)
SHORT FILM – ENGLISH LANGUAGE
Beautified – Emily Haigh (UK)
SHORT FILM – FOREIGN LANGUAGE
Are You Volleyball?! – Mohammad Bakhshi (Iran)
For more information on attending the Cardiff International Film Festival, please visit their website www.theciff.co.uk