Students win big at Brighton Rocks International Film Festival

13 July, 2023

Everyone at Screen and Film School Brighton were delighted to see so many of our students’ films selected for screening at Brighton Rocks International Film Festival 2023.

Brighton Rocks International Film Festival (BRIFF) is a young festival with big ambitions: to give maximum support to emerging filmmakers and to become one of the UK’s premier forums for independent and experimental film. During its highly anticipated sixth annual outing, which took place from the 20th to the 25th of June, BRIFF curated a remarkable selection of hundreds of independent films which were showcased across four central venues in Brighton: Fabrica, Alphabet, The Actors, and Dukes at Komedia Picturehouse.

Among these films were 30 submissions from our students, and we’re proud to announce that five of these films won awards in their respective categories at the festival finale.

Tim Pope

The lively event took place at Duke’s at Komedia Cinema, with awards presented by director Tim Pope (who has made music videos for The Cure, Queen and many more), actor Hugh Ross (Nightbreed, Patriot Games, Outlander), BRIFF director Dr James Rowlins and Screen and Film School Brighton module leader Neil Williams.

Final year BA (Hons) Filmmaking student and director Ella Riley took away the Screen and Film School sponsored Young Ace Filmmaker Award, which is aimed at filmmakers aged under 25 working in the Brighton area, whose work shows significant promise. Her film, Lavander, follows the character of Jackie, a woman forced into conforming to the subservient role of wives of the era, as a watershed moment of integrity, identity, and love give her her first opportunity at happiness.

Lavender - a Graduate Film (Screen and Film School)

One of the judges, who is a professor at University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles, wrote:

“The lead actress was superb, which speaks to Ella Riley’s obvious talent. I love the basic idea of seeing how people responded to the change in law in 1967 (legalising same-sex relationships) and how it started to close the door on oppression and to open up new possibilities for people. And it looked beautiful and EXPENSIVE, like there was some real money behind it.”

A huge congratulations for an incredible film and a much-deserved award win to Ella, and of course, all our other students and graduates for their winning films:

Self Portrait directed by Harvey Cohen: Best Student Film

Synopsis: A painter struggles to paint a true-to-life self-portrait after she is offered a gallery exhibition.

Tim Pope with a student receiving an award.

My Friend Sven directed by Maya Segal: Best Documentary

Synopsis: When Becca has to go through grief she finds hope and relief though her friendship with her wild pet seagull.

Dissonance directed by Caitlyn Parr: Best Performance

Synopsis: Navigating the challenges of divorce, a couple must come together to attend their daughters’ school talent show.

Safe Space directed by Issy Songer: Best Comedy

Synopsis: Through the perspective of a girl’s school bathroom mirror we see a variety of dramas; from gossips and embarrassing moments, to the unseen struggles of a group of young girls.

BRIFF Director Dr James Rowlins was particularly impressed with our student and graduate films, stating:

“It was phenomenal to see the quality and quantity of film submitted to this year’s Brighton Rocks Film Festival, even if this presented severe challenges for our panel of judges! This was also by far the strongest batch of films by Screen and Film School Brighton students and to win 3 competition categories (comedy, documentary and student film) is quite extraordinary. This speaks of the immense talent and dedication in the ranks. I should add that screenings including Screen and Film School Brighton films were definitely among the festival’s most lively and exciting!

The Screen and Film School / Brighton Rocks Young Ace Filmmaker Award was the hardest category to call, with Common Ground and Self-Portrait in Blue Overalls very worthy contenders. But it was rightly awarded to Ella Riley, whose vision, direction and passion shines through in her film Lavender. We are very excited to see what she does next.”



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