A rediscovered Laurel and Hardy film and The Lost Films of the Kursaal top the bill at the 2017 Southend Film Festival which takes place May 25 to 29…
“I am especially pleased to be bringing more ‘lost’ film to your attention! Following our presentation of the Peter Sellers films in 2015, our Opening Gala will showcase previously ‘lost’ footage of our town’s famous Kursaal amusement park. Filmed in the 1940s to 1960s by owner Jay Morehouse, this footage has never been shown publicly, and was long thought lost. Well, we have it, and, as a local lad who well remembers the Kursaal in its heyday, I am particularly delighted to be presenting this to you. And, if you can’t get a ticket for the Opening Gala, we’ll be repeating the show on Monday 29th May,” said Paul Cotgrove, Festival Director.
In 1952, Laurel and Hardy performed in Southend and stayed at the Park Inn Palace hotel – the main venue for the Southend Film Festival – so it is a very special ‘homecoming’ for The Battle of the Century (1927) to be screened there. For decades, the second reel of the film had been thought lost, but it was rediscovered two years ago and has only been seen in public once before.
In 2006, builders renovating a house in Southend-on-Sea discovered a collection of 16mm film reels shot by the late Jay Morehouse, owner of the iconic, Kursaal Amusement Park. For over twenty years he has filmed the crowds of day-trippers and holidaymakers having fun in the Essex resort, creating an astonishing record of people at play from the 1940s to the Swinging Sixties. Now restored and digitised, these films have their world premiere as the Gala Opening Night of the Festival.
“Alongside these exciting shows we are taking our customary look at new British films, as a reminder that our indigenous film industry can produce some outstanding works. This year, these include the outstanding features My Feral Heart, Common People and BitterSuite, some wonderful documentaries and our Closing Gala, the amazing fantasy comedy AmStarDam. And you’ll find many of the features are supported by short films, most of which, I am delighted to say, are from the UK, emphasising just how much talent there is in our own industry,” adds Cotgrove.
One of the major independent events in UK cinema, the Southend Film Festival will screen another fifty films and welcome directors and actors from across the globe to the 9th annual event.
The Southend Film Festival takes place between May 25 and May 29.