3 October 2019

The AFU’s annual screening – the 16th of its kind – took place in the Amey Theatre on Saturday night at the end of the School’s Open Day. As ever, it provided an opportunity to celebrate the creativity and commitment of Abingdon’s filmmakers, but on this occasion it also provided a chance to welcome representatives of the Abingdon Film Academy – a group of students from Larkmead and Fitzharrys – with whom AFU tutors and members have had the pleasure of collaborating over the last 12 months, as part of Abingdon’s ever-widening range of partnership programmes. The films the Academy students have been working on will be premiered later this year at another screening, alongside some AFU films.

The nine films on offer on Saturday provided a snapshot of issues that have preoccupied AFU filmmakers in 2019. There were some common threads – the erosion of community and the cost of housing in this part of the world, for example – alongside universals such as the impact of change, loss and the long shadow of history. The films also highlighted the students’ determination to look both near and far for their subjects. The large and appreciative audience was able to peer into a dysfunctional household on Park Road, track along Ock Street in search of the now defunct Morlands Brewery before taking to Oxfordshire’s waterways, vaulting the oceans to visit Australia and China before finally coming to rest in a Siberian Gulag. The distance travelled was both breathtaking and reassuring, especially at a time when some horizons seem to be narrowing.

At the end of the evening, the Head thanked and congratulated all the filmmakers, as well as those who’d contributed to their making, whether as actors, interviewees or tutors. Special mention was made of actors Matteo Bignone, Jim Allen, Hamish and Archie Turnbull, all of whom showed themselves very adept at the difficult art of screen acting. The Spirit of Grigsby trophy was awarded to Kit Matthews for his film, Children of the Revolution, while the Michael Grigsby Young Filmmaker of the Year Award went to Tristan Mann Powter for A Bitter End, the third of his trio of films about subjects in the town of Abingdon.  All nine of the 2019 AFU films will shortly be available to view online at the AFU’s dedicated Vimeo site.

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