2 October 2018

Saturday night's annual screening of new films by the Abingdon Film Unit was the fifteenth since the Unit was formed in 2003. It came at the end of quite a year for the AFU. February saw Colin O'Toole and Jonas Mortensen – two of the AFU's tutors – win a BAFTA for their film Cowboy Dave. 

The year began with a large intake of new students, so that at one stage there were no fewer than 19 new films in production. Happily for the large audience assembled in the Amey Theatre, only 11 were completed in time for the screening. Of these, documentaries outnumbered animation and fiction, though the programme did include examples of all three, and the range of subject matter explored was as wide as ever. 

It included inspiring stories of explorer Steve Brooks (by Max Kidd-May and James McRae), and Winning Moves games company MD, Tom Liddell (by Oliver Liddell); an elegiac account of the closure of Abingdon’s rail service (by Tristan Mann Powter); portraits of local producer Rupert Griffin (by Freddie Nicholson) and former premiership footballer Lee Power (by Flynn Walker); poetic evocations of lives lived in the shadow of deafness (by Joe Bradley) and Social Anxiety Disorder (by Freddie Marshall); a madcap fiction about a fight for the last slice of pizza (by Liam Deegan and Fraser Scott); some delightfully quirky encounters with travellers on the Abingdon to Oxford bus (by David Bicarregui); the fight to save London’s Southbank skate park (by David Merritt, Jude Green and Patrick Heath) and the eagerly awaited sequel to Jake Drew’s first AFU film about refuse bins. There was certainly something to engage everyone. 

At the end of a memorable evening, Jeremy Taylor congratulated the students whose work had been exhibited, and thanked the AFU tutors Matt Copson, Colin O'Toole and Duncan Pickstock whose guidance plays such an important part in enabling the students to achieve their aims. Headmaster Michael Windsor then presented Freddie Marshall, Joe Bradley and David Bicarregui with awards that honour the memory of the AFU's co-founder Michael Grigsby. While all of the films screened were excellent, the films by Freddie, Joe and David – SAD, An Outsider and In Transit – earned particular praise for their outstanding creative flair and technical accomplishment.

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