The Portobello Film Festival started in 1996 and it has grown and expanded to become the UK's biggest independent film festival, going from 1,000 visitors back then to over 15,000 last year. Every film submitted is screened, entry is free to all events and there has never been a fixed venue: each year, the organisers book themselves into places ranging from church halls to night clubs to parks, tents, cafes and bars. Starting from tomorrow and for the following three weeks, west London will be overrun with film, film-making and festival doings - the programme is so packed and varied, it's hard to know where to start...
Highlights include the Halloween Short Film Festival team hosting an evening of short music documentaries, sharing the evening with the Portobello Film Festival Animation night on Thursday 10 August, there are days dedicated to new Irish cinema, new Brazilian cinema, short films from Spain, the International Environmental Film Festival, a slam poetry night with big cash prizes and... oh, lots and lots. It's a packed programme and if you can't see everything, see anything - it's all good.
If you get a little film-weary (and with over 500 films counted in the programme, you'd be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed) there are non-moving images and live performances to see: the festival also includes music, comedy, fashion and visual arts. The focus in the visual art exhibitions is on 50 years of Portobello history and culture - art exhibitions such as Portobello Psychogeographical History 1956 – 2006 by Tom Vague are shown alongside local graffiti artists and photo exhibitions of Portobello from the 1950s to present day.
Beats going to the local multiplex to wince and groan your way through Garfield 2.
Portobello Film Festival 3 - 23 August. Venues include Westbourne Studios, Inn On The Green, Paradise By Way Of Kensal Green, Westbourne Grove Church and the Electric Cinema, also the temporary Portobello Green Cinema Circus Tent. Entry to all events FREE. For a full programme and more information on the festival, go to the website here.