Hackney Attic turns on the Spotlights

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Filmmakers get the chance to show their work at Spotlights

Young filmmakers have it hard these days: no funding, little pay, and increasing competition from everyone with a smartphone. Film enthusiast and arts graduate Katie Steed, founder of Whirlygig Cinema, is doing what she can to help.

Spotlights is an event where three emerging filmmakers are given half an hour each to present themselves and their work, followed by a collective Q&A at the end.

Launched in April 2012, Spotlights started as a bi-monthly event held at Spanish tapas bar Trangallan in Newington Green. But due to its increasing popularity, the event has moved to the Attic space of Hackney Picturehouse.

At twice the size of its previous home, the Hackney Attic will give Spotlights the chance to provide greater exposure to more filmmakers. “There are a lot of short films out there that need showing,” Steed says. “And Hackney is such a bright, diverse area of London with a strong arts scene, so I can’t imagine having it anywhere else.”

Steed tries to get a mix of films on each night to make it as varied as possible. “We focus on good, accessible films,” she explains. “It’s not necessarily targeted at film buffs. We have a mix of animation, thrillers, documentaries, and we usually have one comedic film-maker, to provide some light relief.”

This month’s event features hotly-tipped Amanda Boyle, who has directed episodes of Skins and Misfits, Numra Siddiqui, a documentary filmmaker focusing on multicultural issues, and Max Lincoln, who looks for the surreal in everyday life.

Whirlygig Cinema also organises an event called Making Tracks, in which the band The Cabinet of Living Cinema provides live scores to a series of short films. “Both of these events focus on the live aspect of cinema-going rather than just sitting in a dark room,” says Steed.

The social aspect of the evenings is one of its main attractions. Steed says “it’s a chance for people to network and make contacts. Film-makers usually feel quite comfortable since it’s an intimate venue, and the audience can be quite chatty.”

7pm on first Wednesday of every month
Hackney Attic, 270 Mare Street, London E8 1HE
£5 (£4 in advance)

More info at: whirlygigcinema.com/spotlights/