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Tickets will be available from the Festival Desk at the Park Inn Palace.

That was…Southend-on-Sea Film Festival 2014!

Well, what a fantastic time we had! The Opening Gala, presenting the ‘lost’ Peter Sellers films, was an outstanding success, with a packed house enjoying the three films featuring the legendary comedian. Our special guest, actor/comedian and devoted Sellers fan Mackenzie Crook, gave a heartfelt speech and it was lovely to see so many of Peter Sellers’ friends and family enjoying the evening. For the following four days the main festival drew in the crowds, with many of the films supported by cast and crew. A packed house greeted the repeat of the Sellers films, and most stayed on to enjoy the wild and whacky ‘The Magic Christian’, our Closing Gala film introduced by its director, industry legend Joseph McGrath. The many and varied events in the Festival ‘Fringe’ rounded off the festival in fine style.
Thanks, of course, go in no small measure to the Festival Team, and I would also like to thank the staff and management at the Odeon and the Park Inn Palace by Radisson Hotel. Many thanks also to our funding partners and sponsors, without whom there would not be a festival. And thanks to you, the moviegoers, for supporting the festival and all our screenings and events.
We’ll be back in 2015 but, before then, Southend’s very own specialised festival – Horror-on-Sea – will be held at the Park Inn Palace by Radisson Hotel in January. You can check this out at
I’ll see you again soon!

Paul Cotgrove, Festival Director


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latest news

30th April – Southend Film Festival on BBC’s ‘The One Show’

The discovery and restoration of the ‘lost’ Peter Sellers films is scheduled to be featured on this evening’s (Wednesday’s) edition of ‘The One Show’ (BBC1 at 7pm).

29th April – More very special guests for our Opening Gala!
We are thrilled to announce that actor and voice-over artiste Karl Howman, comedienne/actress Helen Lederer, actress/producer Vicki Michelle and legendary recording artiste Lisa Stansfield and her music writer/musician husband Ian Devaney will be joining us for our fantastic Opening Gala at the Odeon on Thursday. If you haven’t got tickets – and the event is now sold out – why not come along to see the stars as they arrive on the red carpet from 6.30pm?

28th April – ‘Magic Christian’ director to join us for the Closing Gala!

We are absolutely delighted that director Joseph McGrath has confirmed he will be our special guest for the Closing Gala, where he will introduce his film ‘The Magic Christian’. Born in Glasgow, Joseph studied at the city’s School of Art in the late 40s/early 50s, where his energy and talent was much admired by his contemporaries. During his long and varied career as producer, director and writer he has worked with just about everybody, but among his most frequent collaborators were Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. In addition to ‘The Magic Christian’, he is best known as one of the directors on the Sixties spoof ‘Casino Royale’, where he once again worked with Peter Sellers (as well as Ursula Andress and Orson Welles!). Joseph will talk about his extensive career during a post-screening Q&A with Festival Director Paul Cotgrove.

25th April – Opening Gala sold out!

Hot on the heels of the press screening of the ‘lost’ Peter Sellers films, which resulted in fantastic media coverage, all the tickets for the Opening Gala at the Odeon on 1st May have now been sold. However, there are still tickets available for the repeat screening, at 6pm on Bank Holiday Monday 5th May – but hurry, as these are now selling fast! That will be followed by our Closing Gala presentation, a rare big-screen outing for the wild and wacky late Sixties comedy ‘The Magic Christian’. Tickets for these shows are just 5 (each), so why not treat yourself to a double dose of this legendary comedian in what should be two fantastic shows? 

22nd April – Teaser trailer for ‘destructive’ Closing Gala short film

Our good friend Dean Chalkley will be introducing his new short film, ‘The Arena’, before our Closing Gala screening of ‘The Magic Christian’. Produced in association with The New British magazine, this was originally screened at the V&A in London as part of a special 'Friday Late' programme focussing on artists and designers influenced by destruction, and how this violent force can become a catalyst for creation. ‘The Arena’ takes a sideways look at the venerable sport of Banger Racing, where customised cars – works of art in their own right – are destroyed in the violence of the race, then restored to race another day. Not just a sport, but a culture that is rich and vibrant, pure and unpretentious, Banger Racing survives against all the odds. Check out the teaser trailer, specially prepared for our film festival, at and join Dean at 8.30pm on Monday 5th May for this very special presentation.

13th April – Actor/producer Joely Collins jetting in from Canada!

We are delighted to announce that Joely Collins (elder daughter of Phil Collins) will be flying in from her home in Vancouver to join us. RADA trained, she has a highly successful acting and producing career in Canada, spanning over twenty years. Joely is very much looking forward to the Opening Gala screening and, on Saturday 3rd May at 6pm, she will be introducing her award-winning film ‘Becoming Redwood’, which she produced.      

Mackenzie Crook10th April – Mackenzie Crook will be joining us for our Gala Opening Night!

We are thrilled that Mackenzie Crook will be joining us at the Opening Gala. Following a successful career as a stand-up comedian, Mackenzie shot to fame as Gareth Keenan, the quirky geek with a funny haircut, in the TV hit The Office. He then shared the big screen with Al Pacino in The Merchant of Venice, with Heath Ledger in The Brothers Grimm and with Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland. Bonding with Mackenzie, it was Johnny Depp who recommended him for the part of Ragetti, his best-known role, in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Mackenzie is a huge Peter Sellers fan – and we are delighted he will be joining us for this Gala screening of the legendary comedian’s ‘lost’ films. The Opening Gala is on Thursday 1st May. Tickets are selling fast: click here to buy tickets and join Mackenzie and our other very special guests on the red carpet!  


John Otway News

30th March – John Otway and Bruno Wizard at the festival – in person!

We are absolutely delighted to announce that John Otway, Rock and Roll’s (infamous) Greatest Failure, and underground punk legend Bruno Wizard will be joining us for the screenings of their documentaries, Rock and Roll’s Greatest Failure: Otway the Movie and The Heart of Bruno Wizard. The shows will be introduced by music consultant Daryl Easlea, who will host post-screening Q&As. We are also delighted that Elisabeth Rasmussen, the director of The Heart of Bruno Wizard, will be joining us.

10th March – ‘Rock and Roll’s Greatest Failure’ at the Festival!

As the film programme comes together we are delighted to announce that Rock and Roll’s Greatest Failure: Otway the Movie, will be screening on Friday 2nd May at 8.30pm. We are incredibly privileged to be able to present this wonderful documentary, which is only playing at selected festivals. It tells the almost unbelievable story of musician John Otway who, in the Seventies, was signed by Polydor, with a hefty advance, as ‘the next big thing’ – only for his ‘next big hit’ to arrive some 25 years later!! This terrifically entertaining film chronicles the anarchic, shambolic spirit that has endeared Otway to his fans, enshrining him as ‘Rock and Roll’s Greatest Failure’! (Full programme, and ticket details, to follow.)

Older news items can be found here


In addition to the many celebrities and guests who will be joining Festival
Patron RAY WINSTONE for the Opening Gala we will also be welcoming
the following very special guests to this year’s festival:

DAN BAKER, writer/director, Hello
DEAN CHALKLEY, director, The Arena
SARA DEE, actress, 15
DARYL EASLEA, author, Censored: Monty Python’s Life of Brian
TRAVIS ELBOROUGH, writer, How We Used to Live
JONATHAN GENTLE, director, Brass Band-on-Sea
JAMES HART, director, Ascension
DAN HARTLEY, writer/director, Lad: A Yorkshire Story
PAUL KELLY, director, How We Used to Live
TOM KING, journalist, The Ghost of St. Michaels
STUART LOCK, actor, The Amazing Mr. Blunden
SYD MOORE, author, Censored: Monty Python’s Life of Brian

JOHN OTWAY, musician, Rock and Roll’s Greatest Failure: Otway the Movie
MARTIN PAVEY, director, 15
ELISABETH RASMUSSEN, director, The Heart of Bruno Wizard
MARK RATHBONE, actor, Ascension
JON ROSLING, writer/director, Five Pillars
LIAM SAINT-PIERRE, producer/director, The Way of the Dodo
CHRIS SHEPHERD, writer/director, The Ringer
GEORGE WATSON, writer/director, Twelve
TOM WEBB, producer, Twelve
MARK WITHERS, director, Bonobo
BRUNO WIZARD, musician, The Heart of Bruno Wizard