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Birkenhead International Film Festival

12/10/2023 | John Meadowcroft

“Outside of the area, we’ve had submissions from 40 countries, and it seems to have given a really positive outlet for filmmakers. People have had their international premier with us, which is exciting.”

Convenience Gallery’s Andrew Shaw is telling us how they’re ‘bringing the world to Birkenhead’ with their Birkenhead International Film Festival (BIFF) initiative.

Now in its fourth year, October’s BIFF – held at the Williamson on Saturday 21 October – focuses on the theme of ‘World Building’, with directors from across the north, the wider UK and around the planet premiering their works to audiences hungry for something new.

The annual BIFF invites directors of any experience, background, style and genre to submit their work online, where it’ll be showcased to new audiences at home and beyond through Convenience Gallery’s off- and online platforms.

BIFF’s remit is typically short films, and we like how the festival aims for the moon with George Melies-like ambition for the artists they screen and the Left Bank in general.

"We have gone through the selection process with a team of local screeners,” Andy explains, “selecting 13 films for this year's festival which includes local filmmaker, Kieran Shayle, with the two-minute short, When it Rains (lead image).”


The full list of films showcasing at this year’s Birkenhead International Film Festival are:

  • Drowning by Gemma Whitworth.
  • The Ridgeway by Ollie Cameron.
  • Don't Choke by Sonny Baez.
  • The Whirling Quest of Giovannina by Martina Laruffa.
  • THE BEAST by Joris Laquittant.
  • Blue Hour by Simone Einfalt.
  • The Great Connection by Christen Bach.
  • Sincopat by Pol Diggler.
  • Future Of… by Scott Coello.
  • Culicidae by Greg Moran.
  • Shine by Adam Pelling-Deeves.
  • Night journey by Fanny Cerdan.
  • When It Rains by Kieran Shayle.

“The films explore a number of themes and genres including documentary, horror, science fiction, drama, animation, abstract, folklore, practical effects, poetry, positivity and there's even a musical number,” Andy tells us.

“These are films currently being shown across a number of film festivals internationally and we’re very excited to have them at the Birkenhead International Film Festival this year.

“The special thing about BIFF is that, as a format, it’s bringing voices of filmmakers from across the globe; films you wouldn’t ordinarily get to see outside of the festival circuit,” Andy adds.

“It also gives the name and town of Birkenhead a platform at other festivals too as our rosette is added to selected films, cementing it as an exciting destination for arts and culture.”

We’re looking forward to seeing this year’s selection, and you can catch films from previous BIFFs on YouTube, including 2020’s horror-themed films and a curation of wonderful animations that debuted at BIFF 2021 (see below).

BIFF is more than a chance for budding directors and visual artists to get their work seen, too. Alongside the Williamson, this year’s partners include Bradford’s Northern Fortress Film and the Left Bank’s very own Focal Studios and Scenegraph Studios; the latter exhibited live AI-generated films during last year’s BIFF.

Panel talks from industry leaders and experts will also feature at this year’s BIFF – a great opportunity for young filmmakers across the Left Bank and Wirral to learn more and hone their craft – alongside live entertainment, a bar and tasty cinema-style snacks.

“The festival has become such an important part of Convenience Gallery and the work we do,” Andy says. “Each year it's grown even bigger.

“[Myself and Convenience Gallery’s Ryan Gauge] both love film and spend a lot of time talking about it, thinking about it, and all of us in the team have engaged in the industry in different ways.

“The film festival is something we’ve done with two other people, Ben Loveland and David Harrison, who are film fanatics too. Ben travelled to Ann Arbor Film Festival to work a number of years back.

“We’ve all to date just been doing it as volunteers, but we are now looking at bringing in funding for it to really push the potential it has, and grow it into something even bigger.”

Screengraph at Birkenhead International Film Festival - Left Bank Issue Three We Made This.png

We hope they’re successful and get the funding they need. BIFF has grown so rapidly during the last four years, giving a platform to 92 directors from as far-flung as Mexico, France and Cyprus, as well as giving opportunities to local filmmakers.

Initiatives like these are how the Left Bank and wider Wirral get into cultural conversations abroad and attract the eyeballs, not just of filmlovers, but of the wider world.

Liverpool may have ambitions to be the Pinewood Studios of the north, but we’re showing we can do it, too, and be part of the conversation with BIFF and other outward-looking events like it.

“Moving into the future we just keep wanting to push it and make it bigger and more exciting. We’re seeing higher demand each year and a higher volume of submissions too. We just need to try and bring in more funding to support its growth, but the sky’s the limit for BIFF,” Andy adds.

“It's super important to have as much culture going on in Birkenhead and Wirral in general, whether that’s us or someone else. Get involved and help bring the world to Birkenhead!”

Birkenhead International Film Festival

Saturday 21 October 2023, 6:30 PM – 11 PM

The Williamson Art Gallery and Museum, Slatey Rd, Oxton, CH43 4UE

Get tickets for BIFF on Eventbrite

Find out more about BIFF on the Convenience Gallery website


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