The Tab sits down with Watersprite Film Festival director 2022

Find out what is happening and how to get invloved at the UK’s largest student film festival!

The Watersprite Film festival is the biggest student film festival in the UK, and second largest in the world. The Tab sat down with this year’s Festival Director, Amber Hyams, a finalist studying English at Gonville and Caius, to chat about what we can expect from this year’s festival and some of the exciting upcoming events.

Amber pictured with her fashionable Watersprite tote! (Image Credits: Amber Hyams)

Hybrid Festival

Having been involved with the festival from her first year, Amber remembers the first one she volunteered at before covid. However, she excitedly told me about this year’s plan for a fully hybrid festival.

The festival weekend will be held from the 4th-6th of March, with in-person film screenings at the Arts Picture House in Cambridge, as well as the central hub at the Old Divinity School, St. John’s college.

The whole festival will also be accessible from the online platform, which includes the opening ceremony, the film screenings as well as the opportunity to network and ask the speakers questions. Amber said that they tried to “make it as big as possible” whilst still “facilitating people who might not feel safe coming in person yet.”

Amber tells me that the opening ceremony will be held at the Fitzwilliam Museum with notable industry figure Kate Herron, Director of the Marvel series Loki, and Sex Education will be speaking. As well as other big names such as Theo Green, the sound designer for films such as Dune and Blade Runner 2049, speaking at events during the festival weekend.

Amber did also say that the opening ceremony event is running at a more limited capacity, so ticket booking is essential- but don’t worry if you can’t get tickets, it will still be screened on the online platform!

What to expect from the festival?

The whole event is free, and funded by sponsorship and donation, so there’s really no excuse not to get to the Arts Picture House or watch the short film nominations from the comfort of your own room, online.

Amber tells me that “Watersprite is a registered charity, so are non-profit but we do have sponsors,” she also said that the student partnership department have spent “the year working with local sponsors and also larger scale sponsors who support the awards by offering like prizes for our nominees and goodie bags.”

This year the festival had over 1400 short films submissions, from over 100 different countries, “including Brazil, Iran, Ecuador and Australia.”

The main ethos of the festival is to encourage and cultivate young film makers. So there isn’t a specific theme to the films, but the awards are split into different categories.

To name a few of the award categories up for grabs, there are awards in : cinematography, editing, animation, fiction and documentary as well as some new categorises being introduced this year such as experimental and costume design. Amber said they’d had some ‘really exciting and interesting entries” for the new categories. Another new introduction this year, Amber told me that they had introduced “mandatory unconscious bias training” for all the heads of department.

The short films and the judging process

The short films are judges by a team of around 100 judges, made up of “industry professionals as well as students” and Amber herself said she has seen many of them, which is good as it seems she will be busy with the events and meeting the nominees. Amber told me about how the added tech is always a stress but that all 70 of the committee and all volunteers will “be in it together.”

As Watersprite is a Charity, there is an upcoming “build-up fundraiser” on the 24th of February, “to celebrate female film makers from Afghanistan and that is in collaboration with the Afghanistan working group.” The event welcomes a panel with three of Afghanistan’s leading female filmmakers and journalists. “Nelofer Pazira, Sonia Nassery Cole and Zahra Joya will be dissecting their careers, their artistic and personal inspirations” as well as “what it means to work within the Afghan film and journalist industries under the current socio-political climate.”

“Fighting for Our Craft: A Panel with Female Filmmakers from Afghanistan” will not merely prove to be an incredibly thrilling and illuminating discussion but will simultaneously be operating as a fundraiser for the Yalda Hakim Foundation, a non-profit organisation raising money to send young Afghan women to prestigious educational institutions around the world. Tickets for this evet canbe found here.


Call for volunteers…

If the Watersprite Film Festival is something you’d love to get involved with you can check out their main website here.

Or if you want to get even more involved you can still apply to be a volunteer for the festival itself. Amber said that they were looking for “volunteers for a morning or an afternoon, we’re looking for photographers and even runners.” She added that it would be “a really great way to get involved if you’re interested” especially as the applications for next year’s committee will open in June, so it could be a “great way to meet the rest of the team and chat to current committee members.”

Online tickets can be found here and ticket releases for in-person events will be on the Watersprite Eventbrite here. 

Feature Image Credits: Watersprite Film Festival 

Articles reccomendedby this author: