Day 1 : Coverage of ’The Burbs’ at the N21 Film Festival in London
Monday 18 June 2012, by
Situated in leafy Winchmore Hill, the N21 Film Festival - part of the N21 Festival, launched for the first time this year, kicking off Saturday night with a screening of Joe Dante’s late nineties horror comedy - ‘The Burbs’.
The first thing you notice about Winchmore Hill is its ‘village’ feel. Upon leaving the train station (which has no gates - presumably because there aren’t many fare jumpers in the local area) you are confronted with the village green - where earlier in the day, as part of the festival event, the local residents had been participating in a spot of Morris Dancing.
While exploring the area I quickly got chatting to a lady who’d been enjoying the day’s festivities, I soon found out her son owned the local dentistry clinic, The Fenton Dental Studio - who coincidentally was sponsoring the night’s screening. She kindly walked me the venue where popcorn, alcohol and goody-bags awaited.
Initially I considered the selection of films featured in the festival a little bizarre, but after a discussion with festival curators John Stewart and Ellie Philips it became clear that themes of identity - and loss of identity ran throughout their choices. Many locals consider Winchmore Hill a tight-knit community, slowly being engulfed by a sprawling London and disconnected by the rise of social media networking sites. Residents, mainly white and middle class, seem fearful of what this ‘loss’ of identity (or development of a new one?) might entail.
‘The Burbs’ is perhaps a fitting film, with more laughs than scares the film addresses paranoïa in the suburbs - poking fun at suburban environments and their eccentric inhabitants. With tongue firmly in cheek I considered how neighbourly paranoïa - a key theme throughout the film - had been felt in varying degrees by the residents of Winchmore Hill sitting alongside me.
More impressive than the free goody-bag, popcorn and Pizza Express takeaway we were treated to at the end of the evening, was an interview, organized by festivals curators and editor of New Empress Magazine (Helen Cox) with The Burbs director - B Movie legend - Joe Dante. Filmed a few nights previously over Skype, in the top floor of the local pub Helen Cox was allocated 15 minutes to quiz Dante about such pressing questions, including why anybody is yet to make cult TV series Eerie Indiana into a feature film. Dante agrees it would be a no-brainer.
I throughly recommend the festival to both devout film fans and those looking for an entertaining evening. If you can, try to catch Carol Morley’s fantastic ‘Dreams of a Life’ which is being screened on Wednesday alongside a Q&A with the film’s producer - Cairo Cannon.