Vault Film Festival
Festival Date: Weekends on 25 Jan-5 March 2017
Vault Film Festival is the only underground film festival happening right in the heart of London this year. This is the second time the festival is running at Vaults and alongside the festival, Vaults also runs free comedy shows, theatre performances and lates (late night parties) throughout the week for six weeks.
Niger Asije is the curator for this year’s Vault Film Festival. Niger was also the founder of The New Current which was an initiative he founded in 2006 while in university to bring emphasis to news reporting on arts and culture events.
Vaults has a secretive vibe. Upon arriving at the Underground, I thought I had arrived at the wrong location. Vaults is hidden from the buzz of the city, literally in an underground area. I was greeted with rows of graffiti artists, something I never would encounter when in Singapore, where I live.
There were doors after doors upon entering The Vaults and it felt like I was in an exclusive environment. During the screening, unfortunately, I could hear the sound of the trains every now and then from upstairs because we were after all underground. Although that might have been slightly distracting, I guess that gave a more realistic feel to the underground experience.
I bought tickets to the shorts and features on the weekend of 4 February at £4 each, after receiving a £1 discount per screening, which was a bundle discount. For the experience and the environment, I found the tickets very worth it. I loved the hospitality of the festival assistants.
One of the festival assistants I talked to was Ksenia Koshtariya. Ksenia shared that it was her first time volunteering for any film festival and she saw a lot of value in this experience. The Business (Masters) student at Goldsmiths, University of London sees overlaps between the business and creative industry.
Ksenia also shared: “The Vaults gives plenty of opportunities to smaller, independent companies.”
I met the director of a short film The Sex Lives of Eels, Luke Rollason, who was invited to watch his short film. Luke was surprised that members of the public like me would be keen to watch his short film. When I was watching Eels, I felt pride for Luke even though I met him for the first time because that film was the beginning of even more opportunities for Luke’s film career.
Film festivals provide opportunities for young, new filmmakers to showcase their art. For Vaults, the films that are screened are probably not popular to the mainstream audience and they are often labelled “indie” or “experimental”. While some express a lack of desire to watch such films, there is a growing market for experimental films that should be tapped on.
Arts student at San Diego State University Wing-yiu Cheung shared that: “Unlike Hollywood films, experimental films are unique and gives you the freedom to do something out of the ordinary.”
Wing-yiu gained her first exposure to experimental films through her school’s film festival. She adds: “I enjoy watching experimental films because you get to see films that you might not have heard of before. Usually you do not have any expectations at the beginning of the film and in the end, you might think that it was a really great film which is a feeling I really like.”
Wing-yiu later went on to produce a film Nirvana, which was nominated as one of the best films in Campus MovieFest, an international student film festival.
Film festivals like Vault Film Festival encourage young filmmakers to continue developing films in a less formal environment, away from the red carpet. This could very well be the new era of film festivals!
Overall rating of Vault Film Festival:
★ ★ ★ ★
Vault Film Festival is definitely taking a step forward in bridging the gap that the general audience have towards film festivals. The underground experience was a very special experience for me. I like that beyond film, Vaults also has theatre, a bar, and even free comedy shows which makes my trip there very worthwhile and enjoyable. The occasional rumble from the tube during the screenings might annoy some people, however.