Since the days of Shakespeare, Stratford Upon Avon has long been the home of traditional theatre. But August Bank Holiday weekend sees the arrival of the 21st century. Ed Chatterton reports...
If you fancy something a bit closer to home than the Notting Hill Carnival or the Carling Weekend, then the three-day Stratford Upon Avon International Digital Film Festival, which boasts more than 60 films from the best in local and international talent, could be more than a welcome alternative.
With established talents that include Douglas McFerran, who co-wrote Sliding Doors and starred in Johnny English, the festival looks set to bring together gifted filmmakers and actors from across the globe.
Local girl Samantha Meah, from Birmingham, who has worked in televison for over 15 years, is also part of the event.
These and other filmmakers from across the Midlands will unite with world talent from places such as New Zealand. USA, Canada and Europe.
Up to 600 people are expected to attend the event which will host a selection of drama, animation, music videos, comedies, documentaries, romance, horrors and thrillers - accounting for all tastes.
As digital movie-making is cheaper than traditional film, many Midland directors who would never have had their visions become a reality now have the chance to get their work disseminated to a wide and varied audience.
Craig Wilkinson, director of the festival, explained the reasons behind the event: "We thought we'd focus on the future of digital technology because it emphasises how easy it is for anybody to make a film on a low budget.
"With the venue of Stratford we thought it was a back to the future kind of theme with Shapkespeare as the original playwriter going forward into the future of film-making."
The festival is hosting the UK's largest regional film contest in the Midland Short Film Competition, geared towards finding the best of the regions talent.
Among the local filmmakers is 24-year-old, Mark Jeavons, from Wolverhampton, who had his film With A Thorn In His Side shown at this years Cannes Film Festival. Discussing his next film festival appearance, he said:
"I'm grateful of the great chance they have given me to support my film and get it seen by others. I hope something comes out of it because it would be a dream come true." With more than 60 entrants the winner of the Midland Short Film Competition will have their film screened before the evening's main feature in front of an international audience of producers, distributors, talent scouts and enthusiasts.
The festival itself is not just for up-and-coming directors, with established films and filmmakers also being featured. US presentations include The Wayfarers, the international award winning Sandstorm and Neal Abunab's Arabian Dream, the latter having recieved much media coverage due to its topical theme of racial intergration in a Western democratic society
The story tells of an Iraqi trying to exist in the US, but rather than focus on the political rhetoric, the Detroit filmmaker opts for the personally emotive tale.
Other films include The Rising, by Adam Barton, which is described as a " mysterious drama of hallucination" and Crush by Deborah Aston which stars ex-Eastender Michael Grecco.
And with films touching on the sensitive matters of how to order a pint, you're guaranteed a real mix of cinemographic experiences.
But if you're thinking that you couldn't take a whole day of watching films don't worry because there are chances for refreshment at the Civic Hall bar and an opportunity to meet some of the actors and filmmakers.
As Craig explains: "It'll be like coming out of the cinema and meeting the director... so you ask how he came up with a story or how he put it together."
The festival runs from August 27-29 at the Stratford Upon Avon Civic Hall.
Tickets are priced at #5 individual programme, #10 day pass and #25 for a festival pass.