MINT Chinese Film Festival Goes Down A Treat In Keswick

The MINT Chinese Film Festival went down a treat in Keswick last weekend: over 200 individuals participated in the 3-5 February Chinese New Year film extravaganza, founded and organised by women, and focussed primarily on films by women, and about women's experiences.

130 of the 146 Festival Pass holders were Chinese participants who had travelled from Edinburgh, Leeds, London, York, Durham, St Andrews and Southampton.

There were over 900 admissions to the 18 events at the Alhambra Cinema, and 53 people participated in the Chinese Craft session put on by the Lancaster Confucius Institute at Keswick Museum, including a group of French exchange students from Rennes.

"Yixiang Shirley Lin, lead curator and co-founder of the Festival, is a force of nature" says Carol Rennie, co-owner of the Alhambra Cinema. "She is only 23 years old, and just graduated from the University of Edinburgh last year, but this is the third film festival she has curated, and she brought together a fantastic team of fellow organisers online, who only met each other in person for the first time here in Keswick."

"For me, this is part of a drive for sustainable tourism in the Lake District" says Carol Rennie. "The Keswick Tourist Association, which generously sponsored our event, is keen to attract Chinese visitors. How much better to tap into the 200,000 Chinese students already in the UK, rather than seek to attract them from abroad. Our event brought over 300 overnight stays to Keswick this weekend, with perhaps three or four cars maximum: our participants primarily used public transport to get here - though we did put on two packed coaches to replace the trains derailed by the strikes!"

Plans are already being made for next year's event, which the organisers hope to extend to include the Theatre by the Lake and Rheged.

Like this year, the event will feature brand new films, short film selections, documentaries and discussion panels, but if the space and additional partners allow, might also include art exhibitions and live performances.

"The MINT Festival is also a wonderful opportunity to open a window to the richness and depth of Chinese culture" says cinema owner Carol.