FILM and theatre star Brian Blessed is among celebrities taking part in an Essex film festival.

He will help judge a short film competition, along with Blake Harrison from TV show the Inbetweeners.

Thurrock International Festival takes place this week, with films, musicals and more.

Kicking off festivities on Monday isascreening from Palmer’s College, in Chadwell Road, Grays, where the best short films entered into the festival in the under-18 category will be shown.

Over at the Thameside Theatre, in Orsett Road, Grays, there will be a concert of film music performed by multiaward winning Aveley and Newham Brass Band.

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On Tuesday, a screening at the Thameside will feature the best short films from the documentary category and a look behind the scenes at the Royal Opera House. On Wednesday, a screening from Palmer’s will feature the best films in the student category.

The classic Rocky Horror Picture Show will be shown at the Thameside with fancy dress encouraged. On Thursday, a member of the British Board of Film Classification willpresent clips to explain how and why films are classified for cinematic release at the Thameside.

At Palmer’s, local historian Jon Catton will talk on the history of film in Thurrock.

On Friday, September 27, the best films entered into the festival in the international category will be shown at the Thameside followed by screenings of Dirty Dancing and Independence Day.

On Saturday, September 28, at Thameside, the film Muppet Treasure Island is on in the morning before a noon showing of the Sound of Music.

In the afternoon the best films in the fiction category of the short film competition will be shown, followed by the awards ceremony.

There will be a VIP judging panel, including Brian Blessed, Blake Harrison, Kevin McNally, from Pirates of the Caribbean and actor Alfred Molina.

The event was started by Thurrock residents Natalie Williams and Benjamin Scarsbrook, after they returnedfrom university with film studies degrees. Benjamin said: “Last year’s festival was definitely a success – until the audience turned up we had no idea if our gamble would pay off.

“We want the festival to grow year on year.”