THE Southend Film Festival will be focusing on home turf "more than ever" this year.

As the gala draws near, festival director Paul Cotgrove says he is delighted to be welcoming both well-known film directors and actors, as well as those from films that have been made locally.

He said: "I have focused on Southend-on-Sea more than ever this year and have included special events that include the Pier and the Kursaal as well as many films that have been made by local film makers.

"I would like to thank the festival team for all their hard work in putting this wonderful event together. I couldn't have done it without them!

"But none of us could have done this without our sponsors, to whom I say a hearty thank you."

He added that highlights for this year included of course, the opening gala, where film There’s Always Hope will be shown.

Paul said: "The lead actor Colm Meaney will be in attendance. Colm is a very famous actor.

"Another highlight is Rebel Dread,a brand new documentary about the legendary musician, DJ and film director Don Letts.

"This will be introduced by local music critic, author and DJ Daryl Easlea."

Other highlights include Conversations in Lockdown - directed by local singer Elyza Mells plus four shorts made by East 15.

Paul added: "We are delighted that Chris Taylor and Richard Brown, from the Pier Museum, will be joining us to present archive footage profiling our world-famous pier.

"They will also include A Long Story, a brand new documentary charting the history of our most celebrated landmark."

He added other highlights were By the Dome It’s Known: The Kursaal Story - the history of the Kursaal Amusement park presented using rare archive film.

"This event will include a Q and A with people who worked there", Paul said.

"How to Survive the End of the World is a locally made feature film, much of which was shot on the Hadleigh Downs.

"Made in Southend are 12 locally made short films by various film makers.

"Selling the City includes various films which will be shown (some using a film projector) to show how Southend has been promoted to potential tourists over the years.

"Pescamare is a documentary about the hardships of Italian fisherman, which will be shown with a short film about The Port Of Old Leigh.

"The Closing Gala film is I.D. directed by actor Phil Davis."

There will be a Q and A after the film with Phil Davis, with actress Vickie Michelle.

The Southend Film Festival opens with the gala night on Thursday May 26 until Sunday May 29.

Paul added: "See you on the red carpet."

The gala takes place at Southend Odeon and continues at the Park Inn by Radisson Palace Hotel.

For more information and for tickets, visit