FILMMAKERS from all over the world attended a gala evening at the end of an independent film festival in Swindon.

Writers, directors and stars of short films and features made just down the road and on the other side of the world celebrated their efforts with an awards ceremony at the second Swindon International Film Festival.

A judging panel of filmmakers and fans looked through a whopping 486 entries before picking the cream of the crop and screening them over four days at the MECA on Regent Street, with a pop-up cinema set up on its balcony to honour the building’s heritage as the old site of the Regent Cinema.

Festival director and filmmaker Doug Kirby rolled out the red carpet to welcome guests to the end-of-festival gala after a reception in Rudi's. He said: “It was excellent, there was a great atmosphere and it went very well, though we all had a good giggle when I announced the wrong winner at one point.

"Each of the 22 categories had a Swindon film in the shortlist and four of them won. We believe that films made here are good enough to compete with the best ones from all over the globe and this proves it.

"Ever since I started making films 15 years ago, one of my goals has been to put Swindon on the filmmaking map - there are plenty of writing, directing and acting talent here but people go to London, Bristol or Cardiff to make films instead so we want to change that. We hope to attract big studios here one day, too."

Films screened at the festival ranged from as short as three minutes to longer than an hour, made by professionals, enthusiastic amateurs and artists.

Awards categories included Best Ensemble Cast, Best Actor (with male and female nominees) and Best Youth Film.

Doug added: "The entries were really good last year but the bar was raised even higher this time and it was very tough to decide which ones to screen, there were so many incredible high-quality films. If we had unlimited space and time available, we would have happily screened 60 per cent of the entries we got but we could only fit in a quarter of them. I set the first festival up last year as an offshoot of the Swindon Fringe Festival using contacts from people I'd spoken to at other festivals and asked if they'd be interested in coming to a new one here. There was a real buzz of excitement and we've had great feedback from filmmakers who said they enjoyed their time here and were really impressed with it."

Doug intends to return next year with a five-day lineup. He has his own production company with the festival's chief judge Billy Rees, Bald and Hairy Films and one of their efforts, the 10-minute one-take short film Edge, is on Amazon Prime Video.

For more information about the festival, visit

Pictures by Elmar Rubio