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Autumn festival frenzy


One highlight of my autumn tour was talking to the legendary Judi Dench, who was every bit as amazing as you'd expect.

Whew….what a season. I’ve been busy with nearly back-to-back festival trips since late August. Here’s where I've been:


Haugesund, moderating their works in progress and a Europa Distribution panel


Nordic Talents in Copenhagen, on the jury getting inspired by recent film school graduates!


Iceland, visiting the set of Hlynur Palmasson’s next film A White, White Day; Fenar Ahmad’s Valhalla, and seeing some of my favourite Icelandic buddies (thanks to Laufey Gudjonsdottir for an amazing road trip and to Runar Runarsson for taking me to one of the Reykjavik’s only remaining bars not overrun with tourists!)


San Sebastian -- I started working with the amazing team at San Sebastian this year as their Nordic film scout, so this was my first time attending this amazing festival as a member of the 'team.' Such a great vibe at this festival, and some great films, of course the Scandi films like Blind Spot and Neon Heart were fantastic, but I was also thrilled to be in the audience for the Carlos Acosta story Yuli, it got a great reception. And good to catch up with the In Fabric team too!


Zurich – I was busy moderating talks with some fantastic talents like Viggo Mortensen, Judi Dench, Pawel Pawlikowski, and John C Reilly. I also watched a slew of great films such as Green Book, The Sisters Brothers, Roma (on a flippin’ HUGE screen with Dolby Atmos -- I feel so lucky to have seen it this way); and Midnight Runner (an impressive Swiss debut).


Ghent – I was back for the third edition of Flanders Image’s impressive Connext event, where I helped filmmakers hone their pitches, hosted pitches and works in progress, and moderated a panel. A stomach bug knocked me out for a day or so, but the Flanders Image team nursed me back to health in time for the end.


LFF – I got to party with some bright young things at Screen’s Stars of Tomorrow event. Later that week, we got down and dirty talking about Brexit at an LFF panel. And I also saw a few brilliant films including Wild Rose – Jessie Buckley is just amazing.


Rome – I went to Rome’s MIA market to help moderate a lot of the sessions in the UK Spotlight. We talked about co-productions, diversity, and heard keynotes from Paul Webster and Damian Jones. I also made my first trip to the British Ambassador's residence, Villa Wolkonsky, which was quite something. As was the Ambassador herself -- everyone in the room seemed to have a professional crush on Jill Morris after her speech.


And just to give Tom Grater some competition for his film festivals and food blogging, here were my culinary highlights at each event: Haugesund (tons of prawns and crayfish at the annual seafood dinner!); Iceland (tie: cinnamon buns at Braud & Co and amazing dinner at the pop-up restaurant from artist Olafur Eliasson); Copenhagen (tasting menu at Kokkeriet); San Sebastian (pintxos at Nagusia Lau); Zurich (sausages from Sternen Grill – that mustard is THE BEST); Ghent (stomach bug killed most of my appetite but of course I did manage a few Speculoos); LFF (err….I had a burger at Five Guys next to Picturehouse Central); Rome (daily gelato at La Nazionale Gelateria and a perfect from a takeaway pasta joint!


Now, I’m back in the UK for hopefully the rest of the year!

Wendy Mitchell is a film and entertainment journalist, film festival consultant, and panel and Q&A moderator.