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Sail down the Wississiffi in Yorkshire - Whitby in Shorts 2009

From the Whitby in Shorts film festival
[please use the copy from Word function, when copying from Word - and preferably just use a text editor! thanks, Ed]

Great news! The "WHITBY IN SHORTS" INTERNATIONAL SHORT-FILM FESTIVAL is on! From September 5th to September 13th 2009 (inclusive), WiSiS-FF will host 240 of the very best short-films in the world.

From 1st March, the Festival, known to the 16-strong voluntary action group as Wississiffi (a bit like ‘Mississippi'), will be accepting entries from short-film makers from all over the world.

Entries are to be invited in 12 different Genres: Fiction/Drama - Documentary - Comedy - Horror - Sci-Fi - Animation - Music Video - Computer Graphics (CGI) - Environment - Sport - Travel and Religion.

And for the 240 Finalists, as well as the chance to win substantial prizes for the winners in each of these Genres, film-makers will be competing for the prestige awards for Best International Short-Film, Best Individual Performance, Best Soundtrack/Score and Best Special Effects.

The winners will be acclaimed at an Oscar-style Gala Award Ceremony at Whitby's Pavilion Theatre Complex - and streamed ‘live' on the internet, all over the world.

Wississiffi will take place in five of the town's top venues - the Pavilion Complex, Sneaton Castle Complex, The Coliseum, The Met and Whitby Community College - and will also be featuring workshops, master-classes, and interviews with screen celebrities, as well as ‘fringe' events in many of the town's smaller venues.

Said founder Nigel Ward, "This has sprung up like wild-fire, driven by the sheer enthusiasm of local folk who see it as a shot in the arm for Whitby - just when it's most needed".

Now, the race is on to set up a huge web-site data-base to handle on-line entries, in time for the 1st March starting-line.

"There isn't a moment to spare," said Jon Risdon, acting secretary for the Festival. "With so much to arrange - publicity, logistics and transport, ticket-sales, programs, stewards, adjudicators, press facilities - we will be needing volunteers to make a start right now. Funding bodies just can't handle the red tape fast enough".

And for Whitby people, there is everything to play for. The Festival is bound to create jobs, and not only staffing the build-up to the event itself. Falling as it does just off the back of the season proper, Wississiffi will make a real difference to every business in the tourism sector.

"Every Festival has unique problems to overcome in its first year," said Mr. Ward. "We have to look to building Wississiffi up in the face of a worsening economic crisis. Fortunately, many local businessmen have shown the foresight to recognize that when the 2012 Olympics finish, we will have hundreds of thousands of visitors from overseas in the UK. Every resort in the country will be competing for them. Film is the international language. Film will bring them to Whitby."

Whitby is the perfect location for a Film Festival, with an outstanding tradition in front of camera, stretching from the early days of Frank Meadow Sutcliffe to the last series of Heartbeat.

The most gratifying aspect of the rapid growth of support for the Festival has been the way in which everybody has rallied to the cause. Film-makers, audiences, students, business people, councillors, local media, educators, advisory agencies and support groups are all hailing Wississiffi as the start of a renaissance in Whitby's fading fortunes.

With the Endeavour gone, Heartbeat failing, Musicport on the retreat, the Grand Turk dock-bound, the Regatta and Folk Week clashing, Woolworths boarded up, shops standing empty and the pier extension and bridge crumbling, Whitby's image is badly in need of a lick of paint.

"This initiative has exploded out of nowhere," concluded Mr. Ward. "It is an expression of the will of the people. We intend to reward it by ploughing the profits from the entries, the box-office, merchandising, what have you, back into the town in the form of funding for local productions, training for young and old in all aspects of film, drama and the visual arts, and facilities for hire to visiting production companies. When we spend money on goods and services, we will spend it in Whitby. When we pay wages, we will pay them to Whitby people. Forget what you hear from the SBC - this is not a ‘coast thing'. It's a Whitby thing!"

If you can assist the Festival campaign, either materially or by giving of your time, contact Mr Ward through the website:, where all the latest developments are updated almost daily.