The first ever St Albans Film Festival…and food!

Food at the First St Albans Film Festival


Do you think Tom Cruise will be back in St Albans for our first Film Festival? He enjoyed the lobster and chicken tikka masala at Veer Dhara in August, so maybe he will come back and try one of the restaurants hosting special Film Festival events. Tom could also watch one of the shortlisted films “Tom Tom” by Daria Kulesh; it features lots of Tom Cruises eating curry!


We are really excited about the Film Festival at The Herts Ad. There is a fantastic programme of events, and we are very lucky to have it all on our doorstep. Many of our city centre restaurants are hosting special events, and it looks to be a fantastic weekend to be in St Albans. Here is my round-up of the main events from the food point-of-view. If you would like to book for any of these events call in to the pop-up Festival shop by the town hall – the one with the Clockwork Orange bowler hats in the window, or phone the venue directly. Some were close to selling out at the time of going to print, but you might get lucky.


Opening Launch Party


Café Rouge is hosting the Opening Launch party on Friday 8th March. Cafe Rouge is situated in the old Samuel Ryder greenhouse building on Holywell Hill, one of St Alban’s iconic buildings. It will be a glamorous evening, with live entertainment, special guests, and the first screenings of the film festival. Petit Plats will be served, and the party will go on until midnight.


Lussmann’s Film Dinners


Lussmman’s are hosting three evenings during the week of the festival, each featuring guest speakers well-known in the foodie world. Owner Andrei Lussmann will host the evenings, which start with a drinks reception at 7.30. After a special three-course film-themed menu, the films will be introduced by the speakers. The first film dinner (Tuesday 6th March) will be presented by Sunday Times columnist Charles Clover, the award-winning author of The End of the Line. Charles founded fish2fork and chairs The Blue Marine foundation. On Wednesday 6th March, David Bowles, Head of Public Affairs at the RSPCA will talk about the charity’s campaign to improve animal welfare. The final dinner (Thursday 7th March) will be hosted by Mark Linehan, the Director of The Sustainable Restaurant Association. Lussmann’s is a member of The SRA, and is well-known for it’s own high standards of sourcing, so if you are a regular, you are sure to enjoy these events. Tickets are £36 per person (www.lussmanns for menus and more info).


Filmmaker base


If you are spending the weekend at the festival The Peahen is an award-winning local pub and restaurant in the centre of town, and will be where filmmakers and the festival team will be meeting and relaxing between events (10-4 each day). The Hare and Hounds will be hosting the networking event PM in the Pub from 2-6 on the Friday afternoon, and will be holding a film festival special with screenings. No booking is required at either venue – simply pop in for a drink.


Darcy’s Red Carpet Dinner


One of the most stylish restaurants in St Albans, Darcy’s will host a Red Carpet dinner on the Saturday night. Dress code is “glamorous” and I am sure their regulars will manage that very well. Owner Ruth and team will prepare a special 3-course meal, and guests will watch screenings of four films from the Over 18s category. I am very relieved to hear they have chosen four short films “full of drama, passion and humour” rather than the more grizzly ones listed in the festival programme! Tickets (including half a bottle of wine) cost £45 per person, and at the time of going to print were selling fast.


Kashu late night drinks


After the screening of the over 18s films at The Maltings or the Red Carpet dinner at Darcy’s on Saturday night, head over to Kashu at 10 until 1 for Late Night Drinks. You can meet the filmmakers and other festival pass holders in this lovely venue. Festival passes are needed for entry.


Closing Awards Ceremony and Party


The Awards Ceremony will be at Havana from 7pm onwards on the Sunday night. There will be welcome drinks on arrival and delicious food provided by local favourites Bourngiorno Italia. Awards will be presented to the winners of the short films competition, so it promises to be an excellent night. Will there be Oscar-worthy speeches? I do hope so.


Documentary competition

Michelle Becker picture film festival

Two local foodies have made the shortlist of the documentary film competition. “Cake Creation” is directed and filmed by Michelle Becker featuring local food writer and blogger Ren Behan. It is the story of a Pear, Blackberry and Almond cake, made using local ingredients including flour from Redbournbury Mill. You can view all the documentary competition films in St Albans School from 11am on Sunday 10th March.

Ren Behan in Cake Creation  - film

For more info or tickets you can visit the pop-up Festival shop near the town hall or call the venue direct. The Film Festival runs from Friday 8th March until Sunday 10th March ( See you there!



About thelocalfoodie

Food writer for The Herts Advertiser.
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