OUR HISTORY

 

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Watersprite is a quality event that attracts the brightest young aspiring creative talent and engages them in stimulating debate.
— Lorraine Heggessey (Television producer & executive)
 

2010 festival

cam*era: the start of something...

The first festival! Then called Cam*Era, it was small and imperfectly formed, but the seed was there - an open, welcoming festival that brought filmmakers together from around the world.

Hilary Bevan Jones, seeing the potential and believing passionately in the ethos, joined as Patron.  

Will McGregor's Who's Afraid of the Water Sprite? won first ever Film of the Year award. The film was a beautiful, haunting horror and Will will be shooting the feature version of the short, called The Dark Outside, in 2017 - as a direct result of the film screening at the festival!

 

I wouldn’t have a career if it wasn’t for Watersprite.
— Bradley Porter (2011 nominee)

 

2011 festival

'a perfect storm': bill nighy, tom hollander and watersprite is born

Renamed to Watersprite, in honour of our first winning film.

Sessions from Oscar-winner Kevin Macdonald and former BBC One Controller Lorraine Heggessey were capped by a fantastically entertaining closing gala with Bill Nighy.

Brian Woods, incredible documentary maker and owner of True Vision, joined us for the first time and now stands as a Trustee.

Tom Hollander hosted The Watersprite Awards where films from 5 continents competed for honours. El Ambidiestro, a dark and satirical film set during the Spanish Civil War, by director Nono Palomino, won the Film of the Year.

  El Ambidiestro  (2011 Film of the Year)

El Ambidiestro (2011 Film of the Year)

 
The best things were all the opportunities! Masterclasses and guests of the highest quality!
— Basille Vuillemin (2016 nominee)

 

2012 festival

going global: watersprite reaches out

The first year we offered travel bursaries! We welcomed filmmakers from across Europe, Thailand and the US. Eunice Lau and Sarah Winfield met because of this, and have gone on to make documentaries Through the Fire and A-Town Boyz together.

David Yates, fresh off his incredible Harry Potter success, gave an inspiring and uplifting keynote about the power of perseverance, while elsewhere we welcomed Duncan Kenworthy - producer extraordinaire - as our opening speaker, while Maria Zuckerman of HBO gave us a transatlantic view of the industry.

Anne Morrison joined us for the first time and is now a Trustee of the festival.

Belgian film Dos Au Mur won the Film of the Year for Miklos Keleti.

 

Watersprite’s atmosphere is extraordinary... fantastic.
— David Yates (2012 Keynote Speaker)

 

 

2013 festival

eddie redmayne, olivia colman and neil gaiman lead a star-studded year

The year we moved into the Divinity School, bringing us to our current festival hub.

Neil Gaiman opened the festival to a room of his many superfans, while Eddie Redmayne came back to Cambridge to close the festival in the glorious Fitzwilliam Museum. Olivia Colman and John Logan were among the many other guests lighting up the schedule.

Michael Smiley hosted the Awards Ceremony for the first time, giving the Film of the Year to the deeply moving Dancing in the Ashes by Nick Rowland. The film tells the story of a young ballerina as she is taken to a concentration camp.

Nick met actor Joe Cole at the festival, and they went on to make Slap which was BAFTA-nominated the following year.

 

Watersprite is a brilliant festival, with a line up of speakers that could credit BAFTA or the RTS. First class talent from across the industry, all keen to meet and encourage student film-makers, many of whom are clearly going to be the very successful Watersprite speakers of the future.
— Brian Woods (Documentary Producer & Director, TrueVision)

 

 

2014 festival

watersprite gets animated for its most international year yet

Richard Curtis opened the festival with a retrospective of his glittering career, while Jim Broadbent closed for us, giving us a fascinating insight into one of our most-loved character actors.

The inimitable Victoria Wood hosted our Awards Ceremony in the Fitzwilliam Museum. The winner that year was Wind, our first animation to take the big prize! This imaginative short was by Robert Löbel from Germany.

 

The entrants were of a particularly high standard. Halfway through the first film I forgot that I was watching a student film and started writing a critique as though it were a fully funded, professionally shot movie, such was the quality: this I believe is an excellent sign for the future of cinema.
— Luisa (Juror, Acting Award)

 

 

2015 festival

a year of powerful film inspiring a huge donation drive in cambridge

Director-producer team Roger Michell and Kevin Loader opened our 6th festival, while Hayley Atwell closed with a funny and frank interview, coming shortly after Agent Carter had debued!

Our 7th Film of the Year winner came from Nepalese filmmaker Niranjan Raj Bhetwal. Kafal Pakyo was a quiet, powerful film that brought a tale of two brothers undergoing a family trauma to our audiences.

Later that year, Nepal was hit by the Kathmandu earthquake. The Watersprite team, with Niranjan's permission, held a screening of the film in Cambridge to help raise money for the rescue and recovery efforts.

 

My experience of the festival was fantastic!
— Patrick Nsengimana (2016 nominee)

 

 

2016 festival

filmmaker of the future and beyond

Finola Dwyer, the incredible BAFTA-winning and Oscar-nominated producer joined us to share her career highlights and advice for the up and coming filmmakers in the audience in our Opening Gala while other highlights included

Cuban filmmaker Aldemar Matias, with When I Get Home, became the first documentary maker to win the top prize. Our newly-launched Filmmaker of the Future award brought us A Political Life, a complex and moving story of the cost of a life dedicated to politics, from Myanma filmmaker Soe Akhar Htun.

 

Watersprite is a lovely, intimate festival with a smart and well-thought out programme and an impressive selection of guests speaking candidly with engaged audiences. It was a pleasure taking part and I would happily return.
— Liz Mermin (Documentary filmmaker)
— Liz Mermin (Documentary filmmaker)

 

 

2017 Festival

Watersprite engages with social change 

Our opening keynote brought filmmaking maestro Stephen Poliakoff to Cambridge on Friday, 10th March, while rising star Jacob Anderson joined us to close the festival on 12th March.

The 'Film of the Year' award went to Elisa, which tells the story of a girl and her controlling mother, whilst Orçun Göçgün and Volkan Güney Eker picked up 'Filmmaker(s) of the Future' for their creation, The Bone

As ever, talks were exciting and varied. They ranged from in-depth discussion on international film and filmakers, to women in cinematography, to the migration crisis. Scriptwriters were on hand to offer advice on getting new work seen by industry professionals, and Stunt-coordinators provided a new insight to the industry.

 

Watersprite has an extraordinary atmosphere. It’s a fantastic venue for filmmakers from all over the world. You get all these different voices from different cultures coming together. Not only is it a great showcase, but it’s a really educative experience.
— David Yates (Director- Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them)
  ELISA  (2017 Film of the Year)

ELISA (2017 Film of the Year)

 
The atmosphere around the whole event was just so positive... quite possibly the best weekend I’ve ever had!
— Bradley Porter (Filmmaker and former nominee)

 

 

2018 Festival

a year for diversity, inclusivity, and student engagement

In 2018, we welcomed Mike Leigh (writer and director, Vera Drake) as keynote speaker for our opening ceremony. 

There were some fantastic sessions and talks on offer, from diversity and representation on screen, to starting out with your first comedy film, to a pitching competition (which took place in front of a panel of expert judges). 

The 'Film of the Year' Award went to ERNIE by Hadley Hillel, an emotional story about one man's failed suicide attempt and his subsequent friendship with a young boy. Meanwhile, the 'Filmmaker of the Future' went to Florian Tscharf for Mayday Relay. This year also included a Q+A and screening for 'Women's Shorts', which featured films from this year's woman-identifying nominees. 

The closing ceremony took place at the beautiful Fitzwilliam museum, and was presented by actor and writer Sanjeev Bhaskar. 

  ERNIE  (2018 Film of the Year)

ERNIE (2018 Film of the Year)