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!
'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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.