Another year has passed, and it seems a quicker one than ever. Society appears to be more divided than at any point in the last 60 years so it’s important for the festival to celebrate both our similarities and differences, with films from around the world, as well as the truth, and with several great new documentaries (about climate, war, crime, class and gender). Tolerance and truth are two very important values for our festival.

Almost half of the new feature films and around 40% of the short films (our Short Cuts programmes) we are screening are directed (or co-directed) by women. In the early days of cinema women were an important part of the film making process, until the mid-twenties when men realised how much money could be made in the medium which led to so many innovative women losing their positions. It’s a sad state of affairs that almost 100 years later women film makers are still greatly outnumbered, and out-financed, by men. I do hope that in the future years we can get closer to parity.

It has been another great year for world (foreign language) cinema. This year we have a selection from all over; France, Sweden, Czech Republic, Bosnia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, South Africa, Germany, Syria, Denmark, Italy, Japan and China. Whether it’s South African female-fronted modern western, a couple of Czech kids hitting the road, an iconic Italian photographer, Georgian traditional dance or an old Turkish man wanting to die on his ancestral lands we see through the window of cinema onto the world which shines a light onto us of places we might never get a chance to see.

I will admit, and this will not at all be embarrassing, that my favourite genre of film is… Romantic Comedies. Good ones that is, it’s very hard to make a great rom-com. I’ve always wanted to programme a short season of great rom-coms, but have never had a reason. Until Now. Elizabeth Sankey has made a fantastic exploration of the genre, and to accompany I have included some of my favourites. It’s the perfect way to take your mind off whatever political problems are occurring, come along and watch some ‘meet cute’ classics – including a day of Hugh Grant.

On a personal note I am delighted that we are going to be premiering Down The Rabbit Hole, by Mike Webster and James Roddie. Both Mike and James have worked at Eden Court, and they are two inspiring people. They have made a touching, powerful film about an important subject which includes beautiful shots of them caving (which really freaks me out).

Please do remember to vote for our Audience Award. You are our jury and it’s great to hear what you think. I do hope that you enjoy the festival.

Paul MacDonald-Taylor, Festival Director