Wessex Films, the University of Southampton’s award-winning filmmaking society, are to host a special event on campus tomorrow afternoon, to mark 60 years of student filmmaking.

The event, which will run on Wednesday 30th April, in the Bridge Bar on Highfield Campus between 2pm and 5pm, is free of charge and will exhibit a variety of student films from the last six decades. These films feature narrative-based drama from ‘auteurs in the making’, as well as recovered documentaries which offer an interesting insight into what the university and student life was like during times gone by.

wessex films

A brief history of Wessex Films…

The society’s first known work was a black and white 16mm film of the 1954 RAG procession. Despite a high chance of the film disintegrating with every watch (due to being held together with rapidly-degrading sellotape) Wessex Films continued to film the next eleven years of the RAG processions.

The first Wessex documentary was in 1959 and titled Welcome to Southampton. By 1962, ambition increased and projects included a promotional film for a sailing club, a Greek tragedy, a documentary about Connaught porters and an experimental drama labelled as ‘neurotica’ – described as ‘students moping around water, with a calamitous ending or no ending at all…’

Wessex Films have been recognised throughout the years for their filmmaking achievements. Numerous early awards included ‘Best Documentary’ and ‘Best Drama’  at the 1969 MOTION festival. The society was at its peak in the 1980s as commissions for films poured in from groups such as the CND, Natwest Bank and the campus Morrismen. Love on the Rails was even shown on BBC1 and received many awards. In 2000, seven films were screened at the Harbour Lights cinema, to widespread critical acclaim. In 2011, Wessex Films teamed up with with SUSUtv to produce Flat 443, which won an award for national student television.

A new era for Wessex Films began in 2010 when the society was reformed, leading to the film Chilli, which was then soon followed by the creation of popular cult films such as The Attack of the Giant Hamster and The SUSU Massacre.

Wessex Films (also known as the Southampton University Film Unit or SUFU), are one of the university’s oldest student societies and meet every Wednesday in the Nuffield Theatre to provide friendly filmmaking workshops and plan new and exciting filmmaking sessions.

Interested? Join the Facebook event to find out more and to keep up to date.

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