THE spotlight turned on Bolton yesterday for the first of a two-day celebration of film.

Bolton Film Festival kicked off its inaugural event with a showcase of some of the best short films from Bolton and beyond.

The Light Cinema is at the heart of the celebrations which cumulate tonight in a red carpet event and awards ceremony.

Screenings have been taking place of films, documentaries and animations from around the world.

Among them are actress Rachel Shenton, Bolton-born producer Julie Foy and director Chris Overton

The duo are showing their film The Silent Child, written by and starring former Hollyoaks actress Rachel.

Based on a true story, the film about a profoundly deaf girl taught to communicate by a social worker, has already garnered international attention and awards at a number of film festivals.

The pair arrived in Bolton yesterday following a screening for Bafta.

Julie, who hails from Harwood, said: “The Bolton festival was on our hit list. The team, who are my great friend, are aware of where I’m from so the fact Bolton was having an inaugural festival made it an obvious one to enter.

“We are really excited to be here and see all the other films. Bolton is full of talent and hopefully there will be a lot of people supporting this festival in the years to come.

“We are so grateful at the reaction to the film and how it has been taken to heart and resonate with so many people.”

Rachel added: “Getting a film screened in front of an audience is always special. We are really proud of what we have created.”

Documentary maker Rubikah Shah is another who has brought a short – White Riot: London – to Bolton after showings at festivals from Berlin to Tel Aviv and the USA.

She said: “I was shocked there wasn’t already a festival in Bolton. There’s so many people coming from all over to it!”

A panel of judges have been involved in picking the festival winners. Leeds actor George Newton, known to many for This is England, is one of them. He said: “I’m interested in promoting films where I can. Living just down the road it’s nice to be at an event like this in the North.

“A really good mix of films have been entered and I’m looking forward to seeing some of the ones I haven’t seen as a judge.”