ONE of the highlights of the festival opening will be a screening of Time Away, the short film directorial debut of Maxine Peake.

The Westhoughton-born award-winning actress is the festival patron and will also be talking about her work as an actress, a writer and her recent transition to director before taking questions from the audience.

Maxine, who will soon be seen in Mike Leigh’s film, Peterloo, said:”For me, short films are essential whether it’s drama, comedy or documentary. They are a wonderful way for directors, actors and creatives in the industry to experiment and find their voice.

“They are also an invaluable vehicle to get messages over quickly and succinctly. They have all the ingredients of a feature but won’t take as much of your time!

“When Bolton, the town where I was born, announced they were launching a film festival I welcomed their invitation to become a patron. Bolton Film Festival gives film-makers and actors in the area an opportunity to celebrate the talent in and around the town, to share their work to a wider audience and to meet industry experts and other film-makers from across the North West and across the UK.

“Manchester offers so much, but it’s fantastic that Bolton now has an annual film event of it’s own.”

Adrian Baber, festival founder, has watched all 850 films submitted for this year’s competition. These were then whittled down to 110 which were passed on to the festival’s 18 jurors who, as Adrian says, “have got more BAFTAS and Emmys and awards than you can swing a cat at.

“More than anything else I think we’re always looking for a good story. People sometimes think they need to shoot films on an amazing camera, but it’s not about that at all. The films could be rough and ready – a tripod might not even have been used - but if there’s something at the heart of it that really engages you, then all the little inadequacies can be forgiven.

The festival provides one of the most vital things that all film-makers require: exposure.

“All those famous directors like Danny Boyle and Shane Meadows began with short films, they’re the best way of getting your work seen.”