FILM producer Julie Foy has two awards on display in her home. But for Harwood-raised Julie, it’s her Bolton Film Festival award that means the most, not her Oscar.

“I’m not just saying that, I’m being totally genuine,” says Julie, whose film, The Silent Child, won the Best Live Action Short Film Academy Award at this year’s Oscars.

This time last year, she was crossing her fingers that The Silent Child might be accepted into the Best Film for Change category at the first Bolton Film Festival (BFF).

“I was in the middle of a nine-hour coach journey to Plymouth when I got the call to say it had qualified. I burst into tears, it meant so much to me.”

When she found out it had won, she says she was over the moon.

Julie was equally as overwhelmed by the sheer professionalism and magnitude of the festival.

“Outside of America, it was the best film festival I’ve been to, and I’ve been to a lot. It was so informative, so friendly, so vibrant, so positive. It was the best organised and had the most gracious people and helpful and enthusiastic volunteers.”

She reveals she screamed with delight when she was invited to be a juror at this year’s BFF.

“Bolton is where I was born, its where I’m from, so I felt so honoured to be asked.”

Despite the hundreds of international commitments and the demands her Oscar-winning status has brought, nothing was going to stop Julie from making time to view each of the entries submitted for this year’s BFF.

“I’ve taken it extremely seriously. I’ve watched, critiqued and marked them all. The calibre of the films in the festival was amazing.”

Julie is a former pupil of Canon Slade, where she excelled at drama, gaining an A grade at O level.

She says she always knew she wanted to be an actor and, as a teenager, she was a member of both the Theatre Church in Astley Bridge and Christ’s Church, Harwood amateur dramatic groups.

Her talent earned her roles in professional productions at Bolton Octagon and in 1986 she was a core member of the BBC children’s comedy drama series, Jossy’s Giants.

In it, she played Tracey Gaunt, number one fan of a boy’s football team, a role she won after a nationwide search by producers.

She later appeared in Press Gang, Casualty and Coronation Street and worked extensively in theatre before moving into producing.

“Moving into producing was a natural progression after being in the business for more than 30 years,” she says.

“As an actor and director, you realise the more strings to your bow, and the better you can get at your craft, gives you a fountain of knowledge and an ability and a voice to actually make things happen.

“More importantly, it gives you the opportunity to tell great stories; stories with integrity and importance that make people feel something.

“I have a very good instinct about what could be amazing as opposed to what could just be good. In the case of The Silent Child, I brought all this knowledge and many financial and creative contacts to the table.”

It’s often assumed that film producers have a glamorous role but, as Julie says, the reality is rather different.

“I worked 24/7 for two years doing lots of hard, thankless jobs so that we could complete our mission and make a film that we would all be eternally proud of.”

Her work included wardrobe, casting, props, continuity, legal, catering and cleaning, all of which she did without taking a penny for herself.

“I always say that anything worthwhile in life is worth fighting for and making sacrifices for.

“Anything is possible but you must have integrity and treat all the wonderful people that help you with the respect and graciousness that they deserve.

“Everything is a team effort and nobody is more important than the team.”

At last year’s BFF Julie took part in a Q and A session following a screening of The Silent Child, and she did the same on Tuesday with an audience made up of pupils from Bolton School.

“Young people are our next generation of writers, producers, directors and actors,” she says. “I want them to know that anything is possible and nothing is unreachable. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve got, where you’re from, what you’ve done or who you know.

“That’s why Bolton Film festival is so important. You don’t have to be in London, Manchester or America, it’s right here in Bolton. You shouldn’t have to go to Manchester city centre to find what you’re looking for. Bolton is so rich in talent and it’s been crying out for an artistic outlet like the film festival.

“I just think something like this is life-changing if film is the direction your heart is taking you.

“The festival brings everyone from all the different strands of the industry together in three days. It’s incredible that you can make contact with and talk to people from all those different areas. For me, Adrian Barber [festival founder] is a god. He’s extraordinary!

“I really wish there had been something like this when I was a teenager. “It would have been so inspirational to me,” she says.

“There’s a huge fountain of knowledge to draw on. You can meet and listen to people who are already in the industry who are prepared to mentor and share advice.”

She adds: “Bolton is such a rich and vibrant town and the festival has been a real game changer.”