New Sheffield Film Festival: The Spirit Of Independence Festival

Are you on the lookout for a film festival right on your front doorstep, here in Sheffield? Well, you’re in luck because we have just the festival to help revive your love for everything film.

Sheffield has quite an underrepresented film reputation despite housing some of the most iconic film festivals the UK has seen, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Sheffield Adventure Film Festival, Celluloid Screams: Sheffield Horror Film Festival, and Sensoria Music & Film Festival.

So, we welcome to you; The Spirit Of Independence Festival. A celebration of micro-budget filmmaking, 38 films, 5 days, all digital. You in?

spirit of independence poster

Sheffield’s New Hit Film Festival?

The Spirit Of Independence is the latest film festival to arrive in the Steel City itself, Sheffield. Since its 2019 first premiere, the Spirit of Independence Festival (or SoI for short) has made a habit of acknowledging and honoring micro-budget filmmaking not only from Sheffield but all around the world.

Now moving into its second year, we are delighted to announce we are partnering with the festival. Since starting Open House Pictures one of our main priorities has been to promote and support the filmmaking community within Sheffield wherever we can. Having attended the festival last year we were both drawn to its unique aesthetic and clear potential.

The festival itself is a 5-day long online event featuring a variety of short films, features, Q&As, and more! Providing all types of filmmakers with insight into the world of micro-budget film and hopefully inspiring a new generation of moviemakers.

Tickets will be available shortly on the Spirit Of Independence Festival website and are looking to be priced around £10 for a festival pass. An absolute steal for short film buffs and general movie fans alike! You can contact for more information.

All Digital Film Festival

The Abbeydale Picture House in Sheffield was the first home of the festival. However, due to the impact of COVID-19, this year’s festival will take place completely online between the 15th and 19th of October. 5 days, 38 films, featuring both feature-length and short films commemorating the best micro-budget filmmaking has to offer.

The festival founder, Ben Wilkinson, said “The decision to run the festival online this year was an easy but necessary one, being adaptable to situations is part and parcel of running a festival. It comes without saying that digital is the way forward, even more so with social distancing, so our digital approach was a no-brainer.”

A Showcase Of Talent From All Around The World

A core reason for our collaboration with the festival was how clearly it connects new and upcoming filmmakers with audiences.

Ben, the festival founder, couldn’t agree more, “it’s about giving them the exposure they so truly deserve, where traditionally they may struggle to get screened in more mainstream festivals. We aim to help these filmmakers where we can, getting their name out there, and inspiring a whole new generation of filmmakers who can see what can be achieved on a minimal budget.”

Over the course of the festival, the films showcased cover a wide range of topics, stories, and cultures. Submissions come from all around the world from South Africa, Turkey, Switzerland, Iran, and more!

crowd sat in seats watching the spirit of independence micro-budget film festival festival

Gravitate To Your Chosen Genre

Out of the 38 films screened, there are 12 feature-length and 26 short films in the running. The Spirit Of Independence Festival covers a wide range of genres to represent all the talent from each niche.

Whether you’re a fan of documentaries, relationship dramas, coming-of-age, horror, crime, action, or sci-fi there’s a film for everyone. All are separated into their own defined categories to allow the audience to gravitate toward a genre they enjoy. So… enjoy!

Most Anticipated Film

As with every film festival, there’s always that film that everyone is on the edge of their seats for. One of the most anticipated films we’re screening is the true-story-based UK film, ‘Like.’ The film is based on two teenagers in Hartlepool who murdered a local vulnerable woman while broadcasting it over social media.

Michael Frank, the director of ‘Like’ said: “the opportunity of making ‘Like’ available online will potentially open it up to an even wider audience who may not have been able to attend the festival otherwise”.

How Did The Spirit Of Independence Become What It Is?

The Spirit Of Independence Festival was created by the amazing Ben Wilkinson and has been an aspiration of his since the very beginning.

He has said “I’ve always wanted to run my own festival. The idea of seeking out hidden gems made for little or no money, and giving them the platform to be seen by a wider audience has appealed to me ever since I saw some test footage from a phenomenal-looking film on Kickstarter.

The film was going to be made for less than £150K, which is pocket-change in the movie industry and it got me thinking about what I could do, as a film fan, to give independent filmmakers, working with small budgets, the opportunity to show their films.

Sheffield truly has become a festival city and with the great work that Creative Arts Development Space (CADS) is doing at the Abbeydale Picture House, everything just felt like the right time to give it a go.”

spirit of independence film festival 2020 partnered with open house pictures

An Open House Pictures Partnership

Over at Open House Pictures, we couldn’t be more excited to be involved in the Spirit of Independence going forward. Since attending last year we both knew just how wide the appeal and potential were for the festival. We’re already excited to see what the future holds and can’t wait to get started!

“Our collaboration with Open House Pictures supports new opportunities for both parties, helping grow the festival exposure but also harnessing each other’s skillsets and strengths to make both businesses successful.

Forming creative partnerships like this demonstrate how much support there is out there if people need it, we’re incredibly proud and excited to form these relationships and look forward to a truly beneficial year.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Being extremely passionate about not only the entertainment value film festivals bring but the clear impact they have on local communities.

Enabling a new festival imbuing micro-budget filmmaking with a new channel of celebration is something we’re so proud to be partnered with. We can’t wait to see where this collaboration takes us and the fantastic potential and opportunity the festival will bring in the coming years.

The Spirit of Independence is not only a great place to discover new shorts and films you’ve never seen before, but a real chance to get your foot in the door as a new filmmaker.

Looking For A New Film Festival Experience?

Experience a new celebration of micro-budget films, right here in Sheffield. If you’re interested in joining us, the festival is being held from the 15th to the 19th of October 2020 and tickets can be purchased from

Alternatively, you can follow the festival on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date with the latest information.

We hope to see you there!

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