Oxford is blessed with cinema: five sites to choose from. Everything from blockbusters to independent cinema.

Oxford is also home to film makers: scriptwriters like The Full Monty’s Simon Beaufoy, producers like Peter Bennett – Jones (Tiger Aspect) and the BBC’s prolific John Lloyd – and directors such as Rob Lemkin whose award winning documentary on the genocide in Cambodia, Enemies of the People, contributed to awareness which may have helped bring at least one senior member of Pol Pot’s government to trial by the War Crimes tribunal in the Hague.

East Oxford’s Film Oxford has also proved a fruitful meeting ground for new talent.

In an evening celebrating recent film making, I watched a series of shorts, ranging from three to 20 minutes, which have been made locally.

Cancer Hair explored a date between two people. A long blonde wig was the elephant in the room.

In the privacy of the loo, an attractive young woman recovering from chemotherapy confides in her friend that “my hair’s itching like mad”. Back at the table, her date – a well meaning young man – is not able to express the sympathy he feels.

He’s already seen his mother go through a similar experience. Will they? Won’t they? Director Gail Hackston’s film keeps its audience guessing.

Andy Carslaw’s succinct three minute short Spare Change skilfully played on the juxtaposition of attitude and identity: a beggar down on his luck is abused by a well-heeled drunkard.

Without warning, their roles are reverse. Spare Change is an opportunity for generosity from an unexpected source.

Caught in the Headlights explored how much a man can take – when life throws it all at once.

Film demands new skills, but many present showed great tenacity and adaptability.

Ex-tree surgeon Danny McGregor Gill found himself “too old to climb trees” and retrained in “everything technical”, including camera, sound, lighting and editing.

Rosie Orr, a “poet by trade” and one time winner of the South Bank Poetry Prize has directed Let Nothing You Dismay in which Death comes for Christmas.

“Well, why not?” Orr said. “In film you can do anything. Theatre – well, I can see the costumes. In film, I’m there, prepared to suspend disbelief.”

“We’re aiming to bring a little bit of Hollywood to Oxford,” director Andy Carslaw said.

“If you’re a writer, director, producer, technical crew – or you just love film, get in touch.”

I hope to see some of Film Oxford’s output screened locally perhaps as an entrant in Virgin shorts film competition which distributes prize winning films nationally to participating cinemas including the Phoenix.

Film Oxford, 54 St Catherine St, Oxford, OX4 3AH, andy@fernyfilms.co.uk

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone’s contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.