A four-day film festival has been unveiled with several well-known actors onstage talking about how they have made a success of their careers.

The inaugural Tees Valley International Film Festival is set to take place at the ARC in Stockton from October 26 to 29.

The festival is the brainchild of Darlington-born producer Michael Luke and it has already captured the imagination of Teesside actors Mark Benton, Bill Fellows and Tim Healy.

Michael started off as an actor but soon diversified towards production, eventually setting up his own production company with several touring theatre shows and independent films to its credit.

The Northern Echo: The Arc in Stockton will be hosting the four-day festival next month. Picture: ARC/FACEBOOKThe Arc in Stockton will be hosting the four-day festival next month. Picture: ARC/FACEBOOK (Image: Arc)

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To keep his creative during the first lockdown, Michael wrote a short film script which he put into production between lockdowns with a view to entering it into the film festival network.

The film went on to win several awards in the UK and America. His experiences at the many festivals he attended led him to ask himself “Why don’t we have a film festival?” From there, the idea of a local film festival was spawned.

Michael said: “My experiences with film festivals taught me that they tended to be aimed at either film enthusiasts or industry professionals, which is great, but I wanted the Tees Valley International Film Festival to do something different.

“I want it to be aimed at the people that wouldn’t normally come to a film festival or an arts centre and for those people to not just enjoy themselves while they’re here, but also to really benefit from their experience.

“Therefore, the long-term aim of the festival is to kickstart a new generation of filmmaker, actor, script writer and director, of all ages and backgrounds in the Tees Valley.

"I’m convinced there’s a wealth of undiscovered talent in the region that just needs an event of this type and scale to give them and their work a bigger stage and a springboard to more.

“I also think that culture in the medium of film is greatly under-represented in the area and as a result, we’re failing those that want to learn new or develop existing skills in the craft of filmmaking.

“The Tees Valley International Film Festival is about to change that. We’ll be holding workshops for those eager to learn and we’re staging gala screenings of Tees Valley specific films which will be attended by their directors and actors who will take part in in-depth interviews and audience Q&As.”

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The festival has already attracted interest with ticket purchasers from far and wide.

Michael Luke continued: “The festival will culminate with a glittering closing ceremony which will be held at The Point Theatre within ARC. The main body of the event will be “An Evening With Mark Benton, Bill Fellows and Tim Healy”.

These three North East actors will be discussing their journey from the streets of the Tees Valley to the world of film and television.

“The evening will be hosted by North East broadcasting legend Goffy from BBC Radio Tees and will also feature the final of Tees Valley’s Got Talent, a monologue contest in which budding actors will perform a piece of up to three minutes.

“The heats will run over the first three days of the festival and on the final day, four finalists will be invited back to perform their monologue on stage, the winner being decided by the three legends. Once again, fulfilling our promise to showcase the finest creative talent in the area.”

Find out more about the event by visiting https://www.tviff.co.uk/index.php or clicking here.

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