THE second edition of the Mint Chinese Film Festival brought over 250 attendees to Keswick's Alhambra Cinema last week.

With the Chinese New Year film event being women-founded, it largely featured films directed by women and sketching women's experiences.

Spanning from Thursday to Sunday (February 4), the festival featured a total of 14 feature-length films and 17 short films.

The festival attracted predominantly Chinese students from cities like Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Lancaster, Nottingham, and Stirling among others.

News and Star: Over 250 people were in attendance. Over 250 people were in attendance. (Image: Wenli)

Despite this, growth in non-Chinese audiences was recorded, according to Carol Rennie of the Alhambra Cinema.

"We were delighted to see growth in our non-Chinese audience this year – perhaps because of the ‘retro’ strand we put on, with films from internationally-renowned Taiwanese directors and recently-passed Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden, whose ‘Snow Leopard’ was just screened at the Venice Bienalle," she said. 

Keswick Museum and the Theatre by the Lake contributed to the ambiance with a dragon procession through Fitz Park.

News and Star: Dragon procession through Fitz ParkDragon procession through Fitz Park (Image: Minxi)

Meanwhile, the local Methodist church, in collaboration with Lancaster Confucious Institute, offered tai chi sessions alongside traditional gu zheng music and dance performances facilitated by student visitor Wei Zhang.

100 young people also participated in Chinese paper crafting run by local Chinese mums Yen Doran and Anna Liu at Keswick Youth Club. 

Keswick Film Club sponsored the festival, as did Film Hub North with National Lottery funding on behalf of the BFI Film Audience Network.

News and Star: Tai chi sessions were held during the week as part of the festivities. Credit: MinxiTai chi sessions were held during the week as part of the festivities. Credit: Minxi (Image: Minxi)

Carol tipped her hat to lead curator and co-founder of the festival Yixiang Shirley Lin: "Once again, she brought together a fantastic team of fellow organisers, most of whom were doing this for free, in their own time: running the film competition, selecting films, liaising with distributors, creating the website, and marketing the event.”

Many of the participants joined a guided walk from the cinema to Derwentwater, with a significant number expressing an interest in returning to explore the area further.

News and Star: Film fanatics pay a visit to DerwentwaterFilm fanatics pay a visit to Derwentwater (Image: Veronica)

“For me, this is part of a drive for sustainable tourism in the Lake District.

“The Keswick Tourist Association, which generously sponsored our event, is keen to attract Chinese visitors.

"How much better to tap into the 200,000 Chinese students already in the UK, rather than seek to attract them from abroad?

“Our event brought over 300 overnight stays to Keswick this weekend, and our participants primarily used public transport to get here.

“The Mint Festival is a wonderful opportunity to open a window to the richness and depth of Chinese culture - it’s lovely to bring a bit of diversity to Keswick,” Carol said.