Winchelsea hosts world film premiere

W film 6
W film 6

The first screening of the film ‘The Red Slipper’, which was made in Winchelsea and starring local people, takes place on Saturday at 7pm in the New Hall.

The Red Slipper captures an episode history in 1899, when a column of troops marched through Winchelsea, en route for the Boer War. A little girl, in her excitement at the spectacle of marching soldiers and cheering townsfolk, threw one of her red felt slippers to a soldier, who kept it as lucky charm. That girl’s sister, Katharina Forbes-Dunlop, related the story a lifetime later in 1988. Colonel Anthony Kimber researched the story and believes they were the 3rd Battalion, the Sussex Regiment.

For the film, some 70 locals took the part of soldiers and townsfolk. Extras included local postman Philip Laverton playing the local postman and PC Richard Perchard playing the local bobby, both resplendent in Victorian uniforms.

Katharine and her sister (Nell) were played by Sammy Bailey and Mia Smith. The amateurs were joined by veteran actor, Sir Donald Sinden, who played Sir Henry Irving. In the film, the great Victorian actor is visiting Ellen Terry (played by Helen Gray) at Tower Cottage, her home in Winchelsea, and the two of them watch the troops pass by, from her garden overlooking Strand Hill.

Most of the filming took place around the Strand Gate and the Lookout in Winchelsea. The Strand Hill was closed for the day.

Behind the scenes, 30 local volunteers took on the jobs of production crew, wardrobe and make-up. Filming was done by Rye Harbour-based youth vocational training charity, Entertainment Workshops. The cameramen were John Phillips and EW trainees, Ryan Card and George Hanks. The director was Shaun Taberer.

The community film project was funded by Rother District Council’s Arts Development Officer, Melanie Powell, with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s All Our Stories programme, as well as the parish council and the Police Property Fund, but the bulk of the money was raised by Winchelsea Moving Pictures, the society which normally runs Winchelsea Film Night.

All are welcome to the premiere. Entry is free but a collection will be taken in aid of Help for Heroes, in memory of the soldiers who are the subject of the film.