The Tyne Valley Film Festival will return this March, following last year’s success.

The Forum Cinema in Hexham will once again act as the main hub of entertainment, throwing open its doors to big players from the world of film, literature and history. Though the independent community-owned venue will be at the heart of the action, 30 screenings are planned across 14 other local venues.

The diverse programme promises something for the whole family, shining the spotlight on world, autobiographical and contemporary cinema, celebrating a rich filming history. The festival, part of the Great Northumberland Winter Festival, is supported by Northumberland County Council and other Tyne Valley community driven organisations.

The season will kick off on March 19, at the Forum, with a talk from award-winning travel and nature author, Horatio Clare, brought to Tyne Valley audiences by Northumberland Libraries, Forum Cinema Hexham and Hexham Book Festival, as part of the New Writing North’s Read Regional Programme 2020. The wordsmith will discuss his latest work, Ice Breaker: A Voyage Far North, which documents his journey across the frozen bay of Bothnia in the Arctic Circle.

Rounding off the evening, audiences will enjoy a screening of Chasing Ice (2012), which follows acclaimed photographer James Balog as he uses time lapse cameras to monitor the state of our changing planet, by capturing glacier movement.

A-level media studies students from Queen Elizabeth High School, Hexham, will showcase a selection of short films as part of the festival, with the community set to throw their full support behind the teens.

Work from Northumbria University students will also play out on the big screen throughout the spring spectacle.

A screening of a special restoration of the 1929 reissue of the Phantom of the Opera is set for Hexham Abbey on Saturday, March 21 and will be accompanied with a live organ score from Jonathan Eyre, renowned for his work in the silent film industry.

The classic, based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, tells the story of a crazed faceless man, who becomes infatuated with a young opera singer, whilst living beneath the Paris Opera. The black and white silent film, delivered in the Abbey, will add some spook to the film fest.

Chrysalis Club Tynedale and Tyne Valley Film Festival will present a dementia friendly screening of American fantasy comedy Big (1988). The film tells the tale of a young Josh Baskin (Tom Hanks), who longs for the simple joys of childhood once more, having just secured an ‘adult’ job at toy company.

The film festival will encourage local viewers to enjoy foreign cinema, with screenings of Hayao Miyazaki’s Japanese animated picture Spirited Away (2001) starting proceedings; the animation follows the journey of 10-year-old Chihiro, as she enters a world of wizardry and witchcraft, where humans are changed into animals.

Audiences are also invited to try German cinema, with the production System Crasher (2020) planned.

The new release tells the story of nine-year-old Benni, a foster child so out of control that she can not be placed with families. Case worker and anger management specialists, in a bid to help, discover there is still hope for young Benni, despite previous unsuccessful interventions.

There will also be an Icelandic offering with Woman at War (2018), brought together with Nordic Voices, which celebrates commonalities between the North-East and Nordic countries. The story follows Halla, the seemingly unassuming girl, who leads a double life as a committed environmental activist, as she wages a one woman war on the aluminium industry.

Continuing on the theme of womanhood, audiences will be able to take advantage of a Mother’s Day screening of Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache as part of the Tyne Valley Film festival line-up. Narrated by Jodie Foster, the documentary celebrates the life and work of the first female director, screenwriter, producer and studio owner, Alice Guy-Blache, who made history in Hollywood with the likes of Falling Leaves (1912) and The Ocean Waif (1916).

Making sure the children are covered, Disney classic The Aristocats (1970) will be shown at Hexham Community Centre. The motion picture, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this coming year, tells the tale of a millionairess who leaves her entire estate to her cat and its kittens.

The performance will begin at 11am, following a face painting session to ensure your youngsters look the part.

The festival will draw to a close on March 29 with a screening of Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2020), presented in partnership with Hexham Town Twinning Association, which aims to foster an international friendship between Hexham and its long standing twin towns, Metzingen and Noyon in Germany and France respectively.

The French picture, from Celine Sciamma, will bring together romance and art, as painter Marianne is enlisted by a wealthy countess to paint a portrait of her daughter with the hope of finding her a husband. However, as the two spend increasing amounts of time together, romance begins to blossom.

There is still plenty on offer for those outside of the Hexham area, with Fuse Cinema, Prudhoe, screening the much-loved American classic The Breakfast Club (1985) following five students during their time in detention.

Allendale Village Hall will play host to The Motorcycle Diaries (2004), the memoir of Marxist Guerilla leader and revolutionary Che Guevara, recounting his infamous 1952 expedition across South America.

And, on the same evening Ye Olde Cross Inn, Ryton, will show Red Joan (2018), which tells the story of a retired widow, who suddenly comes under investigation by the Secret Service for providing classified information relating to the building of a bomb to the Soviet government.

South Tyne Cinema Circuit will also present a screening of BAFTA-winning Bait (2019) at Haydon Bridge. The film, which gets to the heart of a community facing unwelcome change, is shot on a vintage 16mmm camera using monochrome Kodak stock.

Visit for a full line-up.