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Sidmouth Folk Festival Documentary in cinema at The Beehive

Sidmouth Folk Festival Documentary in cinema at The Beehive Honiton with special Q & A!


A Feature Documentary Film Limited Release

Folk Documentary Film to be given a limited
across the South West. Screening at The Beehive Honiton.


Producer, Paul Tully at TPLfilms is delighted to announce the long awaited limited release of the feature documentary film A SMALL QUIET ENGLISH TOWN across multiple screens in the South West. The film, which tells the story of ‘the longest running folk festival in Europe’, delighted audiences during Sidmouth’s Folk Week this year when it was Premiered courtesy of The Radway Cinema, Sidmouth.

In collaboration with Scott Cinema Group, The Sidmouth Folk Festival Committee and The McGuffin Brothers the film is a ‘journey through time’ as it explores the rich and fascinating history of England’s much loved folk festival since its
inception in 1955.

Paul says, ‘we had Sidmouth residents handing in old VHS tapes, old film canisters and other memorabilia to help with our filmmaking efforts – we even had a builder call us as he was clearing out a house and realised the Super 8mm film reel he found in their rubbish skip had ‘sidmouth festival 1961’ written on it, that’s also in the film’.


A Small Quiet English Town also tells a story of English Folk traditions through the lens of Sidmouth’s Folk Week using personal testimony from those ‘who were there’. The film boasts key interviews with folk stars such as Ralph McTell, Eliza and Martin Carthy, Joe and Cole of India Electric Company fame, Edgelarks (Hannah and Phil), Sidmothian Lori Campbell as well as a host of other musicians and performances filmed exclusively for this project.

Paul continues that ‘this is Phase 1 of larger projects we want to pursue’. He adds, ‘now that we have the feature film completed we can move on to following up on the many stories that we unearthed in our research and go
Phase 2. This will be a series of short films exploring characters, musical styles and instruments that in some cases have long been forgotten’. Paul confirms that the film and hopefully all the ‘extras’ (short films, original soundtrack, photobook and more) will be available on CD, DVD and BluRay as well as online via Video On Demand
(VoD) ‘streaming’ and that in time there
will be a collectors edition of all elements in one presentation box – next year.

TPLfilms started making the film in 2014 but the original idea was formed on a weekend trip to Sidmouth by Paul and his then girlfriend Ali in 1999. It has taken years of collaboration, filming, editing, fundraising and patience to get to this point, today. Paul adds that without our original group of Crowdfunders the project would never have got off the ground, so we’ll be forever in their debt for helping us way back in 2014. The company is also excited to announce that proceeds from screenings, streaming and DVD sales will go to support the folk festival for many years to come.

Paul also says, ‘We would also not be where we are today with this film without the brilliantly collaborative and creative

input from The McGuffin Brothers. When we asked them to help us complete the movie they jumped at the chance and really changed what this project could be, basically, into a world class piece of filmmaking’.

Music infuses the film and was very much a key concept of the project from the very beginning. Steve Knightley came on board very early on and he could see clearly what the potential of the project was – he even went as far as to write an original song for the film and that song ‘Walk With Me (When The Sun Goes Down)’ is on his 2016 Album

The Long Way Home’, and forms a key part of the final sequence for the film, which completes the project for us beautifully.

Co-Producer Ali Tully says – ‘as a child living here in Sidmouth the excitement of Folk Week was immense especially as I could fill my autograph book with the names of French Stilt Walkers, Punjabi Dancers, Ukrainian Cossacks and African Traditional Groups, it was always amazing.’ Their daughter, Summer Tully adds – ‘I’m really proud of my mum and dad, but it’s taken way too long!’.

Phil Weaver (Sidmouth barber extraordinaire) is quoted as saying: ‘This is a well made documentary. Really informative and a great watch. Local faces and places. A must see.’


Story Synopsis

This documentary film tells the story of Sidmouth’s Folk festival since its inception in 1955. Using previously unseen and private archive film and photographs, it explains how the festival came to be homed at Sidmouth in

the first place and whose original idea it was.

Focussing on key characters in the Sidmouth Folk Festival story A SMALL QUIET ENGLISH TOWN has Steve Heap (ex Festival Director), Derek Schofield (Writer / Historian), Steve Knightley (Singer/Songwriter/Co-founder of Show of Hands) and Martin and Eliza Carthy (English Folk music ‘royalty’) as the main narrators of the film with many

more telling the story from their point of view.

We learn of the highs and lows of the festival. From its humble beginnings in 1955, the growth of English Folk Dance due, in part, to Prince Phillip and Princess Elizabeth being photographed in Canada while they square danced. It also follows the journey of explosion of the English Folk Revival and explains how Sidmouth
Folk Festival played a pivotal role in this growth story. 
As the film develops, the storyline follows how the festival changed with the times. It grew exponentially into one of (if not the, most important) folk festivals in England. In the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s it became an internationally renowned event with global acts coming to the UK to perform at Sidmouth as well as exploring social issues of the day in how pioneering Sidmouth Folk Festival was in developing female participation in morris dancing, women’s rights and activism. We use archive footage of key characters such as Bill Rutter (one of the original organisers) to explain how some of the key ideas we take for granted today came to be such as the Torchlight Procession. Mike Boston, a Morris dancer and ‘fool’ explains what Morris is and what a ‘fool’ does along with Kurt Sauter of ‘Herbaceous Border’ who helps bring the Morris Dancing story together for those who are not familiar. Steve Heap as a key narrator guides us through the politics and diplomacy during his many years as

Festival Director and we learn it was he who ultimately oversaw it’s near demise despite all his efforts to the contrary.

The festival reached a critical point in 2004 when it was becoming ‘too big’ and basically unworkable for the organisers and in 2005 it was at risk of closing down forever. But, local support and the hard core of support for the festival won out and it continued from 2005 and ‘took off’ in the words of folk singer and musician, Bernie
It was a smaller event following 2005 and by the time we get to 2014 Sidmouth Folk Week had re-cemented itself as again the iconic event (albeit smaller) it had been for decades.


A Small Quiet English Town screens at The Beehive Cinema on Friday 26th July at 2pm & 7pm.
The Beehive have a ‘lunch and a film’ offer. Order and enjoy traditional fish and chips
before the film screens at 2pm.
A special Q & A will be held after both screenings.




Tickets Adult £8, Under 16’s £7 + additional lunch £6.

Box Office: 01404 384050