Appleby Fair to include Gypsy/Traveller film festival in town hall

17 May 2016

Gypsies and Travellers at this year’s Appleby Fair will be able to go to the cinema as Appleby town holds its first ever Romani and Traveller film festival as part of this year’s famous historic horse fair.

The film festival will take place on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th June 2016, in Appleby Public Hall Supper Room. The festival – consisting of three films and one film short - chosen by a panel of Gypsies and Travellers – will be presented by Borderlines Film Festival, with Patricia Knight, Damian Le Bas and Charles Newland.

All the films will be introduced by The Travellers Times Editor at Large , Damian Le Bas, Romany poet, author and filmmaker, and there will be a question and answer sessions at the end of each film.

Charles Newland will also be compering the festival. Charles is a Nottingham-based Romany-Gypsy filmmaker and founder of Notown Productions. He is currently working for The Travellers Times as a mixed media journalist, is curating a Gypsy, Roma Traveller showcase backed by the BFI Film Hub Central East and is also founder/programmer for Watergate Cinematek based at the Broadway Cinema Nottingham.

“We hope you will come and see us if you are visiting Appleby this year,” said Damian Le Bas.

“We’re screening films, chosen by Romani writers and filmmakers on Saturday and Sunday afternoon and evening in the Public Hall Supper Room in the centre of Appleby.”

(Picture (c) Natasha Quarmby)

“There will be a short film by Romani filmmakers, Riley Smith; Portrait of an English Gypsy Tapdancer; a documentary made in 1969, featuring Traveller community leaders and families, including the Gordon Boswell senior, the Slip family, Jim and Carol Riley and more, called Where Do We Go From Here?; an exciting new film Cobra Gypsies, about the nomadic Kalbeliya people of northern India; and the family favourite feature film Into The West.”

There will be a small admission of charge £2 per film, with £1 for children under 12. 

The organisers have also created an online survey to find out more about what Romani and Traveller people think about the way Gypsies and Travellers are portrayed in films and whether there is fair representation.  There will be a £100 Prize Draw by completing the online survey of Traveller cinema at

Borderline Films and Damian and Charles have previously collaborated on screening Romani and Traveller films.

 The 2016 Borderlines Film Festival, which ran from from February to March earlier this year across Herefordshire, Shropshire and the Welsh Marches, had a ‘Romani Cinema’ strand that was screened in Hereford.

The programme for both Saturday and Sunday at the Appleby Fair Film Festival will be:

3.00 pm screening:

Into the West   (1992) 1hour 37 minutes   Directed by Mike Newell

The adventure of two young Travelling boys searching across Ireland for their horse.

Papa Riley, a widower, and his two young sons, Ossie and Tito live in the run-down projects of Dublin. Their life is pretty bleak until the arrival of the boys' grandfather, an old story-telling Traveller. He brings a glorious white stallion by the name of Tír na nÓg, a figure out of Irish legends, who takes an instant liking to Ossie and Tito. Events conspire, however, to separate the horse from the children, as he is impounded by corrupt police officers and sold to a wealthy businessman. Never fear, though -- it's Ossie and Tito to the rescue.

5.00 pm screening – one film short and one film:

Riley Smith - Portrait of an English Gypsy Tap Dancer

(2013)  4 minutes   Notown Productions.

Riley Smith is from Edenbridge in Kent, and began tap dancing as a 10 year old, learning the steps from his father. "I started him off, and he's ended up training me," says Riley's dad in this short film about how one family has helped keep the tradition of British Romany dancing alive. His great-grandfather Billy "The Pro" was renowned for dancing at Gypsy shows around the country, as Riley himself is in the 21st century.

Where Do We Go From Here?  (1969) 1 hour   Directed by Philip Donnellan

Rarely seen footage of Travellers talking about themselves in the 1960s.

This BBC documentary looks at the relationships between Travellers and an increasingly unfriendly industrialized Britain in the 1960’s.  It features many Travelling people from the time, including Gordon Boswell senior, the Slip family, Jim and Carol Riley, Minty Smith, the Bucklands and the Markos and was filmed all around England including Topcliffe (Yorkshire), Welsh Borders/Ludlow, Birmingham, Edenbridge (Kent), Vale of Eavesham, and Spalding (Lincs).

7.30 pm screening:

Cobra Gypsies   (2015) 1 hour Directed by Raphael Treza

In Cobra Gypsies, French photographer, Raphael Treza travels for three months with the ancient nomadic Kalbeliya tribe, living in rural Rajasthan, Northern India, who have a long history of horsemanship and dancing. Is there a direct link back from today’s Romanies to the extraordinary Kalbeliya people?

The publicity leaflet for the Appleby Fair Film Festival can be seen here.