By Billy Stevenson

My name is Billy Stevenson. I am 40 years old. I was admitted to ANA
treatment centre, Portsmouth in 2016 for alcohol addiction. There I was
detoxed and spent 7 months in their primary and secondary rehabilitation
It was during my time there I was encouraged to seek out volunteer work as
part of my integration back into society. I searched around for places to do
with movies, an industry I am passionate about but have never been involved
in. I came across Portsmouth Film Society and arranged a meeting with
Aysegul Epengin, the founder. I was honest about my situation and Aysegul
said PFS would be happy to give me the opportunity and help me get back to
My first experience at PFS was to help set up the ‘Big Screen’ a large
inflatable cinema screen that showed movies at various locations around
Portsmouth. During the winter months I helped out at their indoor screenings
showed at the Eldon Building. It was there that I learned of the ‘I Am Only
Human’ film making course they were offering to individuals of any
background who would never normally get an opportunity to be involved in
such a project.
I jumped at the chance. Suddenly I’d be learning about all aspects of film
making over a 20 week course. Script writing, story boarding, casting,
directing, filming and editing, not only that there would be lectures by local
film makers and a trip to Pinewood Studios in London!
It was a dream come true and I couldn’t wait for the course to start. We
were told the films were going to reflect upon important issues such as
homelessness, substance misuse, people in recovery, people with disabilities
and multiculturalism. Subjects I was only too familiar with. It was hard for me
to believe the position that I had now found myself in.
Aysegul was great tutor and very proficient. There was a good group in the
class all from different backgrounds and ethnicities. It was amazing to meet
like-minded people I would probably never meet elsewhere. The class was fun
but the learning was serious and on important and invaluable lessons in film

We were to come up with stories would eventually be turned into film and
shown at the New Theatre Royal. The idea of this blew me away as I already
had a story in mind. I have enjoyed creative writing in the past and had
written a short story nearly 10 years prior about a homeless man coming into
fortune. The idea that a story I had written almost a decade ago and had sat
with some other scribblings for so long may actually end up on the big screen
was so exciting.
I learned to turn my story into a screenplay and realised my future right
then. I want to become a script writer! I’ve always had a passion for writing
and have dreamt of becoming a recognised author, but I’ve always thought
these dreams far-fetched and that I wasn’t good enough. Getting recognition
in the classroom has re-ignited my passion to pursue this dream.
I was soon to see my story in storyboard form created by another student.
To see my story in drawing form was such fun. When it came to the casting
that was serious, but hilarious, we watched actors read out lines from our
scripts. A few different actors read out lines from my script but I knew straight
away who I wanted to cast.
The real magic came in the filming and to actually be on location and see a
character from my mind come to life on the streets Portsmouth. That was the
defining moment for me and it confirmed my ambition to become a script
writer and work in an industry I only ever dreamed I could.
Amongst all the excitement of the course we were also privileged enough to
be able to visit Pinewood Studios in London and see how business is done by
one of the biggest names in movie making. It was awesome, truly mesmerising
experience. I am so grateful to have been part of the ‘I am only human’ course
which has without doubt changed my life and given me direction.


By Jane Muir

The Recovery Cafe was set up 4 years ago to support people with drug and alcohol
problems who wanted to rebuild their lives.

During the last 4 years I have become passionate about using arts based projects as a
means of engaging “hard to reach” people and giving them a voice and build confidence
and self esteem.

I can personally testify to the benefits of these projects – I have been actively involved in
2 particular projects “Twelve” with Melanie Manchot and the Aspex Gallery and “Diving
Into The Wreck” with Maggie Sawkins and Tongues and Grooves. I have gained
confidence and self esteem and I take pride in my participation in projects of this

The I’m Only Human Project offered by Portsmouth Film Society continues this work
and offers an opportunity for individuals and communities who are disadvantaged,
isolated and disempowered to work together and reveal the people behind the labels.
The films demonstrate that addicts and alcoholics are more than the label – they had
successful lives before addiction and had families and friends who loved them. I hope
that the films also show that we can change and rebuild our lives particularly if the right
support is available.

The group of people who came together last year for the project was incredibly diverse,
from a huge range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, ages and people who embrace
life with all its challenges. All with unique stories.

We began as a group of strangers and ended up as a team and a group of friends.
During this process we picked up some skills including a range of IT/technical and
camera skills, as well as the ability to work in various roles. We also had to write
screenplays, film, act, direct, problem solve, be flexible, be reliable, punctual and work

‘’Love at First Sight’’ is about 2 people who fall in love at a Muslim wedding. We started
filming in an Indian restaurant in Southsea and ended up on South Parade Pier where
we see the couple rush into each others arms. It’s brilliant!

I’m Only Human After All works on many levels. It brings people together and fosters
tolerance and understanding. It provides opportunities for disadvantaged people and
communities to learn new skills and tell their stories. It was also great to collaborate
with the film students who worked so hard and taught us so much. Also, it was great

This project will culminate in a red carpet event at the New Theatre Royal on 30th May.
We hope that this becomes an annual project giving ordinary and extraordinary people
in our community an opportunity to come together and tell their stories through film.

Text: Jane Muir / Film student and founder of The Recovery Cafe
Photo: Anna Malina

The Dementia friendly screening of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ has the audience singing and dancin’!

Out of the many community type events that the Portsmouth Film Society has organised, the Dementia friendly screening of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ was incredibly popular, with more than fifty individuals coming to see the film. The event was held in the King’s Theatre on Albert Road. The theatre itself is a grand Edwardian theatre with plenty of comfortable seats. Many came to the screening from nursing homes all around Portsmouth and the surrounding areas.

The event was held for those who suffer from dementia and other such issues. The priority was making sure that the event was accessible to everyone, especially those who are wheelchair bound. The event catered to those who are usually unable to go to the cinema, with the focus being that they should be given a great experience where people can socialise and enjoy a movie. The Portsmouth Film Society prides itself on its inclusive nature, making sure that those who often are not able to partake in such community events are able to.

The atmosphere was great with many members of the audience clearly eager to be there. The movie-goers were certainly enthusiastic and engaged with the film, and there were also much singing along to the songs and during the iconic titular song, a couple of people even danced to the music.

The film itself was obviously great, and there is a reason it’s considered a classic and one of the greatest musicals of all time. With great choreography and catchy tunes that are just so memorable, ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ seems like a perfect choice for such an event as everybody knows and loves it.

After the event, there was tea and cakes served in a cafeteria area, where the singing continued, and friendly conversations were held. When asked, many of those who attended the event said that they had a good time and that they would definitely come again to see another film. Events like this are important as they emphasize community cohesion; it ensures that no-one is left out, and it allows people socializeise and interact with the community when they may not be able to otherwise.

If events such as this interest you, then you can sign up for our mailing list and support other PFS events such as the ‘I am Only Human After All’ short films premiere on the 30th of May.

PFS Press Release – I Am Only Human After All

I want to buy I am Only Human Ticket

Premiere of short films breaking social barriers and uniting diverse cultures of Portsmouth.

Portsmouth Film Society (PFS) continues to deliver on its mission to help break down social barriers and unite diverse cultures with the premieres of four short films. Portsmouth citizens from all backgrounds have come together to tell their stories. Many people will be able to identify with the difficult subjects of these films; homelessness, substance misuse and recovery, disability and multiculturalism. Whether they have experience of these topics themselves, or only in passing, PFS hopes that projects like these will encourage discussion amongst their viewers.

These short films are the result of a 20-week course held at the University of Portsmouth where participants were introduced to all aspects of film-making including script writing, casting, directing, filming and editing. They then became the producers, directors, screenwriters and actors in their own films. The program also included lectures by local film makers and an inspirational tour of the Pinewood Studios, London. This was done in cooperation with the University of Portsmouth, Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, the primary supporter of the PFS’s weekly film screenings.

The course gave a dozen vulnerable locals the opportunity to tell their story and reflect on their experiences in Portsmouth. They were recommended to the course by organisations that support the work of PFS such as Portsmouth Recovery Café, Empowering2change and Portsmouth Race Equality Network Organisation.The course and these films were made possible by grants from Awards For All and Big Lottery.

The driving force behind the project is Aysegul Epengin, a PhD student at the University of Portsmouth. She has been teaching adults and young people for the past ten years and feels this project was the next step; “PFS is a volunteer led non-profit organisation and this project is something new for us. We reached people inside our community who have never had the opportunity to tell their own story and challenges. Due to the success of this project, we are planning three more and to set-up a local film school; we strive to be an educational bridge in our community! Our student’s films are well-shaped, and we are expecting some tears from the audience.”

The red-carpet premiere will be held at the New Theatre Royal on 30th of May. Tickets cost just £7 and are free for under 16s. A vote will be held on the evening to decide the audience’s favourite film and a raffle will also be run, with prizes to be won. Donations will go towards PFS’s future development of the filmmaking course.

The short films will also be entered into various competitions and will be screened at other local events in 2018.

I am Only Human After All flyer (A4) v7 – print

Ali & Nino – Review

Released – 2016   IMDb Rating – 7.1/10   Genre – Romance, Drama, War 

Portsmouth Film Society Rating – 

This romantic thriller set during WW1 and in the Caspian Sea region will sweep you away!


“This wonderful novel—beautifully constructed, vivid and persuasive, a love story at once exotic and familiar—is living proof that art is indestructible and transcendent.” – Paul Theroux on the novel behind the film Ali and Nino.

Directed by Asif Kapadia, this film is based on the original novel written by Kurban Said in 1937! The film is about two lovers ( played by Adam Bakri and Maria Valverde ) and their fight to be together in the name of love.

Ali is a Muslim in Azerbaijan and Nino is a Christian living in Georgia. However, when religion and world war comes between them, the couple flee in an attempt to be together, despite problems occurring all around them.

Kapadia smartly uses the same tempo and pacing throughout each scene, whether this be about war, love or chase. This may have been done in an attempt to show the difficulties one faces throughout life, and hence keeps the viewers on the edge of their seats at all times!

Lights , camera, action…

Filming by students of the I Am Only Human After All workshop being run by Portsmouth Film Society is taking place around the city the weekend of 23 March.  The films will premiere at a red carpet event to be held at the New Theatre Royal on the 30th of May.  These short films will also be screened at other local events this year and be entered into competitions.  You will also be able to view them online.

The films being made by first time Portsmouth filmmakers reflect on important local issues such as homelessness, substance misuse, people in recovery, disabilities and multiculturalism.  The class also includes students who are actively involved in support of these communities.

Portsmouth Film Society (PFS) continues to deliver on its mission to use film to help break down social barriers and unite diverse cultures.  Throughout the 20 week course held at the University of Portsmouth, students are being introduced to all aspects of filmmaking encompassing scriptwriting, casting, directing, filming and film editing.  The curriculum includes lectures by local filmmakers and an inspirational tour of Sony’s Pinewood Studios in London.

“We are encouraged by the talent and dedication of the students and intend to apply and enhance their writing and cinematic skills in future PFS projects.” says chair Cecelia Young.
PFS plans to conduct similar courses in the future and are delighted to have received the Awards For All, Big Lottery, which is making this project possible.

For more information about the class and to purchase tickets for the 30 May Premiere please go to www.portsmouthfilmsociety.uk.org.

Spotlight – Review

Released – 2015    IMDb Rating – 8.1/10   Genre – Crime, Drama, History 

Portsmouth Film Society Rating – 

The Oscar-nominated Spotlight is a journalistic thriller!

Spotlight is directed and written by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, and features big name actors such as Mark Ruffalo ( seen in such films such as Avengers and the Incredible Hulk ) and Michael Keaton ( also featured in Need for Speed and Robocop ).

The film, a true story, revolves around how the Boston Globe, under their first Jewish editor at the time, took on abusive institutions of a city where Catholicism is the way of life, and priests and the police worked hand in hand…

Liev Schreiber ( portraying Marty Baron ) sets the investigative journalism team, nicknamed ‘Spotlight’ on an old story regarding a priest, and around whom accusations of child abuse continue to multiply.

Initially, the journalists are reluctant to pursue an issue that could essentially implicate the holy hierarchy in a negatively portrayed scandal, but soon enough they find themselves discovering a wide-ranging and systemic cover-up…

Spotlight is a crime thriller which will have the audience glued to their seats for the entirety of the film…

Letters from Baghdad – Review

Released – 2016    IMDb Rating – 6.8/10   Genre – Documentary

Portsmouth Film Society Rating – 

“The Queen of the Desert – The woman history erased”.

British explorer Gertrude Bell (1868 – 1926) is brought back to life in Letters from Baghdad, a documentary which also accompanied by Tilda Swinton’s voice-over.

Known widely as the ‘female TE Lawrence’, Gertrude Bell was seen as one of Britains most powerful women in her time and helped to shape Iraq’s destiny after WW1.

Directed by Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl, Letters from Baghdad is a carefully researched and detailed documentary which takes a look at Gertrude Bell’s journey through Iraq and how she had a hand in establishing the state of Iraq.

All visuals are in black and white, and this matches the wealth of archive footage that is used to tell the story.

Tilda Swinton features throughout using a voice-over and reads extracts from many elegantly written letters sent to her by Gertrude Bell, including stories of exploring the desert and learning new languages such as Farsi and Arabic.

The documentary adopts an interesting snapshot approach to Bell’s career, switching seamlessly between to her childhood, to her later life whilst working in the government, as well as her direct influence within Iraq.

In Between – Review

Released – 2016     IMDb Rating – 7.4/10   Genre – Drama

Portsmouth Film Society Rating – 

“Some people live in palaces, but God knows what their life is like inside…”

Faith vs Independence… Family vs Fulfilment

In Between is a story of three Palestinian women who each struggle to fit two completely different cultural lifestyles within their daily lives. Freedom and repression, religion and secularism, and the past vs the future.

Mouna Hawa (Laila) features as a chain-smoking, big drinking personality, alongside Sana Jammalieh (Salma) who is a gay aspiring DJ, and Shaden Kanboura (Nour) who is a strait-laced and studious cultural girl.

Despite at first glance, it may look like the three woman all have different lifestyles and unique ambitions, but scratch the surface of their lives, and the problems each face are not so dissasimilar.

Witness this thrilling drama as the three women struggle to fit their free lifestyles with their strict cultural traditions!

The Big Sick – Review

Released – 2017    IMDb Rating – 7.7/10   Genre – Drama, Comedy, Romance

Portsmouth Film Society Rating – 

Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan star in The Big Sick, a hilariously interesting romantic comedy!

Produced by Judd Apatow, and based on a true story, this film is not only free of irony cynicism, but this date movie will also have you on the edge of your seats…

Stand-up comedian Kumail comes from a standard Asian family background – where arranged marriages are the only choice. However during one of his shows, a heckler (Emily) changes Kumail’s perspective on love and marriage, and what follows next is a secret romance, much to the ignorance of Kumail’s parents who are in the process of finding a girl for him.

However, once their secret is out their relationship reaches breaking point – Which side will Kumail choose? Things only get worse when Emily suddenly falls into a coma with a mysterious infection…

This romcom is a culture-clashing thriller, containing modern edge that will leave audience choosing sides!

PFS and Portsmouth University celebrate 4th LGBTQ+ history month with film festival!

Portsmouth Film Society is proud to announce Portsmouth’s deputy Lord Mayor, Councilor Lee Mason, will open the fourth Portsmouth Pride LGBTQ+ film festival!

This will take place on Wednesday 7th February 2018, at 7 pm. University of Portsmouth’s Equality and Diversity officer, Dave Small, will also be present and will do an introduction talk for the opening film of the event, God’s Own Country.

LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning and others) history month takes place across the UK and around the world every February. Its purpose is to celebrate the lives, achievements, as well as promote awareness of the LGBTQ+ community.

As part of the celebrations the University, supported by the LGBTQ staff forum and LGBTQ+ student society, is proud to be supporting a range of events throughout the month.

The Eldon Building, home of the faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, located on Winston Churchill Avenue, will be lit up the rainbow style in order to mark support!

Portsmouth’s Pride LGBTQ+ film festival 2018, which celebrates its fourth year, will once again be partnering with the University to screen LGBTQ+ related films across the entirety of the month. The festival will be launched on Wednesday 7th February prior to the screening of ‘God’s own Country’ at7 pm.

“The university represents a large body of staff and students and therefore it’s important to mark the LGBTQ history month. We find ways to work with community groups such as the Portsmouth Film Society to raise awareness of equality and diversity in the city,”Dave Small – University of Portsmouth’s Equality and Diversity officer. 

“There are increasing numbers of young people in the UK, and information around sexuality and relationships are limited. Portsmouth Film Society is proud and pride to encourage interest in films as a medium for public education, information, and entertainment by means of the exhibition of films of artistic, cultural or informative character. We are most grateful for the support of Peccadillo Pictures and The University of Portsmouth for our festival.”Aysegul Epengin – Portsmouth Film Society Coordinator. 

The programme will be as follows:

Wednesday 7 February – God’s Own Country (105 mins /15 /UK /2017)

This film is a romantic drama in which a young man struggling with both his sexuality and the challenges of running the family sheep and cattle farm falls in love with a Romanian migrant worker employed for the lambing season. It’s a transporting and wrenchingly acted love story set in the windswept wilds of the north of England. The film will be preceded by a launch reception at 7 pm.

Wednesday 14 February – Tom Of Finland (114 mins /18 /Finland /Sweden /Denmark / 2017)

A decorated officer, returns home after a harrowing and heroic experience in World War II, but life in Finland during peacetime proves equally distressing. He finds peace-time Helsinki rampant with the persecution of homosexuals, with gay men around him being pressured to marry women and have children. Touko finds refuge in his homoerotic drawings of muscular men, free of inhibitions. His work, made famous by his signature “Tom of Finland”, became the emblem of a generation of men and fanned the flames of a gay revolution.

Wednesday 21 February – In Between (103 mins /15 /Israel /Palestine /2017)

Three Arab-Israeli women attempt to balance faith and tradition with their modern lives while living in the heart of Tel Aviv. Directed by Maysaloun Hamoud. The director calls this “an authentic picture of a kind of invisible life that we live here as a younger generation of Palestinians” and it’s a claim that seems to ring true. Cinema expert Dr. Yael Friedman from UoP will introduce the film.

Further details of the screenings can be found at the Portsmouth Film Society webpage http://www.portsmouthfilmsociety.org.uk/

Screening location: Portsmouth Film Society Eldon Building, room 1.10 – Winston Churchill Avenue Portsmouth PO1 2DJ