Watersprite is the world's largest student film festivalWatersprite film festival with permission for Varsity

“Anything to do with publicity is probably me.” Despite the behemoth of the task ahead of her, Amenie Groves, a second year MMLer at Jesus, is all smiles. The only crack in her demeanour comes from my Zoom’s failing bandwidth. She has been charged with promoting the rollout of Cambridge’s most prestigious student film festival and yet appears completely composed. Naturally, I attempt to tease out some doubts and insecurities. This is the largest and most ambitious that the festival has ever been. Does she think that Watersprite 15 will be able to deliver as both an anniversary occasion and a showcase of widening student talent? The stakes have truly never been higher.

“Watersprite’s enduring mission is ‘students meeting students meeting students’ in a positive and creative space”

Almost instinctively, Amenie humbles herself among the talents of the other Heads of Departments. She strongly believes that the healthy mixture of both Watersprite veterans and new blood on the 2024 committee is essential to pushing the film festival’s boundaries. Bold, new ideas are fused with a solid existing infrastructure, which holds the festival in place while allowing it to take measured risks: “[the committee] are all ambitious creatives too. They make a lot of stuff, so they’re generally interested.” In fact, the current festival director won last year’s FilmonJesus short film competition with his 36,000 words for love. However, at the moment, I’m more interested specifically in what Amenie’s role entails.

In a word, visibility. In two more words, raising it. From helping to launch a brand-new website with festival director Zeb Goriely to recruiting various subcommittees and stewarding the many social media pages, Amenie is doing a lot. But as she explains, it’s not only about honing the traditional forms of outreach and publicity, but also exploring new sources of social communication. Amenie suggests that this is what keeps Watersprite’s presence alive for newer generations of festivalgoers. Some of her current projects include: creating a TikTok account; a Threads page; a weekly blog; and a monthly newsletter. Keeping the festival relevant for its younger members ensures a continuing appeal to incoming students.

“It’s not only about honing the traditional forms of outreach and publicity, but also exploring new sources of social communication”

A previous Varsity writer described the Cambridge filmmaking scene as a “black hole”, one which is not only wedged between two universities but fragmented across the entire city. Amenie believes that knitting together the film scene first begins at reconciling the relationship between the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin. This is first observed symbolically with a committee split roughly equally between the two institutions. For Amenie, Watersprite’s enduring mission is “students meeting students meeting students” in a positive and creative space. She discusses how the festival is always attempting to find new ways to democratise and widen access to what it has to offer, from removing the elitist term ‘gala’ from the ‘gala and events’ team this year, to running two separate freshers’ fairs for both Anglia Ruskin and Cambridge.

"Anything to do with publicity is probably me"Amenie Groves with permission for Varsity

In the run-up to the event, there is a slew of screenings and enough networking events to sink a battleship. It is a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded people, crew calls, and generally celebrate films with fellow enthusiasts. Also on the docket is celebrity appearances and workshops by industry veterans – these events are completely open to all students across Cambridge. Awards are routinely sponsored by a roster of famous faces including Olivia Coleman, Neil Gaiman and Eddie Redmayne. Amenie seems to enjoy the fact that she is not allowed to tell me which celebrities might rear their heads this year, but I am reassured that they are “amazing”.


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The festival promises to be two things: a victory lap of the last fifteen years and a signpost of the places the festival has yet to go. Watersprite’s longevity – in large part achieved by the dedication and talent of its communications team – has allowed it to build a significant bank of credibility. This is perhaps made most manifest by the esteemed board of trustees financially supporting it and the annual interest and sponsorships it gains from companies like the BBC and MUBI. Watersprite has the capital to take steps forward – but measured ones. For fifteen years it’s been slowly but inevitably creeping to become the biggest student film festival in the world. Watersprite 15 may just be the watershed moment that puts the Cambridge filmmaking scene on the map.

More information about this year’s Watersprite Film Festival can be found on its website.