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Monty Python star Michael Palin helps launch Norwich Film Festival 2017

PUBLISHED: 22:01 09 November 2017 | UPDATED: 22:03 09 November 2017

Michael Palin in Norwich for the opening event of the Norwich Film Festival at the Open, with the Festival's co-directors, Craig Higgins, left, and Kellen Playford, 2nd right, and marketing co-ordinator, Matt Ecclestone. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Michael Palin in Norwich for the opening event of the Norwich Film Festival at the Open, with the Festival's co-directors, Craig Higgins, left, and Kellen Playford, 2nd right, and marketing co-ordinator, Matt Ecclestone. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2017

He’s been around the world in 80 days but now it was time for something completely different as actor, writer and globetrotter Michael Palin helped launch a film festival in Norwich.

Michael Palin in Norwich for the opening event of the Norwich Film Festival at the Open. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Michael Palin in Norwich for the opening event of the Norwich Film Festival at the Open. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Monty Python star who later became a hugely successful travel writer and documentarian renowned for TV shows like Pole to Pole, Himalaya, Sahara and Brazil dropped into the city to kick off the 2017 Norwich Film Festival.

The festival, now in its seventh year, will see 100 films - including 95 shorts - screened in the city over the next 10 days starting with Thursday night’s sold out showing of Mr Palin’s 1984 comedy A Private Function.

Speaking ahead of the screening, Mr Palin said short films provided those who had ideas, but perhaps not the money, with a great way to showcase their talents.

He said: “It’s very difficult to get a very good coherent short film with a beginning, middle and an end.

“It’s quite a discipline and if the festival encourages people like that you are encouraging filmmakers of the future and giving them a chance to have their work shown which is very important.”

For Mr Palin the launch at Open of the Norwich BID-supported festival, provided him with a welcome opportunity to return to Norfolk which he remembers fondly from his childhood.

He said: “I’ve always had an affinity with Norfolk because my father was born in Norfolk and my grandfather also lived in Norfolk - he was a doctor in Fakenham.

“My father had to move for work up to Sheffield and a way of keeping in contact with Norfolk was to bring us all here for family holidays so we went to Sheringham from about 1949 onwards for about 10 years and then to Southwold in Suffolk so I got to know Norfolk really very well.

“My father was a great one for looking at churches. He loved churches and took me inside churches and I used to find it a fairly hard duty as an eight-year-old.

“What I loved was going in the pulpits and I used to do a mock sermon which I suppose showed the exhibitionist tendencies which were to come out later on. And actually now I love churches and that’s one thing I really think is so marvellous about Norwich is the beauty of the preserved churches here.”

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