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North East International Film Festival

2002. Lisa-Marie Tonelli

Lisa-Marie Tonelli, from Newcastle, is an independent film producer who founded the ‘North East International Film Festival’ in 2020.

Recognising that Newcastle was one of the few major UK cities without an international film festival, Lisa-Marie identified a way to highlight local, emerging talent, companies and film locations across the region by creating a network of filmmakers, actors and industry specialists.

With 2022’s festival featuring work by filmmakers from over 15 different countries, it is one of the fastest-growing film festivals in the world. All events are planned to be as accessible, inclusive and eco-friendly as possible, with the majority of screenings held at a community led cinema and community kitchen, and a tree planted for every ticket purchased, making it the only carbon negative film festival in the world. Through the festival, Lisa-Marie also runs programmes for student volunteers and organisations to further promote accessibility in the film industry, including ‘AutismAble’, a charity she is also a board member of.

In a personal letter to Lisa-Marie, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: 

“As we mark International Women’s Day, and celebrate the contributions of extraordinary women across our country, I wanted to congratulate you on the success of the North East International Film Festival.

 “You have built one of the most inclusive and fastest growing film festivals in the world, showcasing the huge depths of creative talent in the North-East alongside the work of filmmakers drawn from across five continents.

 “You are also partnering with universities and local organisations to offer new training opportunities, workshops, masterclasses and awards that are opening up the film industry to people from all communities.”

Lisa-Marie said:

I am deeply humbled and honoured to receive the Prime Minister’s Point of Light Award. The ‘North East International Film Festival’ was born out of passion for my region, the people, creative culture and the necessity to offer a more diverse, collaborative and sustainable festival model.  The ‘NEIFF’ is entirely volunteer-led and without the continued support of valued partners, sponsors, local Universities and other volunteers, the festival and work carried out as a consequence of the festival would not be possible. My hope is that this award will be one of the Points of Light guiding people, interest, investment and ultimately success to our beloved region and its people.”

See more about the ‘North East International Film Festival’.

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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