The universe may be expanding, but one look at the packed programme for the third annual St Albans Film Festival and you’ll see it’s not the only thing getting bigger over time.

An array of stellar space-themed events, from a Star Trek marathon to a screening of Aliens: Resurrection in a swimming pool, will take place across the city from April 29 to May 3.

Inspired by the city’s connection to world-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking, who was educated at St Albans School, the festival’s other-worldly theme co-coincides with the 100-year anniversary of Albert Einstein’s revolutionary Theory of Relativity.

Festival organiser Leoni Kibbey says: “Edinburgh Festival started small with one person’s idea and now thousands of productions and events take place around Edinburgh. I would love to bring a slice of that kind of energy to our city, which was itself at the forefront of modern filmmaking and cinemas a hundred years ago and see the festival grow for years to come.“

Star of the festival is the newly refurbished Odyssey Cinema – an Art Deco building which reopened last November after 19-years closure and will host the grand opening event on Friday, May 1.

Anna Shepherd, Odyssey manager, says: “We are really proud to be taking part in the festival. It’s a chance to celebrate in the community what we have achieved and show how important film and cinema is to us all.“

Over the weekend, up-and-coming film makers – including nine hopefuls from St Albans – will showcase their work in an attempt to win a prize for best short film in their category. Screenings will take place at the Grade II listed St Albans Town Hall.

The categories include short documentary film, music videos and animated films and winners will be announced at the Odyssey’s glittering awards night on Sunday.

The finalists from St Albans are: BAFTA-winning filmmaker Dan Smith and Ben Roper, whose creations are up for Best Main Short Film; music videos by comedian Vicky Arlidge, Chiswell Studios and Rob Findlay; Sam J Hunt and Kieran Zielinski each up for Best Student Shorts, and Joe Medforth and Michelle Becker whose films are nominated for Best Short Documentary.

Anna says: “It’s very exciting for us as it’s the first time we will be playing short films on our big screen. It’s going to be a real treat for the filmmakers and guests to enjoy the full cinematic experience.“

Must-see events

Alien (18)

Watch the classic 1979 Ridley Scott sci-fi horror from the comfort of one of the UK’s oldest pubs.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, Abbey Mill Lane, St Albans, Wednesday, April 29, 7.45pm. Details: 07583 089609,

Grand Opening at The Odyssey

Enjoy 1968 cult favourite Barbarella at the beautifully restored cinema. Dress according to the festival’s space theme for an evening of other-worldly entertainment including face painting and entertainment from actors in the foyer.

The Odyssey, London Road, St Albans, Friday, May 1, 7pm. Details: 01727 453088,

Always in the Present

The début feature from writer and director Oliver Guy-Watkins, this film follows the story of six individuals whose lives have been shaken by the disappearance of their friend. Six months later, they come together to mark what would have been his 35th birthday. This exclusive screening will also include a live score by French band Metropolitan Parc.

St Albans Town Hall, Market Place, St Peters Street, St Albans, Saturday, May 2, 4pm. Details: 07583 089609,

Alien: Resurrection (12)

Whether you take the plunge and watch from the water or wrap up in a towel by the poolside, enjoy a unique cinematic experience. The 1997 sci-fi horror includes a thrilling underwater scene, perfect for this Swim Inn Cinema event. Over 18s.

Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre, Holywell Hill, St Albans, Saturday, May 2, 8pm. Details: 01727 736080,

Main Short Film Finalists

Showcasing filmmaking talent is at the heart of the festival. Some of the stars of this year’s eclectic mix of short films include Cillian Murphy and Ricky Tomlinson, while each screening has a Q&A session afterwards.

St Albans Town Hall, Market Place, St Peters Street, St Albans, Saturday, May 2, 1pm and 2.30pm. Details: 07583 089609,

Lights – Camera – Action

Make your own space-themed Zoetrope, a Victorian animation toy that brings your hand-drawn animations to life. Create your own mini-film depicting whatever your imagination desires.

The Abbey Theatre, Westminster Lodge, Holywell Hill, St Albans, Saturday, May 2, 2.30pm. Details: 01727 85786,

Oaklands College – A Weekend of Film

Film and media students host a packed weekend of events inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The free events include a chance to try out professional film equipment, film quizzes, indie screenings and lots more.

Oaklands College, Smallford Campus, Hatfield Road, St Albans, May 2 to 3, noon. Details: 07583 089609,

Red Carpet Closing Event

The Odyssey hosts this glamorous space-themed closing awards where the winners of this years film festival and screen the winners shorts will be announced.

The Odyssey, London Road, St Albans, Sunday, May 3, 7pm. Details: 01727 453088,

For the full programme visit