Comedy success: Low-budget flick Best Little Whorehouse in Rochdale wins top gong at London festival

By Mark Shales

A Rochdale-based film is taking the cinematic world by storm after scooping the Best Feature award at the London Independent Film Festival on Sunday.

Prestwich-based writer, producer and director Ian Vernon’s Best Little Whorehouse in Rochdale has already won the Audience Choice award at Palm Beach and Best Foreign Feature at San Diego Film Festivals.

The 105-minute feature made its home country debut in the capital’s annual independent festival and its creator is delighted with the reception it has received worldwide.

“I’m incredibly proud,” he told MM. “It was a long hard slog but it’s so rewarding to see the audiences laughing so much – some were even stamping their feet.

“I’ve spent over two years on this now and probably seen it over a thousand times through editing and the one joy I have is seeing an audience’s reaction.

“Independent film festivals are incredibly important because if you make a film without big stars it’s very unlikely to gain a distributor and end up on your local cinema.

“Winning an award at a festival can make it a little easier to maybe being picked up by someone and then ending up on iTunes or somewhere like that.”

The film revolves around a 40-year-old cleaner – played by Jeni Howarth-Williams – struggling to pay her bills.

After losing her husband of 25 years she decides to open a co-operative brothel, but one that doesn’t offer sex.

And with Rochdale being the home of the modern-day co-operative movement – the Rochdale Pioneers forming in 1844 – the town formed the perfect backdrop for the story. 

Produced for just £2,000, the film took a year to film with the tiny cast working for free in their spare time.

Rochdale-born actor Hylton Collins – who has had roles in The Bill and Waterloo Road – and Denice Hope – who was previously seen in Life On Mars, Northern Lights and the Royle Family – also featured.

And Ms Howarth-Williams, who also originates from Rochdale, admitted it had been a lot of fun to work on.

“Denice and I are like the northern French and Saunders and I think that camaraderie comes across in the film,” she told MM.

“It has a sort of female Full Monty meets Calendar Girls feel to it.

“I’ve known Ian for ages and told him under no uncertain terms that he had to write a part for me, so this film was written with me in mind.

“There were elements of it based on my character, but of course I’ve never wanted to open a brothel.”

The film is yet to be shown publically in Manchester but a screening is hoping to be arranged. For more information visit:

Image courtesy of VisualEffectsFilms, via YouTube, with thanks.

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