London and Leeds Film Festivals

Jake Baldwinson reports back from the London Film Festival and looks forward to Leeds annual film festival next month.

London Film Festival

Last Friday saw the launch of the Leeds International Film Festival programme. Now, I would normally spend the following weekend poring over the free guide, working out a schedule for my filmgoing highlight of the year. This time around, however, I was attending part of  the BFI London Film Festival. I ended up packing in 7 films over a hectic couple of days, including two that have been selected for the Leeds Film Festival this year.

What I find exciting about attending a film festival, even if just for a day or two, is experiencing a melting pot of different narrative voices in a short period of time. On my Saturday in London, I went to 4 screenings; beginning with a fiction feature set in Mexico, shot in an eye-catching circular frame using innovative techniques by the filmmakers. I then finished with a documentary about a culture under threat in Thailand and Burma, filmed in a collage-style using several different formats underwater and on land. These are the complementary screenings (or ones that intriguingly clash) that you would only find at a film fest. The former, entitled Lucifer, is screening a total of three times in Leeds as part of the festival in November, and I would really recommend it. Another from LIFF’s Official Selection that I caught in London was Jafar Panahi’s extremely enjoyable, Taxi, also showing three times (including once at The Hyde Park Picture House.)

I will no doubt go and see Lucifer again. So now I’ve had time to look through the guide, here’s a small selection of films I’m really looking forward to at the 29th Leeds International Film Festival:

Couple in a Hole: I was really intrigued by early reviews of this after it’s premiere in Toronto. Kate Dickie is always good.

Happy Hour: I tried to get a ticket for this at the London Film Festival.  A five and a half hour drama directed by relative newcomer, Ryusuke Hamaguchi. Film Bloggers have been very positive about this after the London screenings.

In the Crosswind: Another leap into the unknown for me (isn’t that what film festivals are about?) Living dioramas illustrating the letters of a young Estonian woman during WWII.

: A chance to see what all the fuss is about! This iPhone shot film was a big success at Sundance, and I’ve been seeing articles about it ever since.

Abandoned Goods & Exquisite Corpus
: Two short films; Exquisite Corpus is from brilliant experimental filmmaker, Peter Tscherkassky and Abandoned Goods is from newcomers Edward Lawrenson and  Pia Borg, who were recently profiled in Filmmaker magazine’s 25 New Faces feature. Very excited for this double bill.

Heart of a Dog
: A very intriguing looking essay film from Laurie Anderson, who is probably best known as a performance artist and for her excellent musical output.

Pupi Avati’s The House with Laughing Windows & Zeder: Two strange and atmospheric horror films from little known Italian maverick, and in the case of the former, an interview with the man himself!

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