Long before I joined the Friends of Hyde Park Picture House committee I got involved with Keswick Film Club and their annual film festival. I grew up near Keswick in the Lake District and the film club played a big part in enlightening me on the wonders of art house cinema.
Now in it’s 17th year Keswick Film Festival starts on Thursday and runs through until Sunday. There are 29 films spread across themes such as Best Of The Fests, highlighting popular films from other festivals such as The Assassin (2015), The Wolfpack (2015) and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2015). The Jazz theme includes a 35mm screening of Round Midnight (1986), one of the more authentic and affectionate presentations of the jazz world on the silver screen. Four films look at Memory in different ways including Imaginaerium (2015), a gothic fantasy based on the music Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish and described as a visual and aural spectacle. Another film dealing with Memory is Karen Guthrie’s The Closer We Get (also showing at the Picture House on Tuesday 1st March). Described by Mark Kermode as “a poignant examination of the bonds of family love”, Karen will be at Keswick to introduce and talk about her personal film.
Two other female directors will also be at the festival with their films. On Friday, British novelist Helen Walsh’s The Violators (2015) is “an intriguing directorial debut with a class-crossing tale of teen ennui” (Variety). Lapse Of Honour (2015) from Rayna Campbell is a gritty urban drama based in Manchester’s Moss Side and sees MOBO nominated rapper Lady Leshurr makes a seamless move into film. There are 13 other films at the festival directed by women and many more F-Rated films featuring significant roles for women both behind and in front of the camera.
Elsewhere in the festival there is a talk on special effects and discussions organised by the Keswick Peace and Human Rights Group around screenings of This Changes Everything (2014) and On The Side Of The Road (2013). The Osprey Short Film Awards feature locally made films and is often a highlight of the entire festival. The festival comes to a close with a musical performance celebrating the silver screen from the Mercury Award nominated Guy Barker and ‘Best Jazz Vocalist’ (BBC Jazz Awards) Ian Shaw.
As film lovers I’m sure you’d be able to find plenty to see over the long weekend and The Lake District is still a beautiful place to visit this time of year. It’s not really that far away (2.5 hours drive) and you may be surprised just how many familiar faces from the Picture House you may see. There’s another reason to visit this year as Keswick was one of the towns badly hit by Storm Desmond and local businesses could do with the extra boost. There’s a big campaign to spread the word that Cumbria Is Open for business.
Hopefully I’ll see some of you there.