Now in it’s 17th year, the Leeds Young Film Festival starts this Thursday and as always there’s plenty to see for people of all ages. Taking place throughout the Easter school holidays (24th-31st March) the festival is aimed at young people but every year it always impresses with a great selection of films. If you’re ignoring the programme because it’s a “Kids’ festival” you’re likely to be missing out.
For starters there’s another chance to see some of the LIFF29 films you may not have seen (or want to see again): Assassination Classroom (2015), Breaking A Monster (2015), Landfill Harmonic (2015), Lovemilla (2015) and Crow’s Egg (2014) are all showing at the Picture House. On Good Friday, tribute screenings of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009) and Labyrinth (1986) allow us to remember the great work of Alan Rickman and David Bowie. Good Friday continues with 25th Anniversary screenings of the deliciously bizarre Delicatessen (1991) and Wes Craven’s The People Under The Stairs (1991), who we also sadly lost last year.
Not For Rental is a programme of films curated by 15-19 year olds that runs throughout the year. Their selection for the festival are all showing at the Picture House and includes Studio Ghibli’s latest (and possibly last) When Marnie Was There (2014) and Boy and the Beast (2015) from the makers of Wolf Children and Summer Wars which have both screened at LIFF. Not For Rental have also programmed this week’s Creatures Of The Night and Tuesday Wonder slots. The late night (but slightly earlier than usual at 10:30pm) screening of Aliens (1986) should be great after seeing Alien at LIFF a few years ago and on Tuesday He Named Me Malala (2015) is the inspirational documentary about the the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, 17 year old Malala Yousafzai.
Another great (but long) event is the Independent Directions Young Filmmaker Awards (the INDIs), a showcase of the best short films made by young people in the UK without funding, professional support or school involvement. In previous years the amount of talent has been remarkable and it’s impressive to see work from film makers as young as 5 or 6 on a big screen. The event starts at 12:30pm on Tuesday 29th and runs through until 5:30pm, usually showing the films in order of the age of the filmmakers.
The other strand of films happening at the Picture House is Reel Kids, these films are aimed at the younger children but offer a great opportunity to show your children that there’s more to cinema than Hollywood blockbusters. These films are only £2 for children and £3/2.50 for adults or £6 for a family of four. The closing film of the festival at Hyde Park is The Prophet (2014) where eight directors have blended poetry, music, painting and animation into a stunning film. The screening will be followed by a live Skype Q&A with Tomm Moore, the director of Song of the Sea (also showing at the festival) and one of The Prophet’s segments.
Away from the Picture House there are events taking place at the Town Hall and Carriageworks. Sneaky Experience are putting on special interactive screenings of The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971) – including an adults only version on Saturday 27th 6:30pm. The Town Hall is a spectacular venue for The Force Awakens (2015) on Wednesday 30th at 6:30pm. Animation takes over the Carriageworks with a selection of workshops and fantastic recent animated films such as Ernest & Celestine, Song Of The Sea, How To Train Your Dragon, Inside Out, The Iron Giant, Shaun The Sheep, Sing-a-long Frozen, The Corpse Bride and Finding Nemo.
Prices for events vary depending on the film and venue. It isn’t clear from the brochure (which is available as a PDF here) but we’ve been told that Friends members will get the concessionary rate of £5.50 at the Picture House. In previous years there have been ridiculously great value passes but sadly these are not available this year (although they were introduced at the last minute in 2015). Hopefully the lack of passes won’t dent the audiences of this wonderful but under appreciated festival.