Leeds International Film Festival 2017

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Last week the programme for LIFF2017 was launched along with the new Leeds Film City website (also Twitter, Facebook and Instagram). The paper programme should be available in the usual places (including the Picture House) and there is also a PDF version.

As always the programme is packed full of a wide variety of films and deciding what to see is tough process for film lovers. In the end I made a lot of my choices on how easily I could get from one screening to the next, of course it wouldn’t be LIFF if I didn’t have a few dashes between town and the Picture House. I made a clashfinder which shows which films are on at the same time and you may find it useful when you’re planning your festival. Other people are using the clashfinder which means I can see what films are getting highlighted the most and, although this may not reflect ticket sales, the current top 10 is as follows:

  1. The Square: Opening Film
  2. The Florida Project
  3. Bad Genius
  4. Summer Time Machine Blues
  5. The Killing of a Sacred Deer: Opening Film
  6. Dave Made a Maze
  7. Happy End
  8. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: Closing Film
  9. The Endless
  10. Good Time

I’m hoping to see all of those films so that list doesn’t surprise me much. I’ve got another 40 or so films in my current plan plus this year I’m hoping to try Night Of The Dead for the first time! What else am I looking forward to? Well there’s new films from Clio Barnard (Dark River) and Paddy Considine (Journeyman), the breakfast screening of Amélie should be a delight (plus it’s a 35mm print) and Mutafukaz looks like it’s the kind of craziness we’ve all come to expect from the festival.

What about you? What films are you looking forward to seeing and have you managed to put together a plan yet? Let us know in the comments.

New Programme: July – September

The new film programme starts on July 14th and is now available as a PDF on the website, the printed version should be available from the cinema early next week.

It includes new films from directors Sofia Coppola (The Beguiled), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk – on 35mm celluloid) and Kathryn Bigelow (Detroit). The cover image is from God’s Own Country, the phenomenal debut feature from Yorkshire filmmaker Francis Lee  (you may remember his 2013 short film Bradford Halifax London ). Francis will be attending a special preview Q&A on Wednesday 23rd August.

Other highlights include selections of films for the new INDIs Festival, an Amnesty International miniseries focussing on children’s rights. Our Friends’ screening to celebrate Yorkshire Day will take place on Sunday 30th July and is a double bill of The Battle For Orgreave (1985) and The Battle of Orgreave  (2001). Two very different but complementary approaches to documenting the fractious period in British history which encompassed the miner’s strikes of 1984-1985.

What are  you looking forward to seeing, let us know in the comments below.

New Programme: May-July

The new programme started last Friday with Lady Macbeth,  “a British, period-set chamber thriller with a star-making turn on one side of the camera, and one hell of a directing debut on the other” (Tim Robey, The Telegraph), and there’s still chance to catch it on Tuesday and Wednesday.

This programme runs through until the middle of July, ending the long wait for Edgar Wright’s next film with Baby Driver. This Sunday the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival returns with a full day at Hyde Park featuring a free selection of cartoonsThe House on Trubnaya Street (1928), The Four Just Men (1921),  Behind the Door (1919) and Chicago (1927).

Other highlights include the brilliant animated films My Life As A Courgette and The Red Turtle and new releases such as My Cousin Rachel, The Levelling, Clash and After The Storm. There’s also chances to catch classics on the big screen including Manhattan (1979), The Seventh Seal (1957) and La Strada (1954) and Creature Of The Night screenings of The Thing (1982), Shaun Of The Dead (2004) and Heat (1994).

 

The Salesman / Forushande Iran, France, 2016.

Daily from Friday March 24th until Thursday March 30th

Salesman

This film won the Best Foreign Language title at the Academy Awards. It also gained attention when the director boycotted the ceremony in opposition to new and discriminatory immigration controls by the USA. It is rather pleasing that most notable bane of the USA has recently won two Academy Awards; this title and A Separation / Jodaeiye Nader az Simin in 2012. That title was also written and directed by Asghar Farhadi. This film repeats some of the tropes of the earlier title though the central theme is rather different.

Both films rely on the importance of place for the characters, especially the apartments that provide their home. But this new film has an added dimension: a play within a play, ‘Death of a Salesman’. There are definite parallels between the apartment of the lead characters and the theatrical setting. However, I thought the relationships were closer to Tennessee Williams than to Arthur Miller.

The are fine performances as the central couple by Taraneh Alidoosti as Rana Etesami  and Shahab Hosseini  as Emad Etesami.  They were also a couple in Farhadi’s earlier About Elly / Darbareye Elly (2009) and if you saw that film the relationship then it offers a faint but interesting prequel to that in this film.

This is a fascinating and absorbing study. And the production is very well done. However, I found it was less compelling than the two earlier films made in Iran, [Farhadi has also worked on a French film The Past / Le passé, 2013). And I felt it was not quite as telling in its portrayal of contemporary Iran.

It is still worth seeing, especially as this has not been so far [with a few exceptions] a great year for new releases. Note regarding the UK trailer; it includes more plot than is necessary; and the cutting does not represent the film effectively, this has a rather different tempo,

New Programme

March - May Programme

The new programme is now available on the main website as as PDF. The coverstar is Julian Barratt in Mindhorn, which you may remember won the Audience Award at the film festival, and is screening from May 5th. There are a few other LIFF films coming up as well: Cameraperson, Certain Women, The Handmaiden, Raw and Graduation. Speaking of festivals Leeds Young Film Festival runs over Easter from 10th to 20th April and once again it’s a great programme with something for people of all ages. The less-young should look out for Bicycle Thieves (1948), Kes (1969), The Princess Bride (1987) and The Red Turtle (2016) as well as plenty of recent animated and family friendly films.  Also on the 25th April as part of the first Leeds International Festival there’s a screening of Ex Machina (2014) followed by a Q&A with visual effects artist Andrew Whitehurst.

Elsewhere in the programme there are films that have generated a lot of buzz recently (or will do when they get released) : The Love Witch, The Fits, Free Fire, Personal Shopper, The Salesman, I Am Not Your Negro.

We really are lucky to have such a wonderful selection of films coming up over the next few months.

 

National Theatre Live At The City Varieties

For a long time customers have asked about hosting screenings of National Theatre and other live theatre performances at the Picture House. Unfortunately due to some planning restrictions it’s just not possible for us to get these in our programme however our beautiful sister venue, the City Varieties Music Hall, will be playing them from this week onwards. The launch event for this exciting new strand of their programme will be this Thursday 9th March with Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen starring the wonderful Ruth Wilson.

We’ve arranged for a discount for our Friends so if you would like to attend show your membership card and you’ll receive a discount as the Friends of the City Varieties would of £15.50 for a ticket instead of £17.

LIFF30

It was great to have the launch of the 30th Leeds International Film Festival at the Picture House last week. There was a wonderful atmosphere and sense of anticipation as 50ish trailers and clips were shown. I left wanting to see more of everything that had been showcased.

If you haven’t picked up a guide yet, it’s now also available in digital form.

There’s a new layout for the guide this year including a more compact pull out calendar which may be prove to be useful during the festival but for lots of people has made planning a little harder. If you are struggling to see the overlaps you may find this Clashfinder website useful. It shows everything in a grid format so you can plan your dashes between venues. You can also highlight films to create your own itinerary and this allows us to see what’s popular, earlier today the top 20 was as follows:

  1. LIFF30 Opening Gala: Paterson + Timecode
  2. The Handmaiden
  3. Jurassic Park
  4. Schneider vs. Bax
  5. A Monster Calls
  6. Train to Busan
  7. Hacksaw Ridge
  8. I Am Not a Serial Killer
  9. Under the Shadow
  10. Jaws
  11. The Wailing
  12. The Master Cleanse
  13. Toni Erdmann
  14. Belladonna of Sadness
  15. Kids Police
  16. The First, the Last
  17. Psychonauts, the Forgotten Children
  18. Elling
  19. The Red Turtle + Father and Daughter
  20. Ambulance

Over the next few weeks we’re hoping to preview some of the festival films and it would be great to hear your plans and what you are looking forward to seeing in the comments (or get in touch if you’d like to write a full post for the blog).

Ousmane Sembène ‘Father of African Film’

Sunday October 9th 2.30 p.m.

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The Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène was a key pioneer in the development of an indigenous African cinema. Now a new documentary by Samba Gadjigo, SEMBÈNE! (2015), is screening along with a Q&A with the director. Also there will be a screening of La Noire de… / Black Girl, (1966). And later, on October 18th, there will be a screening of his final film Moolaadé (2004).

Sembène’s films are rarely seen in the UK but they are powerful, emotionally involving but also politically incisive. Both screenings are well worth the visit to the cinema: they are few such opportunities and the quality of Sembène and his colleagues work deserves the big screen.