Our LIFF30 Highlights

The film festival is over for another year and once again has provided Leeds with a fantastic selection of films. Below we share five of our highlights from the festival and would love to see yours in the comments:

Bill

Bill's Top 5There are so many films being made around the world!  The Leeds Film Festival programme is just a small sample, and the thirty or so films I saw are just a small sample of what the Festival had to offer. Here are 5 films that I enjoyed, in no particular order:

  • Sieranevada  – a beautifully directed and acted glimpse of a Romanian
    family’s memorial commemoration, which also says something about wider
    Eastern European society.
  • Chi-raq – Spike Lee’s theatrical exploration of the issues around Black
    Lives Matter, made with the involvement of people living in Chicago’s
    Southside.
  • Lonesome – a love story, with live organ accompaniment, mostly set in
    Coney Island, and made at a time when silent films were giving way to
    the new ‘talkies’
  • The Handmaiden – an exciting and beautiful Korean/Japanese story, with
    different perspectives challenging us to work out what is really going
    on
  • Fukushima, Mon Amour – the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami, and
    nuclear reactor meltdown, is the setting for this film about the lives
    of people 5 years later, as seen through the eyes of a German woman who
    wants to bring some pleasure to their lives

I could have added another 5 quite easily.

Keith

Keith's Top 5

  • The Art of Negative Thinking – Scandinavian filmmakers excel at combining disability and humour.
  • Certain Women –Three well crafted stories, four excellent performances.
  • Mimosas – Very fine visually but the story requires careful thought and study.
  • Old Stone – A good Samaritan suffers under Chinese capitalism.
  • Woman of the Dunes – A black and white classic in a good 35mm print.

Stephen

Stephen's Top 5

  • Mindhorn – The funniest film since What We Do In The Shadows. I’d forgotten how fantastic it is to see an incredibly funny film in a packed cinema. We laughed so hard we probably missed half the jokes. Followed by a brilliant surreal Q&A.
  • A Man Called Ove – Perfectly combining humour and humanity, everything comes together to remind you there is some good in the world.
  • The Autopsy of Jane Doe – The best horror film I’ve seen in some time. Delivers intelligent thrills and never outstays it’s welcome by becoming too silly.
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Seeing this projected (from 35mm) gave me a new appreciation and managed to completely charm me where I’d previously been underwhelmed.
  • Two Lovers and a Bear – A complete surprise, I knew nothing about this film and found it all completely delightful.

This was the strongest festival I remember and I’d recommend nearly all the films I saw. My next 5 films were Pet, The Birth of A Nation,  The First, The Last, Life Animated and Paterson.

Jake

Jake's Top 5

  • Certain Women – Kelly Reichardt’s most fully realised film to date. Maile Meloy’s short stories perfectly compliment each other, providing a perfect counterpart to Reichardt’s earlier adaptations of Jon Raymond. Great performances from the central cast, especially Laura Dern and relative newcomer, Lily Gladstone.
  • Mister Universo – Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel’s simple fiction played out by real life members of the Italian circus community. A beautiful intersection between fact and fiction, that functions as both a road movie and an affectionate family portrait.
  • The Woman of the Dunes – Teshigahara/Abe’s Sisyphusian nightmare. A classic. So glad I got to see this on a big screen on 35mm.
  • Graduation – Doting father, Romeo, walks moral tightropes in this austere drama from Cristian Mungiu. Shades of Haneke’s Hidden in it’s creeping sense of dread.
  • Mimosas – Ecstatic fiction, quasi-western with the Atlas mountains as a backdrop. Shakib Ben Omar is a wild, charismatic lead. A natural heir to Ninetto Davoli.

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).

Keswick Film Festival

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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.

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