17th Bradford International Film Festival: Preview

This year’s Bradford International Film Festival (BIFF) offers visitors to UNESCO’s ‘World City of Film’ a range of treats between 16th and 27th March. Many of the familiar strands from previous years are included in the programme. The Widescreen Weekend is again at the centre of the festival, utilising all the facilities and expertise of the National Media Museum’s fantastic team of projectionists. I’m looking forward to rare 70mm outings for Kurosawa‘s Russian shot Dersu Uzala (1975) and, a real treat, a DEFA biopic of Goya (East Germany 1971) making its première appearance in the UK. The weekend includes tribute screenings of David Lean epic, an intro to How The West Was Won (1965) by Christopher Frayling, the 1981 Dance Craze in 70mm and plenty more.

Claire Bloom and Julie Harris in The Haunting (1963)

The featured filmmakers this year are Claire Bloom with six films, Terry Gilliam with an extensive retrospective and German auteur Thomas Arslan with five titles.

Honey ('Bal', Turkey 2010)

The main festival is divided into several distinctive strands. The most extensive is Moviedrome – ‘premieres and previews from around the world’. Bradford often has a strong flavour of North and East European films and as well as Arslan’s films there are new films from several well-known directors such as Werner Herzog, Jerzy Skolimowski and Márta Mészáros – and several other films from Germany, Poland, Hungary, Russia etc. In fact, there are far too many interesting films to mention. I’ll just note that we’ll get the first chance to see the Berlin 2010 Golden Bear winner Honey (dir. Semih Kaplanoglu, Turkey 2010) plus new films by Miike Takashi, Kelly Reichardt and Fred Cavayé. There isn’t a separate Canadian film strand this year, but three titles appear in Moviedrome. Finally, given the long drought, it’s great to see that at least one African fiction feature is on its way to us as Viva Riva! (Congo/France/Belgium 2010) is being previewed and presumably later released by Metrodome.

A private screening for Tito in 'Cinema Komunisto', a 2010 documentary about Yugoslavian Cinema under Tito showing in the CineFile strand.

Returning strands include American Independents, CineFile (documentaries on filmmaking and filmmakers), Family Films, Festival Shorts and a Northern Showcase of independent features made in the North of England. Two new strands this year are ‘Film as Subversive Art: A Tribute to Amos Vogel’ and ‘Bradford After Dark’, a one-day horror film mini-fest. And that’s not to mention the mainstream previews including the new Woody Allen and a screentalk with Jim Loach, son of Ken, following the screening of his new film Oranges and Sunshine.

Emily Watson as the social worker investigating the scandal of the history of British children 'in care' sent to Australia in the post-war years in 'Oranges and Sunshine'.

The full Festival Programme can be downloaded here. BIFF uses the National Media Museum’s two cinemas (plus some associated television archive material in TV Heaven) and the nearby Cineworld multiplex. There are extra events/single screenings this year in Saltaire, Otley, Hebden Bridge, Whitby, Sheffield and Leeds plus the Impressions Gallery (also close to the Museum). On most days, the festival programme starts around 11.00 am and runs till 10.30 pm, so there is plenty to see. What are you waiting for? Hope to see you there – we’ll have reports regularly throughout the festival.

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