Just when you thought the glitz and glamour of the film world had vanished once again in a puff of smoke after the Academy Awards, in one former mill town in the North, a celebration of achievement in film is about to return!
Commemorating its 20th year, The Bradford International Festival (proudly sponsored once again by Virgin Media), BIFF is understandably reflective and will be dedicating part of the bill for a retrospective of its first ever festival back in 1995. A re-screening of The Madness of King George (the first ever opening-night film, an occasion which was amusingly noted by Alan Bennett in his collected diaries) as well as a public poll to determine the Virgin Media Best of BIFF, a British film which upon winning will then be screened (Cast your vote here).
Of the 35 new films in the Official Selection, 8 have been chosen to be in the running for the 2014 Bradford UNESCO City of Film European Competition, and includes both fiction and documentary works. The competiting films are:
A Bouquet of Cactus (Spain, Dir: Pablo Llorca)
Class Enemy (Slovenia, Dir: Rok Bicek)
Costa Da Morte (Spain, Dir: Lois Patino)
A Fallible Girl (UK, Dir: Conrad Clark)
The Joycean Society (Belgium, Dir: Dora Garcia)
Mother, I Love You (Latvia, Dir: Janis Nords)
Mouton (France, Dir: Gilles Deroo & Marianne Pistone)
Phantom (France, Dir: Jonathan Soler).
The Shine Short Film Competition also returns this year with six short films to be judged by an expert jury. The winner will be selected on the opening weekend.
Of course, as well as the films, BIFF always delights in honouring those who have made a significant contribution to film. The Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 will be awarded to Brian Cox. A distinctive, powerhouse of an actor, the Scotsman has worked in film, television and theatre for over 50 years. Roles such as the original ‘Hannibal Lecktor’ in Manhunter, a double-crossing CIA operative in The Bourne Trilogy, an old-timer prison breaker in The Escapist, amongst many many others, Brian Cox is a true star of the screen. Six of those films will be shown, finishing with a final ScreenTalk with BIFF Co-Director Tom Vincent on Sunday 6th April.
The BIFF Fellowship is granted yearly to a superlative filmmaker who continues to succeed in creating excellence on screen. Sally Potter is a distinctive director who has demonstrated staggering artistic flair throughout her career. As a recipient of this year’s Fellowship, Potter is the first woman to be granted this award (GIRL ON FILM REJOICES!). Her films such as the best-known Orando, Yes and her most recent effort Ginger & Rosa will be screened throughout the festival and an opportunity to hear Potter in conversation shall take place in the Cubby Brocolli screen on Sunday 30th March.
The Uncharted States of America programme continues this year with special attention paid to the works of James Benning. Andy Warhol-like figure in avant-garde Americana cinema, a number of this films are listed as well as 2013’s Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater (winner the ‘Venice Classics’ best documentary prize), a 70 minute conversation between two respectively different independent filmmakers.
For those interested in Japanese cinema, the crime films of Yoshitaro Nomura (5 to be shown in total) reflect a relatively under-appreciated strand of Japanese filmmaking in the west. A prolific artist, Normura created many stories highlighting the dark underbelly of Japanese society. Stakeout, Zero Focus, The Shadow Within, The Castle of Sand and The Demon will all be screened in the final week of the festival.
Supported by none other than the Boris Karloff Foundation, the horror picks of the festival will once again create Bradford After Dark, the 5 feature-length and 7 short films selected for 2014. Go alone if you dare!
And finally, returning once again and no doubt playing to a sold-out audience, skiffle band The Dodge Brothers (side-project of Mr Mark Kermode) will accompany piano extraordinare Neil Brand to score another silent film for your delighted eyes and ears. This year the film is Hell’s Hinges, a film starring William S. Hurt, the original cowboy.
Girl On Film’s list of festival highlights barely skims the surface. To find out more about what’s on, visit the Bradford International Film Festival website or pick up of the beautiful 160-page programmes which have been distributed around the Bradford and Yorkshire area. There’s plenty more to discover!