Tag Archives: Bradford City of Film

The Bradford International Film Summit! 4 March – 6 March 2015

GIRL ON FILM  is happy to hear that the first ever Bradford Film Summit will be taking place in March 2015.  It is a wonderful opportunity for industry professionals, filmmakers and local film fans to interact and attend some wonderful (and mainly FREE) events in the area! 

Here is just some of the information gathered on the Bradford City of Film website:

“From 4-6 March 2015, Bradford will host a three day international film summit.

The summit will stage a series of seminars, events and screenings to discuss film and TV production and education, set against the backdrop of this film-loving city.

Following the prestigious award of the United Nations Education Social and Cultural Organisation’s City of Film status in 2009, Bradford has used the transformational power of film to help drive social and economic change.”

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“Welcoming leading film industry professionals, academics, policy makers and members of the UNESCO Creative Cities, the summit will discuss innovative ways to expand the role of film in society for cultural and economic benefit.”

Here’s just some of the programme:

The Business of Film, 5th March 10.00 – 13.00: The Midland Hotel 

Women Making Movies, 5th March 12.00 – 13.30: The Studio, Alhambra.

The Power of Film in Education, 6th March 09.00 – 13.00: Michelle Sutton Lecture Theatre Bradford College.

Focus on Children’s Film and Television, 6th March 14.00 – 16.00: The Studio, Alhambra.

Film Hub North Roadshow, Friday 6th March 2015 from 11:00- 16:00: National Media Museum.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY – Guest Lecture and Lunch – ANNE MORRISON, Friday 6th March 2015 12.00 – 14.30: City Hall

Keep an eye on the Bradford City of Film website for further updates about the Summit and for details on how to get involved.

Book now for all events to avoid disappointment!

 

 

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Review: ORLANDO (1992) [Bradford International Film Festival 2014]

It is no exaggeration to claim that Sally Potter and Tilda Swinton are heroines of cinema. Seven years of preparation and persuasion led to them finally making the sumptuous and majestic Orlando in 1992. Adapted from the renowned Virginia Woolf novel, would it be inaccurate to claim Orlando as one of the most interesting fictional hero/ines of all time? He/she is certainly no ordinary character, never aging for 400 years and navigating the courts of Elizabeth I (played, ingeniously by Quentin Crisp), Charles II and eventually waking up as a woman to survive the stuffy Victorian age and the emerging 20th century.

Swinton defines her androgynous appeal, easily embodying the pixie-like Elizabethan courtier who encounters the patronage of the queen and yet is absolutely feminine as she wakes as a restless female in the 18th century. Swinton’s facets of gender neutralises Orlando, making the character a symbol of non-conformity. In one scene, in which Orlando learns that she no longer has claim to her lands now that she is a woman, we see how being transformed as a woman, Orlando is nullified by her contemporaries:

First Official: One, you are legally dead, and therefore cannot hold any property whatsoever.
Orlando: Ah. Fine.
First Official: Two, you are now a female.
Second Official: Which amounts to much the same thing.

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Orlando’s death (or, her transformation into womanhood) is a catalyst for a sprawling epic tale already 200 years in the making. Interspersed with title cards such as ‘LOVE’, ‘DEATH’, ‘POETRY’, ‘POLITICS’ and ‘SEX’, Sally Potter divides Orlando’s life into connecting scenes of incidences which together paint a portrait of a multi-generational protagonist, task with staying young forever and yet growing ever more mature in life experiences.

Some we know to be dead even though they walk among us; some are not yet born though they go through all the forms of life; other are hundreds of years old though they call themselves thirty-six. (Woolf, ‘Orlando’, 1928)

Quite simply, this film is magnificently cinematic. From the music, composed by David Motion, Sally Potter and Jimmy Somerville, to the ornate costumes by Sandy Powell, it is amazing to learn this film struggled to find funding. The splendour of every frame is bewitching. The Jarman-esque quality of the narrative and the style roots the film firmly in the early 1990s, not only characterised by its modernised ending, but in the film’s allegiance with the sexual revolution permeating culture and politics in the last decade of the century. A particular pleasure is Swinton’s forth-wall-breaking asides to the camera, which could be interpreted as a charming tribute to Woolf, whose own works were littered with addresses to the reader.

It’s true to say that I was completely mesmerised by this film. Entering into the phantasmagorical world of Orlando, a dreamlike, incongruous world where the constraints of gender, power and possession are swept along by a sequence of events as fantastic as they are allegorical. A typically colourful report of Sally Potter dodging slates thrown from the roof of the old Bradford Odeon as she was escorted to the Media Museum by the festival co-director Neil Young was an amusing introduction to last night’s film. It’s good to know that no matter how utterly transformative cinema can be, in the instance of Orlando, you can always rely on being brought gently back to world. Wherever yours may be.

Review: MANHUNTER (1986) [Bradford International Film Festival 2014]

Pub quiz trivia question…the million-pound gamble: Who was the first actor to play the infamous cannibal Hannibal Lecter?

And the answer is: Brian Cox. Playing, as he is credited, ‘Doctor Lecktor’.

Kicking off the Brian Cox season at the Bradford International Film Festival is a curiously neglected film, featuring what is essentially a supporting role from our Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. It all sounds familiar: tortured FBI operative enlists the help of the psychiatrist serial killer he helped incarcerate in order to catch another predator at large. Hijinks ensue. Directed by Michael Mann and hot off the success of Miami Vice, came Manhunter, the first film to adapt the characters from the grisly but compelling novels by Thomas Harris.

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Though of course Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs won the awards (and rightly so) for the adaptation of Harris’ second novel in the series, it is the first book, ‘Red Dragon’ which has had a murkier existence on the silver screen. Largely forgotten until recently, Manhunter is an interesting film. It is by no means faultless, but pretty close to it. It is in Manhunter we come face-to-face with the original ‘hero’ of the series, Will Graham, and a newly captured Hannibal Lecter. Contained within a white cell and wearing a banal white jumpsuit, Lecter is yet again uniquely enjoyable and yet unnerving to watch, thanks to Cox’s impish and mischievous take on the character. Like Anthony Hopkins’ Lecter, it is within the confinement of his captors that he really excels in demonstrating his hypnotic repartee and the powerful mind games which penetrate much further than the blade of any weapon (or indeed, kitchen utensil) he may have used. Against William Petersen’s dashing but tormented Graham, Lecter’s role within the film is to sow seeds of paranoia and catastrophic mayhem while Graham becomes quickly embroiled in a case he finds impossible to step away from. Tom Noonan as the antagonist, Francis Dollarhyde, is terrifying, committing horrific acts and demonstrating the slightest of emotion which draws you in and catches you alarmingly off-guard…could a serial killer ever find love?! Dollarhyde’s psychological neuroses unfold to reveal an inner dragon, while Graham’s repressed empathetic third eye for the monstrous fans its ruinous flames. Petersen gives a fevered performance and is at times delightfully 80s in his chest-beating, but tempered by Noonan as his counterpart (whose own storyline dominates the second act of the film), the film wanders into neo-noir territory for the ultimate game of cat and mouse.

With the success of the recent NBC Hannibal series, the enduring fascination with these characters shows no sign of fading away. It was fantastic to return to a unique take on the bizarre world of Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham before the revelation of “fava beans and a nice chianti” changed popular culture forever. One of the great ‘what if’s of cinema…imagine if it was Brian Cox who had won all the accolades which went on to kick-start Hopkins’ career…and it’s even more intriguing to learn that when Cox returned to the UK after starring in Michael Mann’s film, he still remained virtually unknown. I’m sure Doctor Lecter would never put up with such rude behaviour…

Review: THE LUNCHBOX (2013) [Bradford International Film Festival 2014]

As the Media Museum doors opened last night for the 20th Bradford International Film Festival once more, film fans and media types (I think GIRL ON FILM can count as one of them now, right?) bustled in from the rain to be greeted by a glass of wine and a cheery band. It was these many little touches that made the evening a special one and launched the programme so delightfully. Speeches from the Museum director Jo Quinton-Tulloch and the festival co-directors Tom Vincent and Neil Young made the appropriate thanks to the right people and reminded us just how much hard work goes into creating the festival year after year.

The opening film itself The Lunchbox (2013), was a triumphant choice to kick start the festival. Staring Irrfan Khan (who, we learnt as we sat down, had just won another award for his performance in this film) and Nimrat Kaur as two equally lonely inhabitants of Mumbai who begin a touching correspondence after Saajan (Khan) accidentally receives the lunchbox intended for Ila’s (Kaur) husband at work. Saajan is so thrilled with his unexpected meal that he sends a note of thanks back and so begins a journey of self-discovery for two unassuming and world-weary characters.

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The film is full of charm (and as the audience demonstrated last night, full of laughs) and filmed with such vibrancy that the smells and colours of Mumbai exude from the screen and awaken your senses. Watching Saajan consume Ila’s food is both mouth-watering and compelling. Ila and Saajan’s days are transformed by the ritual of preparing food and sharing it with love. Lured by her cooking skills and her unique letters accounting her daily life, Saajan is brought back to life, leaving his stale existence as simply a ‘widower’ behind. Without giving too much away, Ila too, is transformed.

The film is filled with journeys both literal and personal. Saajan’s journey to and from work act as a marker for his blossoming familiarisation with life once again. Ila watches the Dabbawalla man who distributes her home-cooked food from her window. She oversees her daughter’s journey to school from her apartment and receives care-packages from her Aunt who lives upstairs via pulley (the interactions between these two characters are also a joy to behold). Though her journeys are more confined, the impact of her food magnifies the significance of the importance of food to engage. Whereas before her culinary efforts where ignored by her inattentive husband, Saajan’s appreciation brings Ila’s world to life and allows Ila to venture literally and emotionally beyond the street where her lunchbox is attached to the delivery man’s bicycle for transportation.

The Lunchbox is a wonderful film and it is easy to see why Neil Young personally selected it for the opening night after first seeing the film in Cannes. A joyful, heart-rendering drama and plenty of belly-laughs to boot, The Lunchbox is a perfect example of the sophisticated and crowd-pleasing cinema which is coming out of India outside of the Bollywood machine. Director Ritesh Batra brings out fantastic performances from his leads and a special mention has to go to actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui (who looks curiously like an Indian Tony Curtis) in a brilliant supporting role as Shaikh, Saajan’s bumbling yet well-meaning work colleague.

There’s another chance to see The Lunchbox during the festival on Monday 31st March and it is certainly a must-see addition to the programme.

The festival is now underway, here’s to more wonderful discoveries!

GIRL ON FILM at BIFF 2014!

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I am pleased to announce that this year, GIRL ON FILM will be reporting and reviewing from the 20th Bradford International Film Festival at the National Media Museum!

This is a fantastic honour which hopefully you’ll be able to join in with as the festival commences on the 27th March!

In the meantime, please do come along to the festival and see the wonderful films and guest speakers which promise to make this 20th celebration so special. To review the programme and to book tickets, visit the BIFF website!

Check back for updates and check out my exclusive festival preview here!

Happy viewing until then…

Evangeline.