Artistic Director's Introduction 2016

AD Intro RG

Welcome to the 25th Chichester International Film Festival!
From the modest beginnings of our first Film Festival in 1992, showing 50 films (12 previews and one visiting director), we now celebrate our 25th birthday with a feast of over 150 films with numerous visiting film makers and speakers. This extraordinary 25 year journey is illustrated in a “History of the Chichester International Film Festival 1992-2015”, which I have compiled and can be found at the back of this booklet. This lists main events throughout the years including Retrospectives, Centenaries, Tributes, Visiting Film makers and Actors, Audience Award Films, Surprise Films, Open Air shows, Films with Live accompaniments, Local partnerships etc.

Why Iranian and Chinese Cinema as the two major retrospectives? Along with China, Iran has been lauded as one of the best exporters of cinema from the 1990s. I believe that over the last two decades our patrons have “discovered” these two national cinemas as the world’s most significant emerging films. There is also some similarity which invites comparison to Italian neorealism and both have restricted censorship. Sadly Iranian’s finest director Abbas Kiarostami died recently (after the planned retrospective). Fortuitously, we are showing three of his films, and we dedicate our Festival to his memory.
One major innovation this year (apart from our Drive-In movie event), is the introduction of a new category: Low budget Independent Feature Films. We were overwhelmed with over 600 films from all over the world by mainly directors making their debut features on budgets ranging from 400€ to $700,000. I have selected over 20 films in this section to encourage new talent, and we ask you to vote (and sponsor if possible) for each film you see in order to give an Audience Award for Best Film in this special category. We have also for the first time introduced an Animation section with four feature length films plus a programme of shorts.

Also supporting home grown independent cinema (but on somewhat larger budgets in most cases!) we are delighted to welcome actors and film makers to introduce nine premieres and previews, headed by Elaine Paige in the world premiere of ‘Speed Love’. George Galloway will introduce his controversial documentary ‘The Killing$ of Tony Blair’, and of course there would be no festival without Tony Palmer - introducing his latest film ‘The Beatles and World War II.’

This year we have a new partnership with the Institut Français, who have generously supported the Festival by providing four new outstanding French Films, unreleased in the UK.
The festival mounts three Special Events celebrating the art of silent comedy. Following Carl Davis’s popular presentation of early Chaplin, he adds Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd for this year’s return. Keaton is also featured in a jazz night that includes his 1927 ‘Sherlock Jr.’ accompanied live by the Buster Birch Quartet.

Finally to reflect on the history of this Festival, we have selected to screen seven of the Audience Award winners from previous Festivals, and to celebrate this anniversary, we have invited several film makers, film critics who have participated in past Festivals, plus keen festival supporters, to contribute a short piece reflecting their Festival thoughts and experiences.

Roger Gibson, Artistic Director, July 2016

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