Both of local and international importance, pride of place in this year's Festival should surely go, ironically, not directly to film, but to music and literature: Bernstein and Virginia Woolf. We are proud to be playing a significant part in celebrating Bernstein in Chichester, in his centenary year, and in addition to the three Bernstein movies and talks, we have been given special permission by ROH to transmit again the wonderful Triple Bernstein Ballets, including the inventive interpretation of the Chichester Psalms as an original ballet. With the Virginia Woolf exhibition taking place at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, the Festival is complementing the event with four key films based on her works, and we are especially delighted to welcome Eileen Atkins (a Virginia Woolf expert) to introduce her screenplay for ‘Mrs Dalloway’.
The general structure of the 18 day Festival celebrates the Cinema of the old and the new in roughly equal halves, and our earliest examples begin with two classic silent films, Pabst's restored 1928 ‘Pandora's Box’ and Dreyer's creepy ‘Vampyr’, suitably showing in St Johns Chapel with the sensational live organ accompaniment by Ben Hall.
With another important centenary to mark, the BFI are making available digitally restored prints of best films of the great Swedish legend Ingmar Bergman. He has been in and out of fashion since he erupted onto the world cinema stage in the fifties with masterpieces like ‘The Seventh Seal’ and ‘Wild Strawberries’, so this a great opportunity to evaluate nine of his greatest works.
Whilst in Scandinavia, if you have suffered withdrawal symptoms missing ‘The Bridge’, do not despair, as we are presenting a retrospective on Nordic Noir with those earlier films from ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ to ‘Keeper of lost Causes’ that you can catch up on.
With the announcement of Daniel Day-Lewis’ retirement, seven of his most outstanding performances are being screened including his early films ‘My Beautiful Launderette’ and ‘My Left Foot’. A reminder that all these tributes are being supported by illuminating illustrated talks. In our final featured tribute, we are excited to welcome Steve Coogan in conversation with producer Andrew Eaton after a showing of ‘Philomena’ and a good dose of humour will be welcomed with some of his other films to be featured.
The majority of the previews and new releases were originally exposed in the world Festivals: Sundance, Berlin Toronto, Venice, Cannes, and some highlights include ‘Leave No Trace’, ‘Puzzle’, ‘Cold War’, ‘Lucky’, ‘The Heiresses’ and ‘Wajib’.
Controversy is always an aspect of Festivals as reflected here in Fundamentalism: two films exploring Jehovah's witnesses with ‘The Children’s Act’ and ‘Apostasy’, homosexuality in ‘Miseducation of Cameron Post’, and ‘Evening Shadows’, apparent blasphemy in ‘The Life of Brian’, being introduced by the Reverend Canon Dr Anthony Cane from Chichester Cathedral.
We have a very strong documentary section including portraits of Whitney Houston, Basquiat, Kubrick, and I especially recommend Mark Cousins' ‘Eyes of Orson Welles’ which I saw recently at Kviff - one of the best documentaries I've seen this year. When David Wilkinson follows his documentary ‘Postcards from the 48%’ with the Q&A, expect some lively Brexit debate.
Our Festival has always provided a space for independent films which is important, and this year we are screening over 20 titles from many countries. We are very pleased to have five UK indies being presented by their film makers, followed by Q&As;. And don't forget to vote for the audience award in each category. They want your feedback!
Finally, amongst the many highlights, I must mention my personal ongoing passion and commitment for music and film, with operas and the live jazz & film event celebrating last year's centenary of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk, led by singer Georgia Mancio (pictured below).
This ambitious Festival could not be staged without the support of our partners and Film Distributors. My thanks to Walter Francisco, the Projectionists, Box Office Staff and the many invaluable volunteers, as well as Carol Godsmark and the New Park Centre.
Roger Gibson, Artistic Director