- Maggie Smith
I am delighted to welcome you to the Film Festival and to wish everyone a very happy 25th Birthday. It has gone from strength to strength with directors, actors, writers and critics – as well as special events and foreign films. What an achievement. From the beginning both foreign and British films and film-makers were to the fore, and this has continued. However, in this 25th year, I wanted to mention the evolvement of the Festival. The original film society was created by Roger Gibson at the Chichester College of Arts in 1979, becoming the Chichester Film Society in 1982 and moving to the present location, New Park in 1986. It was clearly a great success from the beginning, and won Film Society of the Year in 1988. £60,000 was raised for a digital projector in 2012 plus satellite receivers and dishes and the cinema has continued to acquire the latest digital equipment. This means that the very popular LIIVE PERFORMANCES can be relayed into the cinema. As you all know Roger Gibson is still at the helm and congratulations to him, together with Jim Stokes and Mark Bradshaw who joined 1997 and 1998 respectively, and continue to run the best sound and projection. This year there is something for everyone – CALAMITY JANE, CASABLANCA – followed by a veritable feast of silent films, live jazz, Iranian, Chinese and French films together with premieres and previews from around the world. Very best wishes and once again, happy 25th Birthday.
- Professor Clive Behagg
- University of Chichester Vice-Chancellor
I am delighted that in 2016 the University is the headline sponsor for the Chichester Film Festival for the second year running. Last year’s Festival was a remarkable celebration of the film industry across the World. An amazing range of screenings in our small city demonstrated the shared language of global cinema and its capacity not only to entertain but also to tear down barriers and to challenge assumptions. New Park has always taken a thoughtful approach to cinema and this makes it an ideal partner for the University. This year, the 25th Chichester Film Festival promises to be even better than the last. We have always been proud to support the New Park Cinema. We awarded an Honorary Degree to its founder Roger Gibson (now Director of the Film Festival) way back in 2003 for his inspirational leadership of community cinema. But now, the University is getting even more serious about film and filmmaking. Later this year, we will start to build our new Engineering and Digital Technology Park on our beautiful Bognor Regis Campus. 6000 square metres of state-of-the-art production space will be encased in a signature new building that will enable us to educate the next generation of graduates in design engineering and the creative digital industries. From 2018 our offer will include undergraduate degrees in Digital Film Production, in Screenwriting and in Animation as well as postgraduate degrees in Sustainable Film Production, Digital Cinematography, Post Production with Special Effects, and Sound Design and Foley. Our specialist team will train students in the largest production and sound studio south of London and it is fair to say that we are very excited! Our objective is to drive the growth of the local economy through a productive combination of the creative arts and new technology, opening up opportunities for young people to flourish in the new digital economy. I believe our neglected local coastal communities can be regenerated by the development of a ‘Silicon Beach’ that will encourage our graduates to stay in the area and make their future here rather than migrating to London (or the ‘Northern Powerhouse’). We are taking this major strategic step with huge encouragement from our many supporters in the area – not least our good friends at New Park Cinema who have been such an inspiration to us over the years and shown us the potential for the future that lies in a love of film and cinema. Good luck to the whole New Park team behind the 25th Chichester Film Festival – a quarter of a century and counting!
- Derek Malcolm
- Film Critic and Historian
25 years! That's a long time for a film festival which is constantly fighting for enough money to keep going in the provinces. That Chichester has survived this long, despite the present austerity, is largely down to Roger Gibson, the Festival's indefatigable artistic director. He won't mind if I call him eccentric. He doesn't always look the part of a film buff who never gives up. But that's what he is. Although I have only very occasionally been there, more's the pity,I get the programme every year and wonder at its eclectic mix of the popular and the "difficult",and the way audiences respond to the annual call to see films they might never have the chance to see anywhere near where they Iive. For this Roger and his band of helpers deserve gongs of some sort or another, because the sad fact is that it's is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain standards at a time when what is sometimes laughably called the Arthouse Cinema is under threat. I hear potential buyers all over the world saying they loved a particular film but they couldn't possibly buy it. People should understand that, for every movie brought down to Chichester, there is another one the Festival can't get.When running the London Festival In the eighties, I used to tear my hair out at the number of refusals. what it must sometimes be like at Chichester I can't imagine. But still the Festival goes on producing an excellent programme and underscoring it with distinguished visitors.Sometimes the audiences are small and disappointing. More often than not they surpass all expectations. Regular patrons must have had their film education increased tenfold over the years, and their enjoyment too.Roger, I will personally knight you if you let me come down to Chichester again. It don't let that stop you from worrying distributors sick until they give you most of the film's you want. Keep going! We need you.
- David Hare
– Playwright, Screenwriter
Apparently there are less than 30,000 people living in the city of Chichester, but it has one of the best theatres in the country. In Pallant House it has one of the outstanding regional art galleries. And for twenty-five years it’s had a pioneering film festival. Most festivals nowadays are clearing houses, aiming to push through the output of that calendar year, and to give a screening to all sorts of interesting foreign films, documentaries and low-budget efforts which will never reach your local cineplex. But Roger Gibson is an altogether craftier and more focused soul. I don’t think anyone could ever second-guess him. You never know where his attention is going to land. You certainly never know what’s coming next. One year it’s the Russians, another Eric Rohmer. One year, it’s the work of Ken Russell, the next it’s that of Maggie Smith. Occasionally a season may be topical, following the death, say, of a beloved actor. But for the most part Roger goes where his fancy takes him, with an admirable preference, unlike snobbier curators, for taking the heights of native cinema and television as seriously as he does foreign. Time was, on BBC-2, when an informed critic like Philip Jenkinson or Alex Cox would give a short talk and then you could sit back and enjoy a little-known masterpiece. Now we rely on Roger. More power to him and to the beautiful simplicity and splendour of his annual festival. (ed: David Hare has participated in several Festivals including introducing his Licking Hitler in the 2009 retrospective of 10 of his works, and introducing The Browning Version in 2011).
- Diane Shepherd
- Chief Executive, Chichester District Council.
Chichester District Council is delighted that the Chichester International Film Festival continues to go from strength to strength. I congratulate you on bringing a varied and enjoyable film programme to the city for 25 years which always appeals to the widest audience whatever their taste that I have enjoyed on many previous occasions. I never cease to be amazed at the creativity that goes into screenings and there is always something new and different as each year arrives – can’t wait to see what you have in store this year! The festival is a vital ingredient to the fantastic art and cultural offer that exists in Chichester District and long may it continue.
- Ian Christie
- Film Historian and Former President, Europa Cinemas
Mention 'Chichester' and 'festival', and most people's assumption is that it must be theatre. But, amazingly, Chichester's film festival turns out to be twenty-five years old, and I reckon it deserves some of the same respect. Having visited quite often in recent years, usually to give a talk connected with one of the retrospectives, I've also been impressed by how diligent Roger is in finding unusual films – not found elsewhere in the UK. Festivals now play a vital part in bringing unconventional films to those who appreciate them. And, perhaps paradoxically, smaller festivals can afford to take more risks than the established ones, although Chichester's programme is remarkably extensive, considering the scale of the operation. Increasingly, also, festivals no longer confine themselves to showcasing new films - even Cannes' 'classics' section now looms ever larger in its programme, Chichester at the forefront of this trend - such as Eastern Europe (see this year's 'total Tarkovsky' programme), or the silent era. I've enjoyed my visits, meeting interested and well-informed audiences, and I look forward to more. With festivals continuing to proliferate everywhere, this is clearly how cinema is going to stay alive and in touch with its audiences. Down with routine screenings: every show should feel like a festival event!
- Jo Gibson
Early in 1991, in the days when the Committee (as then was) held meetings in our house, Roger stated his intention to have a Film Festival that year. A hesitant committee gave cautious backing, the first Festival launched. Since then, as well as seeing a terrific range of films, the audience have been able to hear from certain invited 'notables' (actors, producers, directors etc) with the likes of Michael Winner, Ken Russell, David Hare, Derek Jacobi, Ralph Fiennes. There was no 'red carpet 'or celebrity treatment but they were happy to come along (for expenses only) recognising perhaps, the quality and substance of Roger's programme. Throughout the year, the Cinema offers a varied programme, the Festival bringing some true rarities. Film can entertain splendidly, pleasurably distract and at times, enlighten. Today's world may feel divided, at odds with each other, but to have access to the work of film makers across the world is a way of grasping the 'bigger picture' (every pun intended!) viewing things from a different angle. I feel this to be not only interesting but vital. So, let's have fun, enjoy the feast of films and celebrate this remarkable industry in its diversity. Here's to our 25 years …. and the rest.
- Tony Palmer
The 25 years have simply flown by, and I've completely lost count the number of times I've been strong-armed by Roger Gibson into coming to show my latest little documentary. Well I guess he had more hair when we started, but his fanatical enthusiasm seems to have increased in inverse proportion to his loss of hair. The fact that he has kept the show on the road, with comparatively few resources while maintaining a loyal audience and steadily improving what are now first class facilities, is nothing short of a miracle. But even miracles have their limitations. I remember once, late one night, we had accidentally locked ourselves out of the cinema. Don't worry, said Roger. I know the way in through a door which will by-pass the alarm system. Of course he didn't, and the alarm went off. Don't worry, said Roger. I know the code to disable said alarm. He didn't, of course. The result. Flashing blue lights and a rather grumpy police officer. So there are limits to his genius, Roger's that is. But I salute him and the cinema. It's remarkable that it has survived. Actually, it's just remarkable that it is there, and I hope all those who go this year appreciate that simple fact. And I can tell you that the home-made cakes at the bar are second to none.
- John Coldstream
Confession time. When, a good many years ago, I first heard about a Chichester International Film Festival, I raised a quizzical eyebrow; maybe even emitted a sardonic chuckle. It was the ‘International’ that sounded a trifle grandiose. However, a glance at the programme, followed rapidly by an inaugural visit, ensured that the laugh was well and truly on me. For this was a celebration of cinema astounding in its reach and bold in its variety, and, like the other principal attractions in this small city’s cultural life, punching way, way above its weight. That it did, and continues to do so, with more than a hint of a wing and a prayer is fundamental to its charm and testimony to its presiding genius, Roger Gibson, whose ‘Surprise Film’ never fails as my annual treat. So, on CIFF’s Silver Jubilee, to Roger, Walter, Henry and the Team - sincerely, ‘Chapeau!’
- Kenith Trod
– Film Producer
Chichester at 25 is a splendid landmark and I’m more than delighted to celebrate the Festival’s durability, range and uniqueness among our film institutions. The compass and agenda of the headline subjects offered over the years has centred both on their importance (retrospectives of Attenborough, Mike Leigh, Loach and Frears early on) and celebrated actors dead or alive showcased often for the first time as movie icons, but also giving enterprising room to Mexican cinema and African surprises, these alternating with debates on censorship, new writing and of course the Chichester hallmark of music in and around the film. In 2008 I was the beneficiary of a generous retrospective of my work in film and television which, starting as a modest proposal about Dennis Potter, became a 16 movie main-bar for the many talents I oversaw in both mediums. Many of these including Colin Welland, Stephen Poliakoff, Pat O’Connor and Chris Morahan introduced their screenings or took part in some truly memorable Q&A’s. I think this package remains the only time a British festival has devoted so much space to a Producer’s contribution and I’m still grateful to Roger Gibson for his initiative (and tolerance) in letting it happen. Finally I want to salute the cornucopia of UK premieres, often of distinguished European and third world films, which Chichester has presented during this first quarter century – a great collection.
- Edward Milward-Oliver
- Media Executive
With each new Chichester International Film Festival I am reminded of the importance of independent cinema, never more so than on this 25th anniversary. Roger Gibson's well-honed curatorial skills sometimes challenge our tastes, always reward our attendance, and never fail to enrich our film-going. Walter and everyone at New Park champion movies as only true believers can. Speaking as someone for whom movies are an endless source of pleasure as well as lively dissent, I'm confident that indies such as Chichester Cinema will continue to carry the baton for film-makers for many years to come.
- Sue Gilson
- Journalist and past Trustee
Wherever I have landed in life, I have sought out art house cinema.
This quest started as a student in the 80s when it was thrilling to enter my local dingy auditorium. I knew little about film, but I wanted to educate myself, and cinemas would become my classroom. They have been my sanctuary too, especially Chichester Cinema at New Park, where I have treated film as therapy, looking for it to chime with a melancholic mood or provide a pick-me-up. In our wonderful cinema’s intimate space, I have watched in rapt awe films that now top my ultimate list including Ida, Blue Valentine and Melancholia. And as a trustee for the cinema for three years, I was delighted to help get the proverbial bums on seats. And it is fantastic now to see those red plush seats very much filled. So bravo the team at New Park. Happy 25th birthday. And thank you.
- Mercia Last
- Friends Founder and past Trustee
Back in the ‘90’s, the lavishly illustrated programmes were out, the banner waved over East Street, the exotic catering smells wafted from outside the cinema and Anita Roddick, a generous patron attended alongside Mike Leigh, Terence Davies, Michael Winner (who had us rolling in our seats) and other film makers. The audience choice of films was a seemingly endless stream of comedy, romance, drama, documentary, retrospective, older classics, fantasy and many sub-titled ones all part of the 60+ British, American and Worldwide films. Nowadays we have digitalised film, an extended bar, attractive foyer and seat choice via the computerised booking system - and still the friendliest of staff, the main seating fitted into a 19th century primary school assembly hall. We eagerly look forward to yet another immersive experience which confirms what many of us feel: there is no better film festival in Britain than in Chichester. Congratulations on the 25th, Roger, Walter, Henry and all staff!
- Rod Fennell
– Former Cinema Chairman
I was fortunate to be Chairman of the Cinema for a few years and remember the mad activity before each Festival opened, the team-work, the illuminating talks and Q&A’s, all those unheard of and unexpectedly moving films, the panic if a film or speaker failed to appear on time, and the delight to get through to the Closing Gala dinner, attendance numbers once again increased. Highlights include:
Asian Cinema: The encyclopaedic knowledge of Tony Rayns introducing Chinese Cinema. The anecdotes of Derek Malcolm about showing “Raise the Red Lantern” to Birmingham school kids. The films of Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige including the unashamedly sentimental “The Road Home” and ‘Together with You, the now banned ”Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl” and a favourite, Tony Bui’s post-war Saigon’s “Three Seasons”. French Cinema: classics from Chabrol; Daniel Auteuil in “Un Coeur en Hiver,’ the frighteningly ferocious “La Reine Margot”. Less dramatic, but touching, low-key “Angèle et Tony”, and “Mademoiselle Chambon”. Icelandic Cinema. “Childen of Nature” a moving film about growing old. Silent classics, now a popular staple in St. John’s Chapel, including Robert Wiene’s wonderful expressionistic “The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari” with Ben Hall’s stirring organ music. All the Q&A’s including a curmudgeonly Michael Winner, the droll Ken Russell (both now sadly departed) and the always fascinating anecdotes of Tony Palmer.
My message to you all – “Try something unusual in the programme – 9 times out of 10 you will be captivated and pleased you did!”
- Ian Haydn Smith
- Editor, BFI Filmmakers Magazine Curzon Magazine
Film festivals provide a lifeline between cinema and audiences, an opportunity to indulge one’s passion in films from every corner of the globe, from France and Italy to India and China. From the arctic wastes and the arid desert of Atacama in Chile to the Steppes of Mongolia. It’s too easy to romanticize the past and believe there was a time when masses of people turned out for the latest Godard or Rossellini. We have always had a core cinephile audience but it has always been more niche than widespread. Festivals, no matter how large or small, general or specialised, have become key to audiences accessing this vast and varied world of films, Chichester Film Festival a case in point. Balancing previews of upcoming releases with titles that will unlikely be screened outside of the festival circuit, Chichester has also boasted a strong programme of retrospectives and themed screenings. Overviews of the careers of actors such as Dirk Bogarde, Charlotte Rampling, Vanessa Redgrave and Meryl Streep have been balanced with retrospectives of the work of directors as diverse as Akira Kurosawa, Jacques Tati, Claude Chabrol, Ken Loach, Carol Reed, Luchino Visconti and Theo Angelopoulos, the Greek director my first encounter with the festival back in 2012. Like many of the retrospectives and discussions that I have attended and participated in since then, the festival has always attracted an audience keen to engage with films and filmmakers they would otherwise have to encounter at home. And that’s not the best way to see these films.
- Ben Luxford
- Head of UK Audiences, British Film Institute
There are more films being released than ever before. Audiences have so much choice of both what to see and where to see them: at the cinema, at home, on your phone on the way to work or even on your watch. It’s all a bit overwhelming. That’s why the role of independent cinemas and film festivals is greater than ever. They curate all these films to bring you the best; and they’re tailored just to your tastes. After 25 years of curation, this festival knows you better than any online algorithm. It knows you want the best of independent cinema. It knows to challenge you. It knows to move you and uplift you and take you to faraway places. This year’s festival programme will do all of this and more. We need to celebrate Chichester Cinema at New Park and Chichester International Film Festival. They give us a precious, rare and personal service in this increasingly automated world. Enjoy what’s on offer, see as many films as you can and take some risks. It’s a rich programme, so explore it all. Here’s to the next 25 years.
- Carol Godsmark
- Cinema PR / Writer
Chichester Cinema at New Park came into my life when moving to the city two decades ago, films a must for this everlasting aficionado due to my father setting up a makeshift cinema at our home behind the Iron Curtain for film-starved adult westerners in Prague, we three pyjama-clad siblings out of sight on dark stairs to catch the latest Hollywood, Ealing, Canadian or Czech films. Chichester Cinema is second to none in the region for its breadth of films, not least during each and every film festival conceived by the unstoppable (grâce ἀ dieu!), tenacious Roger Gibson. Each festival shows off the globe’s multi-faceted filmic talents at – now – the largest film festival on the South Coast, also recognised nationally. Due to Roger’s contacts book and stints at the eclectic coalface - Cannes, Berlin, London, Karlovy Vary and Toronto film festivals – well-informed audiences are treated to not only now over 120 films but to top talent who come for zilch to support the festival, ably, enthusiastically reinforced by staff, volunteers and trustees in myriad ways. A true communal life-force with wide-reaching tentacles.
- Glyn Edmunds
- Founder Friend & Festival Patron
Our beloved little cinema at New Park shines like a beacon of excellence not just in Chichester but in the wider domain of film screening. I doubt that there are many (any?) others which run such a prestigious Film Festival each year. I attended the 7th Festival back in 1998 and all since, becoming a patron in 2011. Apart from films, the main plus is the intimate atmosphere, friendly staff and volunteers and absence of popcorn and fizzy drinks. Festivals often revolve around the visit of stars of stage and screen: Jenny Seagrove stayed to chat; Ken Russell told us about his latest venture starring his wife entitled, ‘Brave Tart;’ Corin Redgrave introduced his late father’s film, diving out for a cigarette and wine; the truly delightful team and lead actress of ‘Tasting My Future;’ Tristan Lorraine and his wonderful ‘Fact Not Fiction Films;’ in the bar listening to Phil Davis swop stories about London with a visiting VIP; entertaining Bobby Wellins and his musicians who arrived early to find no one to welcome them. Happy times, and here’s to the next twenty-five Film Festivals @ New Park.
- Philip Kemp
- Film Historian & Reviewer
Some film festivals – you know the ones I mean – feel like an oligarch’s superyacht: huge, glitzy, expensive, packed with famous faces, officious staff and intrusive PR people. And some feel more like a traditional river-steamer: relaxed, informal, easy-going and utterly devoid of pretension. (But where, nonetheless, the occasional famous face may well pop up, mercifully shorn of their entourage). Chichester International Film Festival ranks high among the second category. Under the benign guidance of Roger Gibson and his team, operating out of a converted Victorian school, it offers each August a stimulating mix of premieres, previews, recent releases from all round the globe, intriguing retrospectives on specific actors, genres and film-makers, surveys of national cinemas and treasures from the archive. Plus special events: live gigs; links with the Chichester Festival Theatre; Q&A’s with directors and illustrated talks. Having been privileged to present a few of the latter, I can testify that CIFF audiences are invariably enthusiastic, responsive and impressively well-informed – and all achieved on a budget that probably wouldn’t pay the complimentary champagne bill at Cannes. Yet ticket prices remain amazingly modest, and each year the selection of films seems to become wider, more eclectic and more tempting, offering us every style from the shamelessly entertaining to the intellectually challenging. And the substantial festival booklet is a pleasure to read in itself. Happy 25th anniversary, Chichester – may the next quarter-century prove even more successful!
- Andrew Eaton
- Producer, Revolution Films
My first visit to the Festival was in 1999 at the 8th Festival. I came to introduce a screening of the film I produced that year, “Wonderland”. It was the early years of my film producing career and getting a film in to production was a very difficult thing to do. Since then I’ve managed to produce another thirty-six films. I’ve been back to the Festival quite a few times, with a season of the films I’ve made with my partner in our company, Revolution Films, director Michael Winterbottom also with “Rush” (and one of its stars, Daniel Brühl) and last year I was working with John Lithgow (on the new Netflix series “The Crown”) and brought him along to introduce his film “Love is Strange”. Despite the fact I’ve been producing feature films for over twenty years and despite recent successes, the British independent film sector feels to me as challenging and difficult a space as it did when I first started. Good ideas and good material are always hard to find and investors are still cagey about taking a gamble on film. It may not get any easier but I still feel like I’m living out my boyhood dream. In 1999 we had a cottage at Birdham where we came for weekends but seven years ago I moved out of London and am permanently based just outside Chichester. I hope this is going to mean I will grow old gracefully in West Sussex and get to savour the wonderful, life-affirming Film Festival, which goes from strength to strength every year.
- Pat Bowman
- Past cinema PR, Committee member and Lifetime Member.
It was 1991 and I was wrong. Roger astonished me his usual bold ambition and single- mindedness: 'Next year we are going to have a Film Festival' ‘Impossible dream,’ I said. Roger does not recognise the word 'impossible'! But we were a fledgling film society with parlous finances, uncertain audiences and scarce volunteers. Ross, the projectionist, dealt with piles of film canisters, his sister with the computerless box office. The seats, hard plastic chairs, were all very village hall, we had no studio use, the 'old guard 'centre management sometimes tricky. Sponsorship was non-existent with only sympathy from the Local Authority. We had no marketing operation. However, the first festival was a modest success, 'As You Like It' introduced by director Christine Ezzard. Since then, governance, management, staffing, equipment, auditorium, catering and volunteer support has improved. The future looks good for the Festival and the Cinema; independent cinemas are doing well countrywide attracting loyal audiences who want to see films beyond the commercial mainstream in surroundings without eating, talking and electronic devices. We must keep up with technical developments and changing social patterns. On we go!
- Ellen Cheshire
- Writer and past General Manager
Film Festivals – an essential part of our film landscape. In 1896 audiences were enthralled by the new wonder of the age – 'electric animated pictures’. In 1946 cinema attendance in the UK was at its peak and Chichester boasted three cinemas. By 1980 it had none. When the first UK multiplex opened in 1985, film distributors imagined that with so many screens, at least one would be dedicated to foreign or independent cinema. Sadly this wasn't to be. What has become increasingly vital to the film exhibition landscape are Film Festivals. They range from those with a popular mixed programme to specialist ones focusing on a particular genre, theme or style. There are Festivals that take place in cinemas or ones that match the film to a unique location. No matter where or what film you are seeing, the atmosphere of a Film Festival is special, as you know that you are being given the chance to see a film that otherwise may be very difficult to see.
- Barbara Stewart Ely
- past Trustee
I arrived in Chichester from London in 1991 and, discovered, oh joy! a nearby independent cinema. At first a volunteer, I joined the Committee alongside Pat Bowman, planning the 1st Film Festival for August 1992, with 50 screenings including European and British films. Audience (and volunteer) numbers were small and we pushed the seat “rake” back after performances. Seating was very uncomfortable, and patrons brought cushions. Since then the Festival has flourished. Roger and Jo Gibson (festival founders) organised visitors such as Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and Tony Palmer, Alec Guinness, just after an eye operation, arriving with a fetching black silk eye patch. Anita Roddick was an active Vice President and contributed to the fun. Food has figured large: fiestas and barbecues under a blue awning with local restaurant involvement. Our Opening and Closing Galas are now at Brasserie Blanc and the NPCA runs the Centre Bar. Nowadays, Festival performances are frequently sold out, and the place is a-buzz for 3 weeks. The 25th Festival will be extra special, and I can’t wait!
- Rosemary Coxon
– Cinema Education Officer
Film was a part of my life from an early age – children’s matinees at the Beeston Essoldo Cinema were definitely part of my youthful pastimes in Nottingham. As an undergraduate, I marvelled at the Russian ‘Hamlet’ and ‘The Seventh Seal’ at the university film club. However, it was as an English teacher in various secondary schools that I really appreciated the value of film in bringing books alive. As my English department would say when we discussed which books to teach for ‘A’ level and GCSE, “Is there a film of this text?” Obviously, I am now far more knowledgeable about film - as Education Officer my horizons have been expanded. I still have much to learn, however and the Film Festival this year and those in the recent past will thrill, educate and entertain all who attend- and I will certainly be one of them!
- Past Trustee
One of the great pleasures of a film festival is to see unusual films from around the world. In some cases these are films that do not find uk distribution and the festival therefore is a unique opportunity to see such films.
I've been coming to the festival since i moved into the area in 1995; these personal memories are drawn from films shown in the last fifteen years.
In recent years asian and east asian cinema in particular has produced for me some of the best films in the world. Some highlights from over the years include the remarkable 218 minute "eureka" from japan, the memorable and beautiful "kekexili" from china and others from south korea, taiwan turkey, and iran.
It's good to see that women have been given more opportunities to direct in recent years; we have shown great films by the likes of teana strugar miteevska, sabine bernardi, and to pick out one, "innocence" by lucile hadzihalilovic, a gently unsettling film about young girls being groomed to become the women that men want.
Alternative cinema often delights in the bizarre and some notable examples include ilya khrzhanovsky's extraordinary and compelling "4", reha erdem's mysterious and mystical "kosmos" and the beautiful and enchantingly strange "attila marcel" by sylvain chomet which might have surprised a few people having seen his two previous animations.
Technical innovations are often found in this area of film making including for example the intriguing time frames and edits of "presque rien" ,the very effective absence of dialogue for large parts of "tabu", and the stylised theatrical black and white spanish adaptation of snow white "blancanieves".
And lastly, cinema is a great place for the discussion of weighty issues. Three significant examples would be maryam keshavarz's impressive debut film "circumstance", a powerful portrait of male oppression and religious authoritarianism; the croatian film "halima's path" which reflects on the hideous and insane results of religious identity, male disconnection and violence, and alain gomis's "l'affrance", a hard hitting yet sensitive account of the post colonial difficulties of a senegalese man in paris.