Wednesday, 4 March 2009

[153] UK Film Festival Previews March

Here is my UK Film Festivals column for March. To see the nice, fully-formatted, slightly sub-edited version from the issue of Film & Festivals Magazine, please go here.


London International Documentary Festival
March 29 - April 5

Now into its third year, The London International Documentary Festival will be taking place in the capital at the end of March. Over the course of the festival's eight days, there will be 80 films exhibited, including UK and world premiere film showings, at cinemas around the centre of London, including the Curzon Soho, Barbican and Roxy Bar and Screen. On show are documentaries that cover the social, the political and the poetic, including The Unwinking Gaze (dir. Joshua Drugdale, 2008), an intimate profile of the Dalai Lama; With a Stroke of the Chaveta (Con el Toque de la Chaveta, dir. Pamela Sporn, 2007), showing book readings that take place on the floor of Cuban cigar factories; and Barbet Schroeder's Terror's Advocate (L'avocat de la terreur, 2007), which explores the life of controversial lawyer Jacques Verges.

Organised in association with the London Review of Books, the festival is subtitled 'A Conversation in Film', and is structured around encouraging debate and discussion between audiences and filmmakers. Many of the showings are followed by Q&A sessions or discussions with directors and critics. Highlight of the festival is its major event on Saturday April 5, where the location shifts to inside the venerable walls of the British Museum. Activities, discussions and showings are planned for throughout the day, from 10am to 6.30pm, in 3 museum-based theatres. The day is split up into sessions, priced at £3 each, with each featuring either a selection of short pieces or a feature-length documentary.

Also, the festival will be prefaced by a handful of events and showings in February and March. For more information, see


Celtic Media Festival
March 25-27

The Celtic Media Festival has been promoting the languages and culture of the Celtic countries for almost 30 years, and is in 2009 taking residence at Caernarfon in north-west Wales for this years line-up of visual and broadcast media from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. Over three days, the festival will be celebrating the best in Celtic media as well as handing out awards in categories such as Factual Series, Feature-Length Drama and wider media fields like Radio Station of the Year.

One of the notable entries on the festival's Feature-Length Drama shortlist is Declan Rick's Eden, an Irish adaptation of a play by Eugene O'Brien, which is a marital drama laced with anxiety and clashing values. The film was previously shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, where Eileen Walsh received an award for Best Actress. Also showing in competition is Senseless, a dark thriller from Scotland, written and directed by Simon Hynd , where a businessman is taken hostage by a group of political extremists, and is subjected to torture and humiliation as his plight is broadcast over the internet.

Running parallel with the festival is Celtic Media's Green Light programme, a series of events specially organised to help and advice media students about the industry. These events include workshops, Q&As and lectures with representatives from production companies, as well as a 1 Minute Film Competition. Chief among these events is a Masterclass With Hammer and Tongs, where the students can learn tips and tricks from the successful music video and Son of Rambow directing duo.

The programme is still to be finalised and announced, however the festival's shortlist is available to browse on their website. For more information see


Renderyard International Festival
March 26-28

The second Renderyard International Film Festival is a free, three day event coming to London's Roxy Bar and Screen at the back end of March, before taking up a 10 day residence in Logrono , Spain in April. The festival aims to show the best of European and international cinema, focusing on the contemporary and the socially relevant. Set up by Renderyard , a digital platform that helps to produce and distribute experimental and animated films, the festival will feature long-form narratives, as well as documentaries.

Showing at the Roxy will be films such as Tao Ruspoli's Fix, a whirlwind tour through Los Angeles' suburbs, squalor and jarring distinctions. Director Ruspoli, who also writes and stars in Fix, won the Heineken Red Star Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and the film has had a warm response on the 2008 festival circuit.

Two documentaries that will be shown are both rooted in social and political issues: Lucy Martens' Voices From Inside features 12 interviews, discussing Zionism and the Israeli peace movement, and The Day After Peace, directed by Jeremy Gilly, documents his Peace One Day campaign, and the resulting events held and journeys made around the world to raise awareness for his dream of a mutually-observed international truce.

For more information, see


Bradford International Film Festival
March 13-28

No doubt galvanised by new patrons Simon Beaufoy (Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire) and Michael G Wilson (long-serving James Bond producer), the 15th Bradford International Film Festival 2009 promises two weeks of exciting events and world-spanning screenings. Housed in the National Media Museum, the festival's line-up includes a variety of special programmes, such as CineFile, which features documentaries about filmmaking ; Uncharted States of America, showcasing new independent cinema from the USA; Premieres and Previews; the Industry Weekend; and a centenary celebration of the work of Yorkshire-born actor James Mason. The festival will also be handing out the Shine Award for best new short film.

The broadcast capabilities of the museum gives the BIFF the opportunity to screen films in a variety of formats, which gives birth to the Widescreen Weekend, where they will be celebrating the history of large-scale formats such as 16mm, 35mm, 70mm and 3-strip Cinerama. The weekend will feature a triple-bill of Richard Burton 70mm films, including Where Eagles Dare, Becket and The Taming of the Shrew, as well as tributes to Charlton Heston (Khartoum) and Sydney Pollack (The Electric Horseman).

The BIFF will also be honouring actress Virginia McKenna with a Lifetime Achievement award, and documentary filmmaker Peter Whitehead with a BIFF Fellowship Award. Films from the careers of both recipients will be screened throughout the fortnight, with McKenna also appearing at a Screentalk interview event.

The festival's programme is yet to be announced. For more information, see

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