The Bradford International Film Festival is held in March each year at the National Media Museum in the UK. This year’s dates were 13-28 March. It’s one of three film festivals held at the Museum, the others being the Animation Festival and Bite the Mango. The March festival has a USP that other festivals find hard to match – the ‘Widescreen Weekend’ that attracts fans from all over the world to Pictureville Cinema to watch films in 70mm, VistaVision and Cinerama. Every year new prints are discovered or restored and this year featured a rare new release – a special one-off UK 70mm screening of a new French musical, Faubourg 36 (France/Germany/Czech Republic 2008) for which the Museum had to create its own subtitles and devise a way to project them. (The film should get a UK release on 35mm.)
The festival has several other strands. It tends to focus on British filmmakers, inviting directors, stars, cinematographers etc. for interviews and ‘Q & As’. This year the ‘chosen’ were Virginia McKenna, star of 1950s and 1960s features, James Bond writer/producer Michael Wilson, music/art documentary filmmaker Peter Whitehead, writer/director Terry Jones and actor Derren Nesbitt. A last minute surprise addition was local hero Simon Beaufoy fresh from his Oscar triumph. The classic British star James Mason was featured this year during his centenary in a selection of his best-known titles (Mason was born in Huddersfield, not too far away). Bradford is currently bidding to be the first UNESCO City of Film so the local connections are important. The opening and closing galas also feature British film premieres. Other strands include an American Independents collection and Documentaries – including a special strand of films on filmmakers in ‘CineFile’. Films from other festivals and pre-release screenings form a ‘Premieres and Previews’ strand and there are also various collections of Shorts. With the resources of the Museum available to further extend the Festivals reach there are linked ‘Family Events’ and a chance to watch free vintage TV recordings associated with some of the Festival strands. There are also Film Industry events sponsored by the Regional Screen Agency, Screen Yorkshire. There’s always plenty going on at the Bradford Film Festival! Unfortunately it’s on at the wrong time for me and I only got to one screening this year – see the entry on Ordinary Boys. I’m going to try harder in future.