Daily Archives: September 6, 2010

30th Cambridge Film Festival, 16-26 September

The UK has many film festivals, each with their own particular appeal. The Cambridge Film Festival, this year celebrating its 30th birthday, is one of the festivals championing independent cinema and films from outside Hollywood. The festival is mainly housed at the 3-screen Arts Picturehouse, but extra events are located across the city in a variety of attractive and interesting venues. This year’s festival runs from 16-26 September and we are planning a visit for a few days with blogs on some of the interesting global films. So what’s on offer?

The opening film is the UK première of Luc Besson’s The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec.

I can’t really beat the description of one YouTube user, Koeryn, after watching a trailer:

“. . . pterodactyls and mummies, and early 20th century technology? This is borderline steampunk awesome sauce.”

It’s a big budget action picture from Europa that opened in France in April. It’s always interesting to see how Besson attempts to compete with Hollywood blockbusters and here he takes on the recent spate of comic book/graphic novel adaptations.


Women workers in Downing Street – what a good idea! (Miranda Richardson, centre, plays the late great Barbara Castle, the Labour Employment Minister )


The closing film is also a crowd-pleaser – Made in Dagenham, the film about the strike by women workers at Ford’s car plant in Dagenham in 1968. With an all-star cast led by Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, Rosamund Pike, Geraldine James and Jaime Winstone and directed by Nigel Cole of Saving Grace and Calendar Girls, this is the big hope for a home-grown hit in British Cinemas in the Autumn. The real question is whether this will provoke some proper discussion about equal pay nearly 50 years after British women thought that they had made a breakthrough?

Here’s Mark Kermode imploring you to see the film:

Kermode is also in Cambridge with his skiffle band, joining pianist Neil Brand to accompany a screening of  the 1928 melodrama, Beggars of Life, starring Louise Brooks and Wallace Beery. Neil also accompanies a rare cinema screening of F. W. Murnau’s City Girl (US 1930).


Music for silent lovers? (Beggars of Life, left, and City Girl)


Further special events feature Ian Christie discussing the ‘unrealised film projects of Welles, Eisenstein, von Sternberg and von Stroheim, and a special event looks at Stanley Kubrick’s unrealised Napoleon. All this and Stephen Frears ‘In Conversation’ as his latest feature Tamara Drewe goes on general release.

Cambridge has a good selection of new fiction features from around the world plus re-issues and revivals. But our interest has been raised by a documentary strand that promises well. Films from Egypt are rare in the UK so we are looking forward to Garbage Dreams, a film by American documentarist Mai Iskander, which seems to have won prizes all over the world.


The Recycling School from Garbage Dreams


Garbage Dreams follows three teenage boys born into the trash trade and growing up in the world’s largest garbage village, on the outskirts of Cairo. It is home to 60,000 Zaballeen (or Zabbaleen), Arabic for ‘garbage people’. Far ahead of any modern ‘Green’ initiatives, the Zaballeen survive by recycling 80% of the garbage they collect. Face to face with the globalisation of their trade, each of the teenage boys is forced to make choices that will impact his future and the survival of his community.”

Other interesting documentaries that leap out for me include Michèle Hozer & Peter Raymont’s Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould (Canada 2009), about the intriguing Canadian pianist (1932-82) and one of the major musical figures of the 20th century. Gould was indeed a genius and also wonderfully eccentric – check out this trailer:

François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard are the twin subjects of Two in the Wave (Deux de la Vague) (France 2009) by Emmanuel Laurent. This controversial film explores the relationship between the two most famous figures of la nouvelle vague and promises some new material about the period.

There’s a lot more I haven’t got space to tell you about, including a new Samantha Morton picture, always a treat for me and strands for new German films and family films. The best advice is to download the full programme from the Festival website. See you there!