18th Bradford International Film Festival

The Bradford International Film Festival for 2012 has an opening night on Thursday 19 April with Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress (US 2011) and runs through to Sunday 29th with an extra day for the Widescreen Weekend, Monday 30th. This year’s festival programme feels slightly different. Most of the usual strands are still there with high profile guests Ray Winstone, British film and TV star Barbara Windsor (BIFF Lifetime Achievement Award 2012) and French director Olivier Assayas (BIFF Fellow 2012). Each of these three live appearances will be supported by screenings and also vintage TV screenings in the National Media Museum’s TV Heaven Gallery. In the tribute section there is also an intriguing contrast between the French actor and experimental filmmaker Pierre Clémenti (1942-1999), and the great Hollywood animator Chuck Jones in his centenary year.

The Shine Short Film Competition, Bradford after Dark and Uncharted States of America are also still there and this year’s Widescreen Weekend, the ‘festival within a festival’, is particularly special with the 60th anniversary of Cinerama and several screenings on Pictureville’s curved screen. If you’ve never seen the cinema’s first commercially developed widescreen format in operation here’s your chance. Filmmaker and historian Kevin Brownlow will be giving a presentation on the birth of widescreen cinema.

'Bread and Circuses' screens in the European Features Competition as a Slovenian entry.

The changes seem to mean a slight reduction in the overall number of films and venues (though I haven’t counted them) and therefore a more focused festival. A new element is the introduction of a new European Features Competition with six films that have yet to get distribution in the UK. Run in conjunction with Bradford University, the competition features a jury of filmmaker Joanna Hogg and critics Wendy Ide and Tim Robey.

There are two accompanied screenings of films made prior to 1929, one with the Dodge Brothers and Mark Kermode plus pianist Neil Brand. ‘Filmmakers’ Weekend‘ in association with the Northern Film School at Leeds Metropolitan University is 28-29 April.

Cuban zombie flick 'Juan de los muertos' plays as part of 'Bradford After Dark'

We’ll be reporting on the European Features competition plus selected highlights from the New Features strand. Standouts from a global film perspective are the new film from French-Moroccan director Ismaël Ferroukhi, Les hommes libres with Tahar Rahim, Cuban zombie flick Juan of the Dead and a special screening of a new Australian film Toomelah to celebrate a collaborative exchange between Bradford and Sydney as the first two UNESCO Cities of Film. The hot ticket will no doubt be for The Raid, Welshman Gareth Evans’ Indonesian action film, but we hope to find some other undiscovered gems as well.

See the full programme here and buy tickets online. See you in Bradford!

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