The 19th Bradford International Film Festival (‘BIFF’) runs from 11-21 April in partnership with Virgin Media on the three screens of the National Media Museum and at various other venues around Bradford (and at the Hebden Bridge Picturehouse, Hyde Park in Leeds and Otley Courthouse). The festival website carries all the information you need to plan your visit and this year the festival seems to have expanded even more. There is far too much on offer for us to cover in detail, so we’ll just be concentrating on a few strands. You can get a flavour of past festivals from the BIFF tags on this blog. Bradford’s major components remain in place with a focus on British cinema guests and gala films, (Michael Winterbottom’s Paul Raymond biopic The Look of Love opens the festival), the Uncharted States of America strand and the European New Features competition introduced last year. Guests include the Dodge Brothers and Neil Brand accompanying the Russian silent The Ghost That Never Returns (USSR 1929), comedian Aidan Goatley and Adam Buxton on’The Evolution of Music Video’. Tom Courtenay is the Special Guest for a Lifetime Achievement Award and a 50th anniversary screening of Billy Liar as part of a series of events celebrating Bradford as the first UNESCO City of Film.
Other strands include the New Features programme which this year appears to have a significant element of documentary films from around the world alongside new films from Olivier Assayas, Bernardo Bertolucci and Susanne Bier. Bradford After Dark is the horror strand and there are tributes to Stan Brakhage and avant-garde artists from ‘sixpackfilm’ in Austria. The director in the spotlight this year is the Russian Alexey Balabanov with three films. The programme describes him as ‘Russia’s maverick maestro’ (all three films are ’18 Certificate’). Alongside the Family Fun Fun Days of Tom & Jerry cartoons and the Shine Shorts programme is for us the most exciting programme of the lot, the ‘Happy Birthday, India Cinema‘ selection of screenings ranging from the surviving footage of the first Indian feature, Raja Harishchandra in 1913, to a UK première of a new independent film, Mumbai’s King from 2012.
The Filmmakers’ Weekend, presented in conjunction with the Northern Film School at Leeds Metropolitan University, runs over 20-21 April with special guests Menelik Shabazz and Simon Beaufoy. The Widescreen Weekend, a major international event in its own right, has now been separated from the main festival and will take place over the weekend of April 26-29. This year is the 60th anniversary of CinemaScope (our favourite format) and the weekend will see a screening, in a new 35mm print, of the first ‘Scope film released in the UK, How to Marry a Millionaire – with Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall (sigh!).
We’ll be focusing on the Indian Cinema strand and the European features competition and then fitting in what else we can around them. It’s going to be a busy 10 days of non-stop screenings – and blogging. Can’t wait. See you there!