We asked some influential local film bloggers to offer their festival tips for the less cinephilic film lovers among us.
Mike McKenny (@destroyapathy), a local film writer/editor who runs the Leeds/Bradford based community film society Minicine (@MinicineYorks), reached out to his (large) network of contacts, and Michael Pattison (@m_pattison), editor of idFilm (@idfilm) was happy to oblige…
Times are tough, and should the Bradford International Film Festival come and go this year with your resources stretched sufficiently enough to have limited your attendance to selected screenings, several works might have gone overlooked in a programme full of intrigue and esteem.
One such work is Small Roads, whose director James Benning beguiles with an all-out brand of uncompromised minimalism. Following his strangely beautiful Nightfall—which had its UK premiere at the AV Festival in Newcastle in early March—Small Roads is the kind of project that sounds more suited to a gallery space, but what keeps it distinctly cinematic is that, for it to mean anything, it demands the discipline of the unique, communal experience given by a cinema space.
Comprising 47 shots of different roads in the USA, this is quieting, videoed landscape painting, if you like, and both its festival screenings are preceded by Austrian short A to A, a charming ode to that marvel of modern infrastructure, the roundabout.
Unique visual textures abound in Adalbert’s Dream, the latest film to emerge from the no-longer-new ‘Romanian New Wave’. Suitably shot using special Zeiss lenses on an old VHS camera, and set on the day immediately after Romanian football team Steau Bucharest beat Barcelona to the 1986 European Cup, the film promises to be another inimitable blend between comic whimsy and serious social comment, depicting the extent to which factory life under the oppressive Romanian Communist Party finds its temporary antidote in sporting passions. Should the concept of national cinemas still exist, the Romanians are currently unmatched in their appraisals of life.
We Are Poets
If we’re championing the under-voiced here, it seems fitting to mention We Are Poets, which won the Youth Jury Award at last year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest. Accessible and unassuming, this swift, 80-minute documentary follows a group of Leeds-based youths as they represent the UK at an annual international poetry slam competition in the USA. Remarkably forthright, these young people are unpretentious and lyrically talented: we’re rooting for them from the off.
One of this energetic film’s more endearing achievements is its depiction of young people performing for performing’s sake; one scene in particular, in which two of the youths perform a self-written effort called America, makes it clear that when a potentially controversial idea is delivered heartfelt and truthfully enough, its political power becomes encompassing and empowering.