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Tom recalls the moment he fell in love with film, and the year BIFF had a better line up of British and international film stars than any other festival.

When I was about ten, my grandma took me up from where she lived in Epsom to London to visit the Museum of the Moving Image. There, unplanned, I saw on a monitor a few scenes from the surrealist film Un Chien Andalou next to a recreated prop from the film.

Simone Mareuil in Un Chien Andalou (1929)
Simone Mareuil in Un Chien Andalou (1929)

The experience of being there and watching that knocked me completely sideways forevermore and made several questions whirl around in my head for weeks: ‘Who made that?’, ‘What were they up to?’, and ‘What was going on in the 1920s to have caused it?!’

Most of all, I was impressed that the film was in a public space. I knew that it must mean something. That’s when I first thought ‘I really love films’, a thought that stuck in my head and has still refused to budge.

In 2006 I ended up working here at the museum because I wanted to make the best of cinema by offering it up in a free public space.

The first chance I got was by working on Bradford International Film Festival in 2007. 2007 is still my favourite of all the BIFFs I worked on, and still by far the best film festival experience I’ve had.

The cast of This is England at BIFF 2007
The cast of This is England at BIFF 2007

That was the year we had Ken Loach, Benedict Cumberbatch, The cast of This is England, Michael Parkinson, Patrick Keiller, Godfrey Reggio, Alan Bennett, Denis Dercourt and Terence Davies. That’s a seriously good lineup and I bet you won’t find a better lineup of British and international film-makers at any festival that year.

Terence Davies at BIFF 2007
Terence Davies at BIFF 2007

BIFF was all, apparently, run on the passion of the people here. I soaked up as many great films as I could: 12 Angry Men, Paris je t’aime, Ten Canoes, Dangerous Men (a film and a screening experience so giddily unlikely that it still seems like a dream), One Way Boogie Woogie

Best of all, I got to programme something! The Louise Brooks film Pandora’s Box, with live piano—a sell-out and a brilliant, luminous night.

Pandora's Box (1929)
Pandora’s Box (1929)

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