This week sees the opening of the 19th Bradford International Film Festival – and this year’s festival promises to be their biggest and most varied to date.
With thus year marking the centenary of Indian film, the festival will be screening a series of highlights showcasing the history and legacy of Bollywood cinema.
The programme includes a chance to see everything from the 1913 silent movie Raja Harishchandra to the hotly anticipated Mumbai’s King, which will be receiving its UK premiere at the festival. There will also be a talk on Indian film led by Bollywood expert Irna Qureshi.
Bollywood, however, is only a small part of this year’s event. On the opening night, there will be a screening of one of the most anticipated films of the festival, Michael Winterbottom’s The Look of Love starring Steve Coogan and Anna Friel. Coogan plays Paul Raymond, the “King of Soho” – a pornographer and nightclub owner who amassed a fortune of billions of pounds and became the richest man in England. The script was written by BAFTA award winner Matt Grenhalgh (Nowhere Boy, Control), who will be attending the screening at the National Media Museum.
As well as feature films, there will also be a series of carefully selected documentaries. The work of Bradford-born filmmaker CH Wood will be shown during a one-off screening at Bradford Cathedral on April 17. The 90-minute film brings together historical footage of the city shot between 1897 and 1970, giving a rare glimpse into its rich past.
There will also be screenings of avant-garde short films by the much vaunted filmmaker, Stan Brakhage. His highly-influential series of experimental shorts Dog Star Man (1961-4) will be shown, along with the flickering visual collage Moonlight (1963), and The Gardens of Earthly Delights (1961) which draws its inspiration from Hieronymus Bosch’s vision of the fall of man.
Brakhage’s films are both abstract and disturbing, but the screenings should be a fitting tribute to an American director who consistently ploughed his own furrow.
Fans of contemporary Russian cinema will also be glad to see a retrospective of the work of Aleksey Balabanov – a controversial and irreverent director. Films to be screened include the dark comedy Cargo 200 (2007), which tells the story of a feud between a psychotic police captain and an atheist university professor; the dark and violent A Stoker (2012); and the sardonic and philosophical crime drama Me Too (2012).
Comedian and broadcaster Adam Buxton (BBC Radio 6 Music, The Adam and Joe Show) will also be making an appearance at the festival, presenting his music video show BUG for the first time in Bradford. BUG began in 2007 as a series of shows at the British Film Institute, London, which aimed to showcase the creativity of music videos from across the globe. The highlights of these videos have been brought together in The Best of BUG: The Evolution of Music Video.
With a whole host of movie premieres, independent films and guest speakers and Tom Courtenay adding a little gravitas to proceedings, there is something for everyone – whatever your taste.
• Bradford International Film Festival, April 11 to 21. To download a full programme of events go to www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk