Fine showcase for seasoned film-makers and new talent

The Bradford International Film Festival is heading into its final stages. Arts reporter Nick Ahad on the film fest.

Where to begin?

The obvious answer – at the beginning – is actually the least appropriate. The start of the 17th Bradford International Film Festival was a black tie and cocktail dress affair that saw a gala preview screening of Woody Allen’s new movie You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. It was actually the following day that the festival proper got stuck into its raison d’etre.

The opening night is a chance for the hoi polloi to get on their glad rags, but it is for the bleary-eyed, jeans and trainers film fanatics wandering from cinema to cinema over the fortnight of the festival that BIFF really exists.

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Centred around Bradford’s National Media Museum, the festival has expanded in recent years to include other venues including the Bradford Cineworld and, somewhat oddly, venues in Otley, Whitby and Hebden Bridge.

It is at the museum in the heart of Bradford where the festival fan in the know sets up camp during BIFF.

The day following the opening night saw ten films screened and a spectacular event.

It was more fortunate timing than good planning that the National Theatre broadcast live to the museum its mega production of Frankenstein, directed by Danny Boyle, but the sell-out event was the perfect way for the festival to set out its stall. The event – and it was truly event cinema – saw Frankenstein performed at London’s National Theatre, broadcast live to the Pictureville cinema screen.

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The production was incredible, a stunning piece of work and the film fans were delighted by both the production and the technical achievement.

The following evening in the same venue a more low key event thrilled film fans as equally as the grand spectacle of Frankenstein.

Oranges and Sunshine is the debut feature film from Jim Loach, son of Ken. Based on the story of social worker Margaret Humphreys, Loach fielded questions on stage from the audience following the screening. Ranging from working with star Emily Mortimer to the logistics of shooting a film between Australia and the UK, the questions revealed one of the strengths of the festival – events shared by the pure film fan and the keen young film maker.

These two different aspects were brought into focus over the first weekend of the festival, March 19 and 20, when Terry Gilliam was on stage at the Pictureville Cinema, talking to festival director and Yorkshire Post film critic Tony Earnshaw. While Gilliam entertained the audience downstairs, upstairs the directors and producers were taking part in the panel discussion Trouble Shooting, in which the problems of making a film on a small budget were shared.

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While Saturday at 10am might not appear to be the most appealing time to be in a cinema, the Cubby Broccoli venue at the NMM saw a healthy crowd watching the six short films up for the Shine Short Film award, which sees one short movie win the title of best short movie in the festival. The winner will be announced this Sunday at 6pm.

The short films kicked off a weekend of screenings under the banner Northern Showcase, with five full-length movies all made in the North being screened. Innocent Crimes, a black and white film noir, which was shot for just £10,000 in York, a brilliant twist on the zombie genre shot around Peniston, Harold’s Going Stiff, and The Last Days of Edgar Harding (cover picture) all helped make up Northern Showcase – and made sure this brilliant festival keeps bringing back the Woody Allen fans and the aspiring young talent in movies.

This weekend’s BIFF highlights

Tonight: Claire Bloom in conversation: Six decades in the movies celebrated. Pictureville, NMM, 7pm.

The Bridge on the River Kwai. Pictureville, NMM, 8pm.

SATURDAY: How the West Was Won: Vintage Technicolor print of this classic, introduced by Prof Christopher Frayling. Pictureville, NMM, 1.30pm.

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Twelve Monkeys: Continuing retrospective of Terry Gilliam’s work. Cineworld, Bradford, 1.45pm.

SUNDAY: Shine Award Presentation: The best short films of the festival screened and the winner announed. Cubby Broccoli, 6pm.

The Messenger: Closing night gala features Woody Harrelson’s latest movie in its UK premiere. Pictureville, NMM, 8pm.

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