Saturday 22 March 2008


Coming this way: controversy, celebrity, chit-chat, conversation. Compiling the hospitality list for the festival, Borderlines Producer Naomi has discovered that over 50 speakers will be turning up this year. And, as is the last-minute nature of these things, the figure is still growing. Guests range from ex-Python Terry Jones who'll be introducing the breakneck Rene Clair farce Le Million to some of those responsible for the two-minute Migrant Stories, personal takes on what it's like to come from Eastern Europe to work and live in Herefordshire. And many, many more.

It got me thinking. What makes a film festival? Particularly one that's not populated by industry delegates out to buy or sell. It's not simply a matter of watching films. Nor even of watching a lot of films in a short space of time. Watching films in the company of a lot of people begins to hit the spot. Rubbing shoulders with visiting experts takes the whole thing into another dimension: you look at films and the topics they cover in a completely new light, ask questions, argue the toss.

I heard one of the speakers due to take part in the New Rural Perspectives event being put on the spot on Radio 4's Feedback programme the other week. Graham Harvey, Agricultural Story Editor of The Archers, had been called in to answer listeners' complaints about the soap's anaerobic biodigester storyline. Too specialist, it was alleged. The digester is a piece of industrial machinery that chews up waste and spits it out in the form of biogas. There are very few of these in the UK (one happens to be close by, in Ludlow). Not only, Harvey argued persuasively, does the story reflect farmers' concerns among about tackling climate change; it's also a focus for the continuing power struggles within the Archers clan and is already causing ructions in the village. Big drama ahead.

Not sure that Borderlines can stretch to live wrangling and family feuds. No shortage of them up there on screen of course.

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