Friday 23 May 2008

Photography and Celebrity - screenings and talk

In partnership with the ongoing Hereford Photography Festival Borderlines is screening Annie Leibovitz - Life Through A Lens at The Courtyard in Hereford on Friday 23 May 2.30pm, 5.00pm & 7.45pm and Saturday 24 May 7.45pm. The 5pm Friday screening will be followed at 6.30pm by a talk by Richard Heatly, Principal of Hereford College of Arts, on Photography and Celebrity. More details on the Hereford Photography Festival Events page

Leibovitz was most recently the centre of a furore over her 'inappropriate' Vanity Fair photographs of Disney child star, Miley Cyrus. Some views:
Shame on You, Annie Leibovitz, Carter and Miley Cyrus's parents, Janice Turner, Times, Tuesday 29 April, 2008
Storm in a Teen Cup, Zoe Williams, Guardian, Wednesday April 30 2008
'We like our Venuses young', Germaine Greer, Guardian, Wednesday April 30 2008

Wednesday 21 May 2008

TV screening of Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go

If you missed the excellent Kim Longinotto documentary Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go at Borderlines (see Music, Rage and Joy post) there's another chance to see it tomorrow, Thursday 22 May, BBC4, 10pm. Producer Roger Graef and teacher Fiona Dahl from the Mulberry Bush School featured in the film were interviewed this morning on the Today Programme.

Tuesday 20 May 2008

A British film that doesn't disappoint

Finally, what a blast to discover a new original voice in British cinema. Steve McQueen's much anticipated Hunger lives up to expectations, an amazing film, definitely the strongest I've seen so far at Cannes. Although watching a man starving himself to death is really a terrible experience and certainly puts you off your next pain au raisin. For an hour it's almost wordless, showing his background as a visual artist and a great command of film language McQueen uses sound and crisply shot, beautifully framed images to tell the story of the IRA's H-block protests - refusing to wear prison clothes, to wash or shave, smearing the cell walls with shit, the brutal beatings and routine humiliations of prison life. Interestingly the film starts by focusing on a warden, then a new inmate before finally coming to rest on Bobby Sands and his extraordinary determination to take the protest to another level and force the Thatcher government to capitulate on their demand for political status. After about an hour there is the film's fantastic central scene between Sands and a sympathetic priest, a torrent of words flows between them, a 10 minute single take that seems to go on for ever and reveals so much, until you're actually disappointed when he cuts in to a close up. Then the film gives up on words again and concentrates on the slow self-destruction of the suicidal martyr, the horrific details of his body's breakdown. Plenty of time to think about why a man would do such a thing to himself and how he could have the will to see it through. Genius, but will anybody want to come and see it?

Monday 19 May 2008

More from Our Man in Cannes

An animated anti-war film about Israeli soldiers gradually uncovering their hidden memories of the '82 Lebanon War, Waltz With Bashir ends with a real punch by breaking into TV footage of the aftermath of the massacres of Palestinian civilians that took place. It leaves the audience stunned to silence. But also for me shows how I found the animated war scenes up to that point rather distancing. Although the sickly yellow and grey colour scheme did have a nightmarish quality that gripped I wasn't as bowled over as others. Queuing to get into the film I met Bill from National Film & TV Museum in Bradford & Maggie Pope, a Hereford producer here to try and raise money for a comedy with her Irish co-producer, who absolutely raved about it afterwards.

The rest of the day's movies weren't much to write home about. First, a Spanish comedy, Better Than Ever, starring Victoria Abril that initially looked quite promising descended into a very silly tale of hot-blooded Mexicans spicing up the lives of repressed Spaniards. Lucky Dog scrapes, totally credible, fine central performance , a Chinese story about the first day of retirement of a railway engineer who gets into all sorts ofbut somehow just too ordinary. And a documentary about blind people in love, Blind Loves that promised more than it finally delivered. Then off to the Film Agency for Wales party where I had a long chat with Mark Cousins who waxed lyrical about Soundtrack, the new Cardiff film and music festival, for which he's already secured his old mate, Danny Boyle. We talked Chinese films and African cinema and it was reassuring to discover that there was somebody involved in the festival who has the depth of knowledge and film contacts he does. Let's hope it goes well for them.

Staggered outside into the rain and gave up thoughts of chasing round looking for parties and went off to see a Tibetan film, Ganglameido, cue much ethnic exoticism in far too clean costumes and a rather confusing story of love and reincarnation - the confusion which of course might entirely be due to missing the first five minutes or the amount of wine I'd just drunk - but it did feature crisply shot beautiful locations that I love (Lhasa, Mount Kailas) and its real strength was a sense of Lhasa now where the bars play a mix of Chinese and Western music and there's a sense of a culture under pressure and in flux.

Sunday 18 May 2008

Greetings from Cannes

It seems that the arduous business of sifting through films in preparation for Borderlines 2009 has already begun. Festival Director, David Gillam writes:

Greetings from Cannes! All pretty good here - though I expect the weather is better with you as it's been raining on & off today and the one thing I didn't bring was an umbrella. Haven't actually seen any stars yet, just lots of motorcades with greying executives and dazzling blondes, the closest I've got to a star is watching Mike Tyson being interviewed for French TV.

Just seen a very funny Belgian comedy called Rumba, about 2 teachers who live for their Latin American dancing until they have a terrible car crash - she loses a leg, he loses his memory - and while they valiantly try to rebuild their lives it all goes down hill from there. Very non-PC - the scene where she sets fire to her wooden leg, then contrives to burn their house down sets the tone, lots of physical comedy, a bit haphazard, but in places absolutely hysterical. After 'three comedies' which barely raised a titter from the audience from beginning to end I was beginning to despair of ever doing a comedy season! But today has been a good day, two good if rather bleak Argentinian films and another very deadpan comedy, O'Horton from Bent Hamer, the guy who made Kitchen Stories and Factotum, about an engine driver who retires after 40 years, and gets into various rather bizarre scrapes, the moral being "It's always too
late, so it's never too late".

Cannes Film Festival in Review from The Independent on Sunday
Heavyweight boxer Tyson at Cannes film festival from The Washington Post