Sunday 28 February 2010

Nowhere Boy

It's a real nowhere film. The director was well served by her cast, but they were ill served by their director. This is a sorry, dull piece of film making, some of it on a par with the worst excesses of the BBC period films department, only occasionally leavened by great performances. If the editing 'was just painful' and there really were 'endless possibilities' then Taylor-Wood picked the wrong ones. Conceptual artist she may well be, but film maker she is not. Well, not yet. But would you give her another chance?

The Limits of Control (or, Two Espressos in Separate Cups)

Having seen a number of Jim Jarmusch’s films before, I thought I knew what I was letting myself into with The Limits of Control. I was wrong.

Previous Jarmusch films have always used a slow build-up of around 30 minutes or so, and then segue into (and I realise this isn’t the right phrase, but you’ll understand what I mean) non-stop action for the remainder of the film. Limits isn’t like that. Here, around 99% of the film’s running time is devoted to the build-up, resulting in a short climax that has a requirement to be entertaining, or shocking enough to compensate for the constant calm of the previous hour and a half. And it doesn’t quite manage that.

Let me clarify. The Limits of Control is an art film. It sacrifices plot for cinematography, dialogue for imagery, and substance for style. And that’s absolutely fine, if that’s what you are expecting. I wasn’t, and judging by the reactions of the audience around me, neither were they. Perhaps they were hoping for a more colourful, modern-day version of Dead Man, a film about an ordinary man thrust into extraordinary, psychedelic scenarios in the Wild West. Or, like me, they were expecting a European-flavoured companion piece to Ghost Dog, Jarmusch’s other film concerning a hired killer.

Limits will test the patience of the average cinema-goer, there’s no doubt about it. The audience is required to think, to analyse the images on-screen and consider their meaning. Like David Lynch’s recent Inland Empire, it is a film that will stay with you and a film you will feel stronger for having finished watching it. You may even sigh in relief. I did.

The lead character in Limits of Control explains that he achieves certain feats by “using my imagination”. The film asks that you do the same. The question is: Is that what you want from a cinematic experience? I’m perfectly happy to do that. I just appreciate a warning before I have to.

BAFTA London/BAFTA Hereford

Last Sunday: the annual BAFTA Awards ceremony at the Royal Opera House (see below). Today and tomorrow, Borderlines's own BAFTA event, Chris Atkins presents.

Today, at 5pm documentary film-maker Chris Atkins shows his 2007 film, Taking Liberties, a cautionary tale about the erosion of our civil liberties under the Blair government  in no less a venue than Hereford Cathedral which, appropriately enough, houses a copy of the Magana Carta in its archives. Free event.

Hot Docs stickerChild drinking baby booze from StarsuckersIs it implausible that Amy Winehouse should set fire to her hair while mending a fuse? Or that Guy Ritchie gave himself a black eye while 'juggling with cutlery'?

Find out in  Starsuckers, a mischievous and radical polemic on the way the media feeds and exploits our obsession with media culture, and think again, showing as part of our special BAFTA/Screen WM event at 6.15pm on Monday 1 March at The Courtyard in Hereford.

Head and shoulders portrait of Chris AtkinsThe event features a rare chance to see this new documentary and to take part in a Q&A with Chris  afterwards. And there's a reception to follow.
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BAFTA, Screen WM and UK Film Council logos
Meanwhile, back in London, Kathryn Bigelow's mesmerising Iraq war movie The Hurt Locker swept the board with six BAFTAs, including Best Film and Best Director, the first time a woman has ever won this category.
Best Actress to Carey Mulligan for her role as Jenny, a school girl seduced by suavity and '60s London, in An Education.

Katie Jarvis dancing in bare room as Mia in Fish TankOutstanding British Film went to Fish Tank, directed by another extremely able woman director, Andrea Arnold.

Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner won the BAFTA for the witty, incisive script of Up in the Air, written (according to Reitman) specifically for George Clooney's voice.

Tahar Rahim as Malik i prison in A ProphetFrench prison thriller A Prophet beat rival The White Ribbon in the Best Film Not in the English Language category.

While the spotlight was on a tearful Duncan Jones (formerly Zowie Bowie) for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer for the sci-fi mystery

And Up! flew away with both Best Animated Film and Best Music BAFTAs.

Friday 26 February 2010

Cinema is an Improvement on Life

Borderlines Film Festival starts today. Am I excited? Yes I am!
Can we assume it's even better than last year? Yes we can!
Can we believe that something as brilliant as this is happening in Herefordshire and Shropshire? No we can't!
Is it better than the Hay Festival? Different kettle of fish - but you won't need a second mortgage to buy a Borderlines ticket.
Will it ever end? Not for ages. But beware; when it does there will be tears before bedtime. A feeling of ennui (possibly Thierry Ennui) will permeate the Welsh Borders. Prescription tranquilisers may be needed.
But we shall all be better people, because, as Francois Truffaut says (and he knows about these things) 'Cinema is an improvement on life'.

Festival starts in hours - no need to get lost!

Borderlines is here! And all over the place - 40 venues from Wem in North Shropshire to Ross in South Herefordshire and some far-flung and spectacular spots in between.

I did a radio interview at BBC Hereford anf Worcester yesterday and we were speculating afterwards whether Borderlines would take the prize for the largest surface area for a festival, 2,000 square miles or so (without checking my facts)?

But we have ways of guiding you. Consult the Venues page on our website which has a link to our lovingly compiled Google map. We've attempted to pinpoint our locations with earth-shattering accuracy - postcodes in rural areas can have a notoriously wide spread. Clicking on a venue  also now provides details of what's showing there.

View Borderlines Film Festival 2010 in a larger map

And the map will give you an idea of our scope, of what we're all about, here, there and everywhere.

So be not afraid of venturing out!

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Venue spotlight: Wem Town Hall

poster for Man with a Movie CameraWhere better to spend a film festival opening night than at a performance of silent cinema classic, Man with a Movie Camera, with introduction and piano accompaniment by perennial Borderlines favourite, Paul Shallcross. Made by pioneer soviet film-maker and poet Dziga Vertov (real name: Denis Kaufman 'Dziga' from the cranking noise the camera makes) it's an exuberant and stimulating city symphony, full of tricks and surprises.

And the event, which also features the Buster Keaton short Neighbors, takes place at a brand-new venue, not just for Borderlines. Wem Town Hall, an exciting multi-use centre for the North Shropshire market town is due to launch officially in two weeks.

Wem Town Hall cafeGutted by fire in 1994, the town hall gradually fell into disuse until community groups took up its cause: 'Hall or Nothing'. The revamped centre with its fine foyer bar/cafe is the result. The festival programme at Wem is music-themed, from John Lennon's earliest strummings in Nowhere Boy to world cinema super-star, Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love, to the mind-blowing accordion duels of The Wind Journeys. And as you sit back and drink in the surroundings, remember, this could all have been a carpet warehouse.

Tickets are £4 or a subscription for all four films for £12 (£6 saving!) when bought at the same time.
Box Office: 01939 237075
All films play also at The Courtyard, Hereford.

P.S. It has been drawn to my attention that there are stories about the Town Hall having been haunted! An added dimension to the evening's entertainment. Take a look at this picture and be very afraid!

Thursday 18 February 2010

Venue spotlight: Cawley Hall, Eye

We have eleven venues taking part in Borderlines for the first time (see festival map)

Because of its proximity to another village that has regular film shows, Cawley Hall in Eye, near Leominster, has waited a long time to transform itself into a cinema.

It finally joined Flicks in the Sticks in September and the team has decided to make the venue special by concentrating on vintage films. Promoter Anita Syers-Gibson (on the left in the picture outside the hall) says, "A lot of people talk about films they saw when they were younger. This is something no-one else is doing."

Buster Keaton reading detective bookFor the Festival, Cawley Hall is showing a programme of Silent Comedy Classics including Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jnr. with piano accompaniment (in the absence of a Mighty Wurlitzer) by inimitable Borderlines regular, Paul Shallcross.  Subdued lighting and retro refreshments  - remember Paynes Poppets in those easy-to-dispense cartons devised specifically for cinema audiences back in 1937? -   recreate the full cinematic experience.

Also screening, Gideon Koppel's exquisite meditation on a small village in rural mid-Wales, Sleep Furiously. Tomorrow night (Friday 19 February), pre-festival,  Cawley Hall revisits post-war Vienna in the atmospheric The Third Man.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

!!Stop Press again!! Additional screening of Sex and Drugs

Due to heavy demand we've added another screening of Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll at The Courtyard, Hereford. The extra show is on Wednesday 10 March at 6.05pm so book now if you want to be sure of shaking it all about with Serkis as punk legend, Ian Dury. Website will update soon.

Tickets at The Courtyard are generally selling fast, 3,000 sold already with 10 days to go till the festival kicks off!

Monday 15 February 2010

!!Stop Press!! Age range for Saturday Screen Horror workshop Sat 27 Feb

The age range for the Saturday Screen Young Shoots Horror workshop at Ledbury Market Theatre on Saturday 27 February should read 15-19 rather than 13-19, as stated in the brochure and on the relevant web page (though the latter will be amended as soon as possible).

The film that precedes the workshop, Let the Right One In, has a 15 certificate and is not suitable for 13 and 14 year old viewers. We apologise for this discrepancy.

Spaces for the 12.30-4.30pm workshop (with Mash Cinema's Dan Brown) are limited and should be pre-booked through Natalie Preece at The Rural Media Company on 01432 344039. The cost is £2 to include the 10am screening. This is a marvellous opportunity for young people to try their hand at film-making.

Tickets for the film alone (£1) will be available on the door but ID will be required.

Friday 12 February 2010

Sleep Furiously wins The Guardian's Best First Film Award

Hot off the press, the news that Sleep Furiously, Gideon Koppel's meditation on life in a remote village in mid-Wales  has beaten close runner-up Katalin Varga to win The Guardian's First Film Award. 

Get the full lowdown here.

Sleep Furiously screens at four Flicks in the Sticks venues - Brilley, Ross, Ledbury and Eye - between Saturday 27 February and Friday 5 March.

The show at Brilley (fittingly remote itself) is part of a double bill with The Grocer's Son, another film about rural life,  with sustenance in the form of a Ploughman's Supper (Welsh cheese, French bread plus Bar) on sale in between the two.

We hope that director Gideon Koppel or his producer, Margaret Matheson, will be able to attend one of the screenings.

Katalin Varga plays at The Courtyard Hereford on Sunday 28 February, Tuesday 2 and Wednesday 3 March.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Chris Atkins events at Hereford College of Arts - venue info

Please note that both the 11.30am workshop with Chris Atkins and the 1.30pm screening of Taking Liberties at Hereford College of Arts on Monday 1 March will now take place at the College's Media Centre, Bath Road, Hereford, HR1 2GY.

A map showing the location of the Centre can be downloaded here

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Borderlines Film Festival 2010 brochure available to view online

Not got a brochure yet? Pledged to go paper-free?

You can still get the brochure browsing experience online (thanks to issuu) both here and via the Press page of our website. The brochure can be downloaded as a pdf from issuu if you prefer.

Monday 8 February 2010

Outstanding performances

The nominations for the 2010 Oscars were announced a week ago and with the awards ceremony itself falling on Sunday 7 March, the eve of International Women's Day, there's plenty of kudos for female contenders.

Carey Mulligan as Jenny in An EducationNot only might Kathryn Bigelow turn out to be the first ever woman to win the Best Director for The Hurt Locker but Carey Mulligan, the young star of An Education, has been nominated in the Best Actress category for her portrayal of a schoolgirl high on hedonism in '60s London.

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Vera Farmiga in Up in the AirComic Release stickerBoth female leads from Up in the Air, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, are in the running for the Best Supporting Actress Award. They play two very different high-fliers whom George Clooney (also nominated for Best Actor) encounters as 'travelling light' management consultant, Ryan Bingham.
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Yolande Moreau in SeraphineOscars aside, it's worth highlighting two fantastic performances from Belgian-born actress, Yolande Moreau, in films showing at The Courtyard Hereford during Borderlines 2010. In Seraphine she's a simple maid with an unshakeable conviction that Virgin Mary has given her the impulse to paint.Directors Dozen sticker

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Yolande Moreau in Louise-MichelA very different role for Moreau in Louise-Michel where she's a foul-mouthed woman leading a female revolt, with many convoluted, anarchistic and hilarious plot twists, against their factory boss. One screening only for this so don't miss it!
Comic Release sticker

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Saturday 6 February 2010

!!Stop press!! Change of telephone for Ledbury events

The telephone number for enquiries about screenings at Ledbury Market Theatre is incorrect in the Borderlines brochure and (currently) on the Venues page of the website though this will be amended as soon as possible.

The correct numbers are 01531 633760 / 633345

Apologies for the error.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Oscar nominations Up.... and Up!

News came through yesterday afternoon that Up in the AirAn Education and Up! are all (I was going to say 'up' AGAIN) for Best Picture among a record 10 contenders.

Word is the real battle will be between James Cameron's Avatar and Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker. Bigelow and Cameron (her ex-husband) are also nominated for Best Director and if she wins, it would, astoundingly, be a first for a woman director.

Up in the Air is nominated for numerous other Oscars, including Best Actor for Clooney while both female leads, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, are runners in the best Supporting Actress category.

Burma VJ and The Cove are deservedly among the Best Documentary nominations. I caught Burma VJ on More4 last week, it's  riveting. Amazing scene from a street demonstration led by monks when the young reporter turns his small camera up to the surrounding buildings and there are people cheering from every single window. It's currently available to view on 4oD but if, like me, you suffer from rural (broad) bandwith poverty, much better to see it on the big screen at The Courtyard Hereford, either on or as part of the special day event Here Comes Everyone:) Citizen Journalism in the Digital Age. Makes a pretty compelling case for cit journalism.

And reactions from 2 British contenders in the Adapted Screenplay shortlist (from

Armando Iannucci, who co-wrote In The Loop with Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell and Tony Roche: “I was having lunch with Steve Coogan when I heard. I still haven’t had my lunch today. It’s an entirely UK-funded film made for a British audience, so when we had the premiere in Sundance [2009] I was hoping they were going to laugh and it was tense when the lights went down. But gradually they did laugh. It doesn’t surprise me that American audiences have responded to it because we love US comedy like Jon Stewart and Seinfeld, which has very fast-paced dialogue. It was America that gave us fast-talking comedy.”

Nick Hornby, writer, An Education: “I read [Lynn Barber’s memoir in Granta] and loved it and because my wife [producer Amanda Posey] is a producer I showed it to her and didn’t think I would write it. When she started talking about possible writers I found myself becoming quite possessive of it. When Lone [Scherfig] got the directing gig she was incredibly sympathetic to the script. The period in which it is set was a bit before my time, but I carry it with me because it was my parents’ time and so much of that time shaped our culture.”

Full nominations list courtesy of Guardian Film

Monday 1 February 2010

Tackling the food crisis - Diggers then and now

Winstanley, a quietly radical '70s film about the Diggers, gets a rare screening at Borderlines on Friday 5 March. Led by Gerrard Winstanley in the bloody aftermath of the Civil War, the Diggers set about challenging the rule of law and the hegemony of landowners by reclaiming common land in order to grow crops.

In the face of impending food shortages it's all happening again. Radio 4's Costing the Earth at 9pm this evening focuses on the new Diggers, groups of people from Todmorden in West Yorkshire to a farming initiative in Oxfordshire and a National Trust estate near Gateshead who are literally taking matters into their own hands.

Should make for a fascinating comparison!