Friday 16 December 2011

Forthcoming attractions

Our flyers are out and about. Online too.

Thursday 13 October 2011

Hereford's foothold in Norwegian gastronomy

It's the autumn festival season and Festival Director David Gillam is currently on a gruelling (or should it be grilling?) itinerary that takes him to no less than three film festivals in the space of two weeks.

Currently at the first of this, the (to us) perversely named Films from the South Festival in Oslo, he writes, "Sandwiched between Parc Teatret cinema where I saw Mama Africa today and Villa Paradiso, the best Italian restaurant in Oslo, is the Hereford Steak House!!" BlackBerry blackout permitting, picture to follow.

Here's a precis of some of the films he's seen so far:
Zhang Yimou's latest Under The Hawthorn Tree is a maudlin, long drawn out tear jerker, a 70s period piece about two young comrades who meet during the cultural revolution but whose love is thwarted by numerous obstacles, both ideological and familial. Nicely made, of course, with an attractive innocence and naivety but too long, too simplistic.

Sleeping Sickness, winner of Berlinale Best Director Award 2011 (also playing at the BFI London Film Festival) is an interesting, disquieting film about a German doctor, Velten, and his life in Cameroon fighting an epidemic of sleep sickness.  It's a strange, disorienting picture of the white man in Africa and his relationship to the indigenous population, very good in an everyday nightmarish sort of way.

Which Way Home, nominated for Best Documentary Oscar 2011, is an excellent US/Mexican documentary about the young Central American migrants, some as young as 9, who ride the rails up to the American border in the hope of crossing to the promised land. A couple of Honduran 13 year olds, through the dangers of hoping freight cars, assaults by police, abuse and abandonment by people smugglers, support from Christian centres, locals and the Mexican immigration officials. Most are caught and end up in hostels before being sent home, some die in the desert, some are killed or maimed by 'the beast' (their name for the freight trains). Emotionally involving, well edited, visually exciting look at a world I may have been aware of but which I now know so much more about.

Man Without a Cellphone is an Israeli film that has a real feel of the texture of the life of an Israeli Arab, a second class citizen stifled in so many ways but resilient when joining with others to protest and survive. It's the uplifting story of a group of Palestine villagers who unite against the cellphone mast that the Israelis have built on their land, humane, humorous, well-drawn portraits of a wide group of individuals, young and old, male and female.

A beautifully scripted and well-crafted Brazilian film, So Hard To Forget deals with  lost love, how to survive it and move on. In London, strict, controlling English professor Julia is trying to keep up appearances while getting over her break up with Antonia. Against the backdrop of Rio's sophisticated gay scene, her flamboyant best friend Hugo has troubles of his own trying to forget dead lover Pedro while looking after the self-harming Julia. Into the mix, comes Julia's keenest student Carmen (who has a huge crush on her), and several other colourful characters. Skating between soap opera,  and mature reflection  with overtones of Wuthering Heights this has universal appeal for anyone who has ever been in love.

True love, true love so hard to forget”    Bob Dylan, Street Legal

From Singapore, the eponymous Tatsumi is the beautifully animated story of manga artist, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, the father of adult 'gegika' style of comic art. Surprisingly dark (for those of us who know nothing about manga), staying visually  true to Tatsumi's twisted drawing style it intersperses fragments of his stories – Hiroshima survivors, failing artists, murder, sex - and tells the artist's life as he himself depicted it in his manga memoirs. Different, but I suspect strictly for Manga fans.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Scouting for locations

The Film4 Summer Screen season at Somerset House launches tonight with the UK Premiere of Almodovar's The Skin I Live In. This and every single subsequent performance has already sold out. Judging by Time Out's extensive round-up of summer screenings in London outdoor cinema has definitely hit the big time in the UK. Fingers crossed that the Gulf Stream won't do its usual trick of dipping south for high summer, bringing in Atlantic rains when they're least welcome.

For us at Borderlines, 2012 will be the year we take off  and seek out new and adventurous locations in which to bring films to audiences. Not, you will be pleased to hear, in the depths of winter (early start Friday 24 February: good news for those implicated in lambing!) but in the balmy, late spring evenings of May. Thanks to funding from the Herefordshire Leader programme we can offer a double dollop of film festival to celebrate our tenth anniversary.

We've already set ourselves the arduous task of scouting for suitable locations and are able to share with you the results of our findings. Though costs and practicalities dictate that we will not be able to set up screenings at all of these venues, we had a glorious time of it and came away marvelling at the magnificent potential of the places we visited. Warm thanks to all who showed us around!

First up, the warm red sandstone courtyard of Berrington Hall, National Trust property near Leominster: Last of the Mohicans and naval connections, elegant Henry Holland interior and Capability Brown vistas, WW1 artifacts you can touch, D-I-V-O-R-C-E, WW2 evacuees and billeted American soldiers, promise of May apple blossom.

The WW2 hangar at Shobdon Airfield where glider pilots were trained, complete with Nissan hut cafe and bar where members of Herefordshire Aero Club hang out.

The Woodland Barn, a secret place in the hills up above Wigmore Castle, owned and built by Abbots Lodge BandB.

Oliver's Cider: cider, perry, bands, no need to say more.

Hellens in Much Marcle: a magical place with Anne Boleyn and Bloody Mary associations, haunted by the ghost of a girl locked up in perpetuity by her mother for eloping with a stable hand. Many fabulous spaces, both interior and exterior, around which we were shown in exuberant fashion by six people, a baby and three dogs.

Eastnor Castle, nr Ledbury, home of The Big Chill: battlements, terraced lawns, a field with scope for a drive-in, several decades as a prime location for TV including some Hollywood (or even Las Vegas) connections.

How Caple Court, nr Ross which boasts a dilapidated but still superb Arts and Crafts Italianate garden as well as a stage decorated in Tudor style by recovering WW1 soldiers.

The imposing Norman ruins of Goodrich Castle perched high above the River Wye, home of the legendary William Marshal who rose from child hostage to knight supreme and scene of a desperate Civil War siege.

The brand new state-of-the-art auditorium at the Steiner Academy Hereford at Much Dewchurch.

The romantic ruins of Llanwarne Priory destroyed by flooding (suggested by Mel Davies of Flicks in the Sticks).

And finally the eccentric opulence of Great Brampton House, purchased a year ago by entrepreneur, artist and gin distiller, Martin Miller. Incorporating the white cube space of the new Down Stairs Gallery.

There are other options to explore too: some River Wye locations and Haugh Woods nr Mordiford, suggested by Ben Proctor.

A difficult choice may lie ahead but roll on May 2012!

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Motovun Film Festival: gypsy bands, shoe-waving, corruption trials, prison cinemas

Everybody shoes up @MotovunFF opening to denounce corruption in Croatia ©@esubira
Two members of our team - Festival Director, David Gillam, and Executive Director, Naomi Vera-Sanso - are currently attending Motovun Film Festival in Croatia, following an Independent Cinema Office course on 'Developing Your Film Festival." It sounds as though they may come back with strange and wonderful ideas. Here are some of the short reports they have sent back so far:

Motovun is like a Croatian film Glastonbury. Thousands of young people come from all over to camp, watch films and party. The whole film fest infrastructure is built from scratch each year - toilets and all. A little medieval hill-top town transformed - amazing!

A test of endurance so not for everybody but if you can stay the course Bella Tarr's The Turin Horse is a film experience like no other. One that changes the way you see the natural world and our relationship to it. The final work from an uncompromising genius.

Opening ceremony: A gypsy band performed a specially written song to 'The Ragged and the Barefoot' and the audience were encouraged to take their shoes off and clap along - I did. The festival was officially opened by the two lawyers who are defending the assistant prime minister who is in jail awaiting trial on corruption charges. They have become Croatian celebs and it links to an 'In Prison' sidebar at the fest where you have to pay to get out of the screening. All very wild and mad.

Friday 1 July 2011

Behind the Seams

For the past few years, Borderlines has held a lavish and glitzy ball to celebrate the Film Festival in the company of sponsors and guests.

The brainchild of Borderlines board member, Peter Williamson, the Ball takes place in the opulent Victorian splendour of Hereford Town Hall. This year was special. The highlight of the Ball was a fabulous film-themed fashion show featuring students and staff of Hereford Sixth Form College, masterminded by Diane Evans, in order to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

It was a triumph of teamwork, talent and panache as demonstrated in this short documentary by Roxanne Prophet, Shoot Out Trainee at The Rural Media Company, who directed and mentored the team of 13-19 year olds camera operators.

The film affords a few poignant glimpses of Peter who died a few weeks later but who was bubbling over with enthusiasm for the show, anticipating the sheer pleasure it would afford the Festival's guests.

Behind the Seams Documentary from Roxanne Prophet on Vimeo.

Friday 22 April 2011

The Skylon and the Festival of Britain in Hereford

We decided to include a Festival of Britain programme at Borderlines this year for several reasons:
  • The Festival of Britain took place in 1951 so this is the 60th anniversary
  • Connotations with austerity, a time for defining what British values represent, a Festival FOR the people
  • Film connections
  • the Skylon, the most memorable symbol of the Festival, soaring into the sky with gravity-defying modernity, was actually manufactured in Hereford, a city associated with traditional, rural values
Bill Tanner of the Hereford Times has written several articles over the years about the Skylon and the people connected with it, including Joseph Hanks, a welding specialist who built a miniature Skylon for his daughters Judith and Pat to enter in the 1951 Hereford Carnival.

Via In Our Age I met Rosemary Lillico whose grandfather, father and aunt (who carried on with her knitting during the slack periods of crane driving) all worked for Painter Brothers. The following material is written by her:

Rosemary Lillico
After the lean war years of 1939-1945 it was decided to hold an exhibition in the summer of 1951 to promote British Industry.

One of the many exhibitors was Painter Brothers Steelworks of Mortimer Road, Hereford. Their contribution was a huge silver 'apparition' likened to a spacecraft that towered above everything else at the exhibition and known as Skylon.

Although I was just 13 years old at that time I took a great interest in the manufacture of the Skylon as my Granddad, Joe Cotterell, and my Dad, John 'Taffy' Harris both worked at Painter Brothers in the Galvanizing Dept. or the 'Dipping Shop' as it was known to the workers and helped in the manufacture of Skylon.

At the same time my Aunt, Rose Cotterell, was a crane driver there. Taking components along an overhead rail to be lowered into the huge galvanizing tanks to be 'dipped' or 'galvanized'.

When Skylon was completed it brought Hereford traffic to a standstill as it was slowly taken by road on two huge articulated transporters. People lined the streets to watch.

When the exhibition opened my Dad decided to take us to London for a weekend to see it and visit my sister who lived there.

Well, the day came when we set off in our little Austin 7. It seemed like the middle of the night to me when we left our little cottage over the fields and made for London. Dad had pages and pages of directions but that didn't prevent us getting lost many times and when our little car often "broke down" out would come Dad's toolbox and overalls put on, when he usually managed to find the problem and fix it.
Me and our Austin 7 outside our cottage at Preston Wynne in 1951
The journey seemed to take ages as it probably did. There were few if any motorways or good roads. I can remember going up the narrow Birdlip, over Northleach Common, Oxford, Wantage, Whitney and along the Great North Road towards London from Preston Wynne, Hereford.

How we arrived at our destination I will never know, but we did and stayed at my sister's home in Highbury. Where Dad scrapped up the money for petrol I will never know either.

Next day, Sunday, my sister and her husband who was a Londoner took us to the Festival Site.

Long before we reached there the Skylon was visible and stood above everything else, I remember looking up at it in wonder, so proud to think it had been made at Hereford and my Grand Dad and Dad had helped to make it. I believe it was billed as the main attraction.
Also on display were several fountains, the Royal Festival Hall, the Dome of Discovery, which promoted lots of scientific 'models' for the future. My Dad bought me a gyroscope from there which I had for many years and never ceased to wonder how it balanced and what it was used for.

After we had seen everything at the Festival my sister and brother-in-law took us to see some of the sights of London. Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey took my breath away. All seen from the top of a bus. It must have cost my brother-in-law a fortune. He paid for everything as Dad and Mam had very little money.

We were also taken on the Underground and when I saw I had to step on this moving staircase or escalator  I was absolutely petrified to step on and step off at the other end. My Mam must have felt the same too.

Monday morning saw us make the long journey back to Hereford. Getting lost and breaking down several times along the way but our little Austin 7 got us home eventually.

Mam, Dad, Leslie and I at the fountains in the Festival of Britain
I often look back and think of theat wonderful weekend when my Dad, my Mam, Brother Leslie and I, real "Country Bumpkins", went all the way to London to see the Festival of Britain  and Skylon.

After the exhibition closed Skylon was dismantled and sold off as scrap, I wonder if anyone has a part of Skylon as a memento.
 Black and white photographs courtesy of Rosemary Lillico

Monday 18 April 2011

Reflections on Borderlines Film Festival 2011

While suffering severe Borderlines withdrawal symptoms, many memories of this year's film festival are still floating about in my mind. The films I saw and the films I missed, (but have made a note to see on DVD) and the comments made by the people I met.

Waiting for My afternoons with Margueritte to begin, I asked my immediate neighbour which films she and her husband had seen. She told me that they had been to six or seven and that they had all been fairly gruelling. Among these were Of Gods and Men and True Grit. She and her partner had also seen Into Eternity and Circo. They had had a very different Borderlines experience from my own and it was interesting that the only film we both had in common was the life affirming and sublime My Afternoons with Margueritte.

Of the films I saw: Animal Kingdom, Chico and Rita, Rabbit Hole and Blue Valentine stand out in my mind. Being able to write about them for the blog also served to crystallise the impressions they made on me. What a wonderful way to celebrate an early Spring - feasting our eyes and feeding our souls.
Looking back on the relaxed, friendly atmosphere of the Borderlines Film Festival, I am left with a picture of the Courtyard theatre filled with sunshine and enthusiastic cinema goers - queuing for drinks, comparing notes with one another, searching the programme and then booking to see yet more films.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Visitors from Salisbury

Pam and Phil from Salisbury, subscribers to our e-newsletter, timed their visit to Herefordshire especially to coincide with Borderlines. They sent us this account of how they got on:

We only know about Borderlines because we were in Herefordshire 3-4 years ago in late March and discovered it was on.  
We went to 4 Festival events during our 3 night visit to Herefordshire, which is pretty good going! Would like to have attended more. These were:
Of Gods and Men at The Courtyard;
The Moviebus at Bodenham;
Neil Brand at Cawley Hall;
Another Year at Goodrich Village Hall.
All 4 venues are very different and all brilliant in their own ways. We thought The Courtyard is an excellent facility for the area. It was great to see the Moviebus; we had quite a chat with the owners and they seem to have a good little business going there (obviously rather specialist).
©Luke Doran
Cawley Hall is really good - was this a Millenium Project? It must have cost rather a lot to build, but hopefully it is well used - certainly the programme that we could see looks like they have plenty of events there. And Goodrich Hall is also excellent - originally a nineteenth-century Reading Room. They've recently installed all sorts of environmental improvements for which they must have worked incredibly hard to get all the grants. The sound and visual system used there is very good.
In terms of the events themselves, they were all great:
Of Gods and Men was very moving - I hadn't realised beforehand that it's based on real events. I like the feedback forms that The Courtyard used - no pen required! 
Another Year was very enjoyable - we like Mike Leigh, and had missed the film when it was doing the rounds here so it was good to have a second chance to catch it. We hadn't realised it was going to be subtitled, which was a little distracting but we learned to ignore it, and it must have been helpful for those hard of hearing. 
The selection of shorts shown on the Moviebus were great - educational and/or amusing, and just the right length. Again, the projection system was very good. Nice that this event was free.
Neil Brand, as you know, was just such a good presenter. I really liked the way he combined his own presentation with audience participation.
©Michelle Gerrard
We did a circular walk from Goodrich to Welsh Bicknor, then by the river to the foot of Symonds Yat rock and back over Cobbetts Hill (2-3 hours); next day we went out to Golden Valley and walked in a circuit from Ewyas Harold up to Riverdale and back via Dore Abbey (4 hours). Both lovely walks despite rain on the first one. We got them from the AA 1001 walks in Britain folder which I can thoroughly recommend!
Finally, what really put the icing on the cake for us was how friendly and welcoming people were. We chatted to people at every venue and it was good to see how well the local amenities are supported. Long may it last.
Best of luck  for the rest of the Festival, and for next year which I daresay you'll be  planning soon! I have raved about it to many friends and relatives since our  return, so you might find a few more tourists coming to you next  year.
Phil and Pam

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Audience favourite: My Afternoons with Margueritte

On the last afternoon of the Borderlines Film Festival we were treated to the Best of Festival Screenings. In other words, the films which the Borderlines audience had voted as their favourites and which could be shown again for the benefit of those who did not have the opportunity to see them earlier in the Festival. The two films voted favourites were Of Gods and Men and My Afternoons with Margueritte.

In the queue at the Courtyard bar,waiting to order a cup of coffee and a slice of Bakewell tart before My Afternoons with Margueritte, I bumped into Barbara to whom I had last spoken after Just War. She looked very thoughtful and told me she had just seen Of Gods and Men and commented that it had "beautiful photography and was very moving, but it had not been easy to watch".

By contrast, My Afternoons with Margueritte was endlessly delightful. Gerard Depardieu's Germain, though poorly educated and regarded as "thick" by his friends, responds to the bookish 95-year old Margueritte. The affection that they feel for one another helps to change both of their lives and culminates in an almost fairytale ending.

While their unlikely friendship forms the central core of this film there is a cast of other characters who provide a colourful backdrop of village life in the Charente-Maritime. Germain's girlfriend Annette who drives the local bus, Francine who runs the bar and is infatuated with the much younger Youssef and Germain's cruel and unhinged mother.

Leaving the Studio cinema we all agreed that My Afternoons with Margueritte was the perfect way to end our Borderlines fortnight - as we walked into the sun-filled lobby with smiles on our faces and lightness in our steps.

Monday 11 April 2011

Blue Valentine

Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine offered me another study of a rocky marriage. The previous day I had seen Rabbit Hole which gave us a vivid and very believable portrayal of a marriage threatened by the loss of a beloved child.

Nothing tragic or dramatic has happened in Dean and Cindy's marriage in Blue Valentine but instead something has died between them. Jumping back from the bleak present to the romantic past, we see how they met, the fun they had together and their decision to have Cindy's baby and to be a family. In the present, however, Dean cannot grow up and Cindy no longer finds this endearing. Exhausting arguments and misunderstandings wear them both down until they have nothing left to give one another.
This film does not try to pose or to answer any questions about marriage - instead we see a carefully drawn portrait of a relationship which has no future. The dialogue is so accurate that many people may experience a shudder of recognition. Cindy and Dean are not romanticised - their faults are very apparent, but their wish to preserve their little family adds pathos to their inevitable parting.

Saturday 9 April 2011

Rabbit Hole

This film while exploring the relationship of parents who have lost a very young child, avoids all the cliches and the usual emotional manipulation. Instead, we are given a very tender, compassionate insight into Becca and Howie's attempts to live with their pain. Both are locked into their own experience of loss and they are unable to communicate about or to share their grief or to comfort one another. Some friends try to show support - others run for cover.

Grief is shown here as messy and unpredictable. Becca turns her anger on her mother and hits out at a stranger in the supermarket. Her husband, Howie, feels attracted to a woman he meets at "group". They argue about whether to keep Danny's clothes, toys and drawings - whether to stay in a house full of memories or to sell up and start again.

This is a gentle film about a desperately painful subject. It does not flinch from its honest portrayal of grief, but nor does it wallow and become mawkish. Grief is shown as a very personal response - different for every individual - where no rules apply and no time-frame makes sense. Becca asks her mother, who has lost an adult son, "how long does this go on, does it ever go away?" and her mother replies "No, it never goes away, but it does change"

Thursday 7 April 2011

An Australian Allegory

Leaving the main theatre at Hereford's Courtyard after the showing of Animal Kingdom last night, the atmosphere among the audience was muted. Animal Kingdom was not a comfortable film to watch and the world it depicts is one devoid of hope.
Based in the suburbs of Melbourne the film describes the violent unravelling of an entire family as seen through the eyes of a 17 year old boy. Suddenly orphaned and with no home other than that of his maternal grandmother and her gangster sons, Josh finds himself at the centre of that family's destruction.
The impression I took away with me was one of claustrophobia mingled with menace. Most of the scenes were shot indoors with the camera lingering on close-up shots of Josh and his uncles where affectionate family feeling could turn into betrayal at any moment.
Jackie Weaver's portrayal of an apparently loving grandmother who lives for her "boys" was chilling while Guy Pearse's police inspector Leckie shone through the murky police culture of cruelty and corruption and provided a rare example of integrity.
As Josh, James Frecheville shows a profound stillness. Josh's family attempt to use him and to manipulate him. He is told that he is weak because he is young and that he needs to be protected, both by his uncles and by the police. He manages, however, to keep his emotions well hidden in order to survive and to carry out his revenge.

Herefordshire, a place of the Odd

Borderlines approaches its final weekend now and whilst many have flocked for the big Hollywood hitters, some of the smaller events and screenings have captured audiences in the true rural spirit of the festival.

Last week on Tuesday and Wednesday the beautiful Moviebus (or vintage mobile cinema, as I prefer) in its gleaming ice-cream-esque colours parked up in High Town and Bodenham for two days of archive films.

Commissioned back in the day by Tony Benn, according to legend this is the last bus alive from the original fleet of seven created to show off projection technology.

Although Tuesday was a fairly murky day in High Town, over 100 passers-by had their day illuminated by a step into what’s surely Britain’s smallest cinema. Climbing up the tinny staircase, despite the setting of a bus you suddenly found yourself in a corridor of a cinema, complete with red velvet seating and some art deco lamp shades. I sat down and was soon melting into the chair in utter, relaxed bliss. Such tranquillity may have a lot to do with the calming archive films, which featured black and white documentaries on hops, a visit to Henry Weston's farm in Much Marcle and a sight at the now decommissioned Rosie press roller, responsible for the infamous Old Rosie Cider. However the highlight was a true dose of Herefordshire batty magic. My first commentary on Borderlines used this adjective, 'batty', in describing Leominster's Morrisers following their Friday performance, Coming Out of the Woodshed. I admit I used the word with a degree of hesitation and trepidation. However batty, meaning insane, crazy, eccentric, remains the most succinct word.

The Moviebus reinforced this idea of Herefordshire being a place with its fair share of batty people, ideas, customs and traditions. This was fully evident during my final 10 minutes with the Moviebus as we took a trip to Leominster and Bodenham with a posh yet likeable BBC presenter. Our first experience was in England's Gate pub in Bodenham, the destination where the bus would coincidently park up at the following day. Despite the gorgeous June weather the presenter set foot inside the pub to be confronted by a mass of Christmas decorations, festive greetings and an obligatory glass of mulled wine. The raucous bunch of locals amused themselves considerably as they roared over enthusiastic Christmas greetings with strawberries, cream and the English summer only a window away. After a hard financial year sometime in the seventies the landlord had decided to celebrate Christmas everyday and insisted his regulars followed suit. Judging from this scene they took little persuasion.

It got even odder. Our second encounter took us up the A49 where we arrived in a council house in Leominster, but by now it was dusk and the moon was full. Our nameless presenter continued his chatty charm and greeted the mother of the house. ''We've come to meet your family,'' beamed the BBCite as her first son ran out the door. Having memorised their names he pronounced each one, with 6 sons and 2 daughters running out one by one....... all clad tip to toe in Planet of the Apes garb. And we're talking the full hog. The masks, the hair, the armour, the weapons; everything. Pointing at the full moon, she explained they always do this at this time of the month. This was interrupted by the realisation of a missing chimp, her other son. With some dodgy acting as those on camera scoured adjacent gardens the camera panned up to reveal the final ape scrambling on the roof and eating the television aerial. We stayed with the apes who then took us to the pub, each ordering a pint and remaining in full character and costume until it was time to drink their ale.

I left the bus happy as Larry and arriving in Bodenham the following day I even had to peer through the window to check if the Christmas decorations were still up. They'd long gone.

Luke Owen

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Benda Bilili!

The audience in the Courtyard's studio theatre was enthralled by the sheer courage and tenacity of the musicians featured in the French documentary Benda Bilili. The film crew followed Staff Benda Bilili over a period of years - helping them to record an album and eventually filming them on their European tour. Most of the musicians were disabled - several as a result of childhood polio - all were living either in a housing shelter or on sheets of cardboard on the street. The music they wrote and performed had us all tapping our feet and smiling - from their early rehearsals in the sparsely populated Zoological gardens to the music festivals on their European tour.

The lyrics of their songs were based on the reality of their lives. A plea for mothers to have their babies vaccinated against polio, a hope that one day the singer's luck will change and he will be able to buy a mattress.

The French documentary focussed on two interesting characters. Papa Ricky is the leader and protector of the group. He is lead singer and philosopher commenting when there is a devastating fire in the housing shelter "c'est la vie". Roger is an adolescent when he is introduced into the band. He produces beautiful sounds from a homemade instrument made from an empty tin, a piece of curved wood and a taut wire. At the start of the documentary the younger Roger has a hauntingly tragic expression in his eyes, but by the time he returns to the band as a young man he has the confidence of a true musician.

The film showed a way of life about which most of us in the West are entirely ignorant. Kinshasa a chaotic city peopled by numbers of people who scrape a living and exist on the edge of starvation, but who exhibit such joy and such wisdom. "Why does everybody want to go to Europe" wonders a ten year old boy to his friend "People risk death to go there".

The Borderlines audience, including my immediate neighbours, responded to the life enhancing qualities of Benda Belili and I believe we all came out feeling a little humbled in the face of such extraordinary courage.

Help with Uncle Boonmee

People have come out of the Tuesday afternoon screening perplexed and mystified by this strange film.

I don't know if it's any help but when I went to see it at Ludlow Assembly Rooms the friend I was with quoted the following lines from  the beginning of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land (The Burial of the Dead):
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),   
And I will show you something different from either 
Your shadow at morning striding behind you  
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;

Sunday 3 April 2011

Under Open Skies finalists' films screening this week


Some fabulous films, amateur and professional, compete for our awards for documentaries on Britain's natural world and Saturday

Friday 1 April 2011

Bucolic joys of Borderlines

Apart from the nine films showing at the Courtyard today - filling both the studio theatre and the main theatre from 11a.m. - there are ten films being shown outside Hereford in towns such as Leominster, Ludlow and Presteigne and Village Halls in Bodenham, Bosbury, Dilwyn and Lingen. The geographical scope of the Borderlines FilmFest and the quality of the films on offer serve to make it a gift for all of us living in a beautiful, but remote part of the country. Children are not being neglected either. U rated films pop up on the Festival Diary schedule on most days - notably Despicable Me at Moccas Village Hall tomorrow evening at 6.30 and Ponyo on Sunday afternoon at Bedstone and Hopton Castle Village Hall. With so much film available on DVD it is heart-warming to see how many of us are joining the ranks of the Borderlines and showing up in person to experience cinema as an "audience" and as part of a community.

Wednesday 30 March 2011

The Festival of Britain at Borderlines

It's 60 years this May since the 1951 Festival of Britain. Borderlines is celebrating that time of austerity (a country still suffering deprivation from the effects of the Second World War) but also its progressive spirit, looking forward to change and greater prosperity. The Festival was intended as a kind of reward to the British population for what they had been through, ' a tonic to the nation' in the words of Gerald Barry, its director general.

We're showing a programme of films that were specially commissioned for the Festival of Britain but several of our classics, Rashomon, The African Queen, An American in Paris and The River date from 1951. There were no less than three cinemas in Hereford in 1951 and one of them, the County Theatre, held a Festival of British Film in July  as part of the local Festival of Britain celebrations. On the South Bank in London, the site of the main Festival exhibition, the Telekinema, the precursor of the National Film Theatre, showed 3D films and was extremely popular with visitors.

The South Bank will be the scene this summer of a 60th anniversary do with input from Tracey Emin, Ray Davies and Heston Blumenthal. Stella Mitchell from the fabulous Land of Lost Content in Craven Arms in Shropshire (go and visit - it's a treasure trove of 20th century popular culture) is one of the people who has been invited to contribute a Festival of Britain object. She's chosen a piece of ephemera, a paper parasol with the Festival of Britain symbol on it. She explains why:

All Photographs taken at of objects on display at The Land of Lost Content

World cinema on the Welsh Borders

Chatting to a friend who drove back from West Wales on Sunday evening in order to see the late evening showing of Of Gods & Men at the Courtyard theatre. He and his wife found Of Gods & Men excellent and very moving.  "Borderlines is such a wonderful festival" he said and added that we are so lucky to live in Herefordshire where we have the opportunity to see examples of World Cinema that are not available to many city dwellers. 

My next film visit will probably be at Moccas Village Hall which is hosting several memorable films this year.
Also, it is my nearest venue!

Posted by WriteRetreat
Borderlines among the daffodils - Moccas

Monday 28 March 2011

[borderlinesfilmfestival] Untitled comment

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From: Fran Ham <>
Date: 28 March 2011 13:45
Subject: Re: [borderlinesfilmfestival] Untitled

It is not surprising that mainstream films like Black Swan and 127 Hours are pulling in the audiences.  It would be strange if they didn't after all the pre-Oscar publicity and hype.   

However, in my view, Borderlines FilmFest is about discovering the little known - often foreign language - films that do not get shown anywhere else.  Glimpses of other worlds, which in my experience,  have painted vivid and enduring pictures in my mind. 

Over the years I have happened across films during Borderlines - sometimes just to fill in a gap between events - which have remained with me ever since. 
Posted by WriteRetreat

On 28 March 2011 13:16, borderlinesfilmfestival's posterous <> wrote:
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Posted by luke


Jo Brand's appearance at the Borderlines Film Festival saw a chunk of the festival population migrate east to the small town of Ledbury where Francine Stock interviewed her at the quaint Market Theatre.

It was an old and grey audience, in fact Jo was probably younger than most. But the comedian did not hold back and despite the desert island film formula carrying the evening Jo discussed racism, politics, and language and then questioned her own sensibility in discussing her left political leanings, suggesting most of the audience looked like they were from the Ku Klux Klan..... her sails were not down as she proceeded with another anecdote involving a 'cunt' of a manager. But Ledbury's lot lapped it up, there was constant chuckling the occasional impulsive clap and a general warm reception. She certainly commanded the audiences' devoted attention which was down to more than middle class manners.

Among her desert island films were Twin Town, To Kill a Mocking Bird and Riff Raff. There was a strong British representation including Bill Douglas and Ken Loach.

Otherwise at headquarters Courtyard the big guns are staking or breaking claims for the audience award. The 1st sold out serving of Black Swan had positive reviews, but there was a contingent of unhappy oldies who did not get the Hansel and Gretel ballet film they craved. With almost 1000 tickets sold Black Swan has reeled in Hereford's film audience by a margin. Released at a similar date at the turn of the year, 127 hours had a fairly equal footing during the heady weeks of awards season hysteria but lacked the knockout punch (like Natalie Portman's performance) that would have secured an Oscar and an increased box office. The surprise seller from this man's shoes has been My Afternoons with Margueritte, but targeted at the right audience a film like this, (and  Mike Leigh's Another Year), clearly has genuine Borderliners approval.

As there was little to choose between Black Swan and 127 Hours, children's film Megamind has been making a solid claim through the audience feedback. Could Megamind possibly win the audience award, and will the King's Speech be screened in Hereford for the 200th time. We pray and hope for different things.

Luke Owen

Posterous is the place to post everything. Just email us.

"You all look like you're from the Ku Klux Klan"

Jo Brand's appearance at the Borderlines Film Festival saw a chunk of the festival population migrate east to the small town of Ledbury where Francine Stock interviewed her at the quaint Market Theatre.
It was an old and grey audience, in fact Jo was probably younger than most. But the comedian did not hold back and despite the desert island film formula carrying the evening Jo discussed racism, politics, and language and then questioned her own sensibility in discussing her left political leanings, suggesting most of the audience looked like they were from the Ku Klux Klan..... her sails were not down as she proceeded with another anecdote involving a 'cunt' of a manager. But Ledbury's lot lapped it up, there was constant chuckling the occasional impulsive clap and a general warm reception. She certainly commanded the audiences' devoted attention which was down to more than middle class manners.

Among her desert island films were Twin Town, To Kill a Mocking Bird and Riff Raff. There was a strong British representation including Bill Douglas and Ken Loach.

Otherwise at headquarters Courtyard the big guns are staking or breaking claims for the audience award. The 1st sold out serving of Black Swan had positive reviews, but there was a contingent of unhappy oldies who did not get the Hansel and Gretel ballet film they craved. With almost 1000 tickets sold Black Swan has reeled in Hereford's film audience by a margin. Released at a similar date at the turn of the year, 127 hours had a fairly equal footing during the heady weeks of awards season hysteria but lacked the knockout punch (like Natalie Portman's performance) that would have secured an Oscar and an increased box office. The surprise seller from this man's shoes has been My Afternoons with Margueritte, but targeted at the right audience a film like this, (and  Mike Leigh's Another Year), clearly has genuine Borderliners approval.

As there was little to choose between Black Swan and 127 Hours, children's film Megamind has been making a solid claim through the audience feedback. Could Megamind possibly win the audience award, and will the King's Speech be screened in Hereford for the 200th time. We pray and hope for different things.

Luke Owen

Sunday 27 March 2011

Sunday afternoon with Chico and Rita

Back at the Courtyard - this time to see Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal's film Chico And Rita which proved to be the perfect way to spend a grey Sunday afternoon.  As the notes put it  "It's a film full of music and love and sensuality and colour", but I wasn't prepared for the amazing quality of the hand drawn animation with all the stunning period details.   The music alone would have made this film worth a visit - echoes of the Buena Vista Social Club resound throughout.
As a hopeless romantic I had tears in my eyes as I left the theatre.  Another audience member noticed my tears and said that she thought I should see My afternoons with Margueritte as I would be sure to cry by the end!
Posted by WriteRetreat
Rural signpost to Borderlines Venue
Another lunchtime, another band
Film buffs of all ages

Saturday 26 March 2011


Despite what programmes, timetables and speakers said the 9th Borderlines Film Festival kicked off at precisely 11 minutes past 7 last night, Friday March 25 2011.

Thanks to Leominster's band of batty morris dancers the Courtyard became a load spectacle that broke all the rules. Blacked up Morris dancers and smashing sticks, boots and bells were not on the agenda for Friday evening's foyet, but according to all main house attendees, Chico and Rita's love in was not disrupted.

Programme notes indicated Rural Media's Same but Different took opening bill, but for most on the ground floor and in the foyet of the Courtyard, the building of a second world war bomb shelter stole the thunder. Film wise Peter Mullan's NEDS took the main house afternoon slot with an anticipated low audience. Knife violence, alcoholism, vindictive teachers and corporal punishment turned most off but the main marketed image of a half naked, pale, pasty and tubby Scottish lad with kitchen knives taped to his hands guaranteed a low turn out.... So I stretched out in the theatre, basking in the darkness safe in the knowledge that my extended legs and DM boots would not bother a soul and chattering commentator-esque old folk, mobile phones and children would not rile my irritable self.
NEDS was an extremely well made film and overall a memorable and disturbing experience. Peter Mullan continues the British trade of cinematic total grimness but he did not veer into abstract or overly stylised territory with plot becoming secondary to aesthetic. An extended narrative that covered several years of adolescent John Mcgill's life and downfall was the focus of the film with his alcoholic father, Catholicism and gangs among some of the other issues explored. Ultimately this was a raw account of life in Glasgow during the 70s.......

...One hour later I'd forgotten about kitchen knives, killing fathers and blue Harrington jackets (see NEDS).  The Borderlines buzz was in full swing. Peering towards the box office I saw several old boys with shoulder length gray hair, receiving tickets. These guys were not your typical Borderliners. Their t-shirts said it all. 'MOTT' rang load in capitals.

It was catching.... I even caught mutterings from the Morrisers as whispers reverberated about the presence of rock 'n' rollers MOTT THE HOOPLE.... but Leominster's finest still had a show to do and got on with it they did.

As the aroma of the Courtyard's Indian Friday chicken tika started spreading the bells got jangling and the Morris tassels came out. Soon the William Morris, curtain pattern, floral jackets were off, the sticks were smashing and the grizzly men were buzzing. ''We've come out of the woodshed'' the lead Morris shouted and pointed at Emily Price's world war shack, galvanised in black and turquoise rust, humming with her film depicting the men we were watching.

This was a remarkable evening.... 2 hours later as many as 7 individuals got on stage representing various eras of Mott the Hoople following the screening of their film, The Ballad of MTH... The audience tittered, clapped and rejoiced in seeing their heroes in person, together in Hereford. For me, band manager Stan Tippins was the highlight. His love of football transpired through his interviews as different analogies using strikers, central defenders, mid table and european spots conveyed his thoughts about life with the band. Despite my ambivalent feelings towards the film the moment Stan's comment cut to a shot of Ronnie Radford's equalising net breaker (1972 Newcastle United, FA Cup 3rd Round) was a moment of beauty......

and I support Liverpool.

A thank you to Stan for getting the band together for last night and being a tremendously friendly guy. If Borderlines continues such moments.... we're in for a cracking fortnight.

Posted by Luke Owen


Borderlines begins

i'm borderline crazy for Borderlines FilmFest

The Courtyard bar was full to bursting with music fans and Borderliners.  Every table occupied and queues for food and drinks.  A contented hum of conversation not drowning out the musicians nor being drowned out by them.  

My first event was a 19 minute film Just War directed by Joe Jenkins.   He traced the concept of a "Just War" and the many attempts at defining it, back to St Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.    Images from paintings to newsreel footage were used as illustrations and to reinforce the arguments.  Joe Jenkins commented that these made a much greater impact on the big screen than on his small computer. 

After the film there was a discussion.  The various conflicts in which Britain is now involved were talked about in the context of a "Just War" as well as comments about the sophisticated weaponry being brought to bear.  Anne Burge spoke of the way in which the use of long distance but frighteningly accurate weapons "separate the act from its consequences".   Another audience member, Barbara, felt that the Christian Church should play a stronger role in suggesting alternatives to war.

Music and laughter in the Courtyard Bar
Joe Jenkins, Director of Just War
Relaxing in the Courtyard Bar


Friday 25 March 2011

I'm borderline crazy for Borderlines FilmFest

I am still trying to fit pieces into the jigsaw. Which are the films I want to see, when, where and with whom? Some films are being shown on several different dates - others only once. Several films can only be seen in a remote village hall fully an hour's drive away. Friends are available either only at the weekend or just during the week... Some friends prefer a daytime cinema visit while others only go out in the evening. Most differ from me in taste and ideas... How to get organised and make my bookings?

I have a conversation with a friend who is stewarding several of the films I wish to see. Maybe we can meet for a drink afterwards? She has a tight schedule; two films in a row with barely five minutes between them. Let's get in touch nearer the time.
I am still buzzing with anticipation. Maybe I will buy a Courtyard Festival Pass tomorrow and just please myself!

What is the point of a Film Festival?

I had to go on the radio to talk about Borderlines Film Festival earlier in the week and was landed one of those curveballs that interviewers like to deliver just to keep you on your toes, "What is the point of it all?"

I managed to reply adequately but it did get me thinking.

Enjoyment, certainly. The Festival offers abundance of choice in a part of the country where cinema is scarce. That's one of the reasons it was set up in the first place. We're showing around 80 films alongside live events, talks, performances, workshops, 226 separate screenings or events in total. And I know that's a lot because over the last few months I've had to list and process information for them in various ways.

It's also intensely social, it brings people together, even though Borderlines is unusual in being spread out over a huge area in many and varied locations from steel and glass arts centres to restored Victorian Town Halls, the back rooms of pubs and a church with no less than three Norman arches. There's a buzz, you're there, you're part of something, food and drink come into the picture.

But it's also an opportunity to try something different. Borderlines is a Film Festival not for the industry - it's not trying to sell films for distribution -  but for the audience. It's also curated; films have been specially selected with a specific set or sets of cinema-goers in mind. This is actually quite unusual these days outside specialised film festivals. After nine years, people who come to Borderlines know what sort of films they will get, they don't know the specifics but by now they trust they will get something interesting or stimulating even if it's a little bit different.

And that should be an incentive to people who've never tried it to take the plunge: you might like it.

Thursday 24 March 2011

I'm borderline crazy for Borderlines FilmFest

Sharpening my mind, my pencils and my wits for the start of the Film Festival tomorrow. Charging up my energy, my laptop and my mobile to stay in contact. Preparing to get as much as possible from this feast of cinema - out in the village halls as well as at the Courtyard.

Once a year film fans are offered the chance to emerge, hesitatingly, from their rural hiding places, to find that they are not alone.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Jo Brand's Desert Island Films at Ledbury Market Theatre sold out

This event went on sale at 9am this morning and had sold out by 10am! Apologies to those of you unable to get tickets.

Borderlines brochures have arrived!

And are working their way to the far reaches of Herefordshire and Shropshire.

But in case you can't get to one, here is the online version

You can download a pdf from the Issuu page

Haiti: A little taste of Heaven

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Monday 21 February 2011

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Sunday 20 February 2011

Haiti: Photographer's view

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Haiti: Thoughts on the aural landscape

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Wednesday 16 February 2011

Haiti: St Joseph's and the art of interpretation . from E...

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Tuesday 15 February 2011

Haiti: The first workshop

Haiti: The first workshop: "So today was our first day teaching at the orphanage. At 1pm we got into our minibus and made the 1hr and 15 min trek to the orphanage..."

Haiti: On The Road Again

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Sunday 13 February 2011

Haiti: Poverty, rum & orphans.

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Haiti: Friday 4. The orphanage

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Tuesday 8 February 2011

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We're fast and furiously putting the final touches to the  programme for Borderlines 2011.

As usual we'll be showing many films that have a local connection including  some short documentaries made to highlight the work of Funforlife, an international performing arts organisation that empowers children disadvantaged through sickness, war or poverty, teaching them vital life skills and inspiring them in a joyful way.

Members of Herefordshire's 2Faced Dance Company are currently on a Funforlife project in Haiti and, in anticipation of the film they'll be putting together to show at the Festival in early April, we'll be relaying the blog posts about how they're getting on at the orphanage where they'll be working.