Monday 17 December 2012

On the brink of another Festival brochure

The week before Christmas but you'd hardly credit it here at... well, I can't say Borderlines Film Festival HQ because we all work from home or other offices. No cards sent, not a whiff of turkey,  a glint of tinsel, no holly wreath or plum pudding and the first and only mince pie of the season passed my lips on Friday night. The cheeriest thing around is the Festival flyer, so bright this year that you could almost warm your hands on it. It's doing the rounds but if you haven't seen it, here is the electronic version.

Open publication - Free publishing - More borderlines

The reason for the absence of festive spirit is that, as Marketing Manager, I'm teetering on the point when work on the 2013 Festival Brochure can go ahead. Some films come up with a chance of being picked by one of the big festivals - Sheffield Doc or Edinburgh - and pull out, others become available at the last minute. Invited guests check their commitments to slot into allocated dates. The programme, which over the past week has been in a state of extreme flux, is clicking together day by day.

Currently my version of the programme schedule - a portion of it, anyway - is looking a bit like this: a series of grids, sellotaped together, with most items in bold, a few gaps, and a lot of annotations. It's a tricky balancing act for David, the Film Programmer, and Naomi, the Festival Director: on the one hand, the pressure to finalise and meet copy deadlines, on the other, retaining enough flexibility to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves at the last minute.

At the other end, I'm fed frequent bulletins and wade and wrestle through copy, the images I've amassed, endless lists (film titles, events, venues, ticket prices, sponsors ads, etc...) in order to be able to feed it into a rudimentary layout plan so that our designers, Elfen, in Cardiff can pull it all together. Much back and forth to follow.

The brochure is the most important and eagerly-anticipated piece of publicity and it has to meet tight deadlines in order to be ready for the fourth week of January. So, a deep breath, time to plunge back in. Christmas postponed till 24 December.

Saturday 17 November 2012

Do clouds have different linings?

Audience members took time to fill out two sets of questionnaires this year (two festivals to celebrate our tenth birthday). Might their feedback reflect seasonal changes, differences in tone between the two?

With the nifty aid of word cloud generator Tagxedo - you simply copy and paste the whole of the comments column, press submit and customise the appearance - here's the comparison.

Main Festival February 24 to March 11

May Festival 4 to 20 May

Same but different? Might be the colour palette talking, but the May version seems more, kind of... funky. That figures. It was. Trying out new stuff can be very bracing and we've acquired a taste for it.

Thursday 1 November 2012

From November, a glimmer of May

As November heralds the slide towards winter, here's a reminder of the Borderlines 10th birthday treat: the very idiosyncratic May Festival. New boundaries were broken in terms of open air screenings and pop-up cinemas and we even left the ground with the trial flights that accompanied our weekend at Shobdon Airfield. It's worth remembering however, that it was bloody cold in May, blankets, fake furs, woolly hats and scarves, even hot water bottles were much in evidence.

We certainly won't be able to do anything on this scale on a regular basis but if we  held some outdoor or pop-up screenings in September (often more reliable weather-wise) would you come along?

Thursday 25 October 2012

Festival compulsion

When I say I've spent the last ten to twelve days at the BFI London Film Festival, spent is the key word. I am spent. I've seen between 45 to 50 films in a remarkably short space of time in a variety of darkened spaces, from the confined quarters of the temporary DVD library in the back of the Delegate Centre at BFI South Bank to bijoux, club-like viewing theatres to the colossal Empire Leicester Square, often with barely ten minutes to get from one screening to the next. My eyes are sore, I have brain fatigue, mild dehydration and have been living off peanuts, muesli bars and complimentary Green & Blacks chocolate bars. The quickest route to the Ladies (the second the titles come up) has become of paramount importance.

So what's the appeal? It hasn't been a work thing. Although London is well-timed in terms of previewing many of the films that will be released at the right time to be included in the Borderlines programme - and it helps immensely to have seen the titles you're plugging - this is more of a busman's holiday.

If you enjoy cinema, a delegate pass to a film festival is like being let loose in a sweet shop. There's plenty on offer to sample from  big forthcoming releases to low budget world cinema, restored silents, experimental films and shorts.  This year, under new Festival Director Clare Stewart,  the contents of the programme have been grouped into terse, emotive single-word strands like 'Love', 'Dare', 'Journey', 'Laugh', 'Cult', 'Thrill'. It's a question of trying things out,  seeing what you like and what doesn't work for you.

There's a strong and highly appealing element of serendipity about the selection process. Like myself, many people I spoke to prefer to go into films knowing the minimum about what they are about to see. Seemingly bias-free. On the other hand, everyone is constantly asking other delegates what they've seen and would recommend. This word-of-mouth (increasingly word-of-Twitter) informs the somewhat hit and miss thread of your own schedule.

All festival have their own structure and the London Film Festival's is complex and arcane. It takes time to know the ropes.

Press screenings (usually two showing simultaneously) take place during the day, starting from around 9am, at one of the big movie theatres in Leicester Square or in smaller preview theatres in the West End. The reputation of the films shown at these will have gone before them - either big name directors or bankable stars - and the pick of them will have prestigious Gala screenings the same evening. Quite often they're disappointing, pulled up by the bootstraps by a star turn: the Telegraph's Robbie Collins (@robbiereviews) labelled an uninspired Hyde Park on Hudson 'My Week with Murraylin.'

The billboards go up as you come out of the cinema and the barriers and red carpet arrive soon after that. Some girls spotted outside the Odeon Leicester Square as we came out of the Great Expectations preview had obviously been camping out all night - presumably to catch a glimpse of Jeremy Irvine (War Horse lead) who plays Pip with a square-jawed lustre.

As a delegate, you can also apply for tickets to public afternoon and evening screenings (excluding Galas) in a kind of online lottery that involves intensive advance planning plus sheer luck. It's possible to queue for unsold tickets and returns 30 minutes before the start of a film but I've done this only to have the final seat vanish tantalisingly into the mitts of the person in front of me.

On top of this there are four days of Industry screenings that take place at the Curzon Soho in the second week of the festival (two or three movies showing simultaneously). The films shown here are generally seeking UK distribution and some unexpected gems from different corners can pop up. I caught an odd, mischievously black Basque comedy, Happy New Year, Grandma!, an interesting counterpoint to Sightseers from British director Ben Wheatley (releasing end of November), described as a cross between Nuts in May and Natural Born Killers. In both the comedy derives from the disjunction between the mundane and the murderous.

In this section I also lapped up Museum Hours, a cross between an art documentary and the most slimline of stories -   a chance meeting between a guide in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum and a Canadian woman visiting her hospitalised cousin in the city - it nevertheless affords leisurely, detailed contemplation, particularly of the marvellous Breughels in the museum's collection.

An over-stimulated brain starts to draw parallels between films that at first sight seem to be poles apart. For me, two of this year's strongest were The Hunt from Danish director Thomas Vinterberg and American indie Compliance, set respectively in a provincial nursery school and a non-descript fast food joint somewhere in the US, but which both hinge on a huge moral dilemma that treads a precarious line between truth and fiction. Based on a true story, Compliance is likely to prove controversial - there were apparently many walk-outs during the public screenings - while The Hunt touches on the prickly subject-matter of child abuse, currently receiving massive media and public attention in the light of the Jimmy Savile revelations.

Meanwhile The Sessions and Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone were two films that tackled the issue of sex and disability head-on in very different ways (and, in my opinion, with varying degrees of success).

Another immense pleasure is the privilege of being part of the audience that is viewing a film for the very first time, before critical opinions have been set in stone and preconceptions formed. During the press screening of Tim Burton's stop-frame animation Frankenweenie, Borderlines board member Luke and I found ourselves sitting across the aisle from Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw who was using his phone (rather anti-socially, we thought) to scribble down notes for the review that appeared online later that day.

Clumps of journalists predominantly, though not exclusively, youngish and male gather together on the pavement outside the cinema to pass judgement on what they've just seen. Eavesdropping, their comments can often be refreshingly banal, dwelling on the implausibility of details in the plot line, "How on earth could they have found the location of the village just by seeing a bus go by?"

Even without being on the red carpet, after-party circuit, the film festival is intensely sociable. It's easy to fall into conversation with other delegates standing next to you in the perennial queues, hotfooting it across the Hungerford footbridge from the West End to the South Bank or sitting in the next cinema seat. Kept bumping into people I hadn't seen all year or, in some cases, for decades.

The evening of  the Silent Film Gala, featuring Hitchcock's The Manxman, met up in the pub with members of the restoration team including BFI National Archive curator Bryony Dixon, along with co-director of the British Silent Film Festival, Laraine Porter, and met Pamela Hutchinson who writes the excellent Silent London blog. After the performance I got to shake the hand of composer/accompanist Stephen Horne, only to marvel a couple of nights later at a Dutch archive restoration of The Spanish Dancer that he's able to play piano with his left hand, the flute with his right, while occasionally breaking off for a burst on the accordion or reaching into the piano's body to pluck the strings for the gypsy dancing interludes.

Back on the ground, Borderlines 2013 is currently in the planning stage and though it may not have the clout of London and the top international festivals, a touch of film festival fever is up for grabs: a tightly packed programme of great films that might not otherwise make it to the Marches, the chance to share them with your friends and total strangers, a party atmosphere, a sense of occasion, excitement, debate.
Friday 1 to Sunday 17 March

Thursday 10 May 2012

Who's in charge here?

Deborah Moggach
Deborah Moggach's In Conversation with Telegraph film writer and critic, David Gritten, at St Peter's Centre on Friday, the May Festival opening night, was a knock-out. Funny, witty insights into writing for screen (by no means all about dialogue) with clips from Pride and Prejudice (the muddy hems and hens version), The Diary of Anne Frank and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in a truly distinctive setting, St Peter's Church with its double chancel and no less than three Norman arches, inventively renovated to provide space for events like this, a cafe and a public library in the ringing room where the book signing took place.

David Gritten
Lighting for the event was subdued and low key. Halfway through the evening and right in the middle of one of David Gritten's questions there was the sound of the latch on the heavy outer door turning. A man put his head around the door. We all froze. "Who's in charge here?" he asked. God? BAFTA? Borderlines? were the answers that randomly rushed through my brain. A raid? It turned out to be a car parking issue involving the gentleman's lorry that Emma, the Centre's administrator, was able to resolve but not a bad illustration of dramatic incidence/comic timing.

A similar thought occurred when, after a quick drink at the Pandy Inn where we bumped into members of the audience from another opening night screening, Midnight in Paris at Dorstone Village Hall, I found myself around midnight uprooting a Borderlines road sign from a mound sited conveniently outside Peterchurch Police Station. I wasn't arrested and lived to deploy the sign elsewhere.
Clips from Pride and Prejudice
Set up for the book-signing courtesy of Waterstones, Hereford

Friday 4 May 2012

Showcase for the old, on with the new!

Balmy was a bit optimistic in terms of adjectives but the May Festival starts today and there's talk on the BBC Weather monthly forecast of high pressure for the South and West arriving next week. So, much like the giant Airscreen that will be used for the open air screenings at Berrington Hall, ever buoyant. 

The screen will be here - from a Berrington Hall recce in March
We have accumulated quite a few images from festival past on Flickr but have now assembled a selection in our new Tumblr blog for easier viewing. And the weather in February/March looked amazing!

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Resistance Reappraised (in more than three ways)

I've just finished a snazzily titled book, The Mercian Maquis, recommended by Anita, the Flicks in the Sticks promoter at Cawley Hall Eye,  who first told me that the area had had its own resistance organisation in the event of a German invasion during the early 1940s. For a time, the HQ of the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Auxiliary Units was Eye Manor, under the command of Christopher Sandford, owner of the Golden Cockerel Press and father of the writer Jeremy Sandford (Cathy Come Home, Edna, the Inebriate Woman).

Anita remembers Jeremy talking about his father warning them never to say anything to anyone if they discovered anything unusual; explosives were kept on the premises and there was a radio mast on the roof of the building to enable communication with HQ.

The book is fascinating on the recruitment and self-contained nature of the patrols (often christened with biblical names such as Jehu and Abdnego, the training methods used, including 'thuggery' techniques of self-defence, the weaponry used including plastic explosives, time pencils, guns, knives, knuckle-dusters and the sheer brutality of what was expected in terms of retaliation. As in Owen Sheers' book and the film of Resistance, life expectancy in the event of German invasion from South Wales was was not predicted to be above 2 weeks.

Coincidentally, some of the training took place at Lyde Court, near Hereford, one of our new May Festival venues, while Shobdon Airfield where we're screening on the weekend of 19/20 May, was pinpointed as a target for sabotage because it was likely site for the invading German forces to take over.

Resistance itself screens on Friday 4 May at the Simpson Hall, Burghill but the Resistance Reappraised programme on Tuesday 8 May at 7.30pm provides the opportunity to view another of the 'what if the Germans had invaded' films only the scenario depicted in The Silent Village is real enough. Directed by Humphrey Jennings in 1943, the events depicted actually took place in Lidice, a mining village in Czechoslovakia, only months before filming started and are simply transposed to ta very similar community, Cwmgiedd in South Wales. The film was commissioned by the Ministry of Information to reinforce solidarity across nationalities which it does movingly and with understatement.

If you're a subscriber to the Borderlines enewsletter, coming up in the next few weeks, (courtesy of sponsors MovieMail) there's a chance to win the DVD of another film that posits what life might have been like in Britain under Nazi occupation, Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo's first feature, It Happened Here (1965), made incredibly (for such a mature and thoughtful film) while they were still teenagers though it took years (and stock-ends from Kubrick's Dr Strangelove) to complete. Like Resistance the film has local connections; parts of it were shot in New Radnor and the main character, Pauline, was married to the local doctor.

Finally, another thread leading this time from the 1942 propaganda thriller directed by surrealist-tending Alberto Calvacanti, Went the Day Well? - in which a rural village is infiltrated by Nazi agents posing as British soldiers - to Ludlow Assembly Rooms where it plays on Monday 2 July, following a talk on the secrets of the British Film Industry by BBC Radio broadcaster Dr Matthew Sweet as part of Ludlow Festival.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Brochure delivery need not be irksome...

Not in the Marches anyway, and not for a May Festival destined for some new and splendiferous film screening locations.

Over the past few weeks it's fallen to our lot (mainly that of Jenny, one of our new admin assistants) to disperse 15,000 or so brochures around Herefordshire and into Shropshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Powys.

There have been days with horizontal snow but on the whole the biggest problem has been the temptation to dally and soak in the ambience ('research' naturally for our Borderlines in the Villages website) as well as the odd cup of tea with a kindly Flicks in the Sticks promoter.

Berrington Hall where the brochures are stored
On the road, Black Mountains to the left
The control tower at Shobdon Airfield...
...and the Nissen hut cafe

Dilwyn looking distinctly soft-centred
Long shadows in the courtyard back at Berrington Hall
Hellens, nr Much Marcle

Thirst? Leominster

Friday 16 March 2012

[readwritertreat] Re: Look back at movie going

I am now two years into my new relationship with Borderlines Film Festival - no longer just an enthusiastic film goer - now a guest blogger who needs to pay a different kind of attention to what she is seeing on the screen.  This new role has enriched my experience of  Borderlines and made me more aware, not just of which films I would like to see, but also how hard the organisers work to make it happen.  It is quite a feat to bring new and also less widely shown films to every corner of Herefordshire and Shropshire during an almost three week jamboree of cinema.   Based at The Courtyard Theatre in Hereford, films are shown in remote village halls along the Welsh Borders where this year the locally filmed Resistance was a particular hit.

As a blogger I have also attempted to capture some of the atmosphere of the festival.  The enthusiastic drinkers and diners, the garrulous audience members sharing their impressions and the friendly volunteer staff reminding us to hand in our post-film feedback!  

To show my serious intent, I even signed up to be a friend of the Courtyard this year.   

Thursday 8 March 2012

Images from the second weekend of the festival

The highlight of the second weekend for me, was the screening of Mother and Child which proved to be moving and very believable. A film on the subject of adoption, loss and dealing with separation could so easily have been sentimental and maudlin.  Annette Bening was outstanding in the role of a woman forced to give up her child for adoption at the age of fourteen and who has closed herself down emotionally in order to live with the pain of separation.
Earlier in the day, we were among a very small audience in the large Courtyard theatre to see A Useful Life which I am afraid was too "Art House" for both of us.  Filmed in underlit black and white and featuring long sequences in real time, it was not surprising that several audience members took a short nap.   The story of an unconfident cinema projectionist who finds he must leave the fantasy life of film to fulfil a fantasy in his own life was charming, but the slow pace and the indistinct images made it tiring to watch.
Sunday brought the cancellation of Las Acacias which meant exchanging our tickets for the screening of W.E. and filling in two empty hours reading Sunday papers and drinking tea. We found Madonna's film disjointed, disappointing and self-indulgent.  In short, we learned nothing new about Wallace Simpson while her modern day fan Wally brought no fresh perspectives to such a well-known story.
Reeling from the Studio at 7.59pm and into the theatre at 8.0pm to see Miss Bala we were assaulted by a fearsome plot centering on drug gangs in Mexico and the callous treatment of anybody who comes into their orbit.   Laura seeks help to find the friend with whom she is entering a beauty pageant, only to be captured and used by one of the gang leaders. The film showed the brutality and lack of concern for human life that is rife in Mexico, but it was a painful experience and we came out wishing that there had been a measure of light relief to make the film more bearable.
After 10pm we went out into the car park where my friend found she had been fined £40 for neglecting to buy a second ticket after 6pm.   This was the final straw as far as she was concerned. These photos are from her camera.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Versions of the past

After Resistance and The Well Digger's Daughter the second pair of films I saw were My week with Marilyn and The Artist.
Both of these films gave us a view of the past which allowed a glimpse behind the scenes on a film set. In the case of My week with Marilyn the action took place during the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl and with The Artist we were treated to a gentle melodrama based on the period when Hollywood was going through its transformation from silent movies to the talkies. Twentieth century film history received very different treatment in each of these films and I felt it was more successful in The Artist where well known actors were not being portrayed but stars of the silent screen were merely evoked.

The Artist also had the unbeatable presence of Uggy the Jack Russell to appeal to the Courtyard audience who could be heard muttering to one another as they came down the steps "I really liked the dog".

Quite unintentionally, most of the films I chose to see this season were made in the twenty first century while being set in the past, The Last Waltz was an exception as it was made in 1978 and for that reason seemed more authentic. Seeing Bob Dylan and Van Morrison looking so much younger was a treat. It also made those of us who could remember that decade feel a genuine nostalgia. Comments on leaving the Studio were full of lively memories of concerts and gigs from long ago!

A week at the Courtyard

Images from my week at the Courtyard.


Saturday 3 March 2012

How to end a movie

Compare and contrast: ‘A Separation’ and ‘The Well Digger’s Daughter’. Two more contrasting films it would be difficult to imagine. Iranian social realism v French romantic nostalgia. True grit or soft focus. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed both. I emerged from A Separation physically and emotionally drained; I came out of The Well Digger’s Daughter with a smile on my lips and a rosy glow on my cheeks. They are both good films and A Separation is possibly a great one. In the informal post screening debates (one of the best bits of Borderlines) there were some who said that WDD was ‘too romantic’. This is a bit like saying that grass is too green or that Ronseal does what it says on the tin. Of course it’s too romantic. It’s French! It’s romantic! What did you expect?
Where WDD may have missed a trick was in the ending, where they could have added an element of sad wistfulness without ditching any of the romanticism. WDD has now finished its run so I think I can reveal that the opportunity missed was the rather risible return of the war hero, dapper and unlined, having survived crashing his aircraft in flames behind enemy lines. In the risibility stakes, this is admittedly pretty poor fare. The moment in ‘Downton Abbey’ where the war hero leaps athletically from his wheelchair when his feeble fiancée is unable to carry the weight of a tea tray – now that’s what I call risibility. You could win a BAFTA with that.
So WDD may score modestly, risibility wise, but the fact remains that the film was just coming to a satisfactory end, with the reconciliation of divided families and fathers and daughters, when the hero returns to tie up loose ends and ensure that everyone lives happily ever after. Leave the lad in some foreign field that is forever Provence I say. The End. Fin. It’s a wrap.
Take a lesson from A Separation. No romance here, or easy answers, or you could argue no answers at all. But they knew how to end the film. It won’t spoil the film to tell you that there is a heartbreaking choice to be made at the end. After two hours of ambiguity, I (as the man in seat D5) wanted to know the answer. The movie director in me (as if) was screaming ‘end the film NOW!’ And right on queue, the credits rolled……

Friday 2 March 2012

Melanie Walters at Resistance show, Dilwyn


Melanie Walters with Flicks in the Sticks promoter, John Gerrish, at interval of packed out Resistance show at Dilwyn Cedar Hall. Interestingly we did the Q&A halfway through the film (which had left Andrea Riseborough in mid-sentence). Melanie had had to turn down preview screenings in London and New York so her first viewing of the film was in a village hall in Herefordshire. Damn, forgot to get omelette tips.

Iran is not Japan

It’s premature to say ‘the best movie at this year’s Borderlines is…’, but I’m pretty sure that A Separation will be hard to beat. A middle class Iranian couple are embroiled in an acrimonious separation, which neither of them wants. The practical and emotional fallout of this draws in family members, colleagues and a religious working class family drafted in to look after an Alzheimer’s father. Each of the characters is forced into taking sides and to make a series of moral choices where telling the truth may have consequences that they cannot morally accept. Their lives become agonisingly entangled – a process not helped by the frequent intervention of the Iranian judiciary, who are portrayed as surprisingly liberal but hopelessly overwhelmed. The religious state is invisible but ever present. As a friend of mine heard at a meeting recently ‘there’s an elephant in the room and we need to get it on the table’.
It reminded me of Still Walking (Borderlines 2010). The films are united by the same tangled relationships, uncertainties and ambiguity, but divided by cultural differences so profound that the comparison is at best a bit odd. In the Japanese film almost everything is unspoken; emotion and feelings are portrayed by a barely raised eyebrow, an oblique phrase, a moment of silence. In the Iranian film, all is on the surface. Nothing that could be said is left unsaid.
We are often told that ‘getting it out in the open’ is a good thing. After watching A Separation, I’m not so sure.

Wednesday 29 February 2012

Over the Hill?


Actress Doreen Mantle (One Foot in the Grave) being interviewed just before the launch of The Rural Media Company's campaign to raise awareness about the challenges of growing older in the countryside.

Guardian piece at

The Votes Are In

My Borderlines experience comprises not only as a festival goer, and festival volunteer but as a Courtyard recruit who runs front of house during the festival.  I see it all!  For those of you who have already indulged in some of the fantastic cinematic offerings on over the next 2 weeks- you would have encountered the new and improved voting stations. The boxes range from 5 stars 'loving it' to one star 'didn't like it'. The beauty of this, and in watching films come in and out, I am first hand to see the audience reactions as they clutch their voting cards and reach for the right amount of stars.  My job is to empty these after each film- and it is clear to see that you all are 'loving' what you see.  

Take 'The Artist' for example.  A film that has generated so much hype for being silent.  It's brilliant to watch a chatty full house bumble in to the auditorium full of expectancy and come out wearing expressions that are completely elated.  I myself, got the chance to watch this on Friday night and was one of many who fell hook line and sinker for its old time charm.  You can quite clearly see how it scooped up billions of awards during the awards season.  (And, quite frankly, if your heart wasn't slightly melted by Uggie the dog- then it's made of stone).  This film has gained such an overwhelming response from the festival- and by the looks of the votes has lived up to its reputation.  It's probably a good job Borderlines have added 2 EXTRA SCREENINGS on Sunday 4th and Monday 5th.  There, of course if no reason to state that I chose 5 stars for this gem.

Whereas thus far in the festival, Daniel Auteil's 'The Well-Digger's Daughter' has received the top happiest response- 'My Week With Marilyn' was also a joy to watch.  I tootled in yesterday, plonked myself in the Main House and waited.  Any I didn't move for the next hour and a half.  Michelle Williams brilliant encapsulates the aura of Monroe.  The beauty, the charm, the 'I can't take my eyes off you' effect.  Supported by a brilliant cast of British talent, the film was incredible.  Redmayne quite proficiently passed off the bumbling young man ready to make his break in showbiz (a character quite connected to any young person starting to climb the career ladder) and Branagh was just an amazing Sir Laurence Olivier.  I just had to put my vote in 'loving it'.

It was yesterday evening that I took myself along with a buddy to see British critically acclaimed gritty drama 'Shame'.  Wow. What a film.  One must say it was quite a steer in the opposite direction of my previous Borderlines experience, but one I was glad I took.  The film was explicit and head on, yet subtle at the same time.  The acting was superior and you got sucked in to the broken lives of the two protagonists. It was only a Shame that more people weren't there.  The film hit a note so hard that once the credits rolled, you could hear a pin drop.  Yet everyone I spoke to agreed that it was just exceptional.  On leaving the cinema I encountered the voting station.  I decided that this film was well worthy of 5 stars- probably for different reasons than the previous two, however a true deservant. I highly recommend watching this- and to make the experience even easier (my job as Courtyard recruit) is to tell you there is a Buy 1 Get 1 Free offer on the tickets.  So please, bring someone and watch it.

The voting in my opinion is the cream on top of the cinema experience.  As a punter it makes me think about how a film makes me feel, how I react and what I will take away with me from the film.  As  an employee I see how it makes other people feel and think.  And with so many people 'loving' what they see, it's a good job we've still got a couple of weeks left, eh?!

L'Artiste completes its incredible journey.

A night at the UK premiere of The Artist, October 2011 at the BFI London Film Festival.

Since that chilly night in a shabby looking, reconstruction paved Leicester Square, the world of film has changed.

Paying the £18 ticket fee was a real pinch, this was my first 'gala' screening at the sold out 800 seater Odeon West End.

I didn't know much about the film, not many people did unless you'd been at Cannes the previous May. It wasn't even getting top billing at the London Film Festival, which was dominated by Shame, We Need to Talk about Kevin and George Clooney's double act The Ides of March and The Descendants.

 I'd heard bits of word of mouth, apparently they'd loved it in France.... all I knew was that it was black and white, and silent, with a group of unknown French actors........

That night my ticket price included the company of those all crowned at the Oscars on Sunday night. But it was the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein (  his company Mirimax released Pulp Fiction, The English Patient and Shakespere in Love) whose presence and Hollywood power that struck me.

This big, brash load American joked about how ridiculous his company, business partner and brother Bob Weinstein thought he was in fancying buying the distribution rights for The Artist. It was a black and white silent film....... In his words, they thought he'd lost the plot. He was even called to justify his decision to the Board of Directors, claiming he didn't even know his company had a board.  But even back in October, Weinstein was still voicing his hopes of not only landing an Oscar nomination, but winning the Best Film category.

At the time I just loved the ambition and perceived impossibility of such a thought.

As late as Christmas most people had no clue of the Artist and it's impending release date (December 30th). Yet through a rampant marketing campaign that even hit Hereford's railway station Weinstein's dreams materialised with the film receiving 3 of the major Academy Awards (Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor)

With Borderlines already in its first week, many of you will have seen the film and I hope you've left the film delighted. Having been released 2 months ago with a whirlwind of press coverage and hyperbole followed by a resurrection of  hype following its Oscar success I hope audiences haven't felt let down.

Regardless of its merits like it's Oscar rival Hugo, The Artist is a wonderful homage to the early days of film. I have spent all week basking in slight smugness having 'felt' a part of this journey since October. Of course I had nothing to do with it's success other than rattling on about some kooky French film no one wanted to hear about. But the success of The Artist with its celebration of Hollywood, stardom and cinema has been a wonderful thing to witness. 

What is funny is that despite my romantic tribute, it's highly likely no one would have seen or heard of the Artist had it not been for that smug, tubby American man Harvey Weinstein. A man who had no creative impact what so ever. He just liked it and he fancied winning some Oscars. So he did.

Monday 27 February 2012

First impressions

The 2012  Borderlines experience began for me on Friday 24th February with The Well-Digger's Daughter starring and directed by Daniel Auteuil. The lush setting of fields, streams and the tree lined country roads of the South of France forms the background to a familiar story of young love awakened, thwarted and finally reconciled.  The most convincing relationship, however, is not that between the lovers, but between father and daughter with some light relief provided by family friend, Felipe.  Small town prejudices are explored while the start of the First World War forms a wider backdrop, made evident by the mobilisation of the local men.

The studio at the Courtyard theatre was packed out for the first afternoon of the Festival while the bar area was too crowded to walk through!  Also filled to the rafters, was our second film Resistance which was being shown in Moccas Village Hall where numbers meant that cars had to be parked in a field and doors were shut at 7.30 regardless of anybody waiting outside.  The Village Hall bar was busy too and after showing a film about Arts Alive and Flicks in the Sticks and four very impressive short films made by "Same but Different" there was an interval to allow people to refill their glasses and to buy ice creams.
Resistance was of particular interest to a rural Herefordshire audience who could recognise pubs and cottages where the scenes were filmed - not to mention the familiar countryside of the Olchon Valley and Llantony.   Those who had not read the Owen Sheers novel may have found the plot difficult to follow, but the visual impact was striking and the slow pace gave the film an almost hypnotic, poetic quality.  The "what if" story of a German invasion of Britain in 1944 was intriguing and was illustrated by numerous flash-backs of, for example, the Russian Front. The characters of the women left to work the farms while their men joined the Resistance were very well drawn, while the central love story and the ending were left ambiguous - which some of the audience found disappointing.  A neighbour told me that he found the film unconvincing because the Germans were too nice while others mentioned that they found the pace of the film too slow.
Both of these films were set in rural areas where the scenery acted almost as one of the main protagonists.  My next Borderlines experience will be My week with Marilyn which should provide an interesting contrast!


Saturday 4 February 2012

Borderlines: The First 10 Years

The pinnacle of Borderlines? North Face, shown 2009
There's a special event within the 10th anniversary of Borderlines Film Festival that looks back over the past ten glorious years of film viewing in the Marches - snappily titled Borderlines: The First 10 Years.  With retiring Festival Director David Gillam at the helm, this looks both back at the highs and lows* of previous festivals and forward to the future. It's also a bit of a fund-raiser and includes a reception to follow.

*when proof-reading the brochure copy, this had to be corrected from 'high (singular) and lows (plural)'

We've had some initial feedback from e-news subscribers about their own best moments: Julie Mackinnon, for example, picks out, "Northface at Hereford Arts Centre (2009) ..not even interested  in mountaineering....but on the edge of my seat...and so was everyone else in that studio."

We'd love more feedback. You can either comment here, via Facebook or e-mail us your thoughts.

To assist, we've mustered considerable resources to compile a list of every single film that has played at Borderlines since 2003 -  all 557 of them - with links, where available, to the relevant website. Actually we've just copied, pasted and sorted. A few may be missing.

Happy browsing!
127 Hours (15)
16 Years of Alcohol
36 (15)
4 Months, 3 Weeks, & Two Days (15)
44 Inch Chest (18)
9 (12A)
A Bunch of Amateurs (15)
A Cock & Bull Story (15)
A Crude Awakening (PG)
A Garden Miscellany (U)
A Good Woman (PG)
A Man Escaped (U)
A Matter of Life and Death (U)
A Monster in Paris (U)
A Prairie Home Companion (PG)
A Prophet (18)
A Screaming Man (PG)
A Separation (PG)
A Useful Life (PG)
A View from the Past
A Way of Life
Abel (15)
Africa United (12A)
Alamar (U)
Alice (PG)
All About Eve (U)
Almost Adult (15)
American Splendour
Amigo (15)
An American in Paris (U)
An Education (12A)
An Inconvenient Truth (U)
And When Did You Last See Your Father? (12A)
AnDa Union: From the Steppes to the City (PG)
Angel on the Right
Animal Kingdom (15)
Another Year (12A)
Anvil! The Story of Anvil (15)
Arrietty (U)
Astro Boy (PG)
Asylum (15)
Atonement (15)
Azur & Asmar - The Princes' Quest (U)
Babel (15)
Bad Timing (18)
Badlands (15)
Ballets Russes (PG)
Beautiful Lies (12A)
Beauty in Trouble (15)
Before Midnight - A Portrait of India on Film, 1899 - 1947 (PG
Before The Devil Knows You're Dead (15)
Behind The Sun/Mike Brearley
Being Julia (12)
Belle de Jour (18)
Benda Bilili! (15)
Best of FLIP Animation Festival
Better Things (15)
Beverly Hills Chihuahua (U)
Bhavantaran (U)
Bhutan: The Height of Happiness? (12A)
Big Pictures, Bigger Ideas (HCA Showcase)
Birdwatchers (15)
Biutiful (15)
Black Cat, White Cat (15)
Black Swan (15)
Blood of a Poet (PG) with live score by Steven Severin
Blue Valentine (15)
Bombon El Perro (12A)
Bonnie and Clyde (15)
Bowling for Columbine
Breakfast on Pluto (15)
Breaking The Waves (18)
Breathing (15)
Breathless (À bout de souffle) (15)
Brick Lane (15)
Bright Star (PG)
Brokeback Mountain (15)
Broken Embraces (15)
Bull Magic (15)
Bullet Boy
Burma VJ - Reporting from a Closed Country (12A)
Burn After Reading (15)
Bustin' Down the Door (15)
Capturing the Friedmans
Caramel (PG)
Carnage (15)
Carry Greenham Home (PG)
Catch A Fire (12A)
Caught in the Act (15)
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (U)
Celine And Julie Go Boating (12A)
Charlotte's Web (U)
Che Part 2 (15)
Chico And Rita (15)
Children of Men (15)
China Blue (PG)
Chinatown (15)
Christy Malry’s Own Double Entry
Circo (PG)
City of God/Cidade de Deus
City of Men (15)
Classic Cartoons (U)
Close To Home (PG)
Close-up and Personal
Coco Before Chanel (12A)
Cold Mountain
Comrades in Dreams (PG)
Confetti (15)
Control (15)
Costa Del Marches (U)
Crafta Webb (PG)
Creation (PG)
Crossing The Bridge(PG)
Czech Dream
Dear Frankie
Departures (12A)
Derek Jarman: Life As Art
Desire (15)
Despicable Me (U)
Die Another Day
Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (PG)
Dirty Pretty Things
Distant Voices Still Lives (15)
Doing Time, Doing Vipassana
Dorian Gray (15)
Dr. Strangelove (PG)
Earth & Ashes (15)
El Baño del Papa (The Pope's Toilet) (15)
El Nido Vacío (The Empty Nest) (15)
Enchanted (PG)
Enduring Love
Enigma Express (U)
Eragon (PG)
Every Good Marriage Begins with Tears
Everything (18)
Exit Through the Gift Shop (15)
Extras (12A)
Factotum (15)
Fear Eats the Soul (15)
Festival (18)
Festival of Britain - David (U)
Fezeka’s Voice (PG)
Fish Tank (15)
Flushed Away (U)
Food & Farming in South Herefordshire
Four Days Inside Guantánamo (PG)
Four Lions (15)
Frozen River (15)
Gabrielle (15)
Gaia: all things are connected
Gajo Dilo (15)
Garage (18)
Garden State
Gasland (PG)
Genius Within: The Inner Life Of Glenn Gould (U)
Ghosts (15)
Girl With A Pearl Earring
Gone To Earth (PG)
Gonzo (15)
Greyfriars Bobby (PG)
Grizzly Man (15)
Gypo (15)
Habana Blues (15)
Havana Suite (PG)
Heavy Load (12A)
Here & There
Herefordshire Archive Films
Herefordshire Bytes
Hidden (15)
Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go (PG)
Hoover Street Revival
How I Ended This Summer (15)
Howl (15)
Howl's Moving Castle (U)
Hunger (15)
Hunky Dory (15)
I'm Not There (15)
In Search of Beethoven (U)
In The Course of Time/Kings of the Road (18)
In the Loop (15)
Inkheart (PG)
International Shorts Programme (15)
Into Eternity (PG)
Into The West (PG)
Iron Giant (PG)
It's Winter (12A)
I've Loved You So Long (12A)
Jack Goes Boating (15)
Jar City (15)
Jindabyne (15)
John Bulmer Presents
John Bulmer presents
Juno (12A)
Just Do It (12A)
Katalin Varga (15)
Kekexili: Mountain Patrol (PG)
Ken Wardrop Shorts
Killing Bono (15)
Kind Hearts and Coronets (U)
Kirikou & The Sorceress (U)
Kung Fu Panda (PG)
L’Atalante (U)
Lady Chatterley (18)
Lake Tahoe (15)
Las Acacias (12A)
Latcho Drom (PG)
Le Grand Voyage (PG)
Le Million (U)
Lemon Tree (PG)
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (PG)
Les Enfants du Paradis (PG)
Letter from an Unknown Woman (U)
Little Miss Sunshine (15)
London to Brighton (18)
Looking Back: River of Life (PG)
Louise-Michel (15)
Lourdes (U)
Love Letters & Live Wires (U)
Lust, Caution (18)
Luxury Car (15)
Machan (15)
Machuca (15)
Made in Birmingham (PG)
Madrigal (15)
Man on Wire (12A)
Man with a Movie Camera
Margot at The Wedding (15)
Martha Marcy May Marlene (15)
Mascarades (PG)
Me & Orson Welles (12A)
Me We Anti-racism event (PG)
Megamind (PG)
Memories of Underdevelopment (15)
Mercano The Martian
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
Metropolis (PG)
Migrant Stories (PG)
Milk (15)
MirrorMask (PG)
Miss Bala (15)
Miss Potter (PG)
Moja Moja (PG)
Monster House (PG)
Moon (15)
Mother and Child (15)
Mountain Patrol (15)
Mr Nice (18)
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (U)
Mrs Henderson Presents (12A)
Mughal-e-Azam (U)
Mulholland Drive
Murderball (15)
My Afternoons with Margueritte (15)
My Dog Tulip (12A)
My Kid Could Paint That (12A)
My Week With Marilyn (15)
Mysteries of Lisbon (PG)
National Treasure: Book of Secrets (PG)
NEDS (18)
Never Let Me Go (12A)
Night & Day (15)
No Country For Old Men (15)
Noi Albinoi
Norteado (15)
North Country (15)
North Face (Nordwand) (12A)
Notes On A Scandal (15)
Nowhere Boy (15)
Of Gods and Men (15)
Of Time and The City (12A)
Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
O'Horten (PG)
Old Dog (PG)
On The Black Hill (PG)
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (15)
One Day (12A)
Our Daily Bread (12A)
Our Father/Abouna
Over the Hill?
Pan's Labyrinth (15)
Patagonia (15)
Pather Panchali (U)
Patience (After Sebald) (12A)
Patti Smith: Dream of Life (15)
Pavee Lackeen (15)
Peace One Day
Penelope (U)
Pina (U)
Poetry (12A)
Ponyo (U)
Precious (15)
Priceless (15)
Protektor (15)
Rabbit Hole (12A)
Rachel Getting Married (15)
Racing Stripes
Rang De Basanti (15)
Rashomon (12A)
Regency House Party
Resistance (PG)
Revanche (15)
Revenger’s Tragedy
Revolutionary Road (15)
REWIND Archive Screenings
Riding Giants
River of Life
River Of Life (PG)
River of Life archive event
River Tales (U)
Rivers & Tides
Robinson in Ruins (U)
Rough Aunties (15)
Ruby Blue (15)
Rumba (PG)
Running With Scissors (15)
Rural Archive Screenings (15)
Same But Different
Samson and Delilah (15)
Saturday Screen
Screaming Masterpiece (PG)
Screen WM - Digital Shorts
Separado! (12)
Seraphine (PG)
Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll (15)
Sex With Love (18)
Shame (18)
Shell Shock (15)
Sherlock Junior & The General
Sherlock Junior + One Week (U)
Shine A Light (12A)
Showcase: Local Filmmakers
Silent Comedy Classics
Silent Gems with Paul Shallcross
Silent Light (15)
Sisters in Law (PG)
Sites and Rights
Sixty Six (12A)
Sleep Furiously (U)
Small Stories, Big Ideas
Some Like It Hot (U)
Son of Rambow (12A)
Soul Searcher
SoulBoy (15)
Sparkle (15)
Special People (PG)
Starsuckers (12A)
Stella Days (12A)
Still Life
Still Life (15)
Still Walking (U)
Stormbreaker (PG)
Student Showcase
Submarine (15)
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (U)
Surprise Silent Film Programme
Surviving Life (15)
Sweet Sixteen
Take Care of My Cat
Take Shelter (15)
Taking Liberties (15)
Tales from the Golden Age (12A)
Tales of the Night (PG)
Talk To Her
Tangled (PG)
Ten Canoes (15)
The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (PG)
The African Queen (U)
The Age of Stupid (12A)
The Artist (PG)
The Ballad of Mott The Hoople (15)
The Band's Visit (12A)
The Barley Mow (U)
The Beat That My Heart Skipped (15)
The Big Lebowski (18)
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (12A)
The Bride of Silence (PG)
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (U)
The Cameraman (U)
The Cameraman (U)
The Cave of the Yellow Dog (PG)
The Chronicles of Narnia (PG)
The City of the Sun (15)
The Close in Living Memory (ii)
The Cloud-capped Star (U)
The Coconut Revolution (15)
The Collector (15)
The Consequences of Love (15)
The Counterfeiters (15)
The Cove (12A)
The Dancer Upstairs
The Debt (15)
The Descendants (15)
The Diving-Bell and The Butterfly (12A)
The Eagle Hunter’s Son (PG)
The Edge of the World (U)
The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain (PG)
The Fox & the Child (U)
The Future of Food
The General (U)
The Gospel According to St Matthew (PG)
The Great White Silence (U)
The Grocer's Son (12A)
The Guard (15)
The Holy Girl
The Hours
The Hurt Locker (15)
The Illusionist (U)
The Iron Lady (12A)
The Italian (12A)
The Karamazovs (15)
The Lady (12A)
The Last of England
The Last Train
The Last Waltz (U)
The Limits of Control (15)
The Lives of Others (15)
The Magdalene Sisters
The Magic Hour (15)
The Magic Roundabout
The Maid (15)
The Man in the White Suit (U)
The Man Without A Past
The Marches: Fearless Librarian Saves the Day
The Marches: Man in a Wheelbarrow
The Match Factory Girl (15)
The Murmuring Coast (15)
The Music Lovers (15)
The Night of the Hunter (12)
The Other Final
The Outsiders
The Page Turner (15)
The Passion of Joan of Arc (PG)
The Pianist
The Railroad All Stars (15)
The Reader (15)
The Refugee All Stars (PG)
The River (PG)
The Road (15)
The Rum Diary (15)
The Search for Shangri-la (PG)
The Secret in Their Eyes (18)
The Secret of Kells (PG)
The Secret of Moonacre (U)
The Seventh Seal (PG)
The Shop Around the Corner (U)
The Singing Ringing Tree (U)
The Skin I Live In (15)
The Son’s Room
The Sound of Brazil
The Station Agent
The Stonemason’s Tale (U)
The Straight Story (U)
The Tale of Despereaux (U)
The Time That Remains (15)
The U.S. vs. John Lennon (12A)
The Visitor (15)
The Well-Digger’s Daughter (PG)
The White Ribbon (15)
The Wind Journeys (15)
The Wrestler (15)
The Yes Men Fix the World (12A)
Things We Lost in The Fire (15)
Think Global, Act Rural (PG)
This Filthy Earth
This Is England (15)
This Is Not A Love Song
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (PG)
Time of the Gypsies (15)
Time to Die (PG)
Times and Winds (15)
Titón from Havana to Guantanemera (PG)
Tocar y Lucher (To Play and to Fight) (U)
Tomboy (U)
Travellers & Magicians
Travellers Remember
Treeless Mountain (PG )
Tricks (12A)
True Grit (15)
Tulpan (PG)
Tune for the Blood (PG)
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (12A)
Up in the Air (15)
Up! (U)
Vanishing of the Bees (U)
Vera Drake
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (12A)
Viva Cuba (PG)
Volver (15)
W.E. (15)
Wah-Wah (15)
Waiting for Happiness
Walkabout (12A)
War Horse (12A)
Wartime Secrets
Waste Land (PG)
We Are Together (12A)
We Have a Pope (PG)
We Live in Public (15)
We Need To Talk About Kevin (15)
We Shall Overcome (12A)
Wedding Crashers (15)
Welcome (15)
West is West (15)
What Just Happened (15)
What Makes Movies Work?
Whatever Works (12A)
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (PG)
When The Road Bends... Tales of a Gypsy Caravan (PG)
Where The Truth Lies (18)
Whisky Galore! (PG)
White Stripes: Under Blackpool Lights
Wilbur (Wants To Kill Himself)
Winstanley (PG)
Winter’s Bone (15)
With Gilbert and George (15)
Woman of the Dunes (15)
Women of the Yellow Earth
Women on The Verge of A Nervous Breakdown (12)
Wondrous Oblivion
You, the Living (15)
Young at Heart (PG)
Young Farmers
Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love (PG)