Tuesday 24 February 2015

Borderlines's eastern flank at The Market Theatre, Ledbury

Soon to be Borderlines again!  Always something we look forward to at Ledbury's entirely volunteer run Market Theatre. It draws in a different audience to our regular filmgoers, always creates a festival feel and brings a buzz to the place. Borderlines films are projected in conjunction with our Film Club, which also runs two seasons of films annually at the Theatre.

We like to think that we are one of the most hospitable Borderlines venues; if you haven't been before we have comfortable seating with every row raised and offset.  On the technical side, we have Dolby 7.1 sound and HD projection, and a large screen.  There is even a bar - so come early and have a chat!

The foyer bar at The Market Theatre
This year we have a really mixed bag opening with Ida (winner of the Foreign Language Film BAFTA and Oscar) on Thursday 5 March and followed on by Two Days, One Night, Boyhood (which got the top BAFTA awards) and Mr Turner.  Full details are on our website where you can book without paying a booking fee!!

Paul Graham
The Market Theatre, Ledbury

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Much Birch - A fine place to see a movie

Browsing the Borderlines brochure with a pint at the Pilgrim Hotel
My wife helps to run the local Flicks in the Sticks and I help her to tell people about it. So this blog is partly an honest account of volunteering and partly a platform from which to encourage you to get along and see a movie at one of the many venues that will be hosting the 2015 Borderlines Film Festival!

The Girl With the Pearl Earring
We took our first trip to Borderlines when we had only been living in the county for a matter of weeks; the film was The Girl With the Pearl Earring at The Courtyard in March 2004. I remember it was an added screening to the initial run, as the film itself had been so successful that year. I remember this quite acutely, because The Courtyard had not quite figured out their overall scheduling process and for a large portion of the film we were treated to intermittent beats from the drum workshop next door. But the audience was not overly concerned, it was considered that we had squeezed into a space so that we could have a chance to catch the movie in all its understated glory - on the big screen.

The Festival and venue had made the film available to the community in the form in which the writer and director had created it – for the big screen. Drilling this down to another level, Flicks in the Sticks encourages communities in the region to make the most of our shared spaces; utilising pretty much any space from community hall to church, village hall to public house - to bring the movies to your doorstep. And of course as well as the shared spaces, you need the volunteers to run the individual Flicks in the Sticks.

As I type my good lady wife (Bryony) is out screening The Book Thief to an audience of twelve. Twelve people who will enjoy and dislike, twelve people who will engage and discuss the merits of a storyline, of a performance. What Much Birch Flicks does (in much the same way as all the Arts Alive initiatives) is give people living locally the opportunity to access exciting, moving and entertaining film performances in a local venue.

Since January 2006, Bryony and her fellow volunteer Carole (and many others) have been scheduling, organising and manning the Much Birch Village Hall for Flicks in the Sticks screenings, once a month, from September through May each year. From the two people who turned up for the screening of Coriolanus through the heady days of 100+ audiences for Ladies in Lavender, Calendar Girls and Mamma Mia to the decidedly feisty Saturday afternoons full of children and families who have used the hall for a whole host of other purposes such as christenings, yoga, birthdays, exercise classes, funerals, toddler groups and PTFA quiz nights.

For my part – the helping to let people know part - I have a cycle route of village notice boards that take me all around the South Herefordshire environs (well around a few villages anyway: St Weonards, Garway, Orcop, Wormelow, Much Birch, Much Dewchurch, Little Dewchurch and Kingsthorne). If I’m honest, it will only turn into a cycle route in the next few weeks when the Spring weather starts to hit – hopefully – otherwise it is really a drive by drop off when I get a chance.

Then there is the all-important monthly village magazine. Travel up and down the villages of Herefordshire and Shropshire each month and the village store or the village pub will have a village magazine and the village magazine will have news of the local Flicks in the Sticks screening.  For Much Birch village, the support of The Pilgrim Hotel is much welcomed, with regular Much Birch Flicks pre-screening offers. 

So here comes the encouraging to engage bit - get yourself along to any of the wonderful array of movies on offer around Herefordshire and Shropshire during the Festival. I myself am very much looking forward to The Possibilities Are Endless at The Courtyard on March 4. But if you do decide to come along and take in Before I Go To Sleep at Much Birch Village Hall, the good people at The Pilgrim (less than a half mile down the A49) have an early evening offer for you. From 5pm-7pm on the evening of Thursday 12 March – as a Much Birch Flicks / Borderlines attendee you can get yourself a pre-movie delight with a choice of a main course from the bar menu and a drink - for just £8.95

And of course the Flicks in the Sticks venues go on screening throughout the year, not just during the Festival. What the Festival does though, in particular with all of its accompanying promotion, is make a wider audience aware of all the cinematic opportunities that are open to the region. So during Borderlines, we will have regular Much Birch Flicks patrons who might come half a dozen times a year down to parents who might usually only take in a Saturday afternoon screening with the children, but what Borderlines brings each year, is the newcomers. What Borderlines does ultimately is open up more opportunities to discover cinema, to discover that all year round – From Wem Town Hall to St Mary’s Church, Ross-on-Wye there are movies rolling on a big screen pretty much every day of the week, all year round, right on your doorstep.

 Michael Connelly

Thursday 12 February 2015

Encountering Mommy

All has been silent on the Borderlines blog for too long.

We kick the coverage of Borderlines 2015 with a peek at one of the eighteen previews, the Canadian film Mommy,  to feature at this, the 13th edition of the festival from one of our colleagues who has chosen to remain nameless.
25-year old Canadian director Xavier Dolan has been noisily making a name for himself in the international film scene since the release of his 2009 debut I Killed My Mother and his latest work, Mommy, is arguably his best yet.

At times, it is unflinching and difficult to watch. Other moments are incredibly moving and even heartbreaking. At its core, the film is a study of a 15 year-old with ADHD called Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon), and his relationships with the two main women in his life: his mother Diana “Die” Despres (Anne Dorval) and their neighbour Kyla (Suzanne Clement).

Set in a near-future, the film opens with the revelation that a law has recently been passed in Quebec that allows parents to bypass the traditional court systems and put problem children into state care.
This ultimately poses a moral dilemma for Die, whose son is, at times, erratic, unpredictable, violent and difficult to control. But Steve is a fully rounded character: despite the issues caused by his ADHD, he is also shown to be charming, thoughtful, energetic, spontaneous and funny. Mommy explores this and cleverly works towards a dramatic climax that makes Die’s choice all the more moving.

The film also shows Dolan at his creative best. Shot in a 1:1 aspect ratio, Mommy recalls Instagram or Polaroid photographs. This square frame draws the viewer’s attention the character on screen, providing an intimate portrait of them.

The movie also cleverly plays with music and fashion from the last two-decades to create a vaguely nostalgic and often humorous mood, effortlessly flitting from Dido to Celine Dion; Oasis to Beck; and Lana Del Rey to Andrea Bocelli.

I saw Mommy during the ICO’s preview weekend in New Brighton and, for me, it was the standout film. It’s therefore fantastic to see that Borderlines Film Festival have managed to arrange a special preview of this picture.