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A few weeks ago now I attended Leeds International Film Festival which is surprisingly the biggest Film Festival in the UK outside London, and only a 50 minute train journey from Manchester which made it so easy to go there and back for the 2 days I went. They have a huge amount of venues at the Festival, all over the city, though the majority are in the city centre.
The Town Hall is huge and has an enormous banner across the front of the building for the festival and is the box office and also one of the film festival’s venue. I really can’t imagine Manchester Town Hall offering to a Film Festival venue, maybe that’s why all of the festivals we’ve had so far have tried and failed, maybe just a complete lack of support.
The turn out for all of the films was excellent too, I could barely find a seat as I stumbled in nearly late to my first film Home Care (2015) at Leeds Everyman Cinema in Trinity shopping centre and later on that day Grandma (2015) at Vue In The Light was completely sold out and was apparently that day’s hot ticket. Score.
I returned the next day with a massive trek on my hands to get to Hyde Park Cinema to see Tangerine (2015) which turned out to be a beautiful street corner cinema (seriously, it was dressed like a 1950s cinema but like it actually was the 1950s as it wasn’t falling apart and run down like old cinemas usually are) and then back to Vue In The Light to see French film All About Them (2015). Even though I only managed to see four films over the 2 days (with some serious reading time in between) I’m really happy with my choices as it really can be a lucky dip when it comes to film festivals.
Leeds International Film Festival
Czech Republic’s entry for the Best Foreign Film Oscar is so weird. I was trying to describe it when I was asked by my friends but the best I could muster up was ‘so it’s about a woman who is a home carer, her husband’s a bit of a dick, her daughter is getting married, the woman gets cancer and then finds a woman who wants to give her holistic medicine’ or something to that effect. Not really straight forward.
But the characters were rough and their flaws were real and you have to appreciate a film that tries to show the ups and downs of life as and when they come, not a carefully crafted narrative curve. Will is manage to make the nominations for the Oscars? I’m not sure, but it does have the genuine funny moments that make it a worthwhile contender and not just any old slice of life.
I didn’t even realise Grandma was a big film this year until I was reading about it in Total Film magazine right before I was about to see it. It did stupidly well as Sundance and it had quite a modest budget, star Lily Tomlin wore her own clothes and used her own car in the film. Speaking of whom, she was an absolute pleasure to watch. Tomlin plays Elle Reid, a Grandmother who has just broken up from her young girlfriend when her Granddaughter calls on her to help pay for an abortion.
Not having the money herself and not wanting to go to her granddaughter’s mother, she tries to call favours from a few so-called friends, most of whom are quite colourful people. It’s without a doubt a really current film and one that doesn’t sugarcoat the tough subjects. My only niggle is that most of the characters, including and especially the Granddaughter, fall flat next to Tomlin’s flawless performance.
This film takes Grandma‘s portrayal of a lesbian grandma who is also a scholar, a girl in need of an abortion, a transgender tattoo artist and takes it up to a whole different level. Creating huge buzz because it was shot entirely (and very well) on an iPhone 5S in downtown Hollywood, a place riddled with poverty and crime, it creates even more buzz due to the fact all of the actors were found on the street including the two main characters who are transgender prostitutes. For me, this wasn’t my kind of film at all. Too many edges, too many unpolished characters, not the kind of film I really enjoy watching and look forward to re-watching again. Maybe that’s down to my own jaded film history but nevertheless this is a fantastic film with a stellar narrative and I’m glad I didn’t miss it.
All About Them
This film is so French it may as well have a string of garlic around it’s neck and cycle around the Riviera on a bicycle shouting bonjour to anyone who will listen. Set in Lille, the three main characters are a couple (man and woman) and their friend (female). It first becomes evident that the two women have been having an affair whilst her boyfriend has been away when the friend visits the couple for dinner.
As the man drives his female friend home, they two share a kiss and thus the woman begins secret relationships with both members of the couple, of whom know nothing about the other relationship. SO French but SO good. What ensues is genuinely hilarious and a real elegant film that I know I would enjoy watching again. The ending is a somewhat unexpected and a little bit of a disappointment, a flawless premise was created and executed but it couldn’t quite follow through. Ultimately though it was a fresh and exciting film and set in a beautiful city rarely seen on film before.
Leeds International Film Festival takes place annually every November and you can find out more information here.
Did you go to Leeds International Film Festival or have you ever been before?
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