23 March, 2010

Next Stop: Hollywood North

Ben Haller, freelance writer for US and Canadian television, is a member of the selection committee for BIFF, and responsible for Hollywood North - a new strand for Bradford International Film Festival after the success of its Canadian entries last year. I asked Ben what he has enjoyed so far, and what he is looking forward to in the coming week.

As I was slowly enchanted by the wondrous cinematography of Benoit Pilon's The Necessities of Life, I was drawn back to the words of Steinbeck, “As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.”

Most films endeavour to achieve such moments, many fall far short. The triumph of Pilon's heart-warming Quebecois film (about an Inuk forced to recuperate from tuberculosis in the big city) is not that it achieves such a moment but that it spawns many.

And the two cinemagoers who stayed to talk to me about the film for an hour after its conclusion on a rainy Bradford Sunday night hailed it as "the best so far at this year's festival."

I am a firm believer in the notion that films find the viewer on occasion - I have certainly found a few hidden gems in film festivals - so I am thrilled that the two festival attendees found that something special at Bradford this year. That is what a film festival should be about in my view.

And there is still of course plenty more to come! Tonight we are delighted to welcome Imelda Staunton to discuss her exceptional career so far; on Thursday we screen the highly-talked-about premiere of Chris Morris' Four Lions, and on Friday Bradford will be invaded by Cinerama and widescreen enthusiasts of the world for this year's Widescreen Weekend.

I shall certainly be in attendance for cult films Die Hard and Alien in 70mm, as well as the not-to-be-missed rare chance to see The Alamo in 35mm thanks to Cinema Retro magazine!

But before I indulge in the wonders of cinema's past, may I point you to another of my selected titles for Hollywood North - Rafael Oullet's New Denmark screening at the Otley Courthouse Arts Centre on Thursday at 9pm.

The extension of BIFF’s arm across Yorkshire sees a strictly unconventional Quebecois film that awed audiences at Toronto and Vary Karlov last year finds it's way into a fantastic venue in Otley, for what I am sure will be a night of new discoveries and stimulating conversation. I hope to see you all there…

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