Blogger: James Cross, Front of House
Day three of BIFF, and what an actioned packed day it was! I couldn't possibly have gone to all the midnight screenings, industry seminars and the myriad screenings and events, but here's what I did see:
Shine Award Jury Screening
I have a great sense of nostalgia for Shine - it was the first ever film festival strand I attended in 2003, and I'm pleased to say it still delivers the same variety and quality as always. As with the Amos Vogel strand, even if you don't enjoy a film, you know there is another contender just around the corner.
Shorts are not often given proper recognition, and showcases such as the Shine Awards reveal that they are a craft in their own right, distinct from features, providing a rare opportunity to watch emerging talent. Curated by Alissa Juvan, this year the Awards accepted submissions from outside Europe, with a separate screening dedicated to European Shorts.
Annick Blanc and Alissa Juvan
Annick Blanc, Canadian Director of Nowhere Elsewhere was in attendance to introduce her short before jetting off to Hong Kong, then France to showcase her film - one of my top picks for the award along with A Gentle Push. Both are beautifully shot, well constructed pieces.
The Shine Awards are being screened again at Otley Courthouse on Sunday 27 March, and a screening plus the award presentation will take place at the Museum on Sunday at 6pm.
This film was part of the Northern Showcase strand, which was established to exhibit the best in low budget films from the North, and to give then the recognition they rightly deserve.
Innocent Crimes, introduced by Director Jonathan Green and Producer Chris Hees, shows how far £10,000 can go. Frankly, it wasn't my cup of tea, I thought the story and acting were heavy handed at times, and I didn't enjoy the out of focus shots.
Innocent Crimes was meant to be in the style of a noir; it lacked distinctive contrast lighting, quick-witted dialogue, and the developed female characters normally associated with the genre. The moments which worked for me were those of humour and adventure. A valiant attempt, but somewhat misses the mark - I would love to hear what other people thought.
Harold's Going Stiff
To quote a friend
"Harold's Going Stiff is everything that is right with low budget filmmaking."
Innovative, funny, and ingenious, Harold's... shows that a low budget is no excuse for a poorly crafted film. Beautifully shot and nicely paced, but the real achievement is the performances. It may be a zombie film, but first and foremost it is a romance.
The two leads have a dynamic relationship as pensioner Harold (Stan Rowe) the sufferer of an advancing neurological disease which causes him to be zombie-like, and his bubbly nurse Penny (Sarah Spencer). Their relationship flourishes in the midst of zombie-hunters, medical tests, and despite the generation gap.
The support cast must also be given kudos; the vigilante zombie-hunters are central to some of the funniest moments in the film, but are not without drama. One of my favourite films of the festival so far, well done to all involved.