Saturday, 23 December 2017

Documentaries at Keswick Film Festival

This year will be a bumper year for documentaries at KFF.

We have already announced Ai Weiwei’s remarkable Human Flow, the visual spectacle of Our Last Tango and Matt Glasby’s suggestion of The Work, however there are some other tremendous documentary screenings to look out for.

Our link with Keswick Peace and Human Rights Group continues and their selections for KFF will certainly give pause for thought. Demain provides a comprehensive look at ways in which activists, organizers and everyday citizens are trying to make the world a better, greener, more sustainable place and Open Bethlehem spans seven momentous years in the life of Bethlehem, revealing a city of astonishing beauty and political strife under occupation.

In Tawai – A Voice from the Forest, explorer Bruce Parry (The Tribe) travels the world living with indigenous peoples, delving deeper than ever on a journey into the heart of our collective human conscience.

Possibly our most challenging documentary of all is Trophy, a startling exploration of the evolving relationship between big-game hunting and wildlife conservation that will leave you debating what is right, what is wrong and what is necessary in order to save the great species of the world from extinction.

Be prepared to have your preconceptions challenged.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

A Tribute to John Hurt

That Good Night
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light
Dylan Thomas' words provide the title and the theme to John Hurt's penultimate film and his last lead role. In That Good Night he plays a terminally ill writer struggling to come to terms with his own mortality (and with no intentions of going gentle into that good night), to rebuild the wreckage of his family and to die with some semblance of dignity.

Superbly supported by Charles Dance and Sofia Helin (The Bridge) That Good Night will be screened as a tribute to our much-missed and much-loved Patron.

"Hurt and Dance are great, between them they have some fabulous dialogue - conversations which are incredibly timely given the continued euthanasia debates in Australia and globally. Hurt has some wonderful soliloquies, not surprising given this is adapted from a stage play, and Dance is his perfect counterpart."  - Film Blerg

Monday, 11 December 2017

More Films From Around The World

Where do you belong? Where do your loyalties lie? Our films from the KFF 2018 programme explore those themes from places as far apart as the USA, Iceland, Scandinavia and Sicily and closer to home, northern France.

The Rider, an authentic and heart-rending film, is the story of Brady, a rodeo rider who just emerged from a coma and told he should not ride again. Horses are his life however and where does he go now? Decisions need to be made as to where Brady belongs.

Coming of age drama Heartstone asks the same sort of questions. A remote fishing village in Iceland. Teenage boys Thor and Christian experience a turbulent summer as one tries to win the heart of a girl while the other discovers new feelings toward his best friend.

In Sami Blood a 14-year-old girl belonging to the Sami people, a Scandinavian ethnic minority, is subjected to racism and eugenic scrutiny in the 1930s when she is removed from her family and sent to a state-run school that aims to re-educate her into Swedish culture. To which culture does she or should she belong?

Family pressures weigh heavily on Jeanne in A Woman’s Life, a tale of tormented love embedded in the restrictive social and moral codes of marriage and family in 19th century Normandy.

Then we have Sicilian Ghost Story, based on the true story of the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy, held by the Mafia for 779 days in the hopes of silencing his informant father, the film focuses on Luna, a classmate with a crush, who refuses to sweep his disappearance under the rug and challenges the code of silence that prevails amongst the adults.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

The Far East Comes to Keswick

No film festival would be complete without a samurai sword epic and Blade of the Immortal, Takashi Miike’s 100th film, fits the bill perfectly. Based on a manga series it stars Takuya Kimura as Manji, a Shogunate era samurai, granted by a witch the dubious gift of eternal life. After meeting a young girl, orphaned by a group of master swordsmen, Manji wreaks vengeance on them through a series of stylised showdowns – brilliantly choreographed, outlandishly violent and sometimes brutally comic to boot. 

"Blade goes for the carotid while offering a classic look and a comic-book story. It's part Kurosawa, part 'X-Men', part 'Ichi the Killer'" - Washington Post

At the other extreme of Japanese cinema we have The Third Murder from KFF favourite Hirokazu Kore-eda. Maasharu Fukuyama (Like Father, Like Son) plays a famous defence attorney named Shigemori, who willingly takes the tough case of Misumi ,a man who murdered his boss. We know he did it. He’s confessed to doing it. There’s little mystery there. But the reason why he did it is important to his sentence.

"The Third Murder offers the satisfactions of a well-constructed suspense story, with twists that come from the characters of its principals, not plot contrivances" - Japan Times

Continuing our far eastern journey, we come to Mountains May Depart from China and directed by by Jia Zhangke. Set in 1999, 2014 and 2025, Mountains May Depart revolves mostly around its everyday heroine, Tao (Zhao Tao, Jia's muse on and offscreen), a woman caught somewhere between the dream and the reality of modern China.

"Jia’s languid style and exquisite framing complement his understated approach to the material, which opts for depth over melodrama. ...Mountains ... is grounded in Zhao’s delicate performance, a character caught between progress and tradition, her life running in place, each day blending into the next.” - San Francisco Chronicle