Across 2 weeks central London was taken over by film buffs running between screenings to try and get the best seats for the next show. The BFI hosted the 54th London Film Festival (LFF) for just over two weeks showing début films for various countries and directors. This years schedule was jam packed with fresh faces in the industry along with some well established greats.
Over the festival IDOL attended just short of 25 films, and that was only about a fifth of what was available.
The bar was set high with our first film, Leap Year. Based in the suburbs of Mexico City, it follows the mundane life of lonely Laura as she struggles with exclusion, the loss of her father and the lust for a true relationship. As the story unfolds she finds love in a caring man (after various one night stands) but it slowly evolves into a sadomasochist fuelled love story. The story pulls you in and you become completely absorbed in her desperate life. Although beware, the sex is very graphic, so maybe not one to go see with your mum!
Along with the feature films were various documentaries. A couple that really made a mark at the festival were The Peddler and Self Made. The Peddler is the story of an amateur film maker, Daniel Burmeister, as he moves between remote villages in Argentina. Making films with the villagers as the actors and him as the director/cameraman/script writer/actor! His films are patently poor quality as Burmeister is self-taught and he is the only camera man. But the aim of his films is not to win an Oscar, it is to inspire and bring communities together. This he definitely does accomplish over his short stay in each village, an inspirational character that's for sure.
Conversely, Self Made, is a début film by Turner Prize winning artist Gillian Wearing. A mix of real and imaginary lives, the documentary explores the emotions of seven people through method acting. Delving into their inner most habits and thoughts, they act out past events in their lives to finally star in a short film based on their experiences within the workshop. Such a reflective piece of film that really make the audience think about their own insecurities and how to deal with them.
From deep documentaries to top class comedy, one film that is really going to hit the big time comes from director's Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck'sIt's Kind Of A Funny Story. Angst ridden teenager Craig (Keir Gilchrist) admits himself into the psychiatric ward of a Brooklyn hospital after a laughable suicide attempt. After realising what he has done, and the way it is going to affect his social standing at school, he immediately regrets the decision. Until he meets fellow patient (and life coach), Bobby (Zach Galifianakis – The Hangover, Into The Wild). This whirlwind story of high expectations, the reality of growing up and (most importantly) comedy is going to kick up a storm when it is released next year.
Finally psychological thriller, Black Swan, stars the ever beautiful Natalie Portman as Prima Ballerina striving for the swan queen part in the NYC Ballet. The twists and turns that arise as she fights for the top spot leave you on the edge of your seat. It is director Daren Aronofsky's fifth feature and it definitely shows. The filming is dramatic yet beautiful and leaves you in a trance as you gaze at the incredible dancing and shivers run down your spine as the musical score rumbles throughout the cinema. As the final scene closes I wiped a tear from my eye with the inevitable dance of the dying swan ends a fabulous film. Due to be released in February 2011, it is a must see.
Amongst all these films there were numerous others that really caught IDOL's eye. Two collections of film shorts – We're The Kids From Suburbia and London Calling showed an array of films including various debut features. Also The Taqwacores is another adaptation of the book about the Islamic Punk movement sweeping throughout America.
With the 25 films we watched it is impossible to mention them all with the respect they deserve, but check IDOL over the coming months for individual interviews of some of our favourite up and coming directors.