INSIDE: Read about the SHORT FUSION series We speak to JOHN HURT, GARY OLDMAN, KIM NEWMAN Follow @TakeOneCFF - email email@example.com
Michael Davies‘ LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT completely wrong-footed me. The simple tale of what might clumsily be termed 'old love', set in a retirement home, initially struck me as a bit slushy and simple. Though the two leads, played by John Hurt and Phyllida Law, are as good as you'd expect these two veteran actors to be, the story and script seemed very uneven, often resorting to cliché. However, all this turns out to be expertly setting up a wonderfully sad, elegiac twist, transforming what at first seems like false sentiment into the real thing. Charlotte Boulay-Goldsmith's animated THE MAN WITH A STOLEN HEART is another unexpected gem. The scratchy, hand-drawn style and heavy-handed narration (by another vet, Bill Nighy) is at first jarring, but the relentless visual and conceptual invention soon wins you over. The script, with its loose poetry and over-determined metaphor, is sure to be divisive, but I loved it; the confidence and ambition to mean something, all too often missing from work like this, was inspiring.
The director will be on hand for a Q+A after the screening on Sunday 18th. It will be interesting to learn how such a singular and personal vision was realised by what the credits reveal as a large crew. Jamie Brittain
TH E L I O N KING 3D DIR: ROGER ALLERS, ROB MINKOFF/89 MINS/ USA 1994
Sex is a topic that controls our world. For some it's a taboo, for others pure joy and for some even a mystery. LET‘S TALK ABOUT SEX is a compilation of five short films that deal with this delicate subject in very different, but boldly honest ways. The clips from international origins vary a lot in style and context but definitely each have their own charm. Some can amuse, like MONSIEUR L‘ABBÉ, by Blandine Lenoir, which shows letters to an open minded French priest in the 1930s in which confused Catholics seek advice about delicate sexual matters. This film makes one grin about the naivety of last century‘s good Catholics, but at the same time question the restrictions that the church puts on people. SIMPLY ROB, by Tom Shrapnel, offers a whole different side of the topic. Told in well sounding rhymes, Rob, a poet from the Bronx, tells the story about his infection with AIDS and about his fight against it. His honesty and energy and will to educate through charity work are simply amazing. Perfect for a late night cinema evening, the dreamlike ‘Little Deaths’, by Ruth Lingford, stuns with its simple but fascinating artwork and psychedelic soundtrack while people from every ethnic origin tell their deepest thoughts on the orgasm. LET‘S TALK ABOUT SEX is clearly no family programme, but open minded adults will certainly have enjoyed the cleverly produced clips. This versatile short film compilation that causes so different emotions at the same time was clearly worth watching! Max Zeh LOVE, LOST AND FOUND is screened on Sunday 18 September at 1pm.
Two‘s company for the last survivors of a plague - scary clown makes three in AIR, screened on Sep 23rd at 11pm as part of the MAD WORLD selection.
Now lovingly converted into 3D, Disney's 32nd animated feature is a far cry from the likes of the studio‘s recent releases. Whilst it now favours computer animated features such as WALL-E and UP, 1994‘s THE LION KING captures the beauty of Disney‘s animated repertoire. Travelling to the heart of Africa, the film follows young lion cub Simba as he learns of the Circle of Life from his father. After a terrible accident Simba runs away from home, a home that is left in the greedy hands of his tyrannous uncle Scar. In his absence his kingdom is ruined but, despite the gloom, there‘s laughs aplenty, thanks largely to Simba‘s new friends Timone and Pumba.
Reminiscent of Shakespeare‘s Hamlet, the film‘s storyline is complimented by its soundtrack (which includes the Oscar winning ‚Can You Feel The Love Tonight‘ by Elton John) as well as its evocatively vibrant animation. James Earl Jones lends his powerful vocals to the film, playing Simba‘s doting father Mufasa, whilst support is provided by the likes of Rowan
Atkinson and a sublime Jeremy Irons who oozes villainy as the treacherous uncle. The 3D element brings the safari plains to life, adding a further dimension to enjoy in an already brilliant film. THE LION KING expertly balances humour with its more emotive scenes and, with the inclusion of a wildebeest stampede that famously took years to produce, the film is a Disney classic not to be missed. Naomi Barnwell
TO M B O Y
DIR: CELINE SCIAMMA/84 MINS/ FRANCE 2011
Best described as a family-friendly version of Kimberly Peirce’s BOYS DON‘T CRY, Céline Sciamma’s impressive second directorial effort, TOMBOY, is a sensitively handled and beautifully photographed portrait of Laure, an androgynous pre-teen in the midst of a identity crisis in the Parisian suburbs. In a film with a number of extraordinary performances from child actors, Zoé Héran’s Laure is a revelation. Alternately brave and bold, meek and mild and sombre and playful, Héran embodies the confusing and disorientating nature of childhood perfectly, a time when children often feel like strangers in their own skin. In one scene she is a big sister shampooing her sibling’s hair in the bath, in the next she is a big brother throwing punches to defend her family’s honour. It’s a credit to Sciamma that she was able to coax such a versatile performance from the young
lies in its refusal to pander to stereotypes or to water down complex issues of sexual identity for the sake of narrative clarity. The film’s characters are threedimensional human beings with ambiguous motivations and sophisticated emotional lives. They surprise and challenge the audience’s preconceptions and feel all the more authentic (and sympathetic) because of it. It’s a delicate balancing act that Sciamma and her co-writer pull off well. Thought provoking and quietly subversive without ever resorting to shock tactics or cheap sensationalism, TOMBOY is an example of mature and compassionate filmmaking at its best and deserves to find an audience beyond the festival circuit. Tom Hadfield
ERRATUM: Amit Gupta‘s RESISTANCE is erroneously described in the CFF brochure as "supernatural". We would like to apologise for this misleading description: the disappearances in RESISTANCE are certainly mysterious but they are not supernatural. (Cineworld screening Tue 20 at 8.30pm.)
jim ross speaks to the stars of
T I N K E R , T A I L OR , SO L D I E R , S P Y
Despite the 1970s backdrop, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY is not a film aiming for nostalgia, which is “a hard thing to try and create” according to director Tomas Alfredson. A slow-burning thriller set during the Cold War, and based on the classic Le Carré novel, it is a film which demands you take the same approach as Oldman’s aging spy George Smiley. Sit up, pay attention and keep a keen eye as he attempts to root out a Moscow mole at the top of the British Intelligence ‘Circus’. Gary Oldman slips seamlessly into the role of Smiley – conveying a man with hidden depths and emotional turmoil. You always have the feeling he knows something you don’t. Oldman feels audiences are ready for a return to this more cerebral take on the espionage thriller. “Movies are too loud,” he says, shaking his head, “One of the joys of reading this script was it wasn’t guns and car chases. It’s a quiet thriller”. Although the plot drives the narrative, the characters inhabiting Le Carré’s mistrusting and
“The Cold War is a construct on which you hang all these human frailties and strengths,” - John Hurt paranoid world grip the screen. “The Cold War is a construct on which you hang all these human frailties and strengths,” says John Hurt, “It’s about friendship and betrayal. It’s a very emotional film”. The film is a departure from what recent audiences have come to expect of bombastic post-Bourne spy movies, Oldman’s calmly methodical Smiley and his cohorts being the antithesis of this approach. Underpinning and enabling the fantastic ensemble is the excellent work of Tomas Alfredson, in the director’s chair, who “allows things to
happen”. Hurt’s admiration for Alfredson’s approach is clear. “It was allowed to breathe … but in the wrong hands it could be slow, and it’s all to do with who is dealing with the subject matter”.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is exactly the thriller cinema audiences could now be craving, and it is sure to make its mark when it hits screens beyond Cambridge. “The Bourne movies and Bond are like a spotlight shining on you,” says Oldman, raising his hands and violently leaning back in his chair, “and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is like watching a lava lamp. It has a whole pace I think people are ready for”. Jim Ross TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY is screened again on Wednesday 21st September at 8.15 pm.
T W E E TS @AxWax: Thoroughly e n j o y e d #tridentfest2011 @ c a m f i l m f e s t tonight. #thrownfilm and #purplefiend were amazing.../ @ simonrjones: superb closing scene, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy @ camfilmfest...
HOT TIP: When booking tickets for the Cambridge Film Festival, please check whether your screening will be at the Arts Picturehouse or Cineworld! It‘s a long walk...
On the road to THE JAZZ SINGER, Warners tested their sound technology with shorts. One onlooker observed, “Throughout the rest of the first half of the programme, the audience sat breathlessly drinking the novelty in. It found that it liked films that talked, found itself brought closer to those artists than ever before …”
Clara Bow’s star faded as her acting style failed to change... The ensuing panic of Hollywood movie stars has been exaggerated mostly by the Hollywood machine – just watch SINGIN‘ IN THE RAIN or SUNSET BOULEVARD. Again, this is similar to some of the paranoia flying around about the introduction of HD television prompting facelifts. But one great reaction from this period goes like this, “I’ll never forget the time I was standing outside a stage, and the door burst open with some guy running out yelling, ‘Wally Beery has a voice! Wally Beery has a voice!’ It was a strange time for Hollywood”. Beery went on to win an Oscar using that voice in 1932. Asking how people felt about the introduction of the talkies around 1927 (when THE JAZZ SINGER came out) is like asking people what they thought about 3D in 2009 (when AVATAR cleaned up). People raved, but foresight proved lacking. Photoplay editor James Quirk put it well in 1924, “Talking pictures are perfected… So is castor oil.” Dramatist Bernard Shaw put it better, “The nicest thing about film so far was that it kept its mouth shut.” Sound films had existed in experimental forms for years beforehand. Underdogs Warner Bros. took
Sadly, others were less adaptable. Expatriate Emil Jannings returned to making films in Germany; Clara Bow’s star faded as her acting style failed to change; John Gilbert, a Rudolph Valentino level heartthrob, may have been scuppered by poor dialogue in the brave new speaking world. The Kenneth Anger myth about Gilbert having a squeaky voice is much funnier and mildly reminiscent of the ‘David Beckham’ conundrum. Meanwhile Lon Chaney had different problems: “I have a thousand faces, but only one voice.” David Perilli
"... the audience sat breathlessly drinking the novelty in. It found that it liked films that talked ...” an almighty gamble on a new synchronised soundon-disc system Vitaphone, and the conventional birth of the talkies began with Al Jolson mugging in THE JAZZ SINGER. Warners then quietly switched to the competing (and better) sound-on-film system a few years later. They sugar-coated it by announcing that their films were now available in both formats, a move similar to the way some home-entertainment releases combine DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital copies.
I S PA NS I
dir: Carlos Iglesias/100 mins/SPA/ GER 2010
History can be a fraught terrain to explore on film, especially when the subject is as complex as the Spanish Civil War. Ken Loach made previously an admiral attempt with his sombre Land and Freedom. Now director Carlos Iglesias tackles the same topic in ISPANSI, which looks at the conflict from a different angle. It explores the phenomenon of ‘war children’, the many thousands of refugees evacuated from Spain in 1937 to countries such as the USSR, where the film unfolds. Alvaro (Carlo Iglesias) and Paula (Esther Regina) have left behind Spain and very different lives to accompany such a group of child refugees. Conflict in their homeland has unwittingly brought them together, despite their very different political views. With the German invasion of Russia in 1941 their group of Ispansi (Russian for Spaniards)
is forced to flee by train and by foot across harsh, unforgiving landscape. As tragedies and rivalries within are encountered, Paula and Alvaro discover love can flourish across political divides. For director and lead actor Iglesias this ambitious project is clearly a
labour of love. It is testament to Iglesias’s skill that he navigates a dense and unfamiliar chapter of history without alienating the audience. With pacy direction and impressive location shooting Iglesias crafts an entertaining love story that while not reaching the heights of say Doctor Zhivago, does tug at the heart strings (at least for this viewer). ISPANSI is that rare thing: a film where you leave the cinema educated as well as entertained. Mark Byrnes
care for due to their melodramatic and self-centred manner. In fact, the magnificent house and its atmospheric grounds that the film is shot around are perhaps the most interesting of the characters in the film- full of hidden depths and tenderness that the acting talent just fails to display. This film will shock you, but maybe not for the right reasons. Jack Toye
W ITH THE D IRE C TOR OF TOM B O Y
c eline s c iamma /
TO P TRO P E S
DON‘T BE AFRAID O F TH E D A R K
CH: What inspired your film TOMBOY?
dir: Troy Nixey/99 mins/UK 2011
Those who have seen its trailer will have been privy to perhaps the best five minutes in the whole film: a simple, but scary scene in which the childhood fears of monsters under the bed, under the duvet and under the chest of drawers are drawn out in a truly chilling manner. This is the exception in a film that features three protagonists that are hard to
CS: Mostly I remember Berlin because it was like the birth of the film, it was the first time it had been shown and it was the best place to show it because they have a strong appetite for cinema and they have this queer feeling everywhere that suited the movie at the time. CH: Who is the ideal audience for the film? Is it targeted more toward a queer audience?
See ISPANSI at Cineworld on Sunday 18 September at 5pm.
This is a film of broken promises. Guillermo del Toro’s input with a movie is normally a top-notch quality indicator. In DON‘T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, the goldplating is rubbed away to reveal a cheap, brassy imitation of a Del Toro film. Gaping plot holes, a truly jarring mixture of Haunted House and Gore Porn genres, and an ending that is wholly unfulfilling all combine to make this film somewhat of a disappointment.
CH: Has it played at a lot of festivals and do those audiences respond differently?
Following the breakdown of society, no matter what the catalyst (plague/zombies/the earth catching fire) there is always all A4 paper littering the streets. But why? Rosy Hunt asked film expert KIM NEWMAN and he replied: "Weirdly, I think the answer is that the movies are imitating life. I noticed there was office paper all over the place in news footage of 9/11, and only then realised the same image had been in after-theapocalypse movies for years. It‘s especially notable in THE OMEGA MAN (1971).
CS: It’s not based on a true story, it’s not my story. But when you’re writing about childhood you have to look back, in your memories to get back that feeling, how it felt. Not in a nostalgic way, but really in the present. [...] I’m always looking for the right balance of a cool subject with an intimate insight, and also with a strong storytelling. I kind of built it like a thriller, like an insider movie. And so there was those two things that convinced me to go for it. CH: The premise of the film brings up a lot of interesting themes. What would you say the main themes of the film are? CS: We invent ourselves everyday when we are children. [...] It’s really a portrait of childhood, that’s the kind of feedback I’ve been having. The boys, the men, the former boys, they really identify with the girl‘s character. So the movie has many layers like that. CH: Did you find it difficult working with children? CS: It’s quite a paradox actually. It’s getting them committed, telling them the whole plot, the whole story. Talking to them like you’re talking to any actor, so asking for commitment, asking for work, asking for focusing and always bringing up the character’s journey, the character’s goal, like with any actor. And in the meantime, it’s also making it a big game, cos children shouldn’t be working, you know, that don’t know what working is.
I imagine earlier films drew on earlier urban disaster-war scenarios, but it must have been 9/11 which fixed the image to the genre for the next few years. Very best, Kim"
CS: No. It’s really not targeted at queer audiences but I really hope it gets to queer audiences. That’s how I built the movie, I really want it to be really open. You’ll see, the movie’s not about psychology, it’s not about why she’s doing this, it’s about how she’s doing this. So everybody can relate, very different people come to me and say ‘oh that’s my childhood!’ So that’s the way to also be political, to talk about queerness is to seduce a very wide audience with such subjects. Claire Henry READ THE FULL INTERVIEW ONLINE: www.cambridgefilmfestival.org.uk
Cambridge Film Festival Review Editor Rosy Hunt Deputy Editor Fiona Scoble Comms Manager Mike Boyd Design Rosy Hunt Photography Tom Catchesides Print Victoire Limited