The Times BFI London Film Festival 2006
The Times BFI London Film Festival hits the big 5-0 this year. It’s set to mark this anniversary in style with the usual big films, big stars, big directors and an abundance of hidden indie gems. FilmExposed’s Paul O’Callaghan digs them out…
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in extravagant style, The Times BFI London Film Festival promises to offer a 16-day feast of cinematic goodness for the capital's dwellers/visitors alike. Any cinephile worth their salt will no doubt be aware of this year’s big news - UK premieres of eagerly awaited A-list fare such as Babel, Hollywoodland and Borat; brand new work from indie luminaries Lars von Trier, Lukas Moodysson, Shane Meadows and Takashi Miike; and special events featuring visiting guests Tim Burton, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Verhoeven and Richard Linklater.
But it’s well worth looking beyond the obvious must-sees to seek out alternative stimulus. Often the most rewarding festival experience lies in discovering the latest arthouse or critical hit months before word spreads to the masses. It’s also worth casting your eyes over the host of one-off special events taking place. This year’s programme offers a wealth of intriguing propositions that may have thus far evaded your attention – check these out.
Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s follows up last year’s TROPICAL MALADY with Syndromes and a Century. Equally dazzling, it employs a similar two-part structure, but takes an altogether more abstract approach. The King and the Clown is another Asian highlight. This stunning Korean historical drama has become the country’s highest-grossing film of all time, and has drawn favourable comparison with Kaige Chen’s Farewell My Concubine (1993).
Closer to home, Denmark’s Princess is an eye-popping, deliberately provocative revenge thriller that blends animation and live action to startling effect. The film arrives in London having generated enormous excitement and controversy on this year’s international festival circuit. British highlights include NICK BROOMFIELD’s second feature Ghosts. As you might expect from the celebrated documentarian, it’s a film firmly engaged with real issues and is based around the 2004 Morecambe Bay tragedy where 21 Chinese immigrants were killed while picking cockles.
For those seeking a truly cutting edge cinematic experience, the festival’s Experimenta strand is the obvious place to look. Anybody impressed by the unflinching honesty and resourceful artistry of JONATHAN CAOUETTE’s Tarnation (2004) would be well advised to seek out Running Stumbled (pictured). This raw, minimalist documentary charts the staggeringly dysfunctional home life of director John Maringouin’s drug-addled father. Deeply unsettling and unexpectedly hilarious in parts, this is avant-garde filmmaking at its most compelling.
This year marks the first time the festival has invited a producer to deliver one of its prestigious Screen Talks. Christine Vachon has established herself as one of the most powerful women in cinema by backing a series of ‘risky’ ventures; she was ultimately responsible for the realisation of I Shot Andy Warhol (1996), Happiness (1998), Boys Don’t Cry (1999) and Far From Heaven (2002). The event is sure to offer a fascinating insight into the world of American independent film, and is an absolute must for anyone interested in the filmmaking industry.
Running Stumbled will open at the ICA, London on Friday July 27 2007.
Festival website: www.lff.org.uk