Leeds Film Festival - Day 1

Its that time of year again. The Leeds Film Festival 2008 kicked off today and I was there at the opening gala. Over the next couple of weeks I am aiming to see a total of 60 films of varying lengths, types and origin, and have a shiny new pass with which to saunter in without having to pay. It will be a bit of a slog; last year I managed 50 films, but was able to take a week from work whereas this time I'll be cramming the films around half-days hard at work, so I may require some help to get home by the end of this one!

I've tried to vary the types of films I will be seeing where possible, and will be posting up my impressions of each film as I did with Cambridge; hopefully every evening, but that depends on what the time is and how tired I am. With that, lets start with the opening gala film:

Rumba (Blg/Fra 2008) (trailer)

In 2005, a film called Iceberg was warmly received by the festival goers, and Rumba is the new film from the same trio of directors: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy. All three play parts in the movie, with Dominique and Fiona taking the central roles of two schoolteachers who are deeply in love. This is shown in its most ernest form in the dance routines that pepper the film, where the two characters complement and fit together with each other perfectly and are a joy to watch. The dancing is less romantic, more clownish or goofy, but with a synergy between them that describes two people doing what they love the way they love to do it. Things go wrong with the couple when a car accident begins a string of bad luck that eventually ends in them split apart, with Dom unable to retain short-term memories and Fiona sans one leg, and the latter part of the film deals with their eventual re-aquaintance.

It's hard not to like Rumba, I liked parts of it very much in fact; there are several dance scenes performed in a single take which are very impressive and reminded me of some Fred Astaire film moments, some of the slapstick scenes were also impressive - very underplayed and well done, and the film did not try to manipulate me with unnecessary background music or whiplash-inducing camera movements, which was a breath of fresh air. They also did a very good job of hiding Fiona's leg without the aid of any computer trickery. Some of the scenes' visual jokes did seem to drag on for a little while, but all in all I was more than happy see it through to the end. As a bonus, both Dominique and Fiona were present at the screening and took questions from the audience at the end, talking about their roots in dance and their love of the old style of filmmaking. 7/10

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