The Challenge

I have my tickets and my pass:

My challenge is this:

See 150 films in 19 Days.

In 2007 I saw 50
In 2008 I saw 100

At the end of 2008, I decided that 100 was at the top end of how many films a person could see in a single festival and to attempt to keep the pattern going and see 150 was folly. But almost as if someone were listening in on me, the LIFF promoters announced recently that the festival would be extended this year by a week. Though my poor eyes screamed out NO! the idea had already been planted in my mind.

As before, it will all be blogged to death, and this time there will be a running count of the films watched to see how things are going.

The more preceptive amongst you might have counted up only 65 tickets in the picture above. However, that includes 13 short film collections. If I make the conservative estimate of 6 films per collection, that takes me to 130 films. So where do the other films come from? Well, I'm hoping that at least a few of those collections have a couple more films to show, and there will also be the occasional short film shown alongside the main films. I am also hopeful that the final days of the festival, where the main Vue and Carriageworks venues are down as showing no films at the moment, they will be used to re-screen some of the 'best of the fest', and so I might be able to catch some extra ones there as well. I'm particularly hopeful for Harry Brown and Time Masters, both of which I set as high priority but wasn't able to crowbar into my schedule.

It will be a pretty close run thing, I'm not sure it can even be done (especially since I'll also be holding down my job at the same time) but I'm going to give it my best shot. The eye-bashings start next Thursday.

Peter Griffins' short sighted Brother

It took me a little while to get to watch my recording of the infamous Question Time debate on last week. Naturally, teh Internetz was full of gossip and waxing about how well Capn' Nick had managed to do in the face of the inevitable question barrage, and whether the relentless pummelling will have done the BNP a favour by making him look like a martyr.

Personally, my opinion of the whole 'should he have been allowed on the show' question was that he should. The point at which we abandon the democratic rights that allow elected people to have their say is the point at which said people can rightly turn around and say that it is an unfair and unjust state of affairs. That said; yes, it was turned from a question panel discussion into a meta-Question Time where the hot subject of the debate was the program itself. Griffin has since attempted to play this up as unfair bullying, but in truth he fully expected it and was more than ready to try and capitalise on playing the wounded soldier.

We as joe public were never going to ask him about his opinions on climate change, or the space race, or anything like that. It's likely that if I were to ask what he thought about green energy, say, his opinions would be broadly in line with mine and most other people. Griffin would hope that such common ground could be exploited to remind people that he is, actually, human too. He gets up, has breakfast, watches telly and goes to work, much like the rest of us. Common ground breeds compassion, and it is conceivable that some may have observed him cheerily interacting with the ethnically mixed fellow panellists and audience and conclude that the BNP's manifesto would not be such a bad thing to get behind after all.

I would hope that such people are scarce, and the vast majority, especially those who voted him in get to ponder for a little while over what they saw. Yes, they were able to see a single individual defending his position against a presenter, panel and audience who were 99% against him and for his efforts in the face of such negativity, Griffin deserves some due. But the whole BNP goal is utterly at odds with the UK it resides in. People of vastly varying faiths, cultures and creeds mingle, interact and procreate, something that, should the BNP get into power, they would try to stop with immediate effect. How do you tell two people they cannot have feelings for each other. How do you tell a third generation Muslim that they aren't 'British' enough and they have to find a place to live elsewhere? What would happen when such people in their millions, along with the millions of 'indigenous' Brits who also take offence at the idea, rise up and overthrow such a misguided bunch of small-minded idiots and run them out of town?

Dewey-eyed racists imagine a fictional time when Britain was 100% white, everyone was happy, had jobs and nice houses and no worries in the world, and kid themselves into thinking that by voting for them, one day that situation (which was never around in the first place) will return and all their problems will be solved. Soylent Green-alike bulldozing of human beings off the edge of Margate docks for no other reason than they have darker skin probably enters their heads on a daily basis.

Imagine if a blanket removal of everyone who could not prove their 'britishness' was to occur. How would you qualify? Taking the simple algorithm of 'everyone not white or not born in the UK', the population of the UK would probably plummet at least 10 million. Looking at that in solitude, it sounds like not such a bad thing given housing market problems and the like; it's here that the small-minded racist tends to disengage their brain and take another swig of beer and watch the football for a bit, and forget to consider the other aspects of such a change.

Non-white people form much of the low-paid working sector of the country. Cleaning our public toilets, our offices, our hotels. Leaving aside one moment the issues surrounding their abysmal working conditions and the scant living they scrape in the precious hours not at work, that's a big hole to fill, and you're not gonna fill it with white people, because we won't be able to live on such low pay.

At the other end of the scale, our universities, laboratories, and industry are populated with a healthy number of highly intelligent and skilled people of all races, creeds and colours, using the different standpoints such diversity brings to provide innovations that go to make products with the Made in the UK sticker on. This brings a good deal of wealth into the country.

In the middle are the skilled working class, who put their skills, learned here or abroad to use to service the needs of the country. The Polish influx of skilled craftsmen in recent years is one very good example, it's just a shame that these people are now leaving the UK for greener pastures.

That's what the BNP leaves out of the argument when they attempt to sell their dream: While it is true that, just like white people, those they want to kick out do claim benefits, and some do commit crime, but these drains on the money pot are more than balanced out by the contributions. Look at the country now compared to even 20 years ago (ignoring the credit crunch which was nothing to do with race issues). We are better off, living longer, and have more rights and privileges than ever. If multicultural life is so bad, why have things improved despite its presence? And how many billions of pounds would it cost to untangle that multicultural spaghetti, in the hope that what remains will give us the same quality of life at the same price?

As this country, and others across the globe learn to stop taking short-sighted steps to segregate, and instead concentrate on education, equal rights and the celebration of differences rather than mere tolerance (a 'tolerant society' is at best, a stop-gap), the richer we will be, and I mean that in all senses of the word.

Leeds Film Festival 2009

It's here! *dances*

The peeps at the festival have now launched the main site, which lists about 180 film events over November, which has me slavering at the prospect.

The first film I looked for was Ponyo which to my delight has been included this year. Seeing a new Miyazaki epic is always a pleasure, especially as this one has been drawn completely by hand, with no computer effects used at all. Apparently it's as smooth and gorgeous as any they've done before, but I don't want to look too much into it so I don't spoil my enjoyment. (Did that with Howl and Earthsea and regretted it.)

Although Oshii's Sky Crawlers has again been left out (AGAIN) of a screening, we do get one of his oldest but most beautiful films, Angel's Egg, which despite being 20+ years old, is only now getting it's European premiere.

There's a lot more besides (the anime is very much in a minority), including the new Coen Brothers film A Serious Man gets its premiere, plus Paul Giamatti (as himself) selling his soul in Cold Souls. Opening film The Men who Stare at Goats must also be up there as a possible future great. Get yourself a brochure or check the website to see just how much is up there.

I have put together a Plan-ET- readable events file, so anyone with Plan-ET can create a schedule for themselves against it. The LIFF brochure has a really useful timetable in the back that you can scrawl over, but will quickly fall apart and get messy with scribbles over it. Plan-ET will enable you to set priorities and work out the best order of films to watch, which even if you're going for just a few films, is pretty handy to have. If you are getting one of their film passes, I would definitely recommend using Plan-ET to help make up your film-going schedule.

If you want a free copy of Plan-ET, the latest version can be got if you send a request to (yes, I promised I would host it somewhere, I just haven't got round to it yet) I will send you a copy of the runnable JAR file (requires Java 1.6) and the LIFF 2009 event file. I would also send out updated jars to those who have already sent me requests in the past.

Oh yes, and as usual I'll be telling you all about the lovely films I see as I go.