Bradford Film Festival 2010 - Day 10

The Woman with the 5 Elephants (Swi) (site)

Swetlana Geier is in her 80's. At a time of life where most women are waiting for God, she doesn't have time. Many of that age would be wearing glasses to find their way around, but Swetlanas' eyes are still shining bright and apparently in full working order. Good job, since she is currently translating one of many works of Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky into German. The 5 elephants of the title are some of his weightier works amongst many books by Russian authors which Swetlana has painstakingly translated (sometimes more than once) over the course of the last 65 years. Since the early 1990's she has been concentrating on the Dostoyevsky works, with only the help of her typist and proof-reader, both long-time confidants who she trusts and relies on implicitly.

This quiet, absorbing documentary lets Svetlana talk quietly about the translation process, about how the German and Russian languages are so different as to lose so many of the subtleties of the original, and the subtitle people must have had it doubly so, attempting to keep the meaning into her own translated version. As well as dealing directly with the books, the film spends some time touching on Swetlana's past, growing up in Kiev and forced to leave during the Nazi uprising, narrowly missing her fate as one of the thousands of victims of the Jewish massacre at Babi Yar. We learn about her current life, her son lying in hospital with head injuries, and the fate of her father at the hands of the previous Stalin regime. Swetlana hadn't returned to the Ukraine for the last 65 years, until her invitation during the making of the documentary to speak to a class of undergraduate translators. The cameras respectfully keep a little space for her to reflect on her past in the few areas left existing from her childhood.

I really enjoyed this film, it was yet another example where a subject matter I am indifferent to was made intellectually stimulating and interesting, showing a window onto an otherwise unknown world. 7.5/10

Sinful Davey (UK) (wiki)

Showing as part of the John Hurt retrospective, in this early entry he is cast as Davey Haggart, a perpetually selfish and nihilistic young rogue from 19th Century Scotland. Going from his impatient desertion of the Scottish army in preference in living up to the reputation of his highwayman father. His ultimate aim: steal from the Duke of Argyll, something his father could not managed and died trying.

At every corner, his pickpocketing ways result in rooftop chases and plenty of overturned applecarts, and occasionally, jail. However he always manages to charm his way out, often with a comely wench between his legs for good measure. Though a complete blaggard, Hurt manages to come off as a likeable anti-hero, and his eventual encounter with the Duke turns out not as you would expect.

It's showing its age now (not least this cut, which had a few battle scars), but it's still a roguish, energetic, bodice-ripping tale (based on a Haggard's own autobiography) and a pleasant hour spent. 7/10

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo (US) (site)

Though it sounds Godzilla-like, Beetle Queen is a documentary that, at least at the start concentrates on the Japanese obsession with insects, particularly the various types of horned beetle, that small children often keep as pets. A whole industry and culture has grown up around this in recent times, satisfying the requirements of trapping nets and little plastic cages, bedding and food, pre-prepared larvae nests you can stick your grub into so it can pupate, and a range of cartoons, comics, video games and more to keep the kids clamouring for more. Adults too keep bugs, often preferring the 'crying insects', such as crickets and cicadas, whose chirruping and leg vibrating are often seen as natures therapeutic music.

But the film doesn't stop there, its Japanese narrator goes on to explain the origins of this fascination, reaching back into the principles of Shinto and later Buddhism, where everything is considered to have a spirit, and every life on the planet should be treated with care and respect. The Japanese rice paddies caused an explosion in insect populations at the same time that it's people were miniaturising the environment around them (e.g. managed gardens, bonsai trees, and more), the insects were brought into sharp focus.

Beetle Queen seemed to meander into slightly preachy territory at times which grated a little as it moved away from its general bugs theme and into an advert for Shinto/Buddhism, but it remained an interesting look at an unknown subject matter (the popularity of pokemon over there now makes a lot more sense). It contained some beautiful scenery and situations (some gorgeous shots of rural Japan, and a lovely scene involving a family, a bedsheet and a few powerful halogen lights in the middle of the night), but went on for just a little too long. 6.5/10

The Sickness Is Coming or, The Blind Man's Television (UK) - ..and it seemed to have already arrived by the time the film started running. This overly long experimental short was supposedly based on an obscure book, but it seemed you had to have read it before the film itself made any sense. Three teens living in a shattered future seem to be able to change the world to be whatever they want it to be. They head off to see the last film ever made to see if that is better than the life they have now. That's the blurb, but how it was put on the screen was amateurish, badly scripted and shot, badly narrated by someone who only passingly knew English, and had no hook points for people to grab hold of and make any sense of it. I've given it too much credit by writing all these words on the damn thing. 2/10

Greenberg (US) (trailer)

Florence, a woman in her prime, has yet to become satisfied in where her life is going. She gets a bit of cash by working as an au-pair in the Greenberg residence in Manhattan, made up of the normal 2+2 family. Dad Phillip is taking his family to Vietnam for a holiday, leaving Florence to call in every so often and take care of the family dog Mauler (a soppy Alsatian), and Phillips' slightly autistic brother Roger, played by an unusually serious Ben Stiller.

Roger was in a band, but they split when he turned down a lucrative once-in-a-lifetime contract on a feeling without involving the others. Since then his confidence has dropped, and he cannot seem to relate to other people, getting frustrated and angry when confronted with social situations he feels under pressure to attend and enjoy. Florence and Roger somehow make a start at a relationship, rather unbelievably since Roger's mood swings end up leaving her scared and confused at what she thought were innocent actions or questions. Sooner or later she's going to give up on the idea, and its up to Roger to get his head in order.

As a final film of the festival, Greenberg was alright. (The final film was originally going to be Whip It, but when Greenberg ran late because of that damn Sickness film having an argument with the cinema's DVD player, I decided a quick Chinese and then home would go down a lot better.) It moved quietly along its little road, only sticking in a couple of places, and if you can get over Roger's repeated foot in mouth annoyances, it's not the worst film you could see. 6.5/10


And that's it for my first Bradford festival. There was more on offer than I originally expected, and there were some cracking films, but there was also a lot of tat, something I hope the other festivals don't pick up as well. (I've got my fingers crossed it was budgetary problems, rather than a general lack of good films out there.)

Next stop, Edinburgh in June.

Bradford Film Festival 2010 - Day 9

Very Heaven (UK) - A young girl becomes complicit in the cruel bullying meted out on a boy from class. Not actively taking part but too scared to intervene, she stands there as the ringleader eggs his gang on. The first feelings of love are beginning to surface, which is only adding to her confusion. The dialogue was clunky and unnatural, but it was a good attempt at showing the cruelty of children left to work out their natural pecking order. 6.5/10

Fish Eyes (Chi/S. Kor) - Somewhere on the outskirts of a dusty, hot city in Inner Mongolia, a young man named Deshui lives with his father. With no job, he has little to do all day except eat and kick the dust about as his father works as a sunflower farmer and as a gate man for the dusty track road nearby. Naturally after some years of this, Deshui is on the lookout for ways to make a bit of cash, and his morals are slipping.

Falling in with the wrong crowd, he begins to spend less and less time at home, just as a mysterious woman appears in a medical gown. Taken in by the father and treated as the daughter he never had, she quickly becomes part of the family, although Deshui sees a more lucrative use for her feminine charms. Once he has rationalised that in his mind, it's a downhill path that will surely end up causing a lot of pain for the family.

Fish eyes is a minimalist film made on a near-zero budget. Very sparse dialogue is used to put across what cannot be described through pregnant stares and subtle gestures. What little action there is occurs out of sight of the camera, behind a closed door or reflected through a mirror. For this reason, it is easy to become frustrated with the film, although for those wishing to persevere with it, a plot is definitely present. 6/10

It Was Great, But I Was Ready to Come Home (US) (interview)

A pair of teenage girls are on a backpacking holiday through Costa Rica. Cam is confident and brash, au fait with the lingo and a keen surfer. This may however be Annie's first trip abroad, the film hinting that Cam quickly arranged this trip to get Annie away from her familiar surroundings after being dumped by her boyfriend, Matt. Things start in high spirits, with both girls talking girly things and exploring the local area (although mostly staying away from conversing with the locals unless they have to), but it's soon clear that Annie's thoughts are still back home, especially when Cam manages to pull.

There was no revelation or resolution to this film; it was instead a re-telling of a diary of a holiday in real terms. In some respects this is a good thing as it wasn't sugar coated for the viewer, but at the same time it removed some of the point of telling the story. It is a film that will resonate most with those who have been on a similar holiday of their own (I personally felt a connection to events on my Japan trip); if you have never been on one, I would suggest you will get little out of this film. 6.5/10

Freezer Fright (US) (article)

Director Nancy Silver becomes her own self-appointed Freezer Police inspector, in this massively-WTF, ultra-low-budget film shown only once elsewhere in the world. Split into chunks by neighbour, she visits them in a faux-spontaneous manner and gets them to open their freezer cabinets and show us their contents.

The first 5-10 minutes were terrible. Really bad. Chunk one was her own freezer, which instead of food contained.. ventriloquists dummies wrapped in sheets, and a paper-mache face mask. 5-10 minutes of wobblycam closeups, lifting portions of the bags for us to see a face peeking out underneath and an arm moving AS IF IT IS ALIVE, to the repetitive tones of the woman strumming her gui-tar in semi-sequence to a damned annoying bird in the trees outside.

As she went around her neighbours, who often had face masks on to protect their identity (going at odds a bit with the supposed surprise inspections), the film did improve slightly, and for a short while became a comment on the hoarding of food that is never used, and what else freezers can be used to store. But it should never have been anything more than a short film, as the concept quickly runs out of gas. Mercifully, the disc that was sent to the venue was a bit worn, and about halfway through became unwatchable because it was skipping too much, so the screening was abandoned. I will survive the loss. 4/10

Blue Bus
(US) (site)

Deep in a quiet suburb in LA, long-since retired Augie receives a present in his driveway one morning. A battered old mini VW camper, containing a note and a wooden box. The note details the death of his old friend Oliver, who left the van in his will with the express wish Augie drive it to their old city of New Orleans and open the box there. Always lamenting he and Oliver wanting to do a road trip but never getting round to it, Augie turns to neighbour and tired but comfortable businessman Joey to come with him on the journey. Eyeing the heap in his drive, he reluctantly accepts, assuming they will make it as far as the city limits before it packs out and Augie can just fly there.

So it's a buddy road movie. And actually quite a good one. Anyone who really enjoyed Sideways for its character interaction (as opposed to its flowing fallover juice) will definitely love this one. The editing and camerawork, while choppy at the beginning, improves dramatically as the film goes on (as if the director is learning as they go) and at all times the dialogue and interaction between the principal characters remains natural, as if they were given a general direction to steer the conversation in and were left to freely ad-lib however they wanted to get there. It is lifted a notch higher by some beautiful songs (some sung by Augie himself) that capture the spirit of the states they drive through and ultimately, their destination. By the end of the film we have been a part of their arguments and philosophies, their past and their hopes for the future. Surprisingly for this sort of 'what's in the box we'll find out at the end' movie it doesn't feel cheap, but actually quite memorable and touching in the way it concludes and I would happily join them on another road-trip should they make one. Plus: parrots! 7.5/10

Bradford Film Festival 2010 - Day 8

Wedlock (Fra/Irl) - A short film to start things off. A bride and groom head up to their apartment flat, their futures ahead of them. But something in the way they are behaving suggests that things aren't quite right. 7.5/10

Paradise (US) (interview)

A film with absolutely no plot. That's a bad line to start with when trying to get people through the doors. Throw in the dreaded words 'experimental documentary' and I bet some of you have already skipped to the next film. What can I say, it was not to be.

Director Michael Almereyda has condensed the last ten years of camcorder footage into a 'best of' compilation; the little moments in his life he happened to experience through his camera lens that grabbed his attention and stuck in his mind. The film is just a succession of short pieces (presumably in chronological order) where something often quite ordinary happens, that shows the beauty in the world often ignored because of its subtlety. His little girl feeding pigeons. A trek across snowy fields and roads to photograph a buffalo. A Louisiana carnival. His young son playing peek-a-boo behind the chair. That same son philosophising about Napoleon with his friends at university many years later. A funeral for a loved one. A hundred little snatches of a person's life as it mixes with the lives he comes into contact with.

Better than Toto, but perhaps falling short of 45365, Paradise is a film ideally suited for someone in the mood for daydreaming. Sit in front of it and let the archived memories of the director trigger your own, and smile. 7/10

The Blacks (Cro) (trailer)

The Blacks are an army unit operating during the Balkan conflict. The surrounding townscape is in ruins, and the stench of death is in every darkened room. For some initially unknown reason, the unit drives through the night; perpetually on edge and not fully sure where they need to go. They head to the outskirts of town through the night, and by daybreak are pretty much lost in a forest peppered with mines. It's clear their comrades have perished here some time before.

The film plays the second half first, similar in style to Memento, and then the events leading up to it playing second. It plays around with the viewer for some time, building up the brooding, looming conclusion, and then skipping backwards for a while just as you are asking 'what on earth made them do that?'. What indeed is not made fully clear, instead mostly hinted at through conversations between people who know about certain events the viewer doesn't. Though obfuscated in this way, it's clear the situation they find themselves in would put anyone on edge and do strange things.

It did suffer from 'abrupt ending' syndrome; just as you were expecting some resolution to appear it ended, much in the same way some short films do, leaving you to search your memories for events in the film that could be considered conclusive. For this reason, my initial disappointment as the credits rolled was tempered a little after I'd thought about it, but not by much. 5.5/10

Micmacs (Fra) (wiki/english microsite)

I was going to head home after The Blacks, but it had not satisfied my film requirements for the day. Then I looked at the showing times, and saw that Jean-Pierre Jeunet's latest film was about to start. Though it is not an official festival film, I had to take the opportunity and see it. My pillow could wait.

The film's main character - Bazil - is down on his luck. His father was killed by a land mine when he was young, and having just been shot in the head in a freak accident, he is pretty much as low as can be. Especially as he's just about dead.

Based on a coin toss, the surgeons tasked with saving his life decide to leave the bullet lodged in his temple, giving Bazil a slightly unreliable brain; every now and again it goes a bit screwy and he has to concentrate on old thoughts and memories to get back in control. Out of a job and scratching round for food, he is picked up by Placard, one of a group of oddball salvagers who live womble-like in a home made of junk. With a roof over his head, he heads out and discovers - coincidentally just opposite each other - the huge corporate buildings emblazoned with the logo's he recognises from the bullet in his head and the land-mine that killed his father. Filled with rage, he plots to get his revenge on both of them, but going up against global arms dealers won't be easy on his own. Fortunately his resourceful new-found friends like to stick their noses in.

Anyone who has seen Jeunets' previous beautifully crafted films (Delicatessen, Amelie and A Very Long Engagement) should definitely go see this one too. It is much more Amelie than Engagement, being as it is an intricate comical fantasy of the take down of an admittedly easy target. It bears the instantly recognisable hallmarks present in his films (not to mention a good few familiar actors); the burned-orange tint filters the view like we are in a perpetual summers evening, showing us a world much like our own but with elements of magic and fantasy mixed in. There are ridiculous but joyful coincidences and fateful encounters, and of course, hundreds of little incidental touches that may only uncover themselves after several viewings (Bazil's mind control exercises all have their individual little animations which are charming examples of the thorough attention paid to even the littlest things). The production values are superb, and there is plenty of wit and cleverness and beauty, just when you thought that his previous films must have surely stolen all of Jeunets' ideas. Julie Ferrier almost steals the show as fellow womble and possible love interest Caoutchouc, whose contortionist tricks both amaze and disturb in equal measure.

I would recommend anyone to go along and see this film. It is the very definition of fun. If on it's suggestion your other half says 'sod off, I'm not watching no subtitled French crap', slap them around the head and tell them to stop being such a prat. It might just be the best film they see this year. 9/10

Bradford Film Festival 2010 - Day 7

Toto (Aus) (a more forgiving review)

The level of bigging up of this film by the festival staff (on more than one occasion they recommended it before the showing of another film) meant that I had to go see it, since I had just about enough time to get off work and pootle into the centre of Bradford. I get the feeling it was just to get some more tickets sold. There were about 10 of us in the audience.

Toto is the name of a middle-aged man who travels to Italy, his birthplace to reminisce and muse on his life decisions. Shot in black and white, presumably to lean on the theme of old memories and postcards, the 2+ hour film follows him from the Vienna train station, on the train and around Italy. The film's selling point was its very up close and personal view of Toto as he hung around various scenes, waiting patiently for him to wax on about his life or the people he recognises.

Though this film exuded a certain limited charm, seeing the world he inhabits physically and in his memories of the place and people, it was far too annoying in several ways to be recommended. The usual bugbear of subtitled black and white films - guess the word on the white background - was often in force. Even if you could see the words, it took so bloody long between him saying the first part of his cod-philosophical sentences and the second (during which we get some rather annoying loud breathing, often accompanied by a protracted close-up arty shot of his eyes staring round randomly at things) that you forget the first part. Thus getting a mental grip on what he is trying to say becomes a labour. I was also never made to care about Toto, or the things he had been through, and thus any interest or patience I might have had to wait for the next thing he was going to say quickly waned.

It could have been an enjoyable sit-back film if it wasn't for these annoyances. There were a couple of more lucid moments where he let us into his past, talking sparingly about a lost girlfriend whose father disapproved and hit her, so he removed himself, and meeting occasionally with his elderly but still spunky mother, whose rapid fire opinions were even more disjointed than his. By the end of the film, I did care enough to ask myself 'what is the director trying to say here', but I was too exhausted by it to pursue an answer. It's clear one of the directors' intentions was for the viewer to be able to know the man by the films end, but I doubt that he wanted us to leave with a wheezy, slow-minded mumbling old fool who we wouldn't want to be caught in a conversation with.

45365 was a similar human study film that had no such problems, showing these films can work when done properly. 3/10

Fluke (Hun) (trailer)

The residents of a run-down and forgotten Hungarian town of Ogyarmat (maybe based on this one) on the Austro-Hungary border are about to get rich. AMV, a large Austrian oil company wants to buy some of the fields around the town, and need the signatures of all the residents before completing the deal. However, farmer and ex-mayor Istvan purposely forgot to come along, and when the other residents catch up with him to lay down the smack on his desertion, they don't have time to hear his ridiculous alternative plan on planting Christmas trees on the land instead.

His wife gone, and his daughter run off after he scalded her for seeing the son of a family he has never got along with, Istvan feels he cannot go along with it any more. However, during a failed suicide attempt in the church grounds, he uncovers an underground pipe, and when it is tapped with a hand drill, high-grade petrol comes spurting out.

It's clearly theft, but the townsfolk don't seem to care much if it means they can make some cash for their town. Word quickly travels about cheap gas, and the cars begin filing in, their drivers stocking up all they can in whatever they can find. Paying the local police to keep things quiet, everything seems to be going well for the residents, but in-fighting, police investigations, oil company execs and a riot squad ensure that the ending is suitably chaotic.

A mostly bouncy pace keeps things going and the interest up, and there are plenty of laughs, even if it's easy to predict where things are going to finish. It also changed how I feel when I hear the Birdie Song forever. 7.5/10

Park Shanghai (Chi) (interview)

Started as a university project by writer/director Kai Kevin Huang, Park Shanghai is all about the experiences of reunion between a group of students who have come together a few years after graduation. It concentrates mainly on Dong, whose ex-wife Rerei is one of the other people at the party, and he can't seem to get her out of his head. It doesn't help that she rings him up with her problems every so often when her new hubby isn't around.

Putting her out of his mind for a while as she does some karaoke, Dong heads to the top of the party building, where most of Shanghai can be seen unobstructed. Occasional hangout of skateboarders and darts players, he reunites with Nick, a friend at school he used to practice English with, who now has travelled quite a lot of the world and is trying to settle down a bit. There is also Da Qing, a rather chubby singer on his tired old motorbike who was once the class leader, and Franky, who owns a guitar shop down the road and is just along for the ride.

Park Shanghai took a long time to get going. It was unclear for an hour, perhaps who of the dozen or so parts at the start would end up carrying the main body of the story to its conclusion, and each had their own stories they shared with the reunion attendees and the viewer to muddy the waters. Only after this where the bit players were weeded out for a while did it become clear where the film was headed; the reconciliation of Dong and Rerei's past while they have the opportunity to do so. It was all done in quite a soap-opera way; no fights or explosions, just people talking and letting the development occur naturally at a slow pace. Once the film had eventually found its feet, it became an enjoyable study of catching up with old friends and flames, and was, on balance, worth it to wade through the messy first half to get there. 6/10

Bradford Film Festival 2010 - Day 6

Todays films all shared a general crime theme.

Hammered (UK) - A short film alongside The Last Action. When a cat burglar is caught sneaking around the house of a middle-aged couple, he gets a hammer-shaped lump on his head. Waking to find the husband and wife arguing over him about the consequences of their actions, the husband lets a side of him out his wife never knew he had. Darkly comic but an interesting take on revenge, and the defence of the home. 7.5/10

The Last Action (Pol) (trailer)

In general, Polish films are a good place to start with world cinema. They are quickly maturing and have comparable production values to their English language counterparts. There is however still a lag between those film studios who use up to date equipment and those still using the same cameras and sound equipment from 20 years ago. It is the result of this that was my first impression of The Last Action, a comedy-crime caper about a gang of elderly ex-gangsters and soldiers. It was clear that the effort had gone into the plot and the scenery and getting the script right, with the limiting factor being the slightly muffled sound quality and a slight graininess in the video transfer.

Zigmunt is an old man now; once part of the Free Army, but back in his old town to visit his family and an old flame. However, on seeing both his son and grandson get beaten up by a pair of heavies in the pay of one of his ex-adversaries, he calls on some old contacts, some of which didn't leave the group on the best of terms. The conflict deepens when a rare and priceless Faberge Egg is discovered on the mantelpiece of Zigmunt's old squeeze, and when cordial offers of money from the other side don't make them sell, guns seem a more immediate resolution.

Aside from the aforementioned slightly disappointing quality of the film, it had a distinct personality, taking cues from films such as Oceans Eleven and a few flashes of the cocky smartness seen in a Guy Ritchie or Tarantino film. But to compare this film too much with these names would be to oversell it. The novel angle of elderly types getting back in the saddle is enough to make a film out of, but it suffered from a dearth of characters, many of which play little part over the course of the film except to suggest Zigmunt's gang was large and powerful. It all seemed to be over before it had started as well; there was little build-up of suspense or tension, and when things reached a head, you sort of expected things to go a lot further. An entertaining film in places, with an odd laugh or two, but by and large forgettable. This is director Michal Rogalski's first big screen work, and though he missed the target this time, it has enough promise to make him a major name in the future. 6/10

Perrier's Bounty
(Irl/UK) (wiki)

Another gangster flick, this time set in an unknown run down city in Ireland. Michael is a young man living in a flat in a rough area. On the floor below lives Bren, a girl who he has a thing for, but she won't leave her cheating boyfriend. Jobless and aimless, he has a habit of getting himself into trouble, particularly now that he has less than a day to return the €10,000 he was lent by the local gangster, Perrier, with added interest.

A local hard man named Mutt appears to have the answer, he is planning on a burglary soon and wants Michael with him to help carry out the larger stuff, in return for the cash he needs, but it's days away and attempts to postpone the broken limbs Perrier has promised on the deadline don't work. Perrier sends round his two goons and a baseball bat, and when Bren shoots them with the gun she was going to use on herself after her boyfriend left her once more, the stakes are upped significantly. At the same time Michaels' estranged father Jim (played by a surprisingly thin Jim Broadbent) has turned up out of the blue; he wants to spend time with his son after having an epiphany about his mortality.

Once the elements are put in place, it's a standard but entertaining race to the end where some people fall to the bullet, while others change sides and either help or hinder the trio in getting out alive. It's sharply scripted with (again) some Guy Ritchie influences creeping in, although this feels less polished and blokeish and more rough and visceral, which for me was a good thing. It's well acted, well shot and entertaining, with some darkly amusing dialogue as the main characters get to sound off in the stare of the camera. 8/10

Bradford Film Festival 2010 - Day 5

45365 (US) (site)

A warm-hearted chronicle of the city of Sidney, Ohio whose postal code is the same as the title. Two local brothers decided to record the goings on in a hundred or so miniature glimpses into all sorts of lives around their area, whilst staying silent and letting it happen in front of them. What on paper sounds like a tiresome retreading of the Qatsi films was actually very charming and funny, warm and unique. A hairdresser struggles to cut the hair of a man who is talking to the camera; a woman argues with her son about how much weed he stole from her. A rodeo, a stock car race and a funfair. A man being handcuffed and led off to jail in front of his family. A barely comprehensible old drunk trying to convince a cop that someone has cut off his cable TV. A hundred little pieces of life going on, shown with a surprising level of access in a natural, non-judgemental way.

The only thing that let it down was having to share the cinema with a group of young teens, clearly there with their teacher who was trying to expose them to other types of film. The huffy sighs, the talking and the audible whoop when the credits rolled did not do this film justice. 7.5/10

The Mosque In Morgantown (US) (site)

In 2003, a new mosque was set up in Morgantown to serve the needs of it's Muslim population, but it would serve as a battleground between the moderate and conservative halves of the community that attended. The spark that lit the touchpaper was the requirement for the women to enter by the back entrance and pray separately to the men, who came in by the front entrance. Asra Nomani is a journalist, and when she returned to her hometown to find the new mosque being run this way, she decided to act. She strode right in and prayed alongside the men, inspiring some but infuriating others, who saw the unquestionable word of the Qaran being disrespected. Asra was a close friend of Daniel Pearl, a fellow journalist who was beheaded in 2002, and the literalistic readings of the Imams and speakers that she heard in these early days opened her eyes to the potential of where it could lead. On review and potentially facing exclusion from the mosque, she became an activist with one foot in the door of her own community.

This is the story from that point on, featuring viewpoints from several of the members of the mosque, many of which may have agreed in principle with Asra's point of view, but disapproved of her avant-garde methods of getting her point across. As the years pass we see attempts to reach equilibrium, not helped by the inclusion of strong-arm tactics and controversial speakers by the conservative arm, and a poorly-timed book release by Asra at the same time, her critics suggesting that her calls for change are too quick, and her appeals and publicity might not be doing her book sales much harm.

A couple of times, my jaw dropped at just how ingrained the treatment of women is in Muslim life, from segregation in mosques and family gatherings, to strict codes of dress, often defended passionately by the women themselves. One woman trying to placate the words of an Islamic speaker suggesting that when a woman disobeys a man she should be given 'a crack with a rolled up newspaper' defied belief, and shows the frightening grip that dogmatic religion has on people in general.

Watch the last minute if nothing else.

Although her methods and pace may be questionable, Asra and her supporters in this film, with their attempts to bring a more progressive and moderate Islam to the fore, will in years to come be seen as notable activists in the global cause to make a fairer world. 7.5/10

The Pandrogeny Manifesto (Fra) - A short film about two mad women, (or a woman and a transvestite, it was not clear) who waffled on about their theories about the third sex, neither male nor female, and their intentions to surgically alter themselves and to somehow become one being. They were clearly off their rockers. Was it just fantasy, or were these two really going to do what they were saying. I don't want to know. 3/10

Terrorism Considered as one of the Fine Arts

I have never walked out of a festival film before. Come close a few times, but never quite managed it. I consider it a duty to see the film through to the end to attempt to obtain at least a taste of the director's vision and state of mind when he devised it. Today I broke that rule, for what must rank as one of the worst 20 minutes of film I had seen before.

In every case in a festival, where someone has gone down to the front to explain the intentions of the film prior to it's screening, this has been a sign that the film cannot manage to do it on it's own, and thus will be bad. And so it was with Terrorism.. It's based on a book of the same name, also by Peter Whitehead that actually sounds quite appealing. An MI6 agent trawls around Vienna on the tail of a rogue agent who went off the rails whilst investigating Maria, an eco-terrorist connected with the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. He does this in part by riding the Ringstrasse tram round and around looking for Maria, and intercepting her email exchanges. Reality and conjecture begin to mix together in a giant conspiracy theory and the agent becomes as lost as the man he is looking for.

But what is here is just terrible. Disjointed words and pictures, extended, repetitive scenes shot on poor-resolution cameras. Choppy, poorly edited sound, and a selection of elements from the book that made no attempt to link together with each other. It was like an annoying French art-house film; supposedly by an auteur we are meant to recognise and revere. It looked and sounded like a half-finished student project that started with bluster and enthusiasm and ended up with half the crew getting bored and leaving for the pub. It's possible that the remaining 2 hours that I mercifully didn't see in favour of a good nights' sleep may have seen some continuity and things beginning to join up, but I somehow doubt it. 2/10

Bradford Film Festival 2010 - Day 4

Rivers Edge (US) (wiki)

Shown as part of the US Teen Movies strand, this 1986 film was an early entry into the filmography of Keanu Reeves, that perpetual teen of the screen even now. He plays Matt, who as part of a group of teens going off the rails in a run-down American town, hear the braggings of John - one of the number strangle his girlfriend Jamie. Initially treating it as bravado, he shows them her body as proof. Even though this clearly is the beginnings of a mental case who should be kept away from people, no-one reports the murder, a decision set mostly by Layne (played by Crispin Glover, best known for his part as George McFly in Back to the Future), who self-proclaims himself as leader of the group, although it's clear he is way out of his depth.

To make doubly sure, Layne dumps the body and gets John to stay a while with Feck, a middle-aged drunk (played perfectly by Dennis Hopper) who also killed his girlfriend many years before and has been laying low since. What follows from there is a mix of stoned teens, blow-up dolls, brattish children with cars and guns, and a little romance in the middle as the various members of the group tussle with their morals and emotions, with Keanu perfecting his slightly spaced-out stare early on in his career.

Whilst nothing original, Rivers Edge was a good example of the many depictions of wasted youth (in both senses of the term). It manages a little bit of brooding dread, a little intrigue and mystery, and a little redemption, held together with strong performances in the main parts. 7/10

..Like Daughter (UK) Before Dogtooth, we got another short film. April is in the middle of her mother's funeral wake when she learns from her adulterous father that she has a half-sister, and she seems to know more about her dad than she does. 7/10

Dogtooth (Gre) (trailer)

One of the more disturbing and powerful films that I have seen. Dogtooth is a 'what if' sort of movie, in which the father of a family is so desperate to keep his three children from harm, that they have been brought up in complete isolation; their mother complicit in his scheme. Undoubtedly acting in their best interests, it is clear that by their late teens (which is where we join them) this has had a severe stunting effect on their growth and how they see the world. They are not allowed out beyond the front gate. The house is walled by tall fences and bushes on all sides. No TV (aside from carefully chosen home videos) and no telephones. We don't even know the names of the children, but it is clear that their understanding of the world is withered. Planes fly through the air and they discern no difference from toy planes held in the hand. Their education consists of new words being fed to them by audio tape, with meanings for them strictly controlled (for instance, when one girl hears the word 'zombie', her mother says it is the name of a yellow flower).

Of course, all this control cannot kerb the chemicals rushing round their bodies, and father has a novel solution; invite security worker Christine around and, for a little money each week, allow his boy to have sex with her. When Christine begins to bargain with the daughters for little trinkets in return for sexual favours, she becomes a tempting window on the larger world outside, and a copy of Rocky and Jaws on video tape feeds a thirst to see the world outside for one sibling.

This is certainly the sort of film that will divide audiences. Personally, I'm impressed by it's content, attention to detail and it's psychological exploration of such an exaggerated version of many a well-meaning family. I think the idea of the film is as a template to wrap flexibly around whatever subject matter the viewer wishes to apply to it. The same stunting effect by the maniacal control of a parent can also be applied to a community or a government, where restricting access to information, changing the definition of right and wrong, and altering the meaning of words and gestures can have the same corrosive effect on its' members. Disturbing, unsettling and downright horrible at times, but equally fascinating, funny and inviting of empathy in others. (additionally, actress Mary Tsoni is gorgeous in it) 8/10

Tit for Tat (Swi) - Another short film. A skinhead on the run from the police breaks from his gang to find a child being bullied by two others. When he removes the hood and realises that it is a young black girl, his feelings become confused, and both find themselves targeted together for hanging around the wrong sorts. 7/10

The Unworthy (Ger) (trailer)

A documentary film about some of the mostly forgotten children in Hitlers Nazi Germany. Not just Jewish, Polish and Gypsy children, orphaned by the extermination of their parents, but also those who had the misfortune to live nearby the 'unclean' races. Placed into 'correctional' facilities, they would often be poisoned with food and drink, and then, half dead, be placed in cramped cells to die, their death certificate showing one of many false explanations, such as death by suicide or hypothermia.

Told through the accounts of survivors of the age who attended two such facilities, Kalmenhof in Idstein, and Moringen. The increasingly elderly men and women tell of their hardships still fresh in their mind. One man recalls his underworld dealings in forbidden 'swing kids' dance groups - basically anything with rhythm was banned - while another talks of the days when he would be charged with burying many dead children, being only a child himself at the time, a third visits the final resting place of his mother, having not known her whereabouts since he was small.

There were many details here that underlined yet again the dangers of an oppressive regime not halted by the voices of reason and care. It is another sickening look into a time that will hopefully never be repeated. 7.5/10

Bradford Film Festival 2010 - Day 3

Three Hams in a Can (Australia/Jpn) (site)

My eyes were drawn to this film mainly because of it's location. Three experimental musicians (Chris, Stina and Predrag) travel to Tokyo in summer 2008 (a couple of months after I left) and spend their evenings in the various dimly-lit clubs performing and listening to some of the more 'out there' tunes doing the rounds at the time. Partly for a good look around, and partly to attend a marriage and catch up with the family of Predrags' Japanese wife, whose Westie Karin stole much of the limelight.

It's a familiar combination of exploring unknown lands, communicating in different languages with the locals, and taking lots of pictures and buying tat from the shops. (They definitely visited the Ghibli Museum because they were carrying a Mamma Aiuto bag at one point). I tolerated the sometimes random noises that they made in the gigs, in preference to scouring the screen for things and places I had seen whilst there, grinning widely when a place or object I recognised was displayed, and I suspect that allowed me to enjoy it more than somebody who had not been. I suspect someone seeing it who had not been to Japan (and had not got a taste for crazy music) would find little here to enjoy. 5.5/10

Presumed Guilty (Mex) (site)

Don't ever do anything wrong in Mexico. That is the lesson learned by the stunned audience as they left this shocking documentary. In fact, that probably wouldn't help you stay out of jail either if the claims of the film are to be believed. The pocked yellow walls and harsh justice system meted out in 2008's Behave are recalled here, this time from the perspective of one of it's many inmates, Tono, who was fitted up for the murder of a young man halfway across town in 2005, despite prosecution not having any incriminating evidence against him, and several witnesses on hand to verify where he was at the time. At the start of the documentary, he is in the first year of his 20 year term in an overcrowded prison.

In Mexico, the burden of proof is reversed compared to most other countries; there you are presumed guilty and have to prove your innocence. In a system where the police and justice bodies are paid according to the number of people sent to jail, this leaves enormous potential for the system to turn rotten and perverse.

A documentary named 'The Tunnel' (named after the long tunnel between the jail house and the courtrooms) was broadcast on Mexican televisions in 2006, and it's creators Roberto and Layda, both going through law school at the time were contacted by Tono's girlfriend for help. So began a 3 year fight to get a retrial and have Tono acquitted, which forms the body of this film.

It's disturbing and fascinating in equal measure, and followed in surprising detail Tono's daily grind (the film-makers were allowed to film inside the jail and the retrial room, much to the consternation of the prosecution witnesses), his family's fight to prove the original trial was a sham, his eventual retrial (where he courageously questions several of the accusers himself) and the end result of all the effort. Just what transpires is truly shocking.

Just one example should outline the difficulty of overturning a verdict of homicide: The defence were not allowed to ask any questions in the retrial that had already been answered in the case file. That means, the police could report whatever they wanted and it would then become the facts, without the ability to question them.

The film was paced very well, and its contents flew by, even when the projector threw a wobbly 15 minutes in, rewound the film to the start and played it through again. This did not however spoil the experience, which was certainly one of the most eye-opening festival experiences so far this year. The final shot panning backwards out of a warehouse full of case files stacked to the ceiling shows the enormity of the problem, and the potentially thousands of (mostly young male) lives ruined. Roberto and Layda are now working to bring a change to the Mexican constitution to reverse the burden of proof. If you support their cause, and I definitely do, please visit their facebook page and sign their petition. 8/10

Bluebeard (Fra) (trailer)

The fairytale of Bluebeard is brought to life, not for the first time here by director Catherine Breillat, who fittingly frames the story in the context of two young girls rifling through an attic and coming across the Bluebeard story in a little red book. Their bickering as they interpret the finer points of the story as it is played out, is mirrored by the young teen sisters in the story, who after hearing of their father's heroic death, are thrown out of the nunnery they were placed in for protection, and forced to return home to their mother, whose temperament is not helped by the heartless bailiffs coming round and taking anything of wealth to pay debts.

Lord Bluebeard lurks mysteriously in his fine castle, the taker of many wives who mysteriously disappear not long afterwards. Talk of his fancy falling upon these two new prospects, he invites the family over to make merry and dance; during which one of the sisters takes a shining to the enormous and rather lumpy lord, and accepts his hand in marriage.

Though Bluebeard takes a couple of liberties with the viewer, losing its cohesion a little here and there, this can be forgiven since it is in effect the retelling of the story through the eyes of two young girls whose conflicting interpretations and attitudes combine to form the flavour of the tale told. It is stunningly shot in the beautiful French countryside, and the castle used is appropriately grand, as are the period costumes, and everything feels right. It's just a shame that the final 5 or so minutes seem to conclude rather hurriedly and without great satisfaction. 7/10

Bradford Film Festival 2010 - Day 2

Made in Britain (UK) (wiki)

First broadcast on British television in 1982, this program was and still remains difficult to watch. Pioneering the use of hand-held cameras often chasing the character on foot (the 'kinetic' style of filmmaking), it shows a short but potentially pivotal point in the life of Trevor Parker, a deeply racist skinhead with a swastika on his forehead and a deep hatred and disrespect of everyone remotely smelling of authority. His latest court appearance for throwing a brick through the window of a Pakistani living down the street was postponed once again by his social worker Harry (played by a young looking Eric Richard, best known for his long-running part in The Bill), he seems to be off around the circle again. Placed in a bedsit alongside Errol, a young black school drop-out on the cusp of being let out, the tensions are clear although they don't play out exactly as you would expect.

Very much a precursor to the more recent This is England, Alan Clarke and David Lelands' drama is more complex than a straightforward study of racism and intolerance in 80's Britain and where it might come from. Trevor is not simply a mindless thug; he has prospects, he has brains, and at times achieves a certain eloquence, especially when he is cornered in a detention centre by three policemen and forced to air his views. Beneath the bravado, violence, racism and complete refusal to take responsibility for his actions, his inner core set of values, of being honest about himself and expecting others to do the same, distinguishing it from 'following the rules' and saying nothing that people might disagree with, resonates loudly when it is finally uncovered. A difficult but necessary look into a constantly morphing issue. 7.5/10

Constantin and Elena (Rom) (site)

A much slower, gentler film, a mixture of biography and documentary, about the lives of the elderly grandparents of the director. In a remote village, a run-down house with a small farmland attached is the scene for the final few years of a couple married for over 50. Small, life-speed tales of bratwurst, rugs and ugly ducks pepper the film as it slowly takes its time to set the scene of their life as it is now, and hints of how it was in a previous time. Constantin and Elena are each other's foils, as is right in a long-standing marriage, each putting themselves down in order to elicit the cooing affection of the other, and never complaining when the life around them seems to get a little harder with each year. A quiet piece with a pleasant ending (rather than the more depressing one from yesterdays' Bonecrusher), it could rarely be called 'boring' (unless you are 15 and your name is Kevin) and occasionally, as life does, feel naturally warm, cosy and funny. 7/10

International Shorts 1

Two triple entries by a pair of directors, Liang Ying from China, and Dietmar Brehm from Austria.

I Love Lakers - Little Feng Junjie is not doing so well at school. He skips classes and smokes round the back with his friend. His permanently drunken dad seems to have something to do with it, and when he turns up unexpectedly whilst Feng is being given a speaking to, well, things go downhill from there. A pleasant enough distraction. 6.5/10

Medicine - A young girl named Hudie is tasked with looking after her sick grandma while mum is off at work. She sets some herbal medicine on to boil, and is then promptly locked out when the wind blows the front door shut. The various people she asks for help are either useless or unwilling, and the medicine continues to over-boil. Unfortunately the tension that could have been built up by the situation quickly fizzles out, and it could have been a better film. 6/10

Condolences - A real-life bus accident in 2004 in , where 15 people lost their lives when a bus careered off the road and ended up on its roof in a river, is reflected through the experience of grandma Chen, whose daughter and grandson were two of the casualties. In a single shot that doesn't move, Chen sits on a stool in mid-distance, dealing patiently and with minimal reaction to the onslaught of mayors and government reps, well-wishers, TV reporters and more who buzz around her once peaceful old home with a critical eye as the funeral is being readied in the background. Only as the last person leaves does she make a subtle but meaningful gesture to her lost relatives. 7.5/10

An interesting constant between all 3 films by Liang Ying was the name Feng Junjie cropped up in each of them, as if it was a little trademark he wanted in each of his films. Dietmar Brehm's films couldn't be more different, each of them a completely abstract work, detaching the sounds from the abstract visuals.

Ozean - Sounds of a beach assaulted by strong waves was accompanied by heavily edited footage where only abstract blobs remain, who rarely convey meaning beyond occasional human shapes and movements emerging from the random. It was intriguing to work out what was being filmed, my impression changing from general beach hijinks, to someone being assaulted, to two people making love. I'm still not sure. 3.5/10

Instax: Camera Girls, London 1966 - Film footage of nudey girls posing with cameras, that was blended into each other, put through a diffuser and laid over each other so they merged into one large mess. The soundtrack was.. well, it sounded like someone cleaning machinery with a toothbrush, but that is conjecture. Why did it get more than Ozean? Because of its NUDEY GIRLS, and no other reason. 4/10

Verdrehte Augen: Videoversion-2 - A complete random mess. Some people sat talking, occasionally looking at some cars. Someone cutting fish into chunks. A woman and a man repeatedly staring the same gawpy stare at each other, and then another woman comes along and gets felt up in her car. Camera filter: Negative images. Random sound effects: Crackling fire. Crap. 2/10

By this point, I was beginning to wonder whether there was going to be a truly good film today, and my weariness towards yet another documentary did not bode well for this film's chances. However...

One Last Dance (US) - The short film shown before the main feature (below) wasn't helped by the announcer getting the general plot and feel of it mixed up with Home from Home. We were expecting a film with an amusing Korean guy who would make us laugh, and what we got was a sombre short about an overworked man being given a final parting gift by his dying grandmother. I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't constantly expecting a punchline. 6.5/10

Home from Home (S. Kor) (german trailer)

In the 1950's and 60's, several Korean women left for Germany to enlist in the postwar rebuilding effort, including some nurses of which a few married over in Germany. As an attempt to up the population of dwindling Namhae, and to offer an incentive for these Korean women to return, the Korean government set up a scheme to plant a little bit of Germany into the coastal town. A cluster of neat, European-style houses with white walls and red roofs appeared and the offer was made to the ageing couples in Germany to come over and live out their years. Three couples accepted, and this is the story of their transplanted lives since their move in 2002.

As with many film documentaries, what is written on paper cannot do justice to the content, and in this particular example, it's doubly so. The many elements of the place and the people coming together, such as the intrusive and downright cheeky tourists, flocking to the town to take pictures in their backyards (without permission); the attempts by the German men to integrate with the other locals and learn the languages and traditions, some of their ingrained prejudices, and the crackling relationships that still exist between the couples after all the years keeps the film constantly engaging. There are many places where skilled editing mixed with the cameras catching situations as they occur caused much laughter from the audience (I was streaming tears at one point I was laughing so hard), and this is balanced well with the more serious and completely engaging parts where they tell us why they went to Germany, how they fell in love over there, and why they returned. It's constantly entertaining (and in more than one way), beautifully shot and framed, and I will remember it as head and shoulders over most of the other films I will see this year; I can guarantee it. 8.5/10

Bradford Film Festival 2010 - Day 1

Just so you know, this won't be another Leeds. I am not destroying my eyes like I did last year. At least not for Bradford. Leeds 2010 maybe.

Bonecrusher (US)

It is unsurprising that a documentary film about the lives of Virginian coalminers is not going to get the most attention of all the films at the festival, and this was true as, on a rainy friday I searched the corridors of Leeds Trinity University until I came upon the sparsely-attended theatre - a large lecture room with a big projector screen at the front.

An elderly member of a dilapidated and semi-deserted country town, Luther 'Bonecrusher' Chaffin - a somewhat ironic nickname given his slight form - and his son Lucas, are two of many pit men in the Wilder Miners' lineage. A profession that sucks the life from many of the town's families and has for several generations, Luther is long since retired and is missing half a lung, his face and body gaunt by the effects of the affliction known as black lung. Initially reluctant to let his son join the family tradition, Lucas managed to get his way on the strength of his arguments: it's part of the place he grew up in and thus in his blood, and more importantly when he is supporting a new family, there's good money in it.

What initially began as a rather sterile documentary on the everyday dangers and health hazards endured by these people on a daily basis, taking us on the low-load carts into the depths of the pit where only a few feet separate floor and ceiling and hazardous coal-dust is everywhere; morphs slowly into a human study over several months of a family as it loses one of it's number to a disease its' own traditions are responsible for. It is at this point that the film took my interest much more, twanging my emotions as I see the initially reasonably healthy father turn into a weakened skeleton at the same time the rest of the family grows and changes, and all the time the black cloud that causes it all (and will again) looming in the background, it's grip tight around the survival of the townsfolk. 7/10

A Couple of Pre-Festival Films

Seeing a film outside of a festival is actually quite a novelty for me, and though I wouldn't want to come over as a mainstream-film hating snob, the current scene has by and large failed to catch either my eye or my imagination. That said, I've recently seen two films that have genuinely surprised me by how good they are.

The first one is Avatar. There are many, many people out there who have now seen it and I was probably one of the last, having so far avoided it because it falls into that category of film where computer graphics are so overused as to make them seem artificial.

However, Cameron's is the first one that actually had me compelled throughout. Yes, it was saturated with sweeping, whooshing views and beautiful vistas made out of ones and zeroes, many of which felt like an excuse to show off what worlds they could create; and it had the usual bits where a computer generated bad guy does battle with a real-life hero. But, it also had a heart set in the real world.

As a nice twist, Human beings were cast mostly as the antagoniser in a future where earth has gone manky, and the Navi, the native inhabitants of the world they move into are largely seen as the good guys. Jake Sully uses the latest technology to remotely inhabit the body of a Navi-human genetic clone body, with the intention of infultrating a nearby tribe and gaining their trust. Not surprisingly, the feeling of spiritual closeness to the world around him, long lost to the human race changes his mind, and after going ape when the army starts an unscripted attack on 'his' colony, it's time to pick sides.

It had a rather heavy-handed environmental message, and having the Navi bear many of the styles and traits of African tribes-people, it was definitely not being subtle. What it did manage to do was (for the first time that I am aware of) completely hide the join between the real world and the pixellated one; creating a fantasy world where both exist and interact together naturally. It was also unusually intended for a more mature audience rather than the child-friendly fantasies of the past that these sorts of films were made for, being more Alien than Madegascar. (There were a number of uncomfortable parents in the audience who clearly ignored the 12A rating at their peril and squirmed in their seats as their kids were submitted to quite a lot of moderate swearing) I really enjoyed it, probably more than what I would if I had bothered to read up on it beforehand, and for the few remaining places that are still showing it, I recommend anyone who hasn't seen it to do so, especially if its a 3D showing. 8/10

Then there is I Love You Phillip Morris. Jim Carrey will never, ever play a straight part (no pun intended) as try as he might, there will always be a little bit of The Mask bubbling just under the surface that will inevitably take the scene over. Despite this self-inflicted handicap which does rear it's head a number of times here, this film is perhaps the most serious part he has managed so far, excepting maybe that of Truman Burbank. Carrey plays Steven Jay Russell, a closeted gay man in an unhappy marriage, whose outing also helps uncover another aspect to his personality: he is a pathological fraud, not to mention a very successful one. Beginning with insurance claims from 'accidental' injuries, through to false references for new jobs, and finally giving the accounting books a good cooking, he builds an empire taking advantage of the lack of background checks at each new place, leaving quickly as soon as the authorities cotton on.

Finally caught and ending up in jail, he falls in love with fellow inmate Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor), a delicate flower amongst a building-full of seething, violent, red-blooded inmates. Feeling first kinship and later a need to protect his love, he promises to fix his deceitful ways once out, but as you can guess, old habits die hard.

Other than having Jim Carry in it according to the sides of many buses that passed my face the past couple of weeks, there wasn't much I knew about this film either, and again, that's probably the best way the average person should prepare themselves for this film. Carey and McGregor do get jiggy with it on more than one occasion (although you never see anything beyond kisses and cuddles) and this may be too much for some to sit through, but once you're over the initial shock of these two actors hitting gay roles so convincingly, you are left with a very entertaining film that is part love story, part comedy, and part autobiography (Russell and Morris are both real people, and the film is based on their story, made all the more incredible since it happened in the middle of the right-wing heartland that is Texas). It twists and turns without feeling random, it's consistently funny save for a few slower scenes to show the humanity behind the lies, and it's ending causes you to initially groan, then.. well I won't spoil it, but it put a big smile on my face. It might not have anywhere near the budget or marketing clout of Avatar, but I would put it as high up on the watchability list. 8/10

No need to deal with any more mainstream films for a while. The Bradford Film Festival is about to start, (I have to eat my words as it is much bigger than I thought) and I will of course be blogging about the films that get seen within the next few days. Stay tuned.