So, yes. You might be wondering what the hell is going on with me at the moment, by now I should have done some of the Bradford, and maybe Edinburgh, film festivals. I blogged neither, because I have been to neither. As detailed earlier this week, it's been a strange sort of year for me, simultaneously more and less crowded with things to do. One of the casualties unfortunately, has been the festival circuit.
But, we did manage to make the first few days of Cambridge this year, after a years' break. Cambridge is a beautiful city and it was nice to get back for a little while at least. I wish we could have stayed longer (it's still going on) but the pull of the working week dragged me back.
We stopped briefly outside Leicester to see the Parrots at Tropical Bird Land, but unfortunately the many characters that I remembered from two years before had gone. As it does so often in Desford, it was raining hard and the birds looked miserable. When I asked specifically about Rio, the quiet and adorable Galah Cockatoo I saw on many other occasions, I was told he was missing. When the relatively new assistant went away and asked around, he came back with the unfortunate news that poor Rio had a stroke not long after I saw him last and died. The similar looking but altogether more rowdy cockatoo I had on my shoulder was actually Phooey, who was far less easy going on the fingers.
A few days in Kings Lynn (better considered a base of operations than a destination itself) and then we headed to Cambridge, just as the weather got better. We made use of the bulk discount cards for the films, and chose as many as we could fit in.
Supernova (Bel) (review)
Our first film was technically the opening film of CFF, time-wise at least, although didn't have the reputation behind it to give it an opening film 'oomph'. Meis is a precocious young girl, bored and living with her mother and step-dad in a strange backwater. A single house perched on a sharp bend has had it's fair share of accidents with drivers high on adrenalyn or booze careering into it. It seems this is the only way that new things happen, and Meis' step-dad is only the latest of these to enter their lives. Unfortunately, he's a bum, and wants intervention to come crashing through the living room just as much as the other two.
Though Supernova does take some time to get going, and suffers from that perennial French film problem of the characters spouting philosophy needlessly at you, at least the film uses it to give it a stylish, sharp edge. This time it comes from the thoughts and musings of Meis herself, whose long, bored childhood she is beginning to leave behind seems to have been filled with her nose in the science books. Much less than a bookish nerd, she applies the cold logic found within to the world around her, in a strangely likeable way.
Supernova was not a brilliant start to the festival, but given it's not readily accessible ingredients, it could have been a tonne worse. It's offbeat and left-field, bordering on art-house in places, but has a redeeming attitude that saves it from the depths of rubbishness. 7/10
The Woman Who Dares (Ger) (review)
The blurb for this film was a little misleading, as it suggests a documentary of sorts. It isn't. The main character Beate, as best as I can ascertain, is not based on a real person and the story is complete fiction. Well into middle age, she is given terrible news by her doctor - she has a tumor. Reacting as many would in such a situation, she looks at her life, and things maybe now would be the time to achieve some of her remaining goals. Most people aren't in her position however; an ex-olympic swimmer who gave up her dreams to start a family, now stuck between a needy daughter and a bumbling son who still seem to demand her constant attention.
These things drop away when you get news like that, and so she launches herself at her goal - swimming the English channel - to the dismay of friends and family alike.
The film is a pretty standard 'overcome adversity' fare, with a solid, dependable story underneath. It doesn't give many surprises along the way - and it's no spoiler to say she manages it - but it was solidly acted, entertaining and a satisfying watch, even if you knew what the ending was going to be from the start. 7.5/10
Sacro GRA (Ita/Fra) (wiki)
We were hoping to see this - which was a genuine documentary. The drab-sounding blurb talked of a ring road around Rome and the people who inhabit it was made all the more interesting when we learn that it was the first documentary to receive a Golden Lion at Venice. Unfortunately, the DVD gremlins were in force, and the film had no subtitles, rendering it pretty much unwatchable to anyone not speaking the lingo. Hopefully I can catch it elsewhere.