#LIFF29 Leeds International Film Festival - Preview

8 November 2015

On Thursday night Leeds International Film Festival blazed into Leeds Town Hall, beginning its 29th annual two-week takeover of our city with the film adaptation of Colm Tobin's novel Brooklyn. It was beautiful, emotionally stirring, and a vivid shade of technicolor. It was just a smidgeon of what's to come in the 15 days of LIFF29. Spread out over 16 venues - including Hyde Park Picture House, the Vue in the Light, the Trinity CentreLeft BankLeeds Town HallLeeds College of MusicEveryman Cinema, and Belgrave Music Hall - the festival will screen over 300 films.

With so many amazing flicks, both British and international of all genres and themes, however can you decide? I thought I'd try to help.

My top 10 picks: 

1)  Short Film City
Throughout the festival

Slaves of the Rave

According to the LIFF website, the world's first short film was made in Leeds in 1888 by Louis le Prince. This year the film festival features over 150 short films from 97 countries. There'll be competitions, themed screenings, and special events. If your time is limited, get yourself to one of the illustrious Leeds cinemas and watch a selection of these!


2) Taxi Tehran
Sun 8th Nov 14:00 Everyman Cinema/ Fri 13th Nov 14:00 Hyde Park Picture House


Banned from making films in his native country, the amazing Iranian director Jafar Panahi has previously smuggled his reels out away from the regime inside a cake. This year he brings us Taxi, a novel examination of life in Tehran filmed via three hidden video cameras.  

3) Son of Saul 
Sun 8th Nov 20:30 Hyde Park Picture House/ Weds 11th Nov 20:30 Leeds Town Hall - Victoria Hall


Acclaimed by critics, Hungarian film director Laszlo Nemes' film debut centres on a Hungarian-Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz who works as a Sonderkommando member.  Along with being described by the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw as a "horror movie of extraordinary focus and courage," it also won the Grand Prix at Cannes this year. 

4) Grandma 
Tues 10th November 18:30/ Thurs 12th November 20:30  Vue in the Light


Written, produced, and directed by Paul Weitz, Grandma stars Lily Tomlin and Electrik Children's Julia Garner as a Grandma and Granddaughter brought together by the latter's unwanted pregnancy. With a great ensemble cast, including trans-activist and all round bad-ass Laverne Cox, I think this could be one of the real winners of the festival.

5) Apocalypse Now
Wed 11th Nov 15:00/ Mon 16th Nov 19:00 Leeds Town Hall - Victoria Hall


Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 Vietnam epic gets the big-screen treatment once again inside the grand walls of Leeds Town Hall. I can't wait to finally see this!

Other classic films playing include Blade RunnerLeonRosemary’s Baby, and Todmorden local Ted Hughes’ The Iron Giant


6) Breaking A Monster
Weds 11th 18:00 Leeds College of Music/ Sun 15th 18:30 Leeds Town Hall - Albert Room


Luke Meyers' documentary focuses on a trio of 13 year olds who, after a video of them playing heavy rock in Times Square went viral, found themselves signed to Sony in a million dollar record contract. The film follows them through their trials and tribulations as they acclimatise to their new-found fame.  Will they end up pulling a Justin Bieber and becoming total tools?

Lots of other amazing docs will be gracing Leeds' many screens during LIFF (woo!) . The ones that stand out to me include: To the Centre of the Earth, Warriors, Landfill Harmonic, and Left on Purpose - more details of which can be found here.

7) Black Mass 
Sat 14th Nov 20:30 Leeds Town Hall - Victoria Hall


In Black MassJohnny Depp plays Irish-American gangster Whitey Bulger, and also rocks the Danny Devito hairdo. Other cast members include Benedict Cumberbatch, Adam Scott, and Kevin Bacon. The question of this flick seems to be, will Depp be back to his former glory?

8)  Linton Kwesi Johnson Presents Michael Smith: Upon Westminster Bridge 
Mon 16th Nov 20:30 Hyde Park Picture House


Legendary dub poet Lindon Kwesi Johnson will read a selection of his poems, and will then introduce the documentary, which profiles leading Jamaican poet Michael Smith and features his incredible performances. This will be incredible!

9) Rain the Colour Blue With a Little Red In It + Mdou Moctor Live Performance
Weds 18th Nov 19:00 Belgrave Music Hall


This fictional film, shot entirely in Agadez, Niger, follows Mdou Moctar (real-life musician who'll be performing afterwards) as he struggles in his pursuit of his music. It's essentially a sub-Saharan Purple Rain, with an eccentric lead.

Other music-based flicks playing include (on theme) Prince's Sign O' The Times, the Sigur Ros film Heima, and a showing of a documentary about Calvin Johnson's U.S. record label in partnershipship with Beacons Metro which will feature a live performance by CJ.

10)  Carol 
Thurs 19th Nov 20:30 Leeds Town Hall - Victoria Hall

Carol: Closing Film

This year's closing film mirrors the opening flick Brooklyn - both are set in 1950's New York. In this cinematic venture, however, Todd Haynes crafts Patricia Highsmith's famous novel The Price of Salt. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara star as women involved in a secret love affair. There's already serious Oscar buzz surrounding this film!

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If that's not enough there's also a John Carpenter retrospective, along other fantasy and horror films as part of the Fanomenon selection. There's also a number of Arctic films including Nanook of the North and others.

Throughout the weeks I will be reviewing the films I've been lucky enough to see. Let me know which ones you've seen and loved! 


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