leeds international film festival #LIFF30

Leeds International Film Festival, in its 30th year, returns this week! I was lucky enough to attend #LIFF29 and witness screenings of Carol, Brooklyn, Tangerine, and so many more! In this installment of the annual event I'm excited to see more venues being thrown into the mix... Ilkley Cinema, the Brudenell Social Club, and Armley Mills are just a few of the new places featuring on the Leeds film map.

Here's a list of my top 10 picks of flicks at the 2016 festival:

1) Cameraperson
Sun 6th Nov 18:15 Leeds Town Hall - Albert Room / Fri 11th Nov Leeds Town Hall - Albert Room / Sun 13th Nov 20:15  Leeds Town Hall - Albert Room

I missed this documentary at Sheff Doc/Fest so I'm excited to catch it in Leeds. It follows Kirsten Johnson, a documentary cinematographer with an incredible filmography that ranges from Citizenfour to Pray the Devil Back to Hell, across a mosaic of her intimate moments from the many films she’s made over the last quarter century around the world. She selects a series of encounters that have personally affected her, from the daily routine of a Nigerian midwife, to a boxing match in Brooklyn and bonding with a family from rural Bosnia. It's a poetic meditation on truth and the camera and an unusual documentary in a class of its own.

2) Certain Women
Fri 4th Nov 18:00 Hyde Park Picture House / Sun 6th Nov 17:30 Hyde Park Picture House 

This movie stars Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern as three strong-willed women each striving to form their own path amidst the wide open plains of the American Northwest. It's an ode to both womanhood and to the landscape of Montana.

3) Chi-Raq
Fri 4th Nov 20:30 Hyde Park Picture House / Mon 7th Nov 15:00 Hyde Park Picture House

I would see this film purely for the controversial title, if not for the fact its director is the unmissable Spike LeeChi-Raq is his hip-hop musical adaptation of the ancient Greek tragedy, Lysistrata by Aristophanes. Set in present day Chicago’s Southside, where gang violence has got out of hand, the film features an all star cast including Samuel L Jackson as narrator.

4) It's Only the End of the World
Sat 12th Nov 20:45 Hyde Park Picture House / Mon 14th Nov 16:15 Hyde Park Picture House 

It’s Only the End of the World won the Grand Prix at Cannes. Based on a play by Jean-Luc Lagarce, the beautifully shot drama is centred on successful expat writer Louis who, after a twelve-year absence, returns to tell his family of his imminent death. Featuring stunning camerawork and outstanding performances by its stellar cast (including Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard, and Léa Seydoux), Dolan "creates an atmosphere so tense, it keeps you on the edge of your seat, until all the pent-up feelings from Louis’ long absence unload in the final scenes."

5) Mindhorn + Q&A
Sun 13th Nov 12:00 Cottage Road

I was a huge Mighty Boosh fan when I was younger, so a chance to see Julian Barratt in the flesh has me squealing a bit inside - also for the fact he's an immensely talented comedic actor! The Guardian have described this film as a "funny, farcical nightmare"... It involves Barratt as a "titular Isle of Man sleuth" who's eye has been replaced with an optical lie-detector... 

6) Paterson
Thu 3rd Nov 19:00 Leeds Town Hall - Victoria Hall / Sat 5th Nov 20:30 Hyde Park Picture House 

Paterson opens the film festival on Thursday 3 Nov, and what bang to begin it with! Jim Jarmusch’s latest comedy drama is apparently his best film for years, starring the beautiful Adam Driver. Paterson is a bus driver in the city of the same name and adheres to a simple routine each day. He drives his daily route and writes poetry into a notebook; he walks his dog; he stops in a bar and drinks exactly one beer; then goes home to his restlessly creative wife, Laura. The film "quietly observes the triumphs and defeats of daily life and the poetry in its smallest details."

7) The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Fri 11th Nov 22:30 Hyde Park Picture House / Tue 15th Nov 15:45 Hyde Park Picture House

This American Gothic film stars Brian Cox and Emile Hirsh as father and son coroners whose business is in the basement of their home. Late one evening they take delivery of the corpse of a young woman who was found partially buried at the scene of a mysterious suburban massacre. With no apparent cause of death they begin the autopsy only to discover internal injuries that belie her pristine outward appearance. As they search for clues to her identity events take a creepy turn inside the morgue and mystery turns into full blown horror.

8) The Birth of a Nation
Mon 7th Nov 20:30 Vue at The Light / Wed 9th Nov 15:30 Vue at The Light 

No, this is not the film beloved by the Ku Klux Klan. Nate Parker’s directorial debut is an account of the life of Nat Turner, the enslaved African-American who spearheaded an insurrection in 1831. Turner believed that revolutionary violence would awaken others to the infernal mistreatment of slaves, and he died for this cause. The Birth of a Nation seeks to ensure that he did not do so in vain. ‘In script and performance, the film is an articulate howl of anguish and rage given depth by a discerning comprehension of the ways various communities can rely on faith for very different means.’ (The Playlist)

9) The Handmaiden
Fri 11th Nov 20:30 Leeds Town Hall - Victoria Hall / Mon 14th Nov 16:00 Leeds Town Hall - Victoria Hall

A lurid, dizzyingly inventive thriller from Korean maestro Park Chan-wook (Old Boy). It is the 1930s, and Korea is occupied by the decadent Japanese. Under the direction of a skilled con-artist known as The Count, wily thief Sook-hee poses as a handmaiden to win the trust of fragile Japanese heiress Hideko. The plan: to convince Hideko to elope with The Count, whereupon he’ll commit her to an insane asylum and steal all her money. Lauded in competition at this year’s Cannes, The Handmaiden is seductive, kinky, and devilishly good fun.

10) Toni Erdmann LIFF30 Closing Film in association with the LUX Prize
Thu 17th Nov 19:30 Leeds Town Hall - Victoria Hall 

At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Toni Erdmann took everyone by surprise and became the biggest buzz film for years with sold out screenings and queues around the block. It’s even been included in a critics’ poll of the top 100 films of the 21st Century. An extraordinary, groundbreaking comedy-drama from German director Maren Ade, the story follows the ambitious young businesswoman Ines and the unpredictable relationship with her eccentric, practical joke loving father, Winfried. Saying much more would be a spoiler: it’s full of surprises, very warm and touching and frequently hilarious.

(Some of the descriptions have been taken from the Leeds Film website)

Other things to look out for:
United States of Love

What're you looking forward to?


a sunday kind of love #8

Happy Halloweekend

It Follows - This weekend we went to see David Robert Mitchell's independent horror film at the wonderful Hyde Park Picture House. This screening, which was in collaboration with Red Bull Music Academy, had its soundtrack (the work of  Disasterpeace) live scored by an orchestra, arranged by Emma Jane Thackray. It was a terrifying and truly immersive experience! The film is definitely well worth watching if you want an American high school-esque genre film that'll make you jump.

Horror films - I've never been particularly bothered about horror. Sure I've watched a couple of frightful flicks in my time, but they're never something I'd choose to watch aside from around this time of year. But, after the aforementioned screening, I've had a bit of a revelation, which is going to sound stupidly simple... Horror is one of the most transporting types of films you can get. Those films that chill you right to the bone, that bring you right to the edge of your seat, hand propelled to your mouth... They're transfixing and transformative, I want to watch more! Can anyone recommend any good ones?

Pumpkin Curry - We went to My Thai this weekend and I had their seasonal chicken pumpkin curry. I love pumpkins, and pumpkin carving, and pumpkin pie, and all things pumpkin. I've said this before and I'll say it again.

Donald Trump - This weekend I've been loving seeing the many, many Trump themed outfits people have been wearing! I wish I'd been prepared enough to copy Jemima Khan with this ensemble.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show - We're off to see this famous show tomorrow night at Leeds Grand Theatre! I can't wait... though I have no idea what to wear... I remember my Mum telling me about a performance of this she went to when she was in her twenties, and I can't help but think it's a bit of a rite of passage... Am I right? I'll be posting a review this week, but if you want to come along you can buy tickets here.

What have you been up to this Halloweekend?


bolton abbey in autumn

It's a place I associate deeply with my childhood and familial ties. I remember walking the trails. I remember sitting on the river banks. I remember vividly the sunnyness of Spring. A few weeks ago, we headed there for a visit to see it in its Autumnal glory. I was bowled over by the amber of the leaves, by the glittering of the Strid, and by the feel of Fall as it spread like a mist across the Estate.

If I can recommend you anything, it's that you visit Bolton Abbey this season - it's a natural wonderland.


no/gloss film festival 2016

Usually time at Canal Mills is spent supping on vodka and cokes, sweating profusely, and dancing to house music. That's why it was refreshing to see this amazing venue in a  new light, reincarnated as a cinema for No/Gloss Film Festival

We attended on the Sunday, on the quieter day - the Saturday, I heard, had totally sold out. The two rooms of the warehouse had been transformed into two separate screens, with the bars serving drinks. We grabbed cups of tea and sat down in Screen 2 to watch The Hollywood Shorties, a documentary about a team of 'Little People,' who over many years migrated away from typecast movie roles and into sports. After about 40 minutes, we decided to wander into Screen 1 and see what was going on in there. This was the beauty of the festival... the freedom to flit. Mara Mara found our eyes, a Spanish short film from David Aguilar, which transposed silence with skin-crawling loud noises, and big snowy beautiful landscapes. Aesthetically, it was wonderful. Next up onscreen was Busking Turf Wars, a bloody hilarious Leeds-centric mockumentary. I really hope this gets some sort of wide release - it reminded me of a sort of Yorkshire-based Alan Partridge in its style of humour. Trust me when I say, Steven Lockmoore is your new favourite character. 

During the intermission, we grabbed a pizza freshly baked in a pizza oven from Wood Fire Dine. Thus the nature of the event, we took it inside with us, cosying up with more cups of tea and slices of dreamyness while watching a triad of amazing short films - Ambivalence, At Dawn, and Marianne. Ambivalence, focusing on a girl with heterochromia, stole my attention in its 10 minute utterly absorbing entirety. It was poetic, electric, and haunting. After Marianne, a beautifully shot film centered on healing in a Pentecostal church, we got to hear from the director Tomisin Adepeju which was a real insight. Earlier we'd heard from the guys behind Busking Turf Wars too, about the process of film-making and the inception of the idea. 

No/ Gloss Film Festival, to me, is like a ticket into the tunnel of underground film, but also the provided headphones that inform and invoke a sense of wonder in you about everything you're seeing. I would definitely go again!


barbakan cafe, york

A few weeks ago I was up early on a Saturday for once, so my brother and I decided to jump on a train and go and meet Mum in York. I always forget how much I love it there. The historic buildings, the river swelling, the throngs of people soaking in the sights (minus the stag and hen parties). It's a beautiful city, one that's only 20 minutes on a train from Leeds. After having a coffee at Fossgate Social, we decided to head for lunch at somewhere I'd been highly recommended, the Polish restaurant Barbakan.

Walking up Walmgate towards it felt like an Autumnal almost Dickensian moment. The leaves were amber, the buildings a rustic stone or of Tudor design, and this rosy establishment was beaming out onto the grey street. We walked inside and I was struck by the cosiness of it. The blues, the reds, the yellows. Light, bright and cheerful. We sat down at a table in the corner, a little sad that we'd just missed the breakfast/ brunch bracket (sidenote: kids eat free at this time), but excited for the pierogi ahead.

On the lunch menu were delicacies such as Gołąbki: cabbage leaves stuffed with spiced minced pork and rice baked in the oven and served with tomato sauce, and Zawijaniec, a pancake stuffed with buckwheat and vegetables, topped with mozzarella cheese and once again baked in tomato sauce. Other foods available were a kind of Polish hunter's stew, Hungarian goulash with potato pancakes, stuffed peppers, Meatballs and linguine, Fresh Scottish Mussels, as well as a host of salads and sandwiches. 

We decided to share food, opting for the Courgette Fritters, as well as a mix of the the Beef and the Cheese pierogi, topped with bacon and sour cream. The fritters came with a fresh salad and a really nice orangey dressing. 

After we'd finished, we sat for a while enjoying the ambience. I watched as an older lady, clad in beautiful zany clothes, hugged and kissed the waitress thanking her deeply. It looked as if they knew each other, like this was this woman's routine to come for a weekend bite of Eastern European cuisine in this warm, inviting, relaxing safe space. A smile spread widely on her face, as - I realised - it did on mine, too.


a sunday kind of love #7

This weekend has been lovely! I went home for a bit, saw friends, and today went to No/ Gloss Film Festival in Leeds (which I'll post about soon!) What have you been up to?

Watch//  I've been pretty busy lately so there's a few things that have built up on my must-watch list... I'm dying to see the new Black Mirror on Netflix, Werner Herzog's new documentary Lo and Behold: Reveries of The Connected World, and Adam Curtis' new film Hypernormalisation. Have you seen them yet?

Listen//  Radio 4's Soul Music is one of my favourite podcasts. It's a series that looks at music with a powerful emotional impact. This episode focusing on Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come is hard-hitting but beautiful. / To celebrate Woman's Hour turning 70, Lauren Laverne has concocted this wonderful playlist. / You NEED to listen to Emma Gannon's podcast in conversation with Everyday Sexism's Laura Bates, an absolutely incredible woman, about feminism, sexism in schools and in the world, consent,  and the future of sex education.

To the First Lady, With Love: Four thank-you notes to Michelle Obama, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Gloria Steinem, Jon Meacham and Rashida Jones /
Hadley Freeman on Trump /
A haunting extract from Marina Abramovic's new memoir /
Dolly Alderton on why trash TV is a Godsend /
Carrie on the importance of doing absolutely nothing every once in a while /
'The Ched Evans case shows that sex-ed is desperately needed' from The Pool /
Pandora Sykes on Locker Room Bantz, Pussy-Grabbing – And What I’ve Learnt About Bullying /
Plant/ house envy from Haarkon /
Why I commute to London – from Sweden’s west coast /
Isabel Magowan photographs the dark side of American gilded youth

Visit//  Victoria Gate is now open in Leeds! I popped along to the Anthropologie launch on Thursday to have a look at the shop, and see the mysterious Mr. Finch's exhibition! It's definitely worth a look in. 


saltaire in autumn

I love Saltaire! It's a visually stunning model village, formed in the 1800s by a man who grandly went by the name of Titus Salt. He wanted to build somewhere away from the smog of Bradford, a kind of industrial utopia for himself and his mill-workers deep within the luscious countryside of West Yorkshire. 

How to get there:
It's only just over 10 minutes from Leeds on the train, so it's perfect for a daytrip! We awoke on a sunny Autumnal day and decided to make the journey by car which took roughly half an hour or so.

Where to visit: 
Our first point of call was Robert's Park, voted one of the best green spaces in the country. It's colourful, with beautiful architecture dotted around it, and provides a great place to sit and watch the river as it tumbles and thrashes. From here, you can also view Salts Mill as it stands regally across the way. I've previously been inside and checked out the David Hockney iPad drawings selection, as well as the lovely ground floor shop - but alas, as the rain loomed threateningly overhead we decided we'd call a raincheck on it! After wandering around, we headed to The Boathouse Inn for a packet of crisps, and china cups of tea. We had to sit outside because we had a doggy with us, but it allowed for a spectacular view of the water (and the ducks). I hear that they do a cracking roast!

Where to shop:

Where to eat: 

Why should you go?: 
Here's some photos to persuade you if you're not already convinced...

leeds rum festival 2016

If you've never been in Leeds Corn Exchange you're truly missing a trick! That roof... One of the wonders of the world? I think so! This weekend was the first annual Rum Festival in our city, held in the bottom of this glorious building. There was rum, there was hubbub, there were some DJs who popped brimming shots into our hands, there were masterclasses, there was more rum... It was great! I would've liked to see more of a festival vibe though, with perhaps more seating areas or cocktail samples... But it was fun, and though it caused a sore head the next day due to it being the gateway to a night on the tiles, I can definitely say I've now increased my knowledge of Jack Sparrow's favourite drink!


victoria gate

It feels like the construction of Victoria Gate has lasted a lifetime. The vision of men in high-vis jackets, and the sound of building work has been a constant fixture of that area of the city centre for months and months and months. But finally, it's finished. In two days time the gates will open, and in the droves of shoppers will flock. Yesterday I was lucky enough to have a sneak peek around the consumer heaven, and the architecturally interesting new Northern flagship John Lewis. Here's some photos I took on the tour - have a little nosey! 

the power of a phonecall

I love phone calls. It's a little weird, mainly because I've always been better at writing than speaking. Writing is a way of expressing myself that I can take time over, that I can eloquently use to alleviate the bubbling stress of my frenetic feelings by crafting the perfect Hello. The perfect Sorry. The perfect Goodbye. I can throw alliteration in there, and make words rhyme within sentences, and feel like everything fits.

But phone calls have kept me sane. Not confrontational or dramatic ones, but everyday phonecalls. The ones that make you forget the distance that separates you. The ones where you fill each other in with the boring details of your day, because otherwise you'd never know the intimate corners of each other's domesticity. You'd never know that small thing someone said on that day that caused a cross journey home. You'd never know what they were having for dinner (unless of course they 'grammed it). You'd never know the delicacies of the mundane. The beauty in the mild. The sparkle in the run-of-the-mill. 

As I put my phone down, I smile. Feeling like I'm right there with you. 


5 things coming up in leeds

1) Leeds First Ever Rum Festival 
Saturday 15th October from 12pm to 5pm 

At the Corn Exchange this weekend I'm super excited for the Rum Festival! There'll be a cocktail bar featuring brands such as Re'Al Syrups, Havana Club, Appleton Estate, Santa Teresa and Rumbullion. There'll also be masterclasses, live music and DJs, alongside local Caribbean food.

2) No/Gloss Film Festival
22nd - 23rd October

Read my full preview of this here! It's going to be an amazing event!

3) Leeds International Film Festival LIFF30
3-17 November 

This year, Jim Jarmusch's new work Paterson will open the festival, while Toni Erdmann, the jewel in 2016's Cannes' crown, will close it. Last year I was lucky enough to go to lots of screenings during LIFF29 - I loved getting to journey around Leeds to the different venues, and seeing all sorts of amazing films! Can't wait for this.

4) Beacons Metro
26th October - 8th November

Dinosaur Jr., Margaret Glaspy, NAO, Fucked Up and more... It's going to be a great week for music in Leeds! Also it's only £50 for an all inclusive ticket, lovely stuff.

5) The Exorcist Outdoor Cinema plus Halloween Disco
Friday 28th October

Last year I saw the Nightmare on Elm Street in Kirkstall Abbey as part of Sneaky Cinema, and though it was very chilly it was a definitely worth the October alfresco screening. Super spooky and lots of fun! Go this year if you get a chance.