Leeds International Film Festival #LIFF30

31 October 2016

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?

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