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6 November 2018

What's On: #LIFF32 Leeds International Film Festival

The 32nd annual Leeds International Film Festival has officially begun, kicking off last week at Leeds Town Hall with Sorry to Bother You – a darkly funny controversial movie named “the most shocking anti-capitalist film ever” by one news outfit. Rapper Boots Riley’s directorial debut was a fitting opening feature for a festival that always promises a diverse and future-forward line-up. 

I’ve been lucky enough to attend twice before, but this incarnation seems the most exciting yet – especially with recent news of Leeds becoming the base for Channel 4 in 2019. LIFF32’s fingers are firmly on the pulse; the amount of extraordinary venues continues to rise; Leeds continues its mission to be the UK’s film city. 

Highlights of what's screened already include Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name)’s remake of horror classic Suspiria, a Yorkshire Short Film Competition, Matthew Holness’ creep-fest Possum, and more.

Here are my recommendations for what’s left to see:

The Kindergarten Teacher
Weds 7 Nov @ 18:00 / Sat 10 Nov 15:00

I recently listened to Maggie Gyllenhaal on Alec Baldwin’s Here’s the Thing podcast talking about this movie, and since then I’ve been incredibly intrigued. This remake of a Hebrew-language film directed by Sara Colangelo contends with a woman dealing with her vanquished dreams, channeling them through one of her students – in a plot that’s full of twists and turns.

Island of the Hungry Ghosts
Fri 9 Nov 18:00 @Hyde Park / Thurs 15 Nov 17:30 @ Victoria

Winner of Best Documentary at Tribeca Film Festival, Island of the Hungry Ghosts follows trauma counsellor Poh Lin, as she attempts to support refugees detained in a high-security detention facility, run by the Australian Government on Christmas Island. It’s poetic; it’s violent; it’s worth a watch.

Beautiful Boy
Sat 10 Nov 18:00 @ Hyde Park / Mon 12 Nov 20:30 & Wed 14 Nov 20:30 @ Vue

Timothee Chalet (known for that peach scene in Call Me By Your Name) returns in Felix Van Groeningen’s cinematic exploration of a troubled father-and-son relationship, based on the complementary memoirs of David and Nic Sheff. Steve Carell also stars in what promises to be a heartbreaking and confronting film about addiction.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sun 11 Nov 17:45 @ Hyde Park

Celebrity biographer / queen deceptor Lee Israel is the figure of this biopic, starring both Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant. The Guardian describes it as a “shaggy, melancholic true story, [where] the Oscar nominee [McCarthy] delivers some of her best work.”

Thurs 15 Nov 20:00 @Victoria 

LIFF’s closing film is one of wintry Tokyo backstreets and one extended poor family. Winner of this year’s Palme d’Or at Cannes, it’s proposed to be beautiful, understated yet deeply affecting.

Others to watch out for:

Other showings to look out for include the Fanomenon series – a mixture of fantasy and cult cinema with horror thrown in too. Time Frames is a programme selection focused on films that take place within a 24-hour period, featuring the likes of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.

With this year marking Estonia’s 100-year anniversary of independence, look forward to an insight into the life and culture of its countrymen and women in the saddle of short and feature-length films. The beauty of this festival is that there truly is something for everyone.

Where to buy tickets

Online at, over the phone 0113 376 0318 or in person at Leeds Town Hall (Box Office). There are various passes ranging from £9 for a single ticket, to £100 for full access to all 300 screenings.

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