Tag Archives: BFFS

a hijacking

What’s your film of the year?

Relaunched last year the Film Society Film of the Year Award celebrates the most popular film among film society and community cinema audiences. Voted for by community exhibitors across the UK the award is presented at our annual Film Society of the Year Awards.

We invite all community exhibitors and their audience to nominate their favourite film from the 2013/14 season and the film with the most votes will be awarded the Film Society Film of the Year. The only restriction is that the film must have been shown at your community cinema after 1st September 2013. To register your vote click here.

This year’s ceremony will take place on the 27 September during the Cinema For All National Conference. To book your place check out our Eventbrite page here.

Last year Untouchable was the winner, after proving to be a huge hit with audiences up and down the country. The  multi award-winning French drama was based on the true story of Phillippe Pozzo di Borgi, a businessmen who was left severely paralysed after a para-gliding accident and who hires a young man from the projects to be his carer – against the advice of his family. The directors, Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, sent in a lovely video message accepting the award and thanking community cinemas for supporting the film.

The last year has seen a tremendous number of great films screened across the community cinema sector and we can’t wait to find out which ones have been the favourites. To get you thinking about your favourite film we’ve selected several highlights below – but don’t forgot to tell us which was your Film Society Film of the Year!

A Hijacking | Tobias Lindholm | Denmark | 2012 | 99 mins

Arriving several months before Hollywood’s own piracy drama Captain Philips, A Hijacking is a perfectly crafted, achingly tense hostage thriller. When the crew of the MV Rosen are taken hostage by Somalian pirates the CEO of the shipping company lurches into a protracted and exasperating negotiation process. While he tries to resolve the situation the crew of the ship suffer in cramped and humid conditions with the threat of a violence constantly hanging over them.

No | Pablo Larrain | 2012 | Chile, France, USA | 118 mins

A Booking Scheme smash hit, No stars Gael Garcia Bernal in the final part of Pablo Larrain’s loose Pinochet trilogy. Bernal is Saavedra an advertising executive who is reluctantly convinced to take on the No campaign in the upcoming referendum on Pinochet’s continuing presidency. Though the election was widely viewed as a corrupt and empty show of the democratic process the No campaign very quickly picks up a startling level of support and the possibility of ending Pinochet’s dictatorship starts to seem within sight.

The Great Beauty | Paolo Sorrentino | 2013 | Italy, France | 135 mins

Winner of the Foreign Language at this year’s Oscar ceremony, Paolo Sorrentino’s latest film is a sumptuous and glorious achievement. Toni Servillo, Sorrentino’s regular collaborator stars as Jep Gambardella, a talented but lazy writer who after a phenomenal debut novel has neglected his art and set about dominating Rome’s decadent nightlife. On the cusp of his 65th birthday though he begins to take stock of his life and of his city.

Gloria | Sebastian Lelio | 2013 | Chile | 110 mins

Receiving a rapturous reception on the festival circuit, particularly for Paulina Garcia, the eponymous Gloria, Sebastian Lelio’s film is a triumphant celebration of the indefatigable Gloria. Divorced and with her grown up kids growing distant Gloria is determined not to remain alone and starts attending Santiago’s nightclubs. She soon meets a retired naval officer Rodolfo with whom she shares an immediate attraction. But Rodolfo’s own divorce has left him markedly less free-spirited than Gloria and their relationship starts to falter.

Gravity | Alfonso Cuaron | 2013 | USA, UK | 88 mins

Alfonso’s Cuaron’s space disaster was equally adored for its photo-real special effects which allowed for one of the most immersive space-set films ever, and it’s crucial central performance from Sandra Bullock. Eschewing the stereotype that films so reliant on special effects skimp on strong characters, Bullock’s Dr Stone is the perfect anchor around which the action circles. Kicking off with a jaw-dropping 20 minute take, Gravity starts with a routine spacewalk that turns into a desperate fight for survival when a satellite crash leaves Stone stranded in space.

Philomena | Stephen Frears | 2013 | UK, USA, France | 97 mins

Telling the true story of Philomena Lee and her 50 year search for the son that was forcibly adopted from her Philomena was one of the most successful British films this year. Judi Dench stars as Philomena whose son was given up for adoption by the convent that she went to to give birth. Working on her own Philomena spent nearly 50 years searching for her son until her daughter contacted the journalist Martin Sixsmith who agreed to help Philomena with the search. Their investigation takes them to America and where they encounter a series of dramatic revelations.

The Act of Killing | Joshua Oppenheimer | 2012 | Denmark, Norway, UK | 115/159 mins


A surreal, unforgettable documentary that gets at the very question of man’s capacity for evil, Oppenheimer’s extraordinary film raises pertinent and uncomfortable questions. When his attempts to document the stories of the survivors of the Indonesian genocide were thwarted by the government Oppenheimer turned the camera on the perpetrators themselves, many of whom remain in positions of power. Startlingly comfortable talking about the horrific actions they undertook Oppenheimer plays on their love of American movies and invites them to re-enact their actions in the style of their favourite films. In the process the killers inadvertently force themselves to see their actions from the viewpoint of their victims.

Like Father, Like Son | Hirokazu Kore-eda | 2013 | Japan | 121 mins

Two families are notified by the hospital that their children were accidentally swapped at birth, 6 years before. The hospital recommends they slowly reintroduce their son’s to their biological families. The fable-like set-up allows Kore-eda to contrast different styles of upbringing – Ryota is a wealthy but strict father while Yudai struggles to keep his shop open but keeps his large family constantly entertained. While the parents try to determine what the best outcome is the children get on with enjoying their new extended families. A rewarding and touching drama with a huge heart.

The Selfish Giant | Clio Barnard | 2013 | UK | 87 mins

Updating Oscar Wilde’s story to working class England, The Selfish Giant is a brilliant social-realist tale. Arbor and Swifty are two working class kids who are expelled from school after Arbor intercedes in a fight between Swifty and the school bullies. The expulsion gives them more times to pursue their hobby/job – stealing scrap metal to sell to the terrifying dealer Kitten, who inhabits a fenced off scrap heap. Kitten spies an opportunity to take advantage of the kids who are forced to rely on him for much needed cash.

Make your nomination for the Film Society Film of the Year Award here – and we hope to see you in Sheffield in September!

A New Wave of Booking Scheme Titles

We’re very excited to now have 18 new titles available to book now on the Booking Scheme from our new partnership with New Wave Films! We’ll also be adding two more from them in the coming months, An Episode in the Life of an Iron picker will be available to book from the 14 July and When I Saw You (which we will be showing at the Booking Scheme Preview Day) will be available to book from the 25 August.
The collection includes a varied collection of some of the most highly regarded world cinema of recent years.

Here’s a quick round-up of what’s on offer:

5 Broken Cameras | Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi | Pal, Isr, Fra, Net | 2011 | 94 mins
Available now

Winning the Audience Award at Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2012 and nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2013, 5 Broken Cameras follows a Palestinian farmer, Emad Burnat, and his non-violent resistance in the face of the Israeli army. Using footage collected over 5 years and 5 different cameras, 5 Broken Cameras documents first-hand the violence and intimidation witnessed against people living near the barrier.

A Christmas Tale | Arnaud Desplechin | France | 2008 | 150 mins
Available now

Junon, the matriarch of a bitter, feuding family learns she needs an urgent bone transplant and so, over Christmas, brings the family together. Amidst tensions involving mental illness, loss and banishment, the Vuillard family learn of Junon’s illness, but the decision about who will donate, and whether to go ahead with the operation, sparks bitter rivalries, arguments and tremendous fallings out. Cannes favourite Arnaud Desplechin, directs Catherine Deneuve and Mathieu Almaric in this dark comedy. The question really is, who will give their mother the greatest gift this Noel?

An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker | Danis Tanovic | Bosnia & Herzegovnia, France, Slovenia | 2013 | 75 mins
Available 25 August

A poor Roma family faces further troubles when the mother Seneda is told she needs an urgent operation after a miscarriage but they lack medical insurance and can’t afford the hospital bills. Tanovic makes use of non-professional actors who are playing out an episode from their own lives.

Caesar Must Die | Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani | Italy | 2012 | 76 mins
Available now
The latest film from the Taviani brothers, who have been making films for over 60 years, Caesar Must Die picked up the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2012. The film tells the story of preparations for a performance of Julius Caesar inside a high security male prison. As Shakespeare’s play is recreated on the stage, it is also given life in the experiences and memories of the prisoners.

Elena | Andrey Zyvagintsev | Russia | 2011 | 109 mins
Available now
Elena is the dutiful housewife of Vladimir. Elena and Vladimir met later in life and both have children from previous marriages. They come from drastically different backgrounds and Elena’s marriage has brought her financial security. When Vladimir has a sudden heart attack he finds himself reunited with his estranged daughter and, in a surprise move, rewrites his will to give everything to her. Elena starts to panic for her part in the will which she has been counting on to ensure she can support her unemployed son, whom Vladimir hates. Winning the 2011 award for Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival, Elena is a daring film about familial ties.

How I Ended This Summer | Aleksey Popogrebskiy | Russia | 2010 | 130 mins
Available now

Existential thriller How I Ended This Summer won the BFI Film Festival Film of the Year Award in 2010. Recent graduate Pavel and seasoned meteorologist Sergei have to work at a polar station on a desolate and deserted island in the Arctic Ocean along together for several months. Almost abandoned on this remote outpost, with failing equipment and an unclear purpose paranoia and suspicion mounts, and the two start to hold important information back from each other.

In The Fog | Sergey Loznitsa | Bel, Lat, Rus, Ger, Net | 2012 | 127 mins
Available now
At the Western Frontiers of the USSR in 1942, the region is under German occupation. Sushenya, a rail worker, is arrested with a group of suspected saboteurs and is the only one that is spared from hanging. His survival draws suspicion from the resistance fighters who believe he is a traitor and plot revenge. In the continual unexpected twist of events Sushenya is forced to make a moral choice under immoral circumstances.

Le Quattro Volte | Michelangelo Frammartino | Ita, Ger, Swi | 2010 | 88 mins
Available now

Le Quattro Volte quietly tells the story of the last days of an old shepherd who lives with his goats in a medieval village in the beautiful south of Italy. The passing of time and life is told through beautiful imagery and wavering between drama and comedy.

Like Someone in Love | Abbas Kiarostami | Fra, Jap | 2012 | 109 mins
Available now
Only Kiarostami’s second film to be made outside Iran, Like Someone in Love is set in Tokyo and concerns the relationship between an elderly professor and a young prostitute over the course of a day. Though he has hired her Takeshi has no interest in sleeping with Akiko but solely in having some company. Nevertheless Akiko’s jealous boyfriend is determined to confront Takeshi.

The Missing Picture | Rithy Panh | Cambodia, France | 2013 | 92 mins
Available now
This Oscar nominated documentary explores the director’s experiences of life under the Khmer Rouge. Mixing archive footage with hand-made clay figures to recreate scenes never filmed or footage since lost, this is a deeply personal and affecting portrait of life under dictatorship.

Nostalgia for the Light | Patricio Guzmán | Chile | 2010 | 157 mins
Available now

The Atacama Desert in Chile sees two distinct groups of people searching; one is a group of astronauts looking for answers in the cosmos, the other is a group of mothers, survivors of Pinochet’s dictatorship, searching for the bodies of their loved ones who may or may not have been buried in the desert. A stunning documentary, full of hallucinatory images and rare insight.

Once Upon A Time In Anatolia | Nuri Bilge Ceylan | Turkey, Bosnia & Herzegovnia | 2011 | 157 mins
Available now
Over the course of one long night a convoy of policeman, a medical examiner and the state prosecutor escort two prisoners over the Anatolian steppes. The prisoners have confessed to murder but are reticent about giving away the location of the body. It is not clear if they are simply forgetful, lost or trying to buy themselves times. As the night wears on the mystery deepens but Ceylan’s focus is on the effects of the crime on those who surround it than with the crime itself. A masterful, entrancing film.

Silence | Pat Collins | Ireland, Germany | 2012 | 87 mins
Available now
Eoghan is a sound recordist who is tasked with recording background noise devoid of any man-made sounds. To do so he returns to rural Ireland where he grows up and travels around the countryside. Along the way he encounters others and is drawn into considering his own past: why he left and what he left behind.

Sleep Furiously | Gideon Koppel | UK | 2008 | 94 mins
Available now

Koppel’s documentary is a loving study of the small town in Ceredigion where he grew up – and where his parents found refuge from the Nazi’s in World War 2. The town is in slow decline and the instigator for the film is the closing of the local school – but Koppel finds many in the town who are still determined to revive the local economy and to preserve their hometown.

Still Walking | Hirokazu Koreeda | Japan | 2008 | 115 mins
Available now
The Yokoyama family reunite at their parents home to commemorate the tragic death of the eldest son. Though the house has stayed the same since the family left home each member of the family has subtly changed. Set over the course of a single day Still Walking is a perfectly performed drama and possibly the best example of Koreeda’s remarkable ability to evoke a powerful and thought-provoking emotional reaction.

Tabu | Miguel Gomes | Portugal, Germany, Brazil, France | 2012 | 118 mins
Available now
A restless retired woman teams up with her deceased neighbor’s maid to seek out a man who has a secret connection to her past life as a farm owner at the foothill of Mount Tabu in Africa.

Uncle Bonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives | Apichatpong Weeasethakul | Thailand, France, UK, Germany | 2010 |  114 mins
Available now

As he lies dying on his deathbed Uncle Bonmee relates the story of his many past lives to his loved ones. In his last days he is cared for by the ghost of his wife. A strange, wonderful and entirely original film Uncle Bonmee was the recepient of the Palme D’Or in 2010.

Unrelated | Joanna Hogg | UK | 2007 | 100 mins
Available now
Unhappily married Anna escapes on holiday with her friends, Verena and George to Tuscany. Once in Tuscany Anna chooses instead to spend most of her time with Verena and George’s teenage children. Though initially welcoming the children turn against her after a chance accident. Hogg is justly celebrated for her razor sharp depictions of the middle classes and her talents are perfectly formed in this debut feature.

The Wall | Julian Pölsler | Austria, Germany | 2012 | 108 mins
Available now
A woman is staying in a cabin in the woods with two friends. When they fail to return from a trip to town she sets out to find out where they are. Near the cabin she is stopped by an invisible wall and soon discovers she is trapped alone in the outdoors. With only her dog for company the woman must learn to fend for herself. An adaptation of Marlen Haushofer’s seminal novel.

When I Saw You | Annemarie Jacir | Palestine, Jordan, Greece, UAE | 2012 | 98 mins
Available 25 August 2014
Set in 1967 in the refugee camps in Jordan, Tarek, 11, is one of many Palestinians who have fled across the border to escape the fighting. Tarek struggles to adapt to life in the camp and longs for a way out – and to search for his father. His curiosity leads him to a group of people who are refusing to give up hope of returning home and with them Tarek finds a new purpose. An optimistic and tender coming of age story, When I Saw You has drawn rave reviews and is sure to be a hit with community cinema audiences.

Book a film.

Cinema of Childhood – available for a limited time!

The Cinema of Childhood is a special season of films presented by Mark Cousins and Filmhouse. Sparked in large by Cousins’ documentary A Story of Children and Film and the fact that many of the films Cousins featured were either unavailable in the UK or remained rarely seen; Cinema of Childhood is both a celebration of children in world cinema and a rare opportunity to screen some fantastic films. Many of the films made available through the season are only available for a very limited time and BFFS is thrilled to be able to offer 11 of these titles for non-theatrical screenings thanks to Filmhouse. Here we present an introduction to each of the films available. Don’t miss this chance to introduce some wonderful, poetic and joyous family films to your community cinema.

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Back Catalogue: Weekend

Having joined the BFFS team just over a month ago, I thought I’d  pick one of my favourite films out of the BFFS Booking Scheme back catalogue and write about it. I’ve picked the British realist film Weekend, which is one of the Peccadillo Pictures titles available now to book either on DVD or Blu-ray.

Weekend | Andrew Haigh | 2011 | UK | 97 mins

Writing this at the extended Easter bank holiday seems appropriate considering the premise of Andrew Haigh’s award winning 2011 feature film Weekend. The film starts on a Friday night. After attending a drunken house party with some of his straight friends Russell (Tom Cullen) heads over to a bar and picks up Glen (Chris New). Russell and Glenn proceed to share a tender and thought-provoking weekend together.

Considering recent debates over the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the UK and less progressive news of homosexual prejudice in Putin’s Russia, a film like Weekend is refreshing to see, despite being made three years ago. Although a film about two gay men, difference here is not emphasised. In his director’s statement Andrew Haigh has said of the film, “Just as there are many ways to define a person, the same can be said of a film. I hope that rather than narrowing the resonance of the story, the gay context helps to amplify the themes felt at the heart of Weekend – those struggles we all face regardless of sexuality.”

Russell and Glen are very relatable characters. Aspects of both strike a chord; Russell’s reluctance to make public displays of affection in public, Glen’s fears of taking a big risk in order to further his career. Through their interaction, as with any of our own romantic interactions, there is something to be learnt about acceptance. Rather than seeing something new through the relationship on screen, there is something in the union of these slightly opposing character types that can be recognised in all of us. A sense of quiet urgency is given to the subtle reflections brought out of Russell and Glen’s encounter, each character achieving a small personal victory at the end of the weekend.

The soft, naturalistic lighting and spontaneity of many of the shots in the film adds to the romance in the portrayal of private moments. The everyday quality and gentle tone of Russell and Glen’s revelations act as a contrast to Glen’s contemporary art piece in which he records people’s feelings the night after a one night stand. This leads one to think about the power of film to give power and gravitas to the small and non-extreme moments of life and relationships.

So like the tender thoughtful moments we have ourselves at the weekend – taking that little bit longer  to do the things we usually rush through, the first cup of coffee in the morning, reading the newspaper, walking to the supermarket – Weekend is a film to consider, long into the next weekend.

Book the film

Best of British

On April 1st BFFS is hosting a 35mm screening of This Is England at Film Unit, one of Sheffield’s community cinemas. The  screening will be introduced by Warp Films Head and BFFS Patron Mark Herbert who will also take part in a Q&A after the screening, along with special guests.
Before the main feature we will also be screening two short, Paddy Considine’s Dog Altogether and Dr. Easy from film-making collective SHYNOLA.
This is very special evening to help BFFS raise funds for our charitable work, and we are honoured to be supported by Warp Films. You can find out more about the event here.

To mark the event we’re taking a look at a few of the best British films available on the BFFS Booking Scheme.

Brazil | Terry Gilliam | 1985 | UK | 132 min

Gilliam’s surreal, satirical adaptation of 1984 (an original title was 1984 and a 1/2) is one of the most iconic dystopian films ever made. Dreaming up an impressively macabre futuristic city Gilliam’s film is an extraordinary triumph. The unfortunate protagonist is Sam Lowry, a lowly office worker whose neighbour, Harry Buttle, is mistakenly arrested by the authorities who are seeking the terrorist Harry Tuttle. When Lowry tries to rectify the mistake by reporting it to the government he is quickly marked as a terrorist and enemy of the state – a far simpler solution in the eyes of the bureaucratic engine than it is to actually admit they made a mistake. Forced to go on the run Sam encounters a beautiful worker, Jill, the same woman he has been dreaming about for months.

Dreams of a Life | Carol Morley | 2011 | UK | 95 min

When the body of Joyce Vincent was found in her Central London apartment 3 years after she had died with the television still on, Carol Morley set out to investigate who Joyce was and how this could have happened. A startling documentary revealing the truth of isolation even within the busiest and most populated areas, Dreams of a Life is also a celebration of the life of a woman who had become forgotten, even by her friends. Her outstanding debts for electricity, rent and everything else were consistently deferred but it was three years before anyone attempted to find out why they weren’t being paid. Because it had been so long since she had died a cause of death couldn’t be determined so Morley seeks out ex lovers, colleagues and friends to try to determine how and why a 30 year old woman could die in Central London and no one notice.

The Full Monty | Peter Cattaneo | 1997 | UK, USA | 91 min

After losing his job due to the closure of the steel mill at which he worked Gaz resorts to stealing scrap metal and selling it on to earn a living. Even with his illegal trading he is struggling to keep up with child support payments for his son Tom, who lives with Gaz’s ex wife. After seeing a huge queue outside a touring performance of Chippendale’s striptease act Gaz decides to launch his own version and soon recruits a group of ex steel workers and other working class men to create a locals version. In a bid to publicise the event to a group of sceptical women Gaz inadvertendly promises that the men will go ‘The Full Monty’, much to the anger of his fellow performers.

My Name is Joe | Ken Loach | 1998 | UK, Spain, Italy, France, Germany | 105 min

Joe, a recovering alcoholic from one of Glasgow’s poorest neighbourhoods, meets a social worker named Sarah. Though Sarah has seen many men like Joe, who still makes his living on the wrong side of the law, she is slowly won over by him. The first time she visits his house he plays her classical music explaining he discovered it after stealing tapes from a shop to sell on, but since no one wanted to buy them he kept them. Joe is naturally kind-hearted but has grown up in an area where unemployed is rife and crime is one of the few options to make a living. His best friend, Liam, is in debt to a drug dealer and Joe insists on trying to help, even if it jeopardises his attempts at going straight. As with the best of Loach’s films My Name Is Joe is an honest, real look at both the struggles of life and the determination and spirit that keeps people going. Both Sarah and Joe are under no illusions as to the likelihood of a happy future together but nevertheless give it a shot. A heartfelt, impassioned and moving film that features one of Peter Mullan’s best performances; for which he was awarded Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival.

Notes on a Scandal | Richard Eyre | 2006 | UK | 92 min

Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett lead this Oscar nominated psychological thriller. Barbara (Dench), a veteran and wearied teacher lives alone and is viewed by many of her colleagues and students as a bitter old woman. The arrival of a new teacher, Sheba (Blanchett) breaks Barbara’s seclusion. At first Sheba becomes the main subject of Barbara’s disgruntled attacks which she diligently notes down in a diary. Yet Sheba’s honest charm slowly wins Barbara over, much to her resentment, and Barbara finds herself more and more dependent on Sheba’s friendship. By chance she discovers Sheba is having an affair with one of her students but rather than report it Barbara finds an opportunity for manipulation.  Justly lauded upon release Notes on a Scandal remains a gripping drama centred on tremendous performances from Dench and Blanchett.

A Touch of Class | Melvin Frank | 1973 | UK | 106 min


An Oscar-winning romantic comedy A Touch of Class centres on Steve, a reasonably happily married man and his hapless affair with the recently divorced Vicki. Their initial liaison, while on holiday in Spain, is a comedy of blunders but on return to London they settle into a more functioning set-up. For a while they have the perfect love affair, uncomplicated and enjoyable until they both realise they are falling in love.

Wetherby | David Hare | 1985 | UK | 102 min

At a dinner party hosted by Jean (Vanessa Redgrave) , a somewhat withdrawn and lonely teacher – though she hides this as best as she can – one of the guests engages her attention by his enigmatic and singular personality. The following morning the same man turns up at her house unannounced  and commits suicide. Before the dinner Jean had never met the man before and assumed he was the guest of Marcia (Judi Dench) and Stanley (Ian Holm) but when she tries to find out more about him it turns out no one had ever seen him before. Her obsession with the man slowly unveils some dark truths lurking within the community as well as Jean’s own past. A masterful slow-burner, utterly gripping and an exemplary showcase of British acting talent.

BFFS at the ICO Screening Days April 2014

This Spring’s ICO Screening Days are once again taking place at the BFI Southbank. Over three days, April 5-7, 25 films will be previewed exclusively to those working or volunteering in film exhibition. As ever BFFS will be there for the weekend with 4 films coming to the BFFS Booking Scheme on show. We will also be on hand to answer questions about BFFS and the community cinema sector.

To find out more about the Screening Days click here.

Here’s a look at the Booking Scheme films that will be previewing over the weekend:

Wakolda (BFFS Pick) | Lucia Puenzo | 2013 | Argentina, France, Spain, Norway | 93 mins

Based on the director’s own novel, Wakolda tells a sinister story of a doctor who arrives at a small town in Patagonia. Though a charming, confident and generous man, Helmut Gregor, quickly arises suspicions. He arrives in the town alongside a new family who are undertaking ownership of a lakeside hotel. Gregor moves into the hotel while he finds a permanent accommodation and makes arrangements for his wife to join him. That his wife is never mentioned again is the first point of unease but its Gregor’s devoted interest in Lilith, the family’s young daughter, that raises her father’s suspicions. Since she was born prematurely Lilith has suffered a growth deficiency and is chastised at school for being a dwarf. Gregor plays on this humiliation to convince the family to let him treat her but her father, Enzo, is less convinced of Gregor’s earnest desires to help. His subsequent investigation reveals that Gregor is not at all who he appears to be.

Of Horses And Men | Benedikt Erlingsson | 2013 | Iceland | Germany | 81 mins


A series of interconnected stories within a rural Icelandic village, this magical realist film focuses on the relationships between the villagers and their horses, whom they rely on for work, transport and even friendship. In one story a man rides his horse out into the ocean to rendezvous with a Russian ship carrying vodka, but miscommunication promises an unexpected end. In another story a tourist is mesmerised by the  landscape and sets off to explore but gets stuck in a snow drift. Making the most of Iceland’s stunning countryside and marked by a delightfully idiosyncratic sense of humour, Of Horses and Men possesses a fable-like quality and is a loving ode to man and beast.

A Thousand Times Good Night | Erik Poppe | 2013 | Norway, Ireland, Sweden | 117 mins

Juliette Binoche gives an outstanding performance in this drama about a war photojournalist, Rebecca, who, after another near-death encounter, finds her husband is no longer willing to support her dangerous career. Reluctantly she gives in to her husband’s and her children’s concerns and agrees to accept a ‘safe’ assignment to a refugee camp. Her daughter joins her on the trip in order to learn more about humanitarian work. Not long after they arrive however soldiers move into the camp and Rebecca is faced with the agonising choice between keeping her daughter safe and documenting the atrocities being committed.

Based significantly on Poppe’s own experiences as a photojournalist, A Thousand Times Good Night is a powerful drama analysing the moral dilemmas such journalists face.

Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon | Mike Myers | 2014 | USA | 84 mins

Mike Myers’ directorial debut is an honest, immersive and lively account of the life and times of Shep Gordon, the influential manager of bands such as Alice Cooper and Pink Floyd, inventor of the celebrity chef, film producer and dedicated Buddhist; friend to the Dalai Lama.

Gordon became legendary in show business for both his wild antics and his extraordinary generosity; his only mantra as a manager was to ensure the band got paid which, in an industry usually marked by greed set him apart as a bit of an outsider. But Gordon was equally famous for his inventive publicity ideas – in one famous instance he arranged for a lorry advertising an Alice Cooper gig, which had been selling poorly, to ‘break down’ on the Piccadilly Circus roundabout. Though the driver was eventually arrested the ensuing 15 mile traffic jam raised enough attention that the gig sold out the following day.
Myers befriended Gordon while fighting over music rights for Wayne’s World and his close friendship ensures that Gordon is completely open to Myers’ questions. Unafraid to delve into sordid details or shocking anecdotes the wild life of Shep Gordon is told in illuminating interviews from both Gordon and his many associates including Michael Douglas and Alice Cooper.

Forest Row Film Society Picks pt 2

Brad Scott from Forest Row Film Society takes a look at six Booking Scheme Titles that are on their shortlist for next season.

As part of Forest Row Film Society’s programme planning activity we’ve been checking out more of the intriguing titles lurking on the booking scheme.

Fish Story | Yoshihio Nakamura |Japan | 2009 | 112 mins

Combining humour, martial arts, music, sci fi and messianic terrorism, punk saves the world in this wonderfully bonkers Japanese feature. Jumping back and forth between events happening in several different years, the plot has at its core a song by an early 70s Japanese punk band [sic]. It’s entertaining and fun, and would be ideal for a (slightly) younger audience that enjoys quirky movies.

Rumba | Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Bruno Romy | Belgium/France | 2008 | 77 mins

Before The Fairy (2011) Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy made this delightful visual comedy. After 25 years of touring and theatre work, Rumba was their second foray to bring their wonderful observational and physical humour to the screen. At only 77 minutes you may want to programme something else with it (a Keaton short would be perfect), but for an audience that appreciates this kind of drole clowning it is essential viewing. I loved it.

Lost Embrace | Daniel Burman | Argentina | 2004 | 100 mins

Set in a shopping mall in Buenos Aires full of a small army of intriguing characters, Ariel helps his mother run a lingerie business while hanging out with Rita from one of the other shops, and planning his escape to Europe. He gradually finds out more about his father in Israel, and about his grandmother’s youth in Poland. Filmed mostly hand-held and often busily trawling around the people and events of the mall, Lost Embrace is a very engaging, humorous, and talkative film. It won two Silver Bear awards at the Berlin film festival.

Cousin Cousine | Jean-Charles Tacchella | France | 1975 | 92 mins

Not only is this the story of an affair between two cousins who meet at a family wedding, but it is now a pleasurable period piece of 70s French cinema. Marthe (Marie-Christine Barrault) and Ludovic (Victor Lanoux) don’t actually intend to have an affair, but when everyone assumes they are, well, it just happens. The New York Times got it right when it said the film “possesses a heart that is both light and generous”, which is down to its lovely ensemble cast.

Fireworks Wednesday | Asghar Farhadi | Iran | 2006 | 98 mins

Before A Separation and before About Elly, Asghar Farhadi made this cracking drama, focussing on the fractures in a marriage as Teheran prepares for the New Year celebrations. Roohi gets some work cleaning the apartment of a middle class couple and finds herself in the middle of extreme animosity and suspicions. Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian called it “A formidable and technically accomplished drama”, and he’s right. Stunning.

Soul Power | Jeffrey Kusuma-Hinte | USA | 2008 | 92 mins

In 1974, alongside the famed fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire, there was also a fabulous concert, uniting musicians from Africa with many of the leading soul performers. This film finally assembled together the footage from the gig and the lead-up to it to create what now seems like a record of a distant age. Filmed in Kinshasa, this is a world away from Benda Bilili! and the more recent history of central Africa. With great performances from Miriam Makeba, James Brown, Bill Withers and B.B. King, this is a fascinating concert film.

Fireworks Wednesday

Playing out over the course of  one day over the Persian New Year, Asghar Farhadi’s 2006 film has only recently arrived in the UK, courtesy of Axiom Films. A sophisticated drama, Fireworks Wednesday is further proof of the formidable talents of the director of About Elly, A Separation and the forthcoming The PastContinue reading

Coming Soon – Fire in the Blood & How to Survive A Plague

In March two new documentaries focusing on the AIDS epidemic from very different angles will be joining the BFFS Booking Scheme courtesy of Network Releasing. The first, Fire in the Blood, addresses the culpability of western governments and pharmaceutical companies in preventing cheap AIDS medicines from reaching those suffering from the disease in poorer countries. The second, How to Survive a Plague, charts the work of two US based protest groups who tackled political and social prejudices against AIDS sufferers and successfully fought to change government policy and to lower the prices of vital drugs. Continue reading

Like Father Like Son

New on the booking scheme

A slew off new releases from Peccadillo Pictures kicks off February and in the next few months we have a selection of new (And some familiar) titles from Arrow Films.

A Magnificent Haunting | Ferzan Ozpetek | 2012 | Italy | 105 mins
Available now

After the hugely popular Loose Cannons Ferzan Ozpetek returns with another spectacular comedy. A young aspiring actor, Pietro, moves to Rome in the hope of landing a starring role. He takes a job in a bakery to support himself while he tries for auditions and when he hears of a slightly run-down apartment going for cheap he snaps it up to escape his overprotective cousin. When he arrives he finds the previous tenant too scared to come inside to collect her things – and it quickly transpires that the flat is haunted. To Pietro’s delight however, the ghost are the members of a 1940s theatrical troupe who offer to help him coach him for a forthcoming audition if he will track down their missing member.

Kuma | Umat Dag | 2012 | Austria | 93 mins
Available now

Umat Dag, a Turkish-Austrian filmmaker, presents his debut feature – a precise and illuminating depiction of an unusual marriage. Ayse a 19 year old Turkish woman is chosen to be married to Hasan, the son of Fatma and Mustafa. However when Ayse arrives in Austria where Hasan’s family live it quickly becomes apparent that she is destined to be the second wife of Mustafa, given Fatma’s ailing health. Though manipulative, Fatma, is from a villain, dedicated as she is to ensuring her husband will be cared for after her passing, and Dag takes care to ensure the audience can understand each character’s motivations.

In the Name Of… | Malgorzata Szumowska | 2013 | Poland | 102 mins
Available now

A Catholic priest, Adam, is sent to help run a halfway house in rural Poland. He turned to religion fairly late, at 21, and it seems that he, like the boys in the retreat, is running away from something. The enforced isolation, though unexplained it is clear Adam does not wish to be here, causes him to harbour thoughts of temptation. Though Adam claims that his religion has been liberating for him, it is apparent that he is also refusing to acknowledge his desires. Winner of two awards at Berlinale 2013.

Any Day Now | Travis Fine | 2012 | USA | 98 mins
Available now

A dramatisation of the landmark 1970s court case in which a homosexual couple fought for adoption rights. Alan Cumming is Rudy Donatello, a musician and drag performer who is dating Paul Feiger (Garret Dillahunt), an assistant district attorney who has only come out to Rudy. Rudy’s neighbour, Marianne a drug addict with a disabled son, is busted for possession and her son, Marco is left uncared for. Distraught that Marco is being left to fend for himself Rudy takes him in and applies for custody of the child. However when his relationship with Paul becomes known the authorities take Marco away and Rudy convinces Paul to fight for the right for gay couples to adopt children for their neighbour’s disabled son after his mother was imprisoned. Both Dillahunt and Cumming give astounding performances in Fine’s impassioned drama.

I Wish | Hirokazu Koreeda | 2011 | Japan | 128 mins
Available now

Returning to the Booking Scheme this month I Wish has already proven a hit with community cinemas. A sweet family drama, I Wish focuses on two brothers who’ve parents have split up, Koichi lives with his mother while Ryu lives with his father. The arrangement is supposed to show that the split is temporary but as months go by it begins to seen more and more permanent. Joichi and Ryu dream of getting their family back together and over the phone they hatch a plan inspired by the rumour that if you make a wish at the precise point where two of Japan’s new bullet trains pass each other at top speed the incredible energy at that point will make it come true. The only problem is getting there…

A Hijacking | Tobias Lindholm | 2013 | Denmark | 103 mins
Screen from 1 May 2014

Another familiar film – A Hijacking will be rejoining the BFFS Booking Scheme this May! Tobias Lindholm’s masterful thriller has been justly praised for its spectacular direction, strong performances and unnerving tension. Lindholm, who wrote the Oscar nominated The Hunt, meticulously researched this dramatisation of the hijacking of a Dutch cargo ship off the coast of Somalia. The attention to detail heightens our immersion and the film is riveting and suspenseful. Split between the crew held hostage on the boat and the negotiations taking place from the shipping company headquarters, A Hijacking shows the extraordinary pressures on both sides of the crisis. Pilou Asbæek and Søren Malling, stars of Borgen and frequent collaborators with Lindholm, are exceptional as the ship’s cook and the company CEO who takes on the negotiations personally respectively.

Love Is All You Need | Susanne Bier | 2012 | Denmark, France, Italy, Sweden, Germany | 116 mins
Screen from 20 April 2014

Susanne Bier’s bittersweet romantic comedy makes the most of a catalogue of problems for her leads which makes their eventual meeting all the more rewarding. Ida (Trine Dyrholm), a hairdresser who’s undergoing chemotherapy (the original Danish title was a ‘The Bald Hairdresser’) finds her husband cheating on her shortly before they are due to fly out to their daughter’s wedding. Philip (Pierce Brosnan, expertly cast) a widower and a lemon seller is similarly frustrated by life and evidently Ida and Philip are fated to meet. What makes Love Is All You Need such a joy is the rich characters, the bitter humour and terrific chemistry. 

Looking for Hortense | Pascal Bonitzer | 2012 | France | 100 mins
Screen from 10 August 2014

A droll French comedy starring Kirsten Scott Thomas and Jean-Pierre Bacri. Damien and Iva, a well-to-do Parisian couple who are nevertheless bored with each other and both considering affairs. Iva however needs to keep Damien on side at least so she can use him to acquire work papers for her relative who’s being threatened with deportation. As ever Thomas gives a fantastic performance.

Like Father, Like Son | Hirokazu Koreeda | 2013 | Japan | 121 mins
Screen from 20 October 2014

Koreeda latest film concerns two Japanese families who learn that their 6 year old sons were accidentally swapped at birth after the hospital uncovers evidence of its mistake. The two families are encouraged to spend a  period of 12 months getting to know each other before swapping their sons back. The film focuses on one of the fathers, Ryota Nonomiya, a busy architect who has raised Keita to be a hardworking, disciplined and successful child. His biological son, Ryusei has been brought up in a larger, more laid back family; poorer but happier. Ryota and the other parents worry: which child has had the better upbringing? Which child should live where? Meanwhile the boys delight in exploring new homes and new surroundings. It’s a playful and delightful film,that toys with the ‘Nature vs. Nurture’ debate and explores how the familial bond is developed.

Looking further ahead; South Korean thriller The Taste of Money is available from 1 November 2014 and daring Danish comedy Klown is available from 7 December 2014.