Thursday, 11 December 2008

Bacup Film Festival

I've been putting this off a fair bit, but I'm now going to start my long-promised rundown of all the festivals I went to last month (as if anybody reads this blog, hohoho). I'll give each one a seperate entry, and the first up is the Bacup Film Festival.

Held in the amazingly tiny hamlet of Waterfoot, in the middle of nowhere (the Rossendale Valley, which itself is somewhere in East Lancashire). It was an interesting start to my restival rounds as it was certainly the smallest I would go to, but also the furthest I would have to travel. I did get to stay in a really nice B&B though (although it wasn't especially cheap, but considering it was technically a double room and the shower was better than any I've used in the last five years I can't complain).

The festival itself took place in the Horse and Bamboo Theatre, and basically consisted of a couple of days of whoever wanted to turn up watching short films on a reasonably big projector screen, with drinks in-between, until the awards and best-of-fest at which point loads of people suddenly turned up, complete with local press and MP. I got talking to some people, including a nice Manchester lad called Flynn, a guy from Canada called Tyler (both of whom had films in the festival; though neither of them are online so I can't link) and others.

Overall the selection was, to be honest, a bit shaky. However, I later found it's actually more fun that way: onedotzero, for example, (which I'll cover later) had a consistently very high standard, but was somehow less memorable for it. I won't list loads of films, but here are some that caught my eye:

Bene 'N' Burnley: James Graham & Ricardo Martensen
A documentary about the Burnley Miners' Social Club, which apparently sells more Benedictine liqueur than anywhere else in the world. Basically lots of old people talking, and I'm all about old people talking. Though in all seriousness I did like that it informed about something specific and unknown, without getting so wrapped in that that it forgot to be interesting or relevant. This won best documentary.

Back In Ten: Barney Heywood (link is only an extract)
A boy waiting for his dad to come back from the supermarket ends up talking to a definitely-not-a-paedophile (really) old guy who is apparently Janis Joplin (somehow). A nice character piece, I thought, though maybe a bit forced in some aspects. Won best fiction, I think.

Red Sands: David Procter (no video link, sadly).
A documentary about bullfighting, but rather than trying to be an animal-rights piece, as one would expect, it highlights the dilemma between the cruelty of the practice and the importance and beauty of the tradition and sport. Proof of its success in this is shown by the following two quotes from this page:

‘Fuck bullfighting’
- Nedelcho Bogdanov – Director (Bulgaria)

‘That’s the first pro-bullfighting film I’ve seen outside of Spanish culture’
Rodgrigo Rios Legaspi – Director (Mexico)

Apparently some people left out of disgust during the awards ceremony, which I think is pretty cool. It's clear, though, that people's reactions to it very much stem from their own preconceptions. It won the Grand Jury Award, though oddly I didn't see it at any of the other festivals, even though it's already done the rounds in other countries.

I actually got to meet and speak to David (director) and Geoffrey Bellhouse (assistant director), who are both capital blokes, and we ended up getting shown around the inner workings of the theatre (including a spectacular collection of masks, costumes, and props which I wish my sister could've seen). Afterwards we went to a pub and got fairly pissed, then caught dinner in a nearby kebab shop, where we meet by far the ugliest woman I've ever seen. She took a liking to me and sat very-much-too-close to me before her older (and slightly less hideous) sister chased her away, and thus saved my life.

I know this anecdote is pretty lame without photographs, but unfortunately the only camera I have is a piece of rubbish so I never take it anywhere. You'll just have to picture it.

Other films I feel I should mention, even if I can't link to all of them:
Fashion Death: Daniel Rodrigo, which I'm actually mentioning because it was so awful. Just click the link and try to sit through it all (I had to do this twice, as it won Best Experimental Eilm).
All-Night Cafe: Flynn what's-his-name (sorry), who I mentioned above. Documentary filmed in a local 24-hour cafe, I thought it could've been really good but sadly he could only film for one evening due to an "incident", and had to just make do.
Pitch: Tyler Keevil (mentioned above), two film-makers stuck for an idea end up taking things to comedic extremes, I'd end up seeing this again at Filmstock.
How I Learned To Love Richard Gere: Detsky Graffam, first time I watched this I hadn't actually heard of Richard Gere (which I gather is fairly embarassing). Whether this made it better or not I'm not sure, but it was pretty funny.
I can't name either, but there were also two literally 5-second long animations (both stop-motion), which I thought a bit odd, to say the least.

All in all I enjoyed the Bacup Film Festival, enough that I might even go next year (if I feel I want an excuse to travel to Lancashire). This is not at all influenced by the fact that I won Best Animation (and a rather nice hunk of trophy-shaped glass) with Hikikomori.

Next up is the Canterbury Anifest, which I'll cover whenever I can be bothered.


Hack said...

Hi Jonathan,
I enjoyed your blog, the comments were hilarious. As a resident of Rossendale I can relate to the scenario.
However, for future reference Waterfoot is a village - not a Hamlet, although other cigars are available!


zoofly52 said...

Hi Jonathan,

Glad you enjoyed my film (How I Learned to Love Richard Gere). And may I say how impressed and envious I am that you have never heard of Richard Gere.

All the best,