For this I was required to venture into the forsaken wasteland of the north once again, as it was held in Manchester. I had passed through on my way to Bacup, but now I could truly take the city in. Turns out it's cold and the streets are really badly signposted. At one point I spent about two hours trying to find one of the venues only to realise that I was one street down from where I thought I was. Amazing. I was also propositioned by a prostitute on my first evening (though not on any subesequent evening, interestingly).
To be honest this was kind of my least favourite festival. The selection was rather weak and there wasn't really anything going on socially until the last evening. However, there were still highlights.
There were a few feature previews. The first I saw was Duane Hopkins' Better Things, focusing on three parties, a schoolgirl tormented by her jealous ex, an elerly couple struggling with a past infidelity, and, would you believe it, a hikikomori girl, whose main human contact is her dying grandmother. I felt it was enjoyable enough but not massively memorable.
The second feature was Phil Hawkins' The Butterfly Tattoo, based on the Philip Pullman novel of the same name. It's not the kind of film I'd usually go out of my way to watch, but I did rather enjoy it. This may have been helped by the fact that at least half the audience consisted of the cast and crew, which provided a great atmosphere, and the Q&A session afterwards was great fun, too.
The last I saw was Lindy Heymann's Kicks, about two girls who are so obsessed with star footballer Lee Cassidy they end up kidnapping him, but things swiftly go very pearshaped. This was, again, not something I would normally have gone to see, but was in fact very entertaining.
The shorts were divided up into categories. Rather than running through all of those, however, I'll just pick out the films I felt most noteworthy. As I mentioned, though, I felt this selection particular was a bit weak so there may not be that many.
Camille e Mariuccia (Samuel Romano) (sorry, link has no subtitles): About a young man, Elio, and an old man, Piero, both of whom are missing their other halves. Piero bugs Elio to drive him to the nearest police station to identify a body that may belong to his senile, wandering wife, while Elio is still coping with his breakup with his girlfriend. Like so many of my favourite films at this festival, this was a simple but poignant character study, and really enjoyable.
Hair (Stewart Comrie): It's about hair. You never would've guessed, would you? I'm good like that. It's all done in stop-motion with real hair, and it's actually quit impressive, to be honset I'm at a loss as to how he actually managed to pull alot of it off.
What Lies Behind Smiling Eyes (Robert Brandon): I'm not gonna spoil it as the twist is too good. A genuine surprise, I loved the hell out of this (enough to heckle the director when he got up on stage at some point, I don't remember why, as this apparently wasn't up for a prize or anything).
I think that's all, really.
A bunch of mates also had films showing here, including Andrea Malaskova and Danny Boyle, who I studied with, and Matt Marsh, who also studied at Kingston in the year before me. I also bumped into Mike Please, whom I sort of knew through contacts at Picasso Pictures, and Flynn, who I met at Bacup! It was kind of amusing to see him at both the first and last festival on my rounds. I also, to my great amusement, met Blaire Mowat, whom I knew through a rather ill-fated project I did with some colleagues, again, at Kingston. We all had a jolly drink up on the last night.
And that's that, I believe. At least, until I go to more festivals. I've got into the International Anifest in the Czech Republic (which is where Andrea hails from, coincidentally). I plan to go, as long as I can get my lazy ass round to actually booking the travel! It's a spa town, apparently, so I hope the weather's good. I will, of course, write a really boring account of that, too, only it won't be as belated as all these. I hope you enjoyed them, by the way.