Over eleven days from 19 – 29 April the National Media Museum in Bradford – UNESCO’s first City of Film – will play host to the 18th Bradford International Film Festival in partnership with Virgin Media. Celebrating all things cinematic, from the briefest short made on a micro budget, to 3D IMAX and widescreen epics screened in glorious Cinerama, this year’s event promises to present its usual eclectic mix of more than 25 UK and international feature premieres, cult classics, internationally recognised guests, tributes, themed programmes, industry events, documentaries and family features.
This year’s highlights include: a Ray Winstone Retrospective (in the presence of the ‘Sexy Beast’ himself); a tribute to animation giant, Chuck Jones; as well as silent film pianist Neil Brand with film critic Mark Kermode’s skiffle band The Dodge Brothers accompanying Beggars of Life. And the much loved Widescreen Weekend (27 - 29 April) will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Cinerama.
Ray Winstone Retrospective – Reflecting a career spanning more than 30 years beginning with his seminal central role in Alan Clarke’s borstal drama Scum (1979), and including: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (dir. Lou Adler, 1982), a rare screening for the cult film featuring Winstone as the lead singer in a punk band featuring ex-Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook, and Paul Simonon from The Clash; Jonathan Glazer’s Sexy Beast, with Winstone as the retired safe-cracker strong-armed into doing one last job (2000); Beowulf (dir. Robert Zemeckis, 2007) with Winstone’s motion captured performance in the title role, and the multi-award winning, Nil by Mouth (1997), Gary Oldman’s searing semi-autobiographical portrayal of a south London family terrorised by an alcoholic husband played by Winstone.
Winstone will be in Bradford to take part in a Screentalk on Saturday 21 April, ahead of a film from the retrospective.
2012 is the first edition of BIFF programmed by joint Festival Directors Tom Vincent and Neil Young.
Tom Vincent said: “Eighteen is pretty mature in film festival years, and we think that by now we’ve come to know ourselves: we’re a celebration of cinema in all its forms. BIFF’s very special mixture of world-class facilities and sheer enthusiasm for films means that a single day with us could involve taking in epic spectacle, wild experimental provocations, candid interviews, live music, unearthed gems, and a hot new preview. What we’re saying is: “cinema can do all this, and more,” and we can’t wait to reveal the full programme next month…”
Neil Young said: “The US has got Nick Nolte, Jeff Bridges and Brian Dennehy… we’ve got Ray Winstone. When you look back through the films and TV he’s made over the last five decades and all the outstanding directors he’s worked with - Scorsese, Spielberg, Minghella, Loach, Zemeckis, and all the way back to Alan Clarke - you start to realise what a unique contribution this man has made to our culture in general and to film in particular. Ray is currently - like his beloved West Ham - on the crest of a wave, so it’s an ideal time to salute and recognise one of the most reliably excellent actors working anywhere in the world today.”
Widescreen Weekend / 60th Anniversary of Cinerama (Friday 27 April – Monday, 30 April) - In 1952 in New York, Cinerama delivered a brand new widescreen cinema experience by simultaneously using three projectors to blaze a huge image across a curved screen. The National Media Museum’s Pictureville is now the only public cinema outside the USA to feature this historic technology and the venue, and BIFF’s Widescreen Weekend, is at the heart of the Cinerama is 60 celebrations.
Opening the weekend is Cinerama’s Russian Adventure (dir. Boris Dolin, Vasily Kafanian, Roman Karmen, Solomo, 1966), which was rescued from a Hollywood basement in 2006 and restored by Cinerama expert and documentary film maker Dave Strohmaier. This extraodinary film features a troika racing along a snow-covered road, divers in the Sea of Okhotsk battling an octopus and a trip to the Moscow Circus and Strohmaier will be present to talk about the restoration project, as well as recent filming with the Cinerama camera for the first time in 50 years.
Further widescreen wonders on Saturday 28 April include Ryan’s Daughter 70mm (dir. David Lean, 1970) and the Oscar winning The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (dirs. George Pal, Henry Levin, 1962) starring Lawrence Harvey and (BIFF Lifetime Achievement winner) Claire Bloom - an exceptional piece of cinematic history as the first of only two Cinerama feature films ever made.
On Sunday, film historian and restoration expert Kevin Brownlow presents a screening of the famous Michael Todd movie Around the World in 80 Days (dir. Michael Anderson, 1956).
Centenary tribute to Chuck Jones – BIFF will also be celebrating 100 years since the birth of a truly legendary director who brought the world some of Bugs Bunny’s, Elmer Fudd’s, Road Runner’s and Daffy Duck’s, greatest moments in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. Jones (1912 – 2002) was at the forefront of Warner Brothers’, and North America’s, ‘golden era’ of animation, and BIFF will be screening 20 of his shorts throughout the festival. Films include Road Runner’s first outing in Fast and Furry-ous (1949), as well as What’s Opera, Doc? (1957), Duck Amuck (1953), Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century (1953) and One Froggy Evening (1955), which together take up four of the top five places in Jerry Beck’s The 50 Greatest Cartoons, as voted for by 1000 animation professionals in 1994.
In addition to specially selected medleys of Jones’s films being screened, BIFF’s family weekend events (21 & 22 April and 28 & 29 April) feature activities for all ages inspired by the animator’s delightfully unique sense of entertainment. Free drop-in family workshops at the National Media Museum include Looney Tunes Sound Effects and Cartoon Creations, allowing visitors bring their own animated characters to life.
The Dodge Brothers (Saturday 21 April, 5pm) - Featuring BBCTV Culture Show’s film critic Mark Kermode on double bass, The Dodge Brothers, accompanied by renowned pianist Neil Brand, will provide a live soundtrack to the classic 1928 melodrama, Beggars of Life (1928), starring Louise Brooks and Wallace Beery.
Details of further special events, star guests and an incredible variety of films will be revealed in the coming weeks. Film Lovers passes and tickets for selected events are now available from: www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk/biff or the National Media Museum box office 0844 856 3797. Individual tickets are due to go on sale in March.