Thursday, 7 March 2013

19th Bradford International Film Festival

You know it's early when even the cat is wondering what you're doing up.

And so it was this morning that, a bleary Richard Parker peering at a grey, damp world from the safety and warmth of the office window, we set off to the great city of Bradford for the grand unveiling of this year's international film festival.

Have you ever tried to get into Bradford for 9am? Don't. It takes forever. Especially when a bus breaks down and no one seems able to spot the high-level flashing hazard lights until they're right behind the damn thing thus forcing themselves to have to just pull out into the other lane.


On the upside, you get a great cup of tea at the National Media Museum. And a bacon sarnie. So it's worth it.

It's also worth it as we were being introduced to the delights that await those coming to this, the 19th Bradford International Film Festival, in partnership with Virgin Media and being held in the first UNESCO City Of Film (you haven't seen the signs plastered all over the city? No, me neither...).

And what a cracker it promises to be.

Grabbing the headlines are the two big films that will be bookending the extravaganza - the festival opens with The Look Of Love and closes with The Reluctant Fundamentalist, both of which look cracking.

TLOL, as it shall become known by the lazy typists among us, tells the story of Paul Raymond - England's answer to Hugh Heffner. Played by Steve Coogan and directed by Michael Winterbottom - and also starring Anna Friel - it promises to be a no-holds-barred look at the ups and downs of life as a premier pornographer, a promoter par excellence and a family torn apart by wine, women and, well, more women. And champagne.

Early word from Sundance has this up there with 24-Hour Party People. It's gonna be a belter.

All of which is a far cry from The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Based on the Booker-shortlisted best seller, TRF (laziness rules) looks at one man's changing view of the world post 9/11 as he questions his privileged Wall Street position given what is happening back in his home country of Pakistan.

Starring Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland (who seems to be struggling to escape the shadow of Jack Bauer) and the excellent Riz Ahmed (he of Four Lions fame), the clips we've seen suggest this is also going to be something special.

Light on laughs, sure, but tense and edgy as a tense and edgy thing being particularly tense and edgy.

In between these two, there is a whole raft of filmic loveliness. A preview screening of Joss Whedon's take on Much Ado About Nothing is on the cards, there's a celebration of 100 years of Bollywood (including a screening of the few scenes remaining from the first ever flick to come out of Mumbai), a whole Widescreen weekend celebrating 60 years of CinemaScope (featuring a 35mm print of How To Marry A Millionaire, and a 70mm print of The Longest Day. I'm getting giddy just typing that), Bradford After Dark III (a host of horror fun, including Rob Zombie's The Lords Of Salem) and live fun and games with comedian Aidan Goatley and the glorious Dodge Brothers playing along to silent classic The Ghost That Never Returns.

And that's still not everything.

There's stuff going on all over the city, with screenings in the cathedral and City Park (go, enjoy the fountains, soak in the family atmosphere, try not to think what else £25m could have been spent on in these austere times...), workshops, and a special honour for acting legend Sir Tom Courtenay.

For the full list of what's on when and how to get tickets, pop over here:

Bradford sometimes struggles to come out from the shadow of Leeds, but with this festival the city really puts itself on the map.

Popcorn at the ready, we're starting the queue...

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