Independent Cinema Office Blog

News and views on the world of independent film

Posts from August 2006

Edinbrugh 2006 - Wednesday 23 August

Posted Wednesday 23 August 2006 by Becky Clarke in Festival Reports

My final day at the festival and it seems to have flown by. I begin the day with my last Mitchell Leisen film ‘The Lady is Willing’ (it will seem strange going back to the office, not having my morning fix of old fashioned Hollywood glamour!). Moving into a period where Leisen has parted ways with his long standing producer Arthur Hornblow Jr., and which Leisen doesn’t consider to be his best work. ‘The Lady is Willing’ is a solid comedy with Marlene Dietrich and Fred McMurray giving great performances as the unlikely pairing of stage diva and scientific researcher as they embark on a marriage of convenience, which proves not to be strictly business.

Next on the agenda for the day is a debate on Screen Exhibition in Scotland. With addresses from Ken Hay (Scottish Screen), Mark Cousins (Filmmaker and Broadcaster), Paul Corcoran (Kino Cinema, Hawkhurst), Clive Gillman (Dundee Contemporary Arts) and Morgan Petrie (Scottish Screen). The afternoon proves to be an interesting session with lively discussions from exhibitors and authorities from around the UK.

With some reluctance I move onto my final film of the festival ‘Mutual Appreciation’. A low budget American film shot in B&W 16mm. At first I thought seemingly amateur but it soon developed into a smart, funny and fantastically observed piece of work, which makes you feel as though you are a background character in the story, along for the ride…without having to suffer the morning after hangovers or relationship problems! What a great way to end my festival experience. I came out of the cinema feeling invigorated and lifted – which should stand me in good stead as I embark on the journey back to London!

Edinburgh 2006 - Tuesday 22 August

Posted Tuesday 22 August 2006 by Becky Clarke in Festival Reports

Day 2 and I have another exciting line up of films. The day begins, again, with another Mitchell Leisen classic (which is slowly becoming the favourite part of my day). 'Hold Back the Dawn' is a masterful tale of desire, intrigue and betrayal. Olivia de Havilland has never looked as beautiful as the naive school teacher Emmy Brown, who falls for the charms of Georges Iscovescu (Charles Boyer), a Romanian gigolo who tricks de Havilland into marriage as a means of emigrating to the USA.

Next up is 'House of Sand' (Casa De Areia). Set in 1910, the film follows the life of Áurea (Fernanda Torres) who is forced to abandon her urban life for a new one with her husband in the vast and inhospitable dunes of the Northern Brazil desert. Stunningly shot against a backdrop of harsh environmental conditions, the female leads weave an enduring story of three generations of life.

Feeling slightly hypnotised by 'House of Sand' I head for the next film ' Wide Awake' which I hope lives up to it's title! Alan Berliner’s light-hearted documentary considers his insomnia and to a lesser extent his filmmaking. Berliner embarks on an exploration into the world of sleep; why we need it and, in particular, why he seems unable to obtain it. This is not a conclusive narrative of insomnia that offers and quick solutions but a glimpse at the filmmaker's battle to balance sleep and family life without substituting his creative practices.

The final film of the day is 'Hotel Harabati' (De Particulier à Particulier) . A stylish and mysterious film that explores the paranoia and journey of a French couple, Philippe and Marian, who pick up a bag left by an enigmatic stranger at the train station. This slightly bewildering film steers the audience in and out of the realms of reality. I leave 'Hotel Harabati' feeling bemused yet mellow and head for bed to get ready for the next day of visual treats!

Edinburgh 2006 - Monday 21 August

Posted Monday 21 August 2006 by Becky Clarke in Festival Reports

I lined up four films to see today, the first a Mitchell Leisen retrospective 'Arise, My Love'. A witty romantic melodrama set against the backdrop of Hitler's marching war machine at the start of the Second World War. Claudette Colbert and Ray Milland play the films endearing leads, Colbert displaying sass and gumption that are all too rare in leading ladies today, whilst Milland is charismatic and loveable as the film's leading man. With an excellent script, written by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, with just the right balance of sexual innuendo and romance, it guides you through the story which transforms from a plucky romantic caper into a call to arms for isolationist America. This certainly was an enjoyable way to start my festival viewing. A film that's humour and style is still all evident today some 66 years later. The other films would have a lot to live up to!

The second film of the day was 'East of Havana', a documentary looking at the emerging youth rap culture in Cuba. The film follows the day to day lives of 3 budding hip hop MCs in East Havana. Whose music although inspired by the American hip hop scene concentrates it's content on social problems in modern day Cuba. The documentary focuses on the story of an upcoming rap festival and also segways into the situation of familial separation. However, the most enthralling and inspiring element of the documentary are the films characters. Extremely articulate and impassioned young adults that represent a growing socially aware youth movement in current day Cuba. This passion was echoed by the film's directors Jauretsi Saizabitoria and Emilia Menocal who were there to answer questions after the screening.

Having had quite a politically rallying morning I switched pace in the afternoon to offbeat American indie films. 'The Treatment', a well written independent comedy set in New York, follows the hapless Jake Singer (Chris Eigeman) through the wonderful world of therapy and his closet of many issues. With good performances from Eigeman and Ian Holm this is an enjoyable and intelligent film which will engage you for its 86 minutes but doesn't quite have the enjoyable quirky aftertaste that you get from the likes of 'The Squid and the Whale'.

My final film of the day was 'Gretchen', from the same vain as 'Napoleon Dynamite' and 'Welcome to the Dollhouse'. The film sets out telling the story of Gretchin Finkle, a stereotypical school nerd who falls in love with Ricky (in contrast to other films in this genre, Ricky is not the school heartthrob but another misfit). Although the film starts off humorous and kooky, you soon feel it gets a little bit lost and lose interest in the characters and the worthwhile lessons underpinning the story. Having said that the ending is simple and understated finishing the film off nicely. With funny performances from the lead actress Courtney Davis.

Phew! After my first day of films I head over to the Cameo bar for a well deserved beer!

Edinburgh 2006 - Sunday 20 August

Posted Sunday 20 August 2006 by Becky Clarke in Festival Reports

After spending 2 hours in the car, 2 hours at check in, 2 more in the departures lounge and an hour on the plane I finally arrive in Edinburgh! A novice to the film festival and to the city I set out to find my first port of call the Filmhouse on Lothian Road. Amazingly, I find my way without too much incidence, avoiding a few drunken Scots on the way insisting they carry my bags! After a quick drink in the cafe bar with my unofficial guides for the festival Maddy and Mark from the Watershed, Bristol, we move onto the next venue on the film festival circuit, the Cameo. Arriving too late to take in any films that evening, I soak up the ambience of the bar. Everyone's buzzing about 'Mirrorball | Global Selection' an international selection of music promos from across the world that screened at the Filmhouse earlier that evening. We have a relatively early night (in festival terms) as I have to be up bright and early the next morning to organise my tickets for the next day's screenings.

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