Our 'Best of the Fests' theme is always at the heart of KFC and KFF programming. This year we are screening a classic mix of pre-releases, UK premiers and award winners showcasing quality independent film-making from around the world. We have contemporary dramas from Iran, the UK and Japan, documentaries from Iceland, the Himalayas and Antarctica, a glimpse of rural poverty in China, a high octane adult thriller from Korea and a film for all the family set in Jerusalem.
Kamal is a nine-year old Arab boy living in Jerusalem with his grandfather, mother, and sisters. Everyday he goes to the Old City and tries to sell postcards but he is thwarted by bullies and constantly discouraged by his strict grandfather. David is a Jewish boy, also aged nine, who is in Jerusalem to visit his father, whom he hasn’t seen in years. Thinking that he is carrying a large amount of money Kamal steals from David resulting in a chase in which Kamal escapes. But when David runs into the same bullies that have been targeting Kamal, Kamal rescues him, and another chase begins. Together, the two boys must learn the true meanings of friendship, trust and sacrifice.
Awards include: Best Children’s Film Tiburon; World Cinema Award Best Feature, Washington DC; Best of the Fest, Palm Beach
Thanks to Artificial Eye
Vacation is the story of Toru Hirai (Kaoru Kobayashi) a middle-aged bachelor who works as a prison guard on death row and lives with his older sister and her husband. Hirai’s sister is determined to marry him off to a divorced single mother of a 6-year-old son Tatsuya, who is suspicious of his new father. In exchange for a one-week vacation, for a proper honeymoon to get to know his new family, Hirai volunteers to ‘support’ illustrator Shinichi Kaneda (Hidetoshi Nishijima) who is about to be executed by hanging. There is little emotion in the film, apart from the fear that every character is harbouring for the future, until the trauma of Kaneda’s terrifying death. Kadoi shows the hard choices and personal sacrifices the ideal Japanese husband and father will make for his family.
Kobayashi and Nishijima won acting awards at Yokohama film festival 2009.
Thanks to Eleven Arts
Billed as ‘Die Hard meets A Prophet’, Cell 211 takes us into a Spanish jail with Juan, a new guard who tries to impress by reporting in a day early. That sort of attitude is never a good idea and events mean that Juan needs to rely on his wits to survive.
According to Philip French, this excellent Spanish picture has all the traditional ‘Big House, Prison Movie’ ingredients: the fair but weak governor, the contrasted good and bad warders, the charismatic convict leader (a knockout performance from Luis Tosar, famously menacing in Michael Mann's Miami Vice), the old lag, the slimy informer, the destructive riot, and the familiar message that the trouble is due to overcrowding, penny-pinching and the lack of either creative work or serious attempts at rehabilitation.
Thanks to Lionsgate
The film follows the efforts of Jon Gnarr, an Icelandic comedian/TV show actor/perpetual goofball, to become Mayor of Rejkjavik. A benchmark of the excesses that lead up to the credit crunch in 2008 were the waitresses in Reykjavik who thought it was normal to afford weekend shopping trips to Milan. We all know what came next. The krona collapsed and the whole country effectively went bankrupt under the debts incurred by its over extended banks. The government took its fair share of the blame and in 2009 Gnarr launched The Best Party, a satirical political party that parodies Icelandic politics and aims to make the life of its citizens more fun. Standing in the municipal election of 2010 Gnarr promised free towels in all swimming pools, a polar bear for the Reykjavik zoo, all kinds of things for weaklings, and an incorruptible and drug-free parliament by 2020.
This highly efficient Korean thriller from the director of the ultra-violent The Chaser has an unremarkable plot: a taxi driver at the end of his tether is induced to carry out a murder in Seoul and finds himself crushed between two different branches of the mafia and goes on the run. The film does, however, in addition to moving with the speed of a bullet, have three distinctive features; it's the first Korean thriller to have attracted a major investment from a Hollywood studio; knives and axes are the gangsters' weapons of choice and they go about their work gleefully in pools of blood; and, the desperate hero comes from Yanji City in the curious Chinese enclave of Yanbian, an autonymous prefecture abutting China, Russia and North Korea largely populated by Koreans carrying Chinese identity papers.
A BFI National Archive restoration
A hundred years ago the British Antarctic Expedition (1910-1913) led by Captain Scott set out on its ill-fated race to the South Pole. Joining Scott on board the Terra Nova was official photographer and cinematographer Herbert Ponting, and the images that he captured have fired imaginations ever since.
Ponting filmed almost every aspect of the expedition: the scientific work, life in camp and the local wildlife. Most importantly, Ponting recorded the preparations for the assault on the Pole - from the trials of the caterpillar track sledges to clothing and cooking equipment - giving us a real sense of the challenges faced by the expedition.
Ponting used his footage in various forms over the years and in 1924 he re-edited it into this remarkable feature. The BFI National Archive has restored the film and reintroduced the film’s sophisticated use of colour along with with a new score by Simon Fisher Turner featuring the composer, the Elysian Quartet, Sarah Scutt, David Coulter and Alexander L'Estrange.
Thanks to BFI
Double Bill with Sherpas, the True Heroes of Everest
Could you ski to the South Pole? That was the challenge that British Adventurer, Felicity Aston put to ‘ordinary women’ from around the Commonwealth as she set out to create the most international all-female expedition ever to the South Pole. Late in 2009, Felicity led a team from places as diverse as Jamaica, India, Singapore and Cyprus - some of whom had never even seen snow - on a 900 km skiing trek across the Antarctic, one of the toughest and most notoriously hazardous journeys on the planet. Eighty-mile-an-hour winds ripped through base camp; frostbite and injuries were an everyday occurrence; but they also shared beliefs, ideas and philosophies and broke no less than six World Records. Snowline has produced a documentary about the project mostly from over 3,500 individual clips of footage shot by members of the team.
Thanks to Snowline
Double Bill with The Call Of The White
Sherpas The True Heroes of Mount Everest focuses on the hired Sherpas of a Swiss Everest Expedition Team. Among the Sherpas is Dawa, who has accented the Everest summit thirteen times. The film heroically showcases the role of Sherpas who make it possible for the big-pocketed Western climbers to reach the summit. Made by documentary makers at Swiss Television plus Hari Thapa, film-maker in Kathmandhu the film has won prizes at a number of film festivals including Best Film at Kathmandhu
Thanks to Hari Thapa
Actor Paddy Considine has seen his first feature garlanded at the British Independent Film Awards (Best Film, Best Actress and Best Debut Director) and at Sundance (world cinema directing award, special jury prize drama). Peter Mullan is a gambling, washed-up widower Joseph, a man plagued by violence and a rage that is driving him to self-destruction. As Joseph's life spirals into turmoil a chance of redemption appears in the form of Hannah, a Christian charity shop worker. Their relationship develops to reveal that Hannah is hiding a secret of her own with devastating results for both of their lives. The performances roar off the screen, Mullan is fantastic but the real revelation of the film is the performance of Olivia Colman; so good in fact that you forget this is a movie. While it is difficult to watch, critics have showered the film with praise.
Thanks to StudioCanal
Luo Jiang and Guihua, a poor, middle-aged couple with few prospects, decide to buy an 11- year-old girl, Xiao Ezi (aka "Little Moth"), for $140 in rural China. Xiao Ezi's life is in peril, as she is forced to earn money for her new parents as a beggar while suffering from a blood disease that leaves her unable to walk. Her greedy adoptive father refuses to buy her medicine, while Guihua’s growing maternal affection wracks her with guilt. With virtually no budget, a hand-held digital camera and a cast of non-professionals, Peng Tao turns the sordid street life of small town China into a chain-reaction tale of human cruelty and unforgettable suspense.
Thanks to the director
In this multi-award winning film (including Golden Berlin Bear, 2011) Nader and Simin argue about living abroad. Simin prefers to live abroad to provide better opportunities for their only daughter, Termeh. However, Nader refuses to go because he thinks he must stay in Iran and take care of his father who suffers from Alzheimer's. However, Simin is determined to get a divorce and leave the country with her daughter. Their argument has escalated into a demand for divorce. The film shows a middle-class household under siege; there are semi-unsolved mysteries, angry confrontations and family burdens: an ageing parent and two children from warring camps appearing to make friends.
Thanks to Artificial Eye
The narrative revolves around two sisters during and shortly after the wedding party of one of them, while Earth is about to collide with an approaching rogue planet. The film prominently features music from Richard Wagner's prelude to his opera Tristan und Isolde. Trier's initial inspiration for the film came from a depressive episode he suffered and the insight that depressed people remain calm in stressful situations. The film was much feted at Festivals and the lead actresses gave prize-winning performances. Lars von Trier ‘ has made one of the most unforgettable, unshakably unique films of this year.’ Jim Tudor.
Once again we welcome Jan Faull from the BFI who brings a curated selection of old film, this time Tales from the Shipyard. Those who came last year to her collection King Coal will have enjoyed local film from Cumbria amnd the North West. Tales from the Shipyard is the second in the BFI collection This Working Life a three-part celebration of Britain's industrial heritage as seen through the eyes of filmmakers from the Victorian era to the present day. The remaining part which will be compiled for next year by the BFI will be on the steel industry
Barrow-In-Furness shipbuilders Vickers are featured adding local interest. Paul Rotha’s modernist classic Shipyard (1935, 24min) filmed at Barrow in Furness, captures the building of a liner with the eye of a painter. A rare opportunity that should not be missed.
Thanks to BFI
Single mother Anna (Noomi Rapace) is moved with her 8 year old son Anders (Vetle Qvenild Werring) to a secret address outside Oslo, fleeing as they are from her abusive husband. Fearing for their lives, Anna is perpetually terrified that she and her vulnerable son will be found at any moment. So that Anders can sleep in his own bed, and to allay the suspicions of her supposed protectors, Anna invests in a babycall monitor. However, sequestered in the symmetrical monotone concrete of the flat, a legacy of short-sighted 1960s Oslo architecture, Anna hears the babycall pick up the distressed voice of another troubled child.
When no trace of this child can be found, Anna’s fragile psychological state is called into question.
Thanks to Soda Pictures.
Rooted in real life – injury and death from car accidents are now alarmingly common in Argentina – Trapero’s film feels almost like a documentary in its early scenes outlining the mostly nocturnal work of ambulance medic Luján (Gusman), on the one hand, and ambulance-chasing lawyer Sosa (Darin), on the other.
"The film turns steadily into a taut, suspenseful noir thriller, alert to the psychological needs and doubts of its clearly star-cross'd lovers and to the visceral physicality of both hospital work and criminal violence alike. Darin and Gusman, each of them excellent, receive sterling support from the rest of the cast, while superb camerawork and editing create a mood of tense immediacy from the attention-catching start to the spiralling chaos of the extraordinarily gripping finale." Geoff Andrews, Time Out
Thanks to Axiom Films
On general release from 2nd March 2012
For more information see axiomfilms.co.uk