Celebrating the Senses
When we decided to try and find films to celebrate the five senses we were surprised at how few films there were that we felt fitted some of the five. And how many, not surprisingly, we could put in the 'sight' and 'sound' categories. So we offer, for taste, A Simple Life from Hong Kong and for touch, Touch from USA; for smell, Scent of a Woman; for sound, Good Vibrations, War Requiem, The Man With The Jazz Guitar and Peace and Conflict and, for sight, Men at Lunch, McCullin, Nostalgia for the Light and Junction for Having Fun.
One of the most iconic images ever taken. It was taken on 29th September 1932, 69 floors off the ground on the Rockefeller Building in New York. It was published in the New York Herald Tribune a few days later but it was not until 2003 that the real story began to emerge. Who took the photo? Who are the men depicted? Where did they come from? This documentary answers some of these questions as well as providing an in-depth look at this photograph.
Thanks to Cargo Film Releasing (USA).
Scent of a Woman is a classic (even if it is a re-make of an Italian film). Like Untouchable, it is chock full of brilliant performances. At its core, one able bodied person is employed to help a cranky disabled one and both get much more than they bargained for. The film won a glut of major awards, including Al Pacino's first Oscar for Best Actor (after 7 nominations).
This is not, however, a one-man show as Pacino is ably supported by Chris O'Donnell and Philip Seymour Hoffman in an early role. Scent of A Woman is a well-crafted film delivering a wonderful blend of drama, romance and humour. By the end you realise that seldom are you taken on a journey with so much intelligence and skill.
Thanks to Universal Pictures.
See how a visiting doctor's chance game of football with village girls leads to the Akhand Jyoti Football Academy, which breaks a cycle of poverty and builds on the girls' enthusiasm for football, allowing them to complete their schooling and to train to become the much-needed future employees of the rapidly expanding eye hospital. Girls from all regions, castes and creeds are part of the AJFA.
Lucy Mathen, who some will remember from John Craven's Newsround in 1976, changed careers in 1988 to become an ophthalmologist and set up the charity Second Sight. In 2012 she became the first recipient of the Karen Woo award - recognising doctors who have gone beyond the call of duty. She will be introducing the screening, selling and signing books and there will be a collection for her charity.
Thanks to Lucy Mathen.
Extending from deep underground to the depths of outer-space, this is a visual treat. The Atacama Desert in Chile is one of the driest places in the world. Astronomers flock to the Atacama to gaze into the universe and search for evidence and artefacts from the beginning of time. Elsewhere, other "archaeologists" search among the pebbles and dust. They are looking for bones. Or at least fragments of bones. Thousands of Chileans were abducted and killed, their bodies disposed of in the Atacama. Forty years later their relatives still search the desert for any sign of bone fragment.
Thanks to Verve Pictures.
This is an aural treat, with a superb soundtrack and live performances. A biopic of Belfast music legend Terri Hooley, who established a record shop called Good Vibrations and then moved into record production after an epiphany inspired by a visit to a punk concert. From The Shangri Las to The Outcasts in one night and from there to giving punk an outlet in 70's Belfast - a time when Belfast was a war zone. The impact this has on Hooley and his beloved punks is truly eye-opening. It's this simmering sense of dread and conflict which gives Good Vibrations its edge, and allows its many moments of uplift to shine that much brighter.
Thanks to The Works.
Deeply inspired by Django Reinhardt, Ken Sykora's musical career was cut short by World War II and rock'n'roll. He moved to broadcasting where he worked on more than 3000 programmes over four decades. At the peak of his popularity in the early 70s he suddenly and unexpectedly quit the BBC and moved his young family to Scotland to run a hotel in 'the middle of nowhere'. Featuring intimate interviews with his three children, close friends and colleagues, Ken is creatively brought to life through a mixture of animation and his radio voice. With exclusive access to Ken's extensive archive, his life of music, food and words is reconstructed using memorabilia and rare sound recordings not heard for more than 50 years.
Thanks to Five Feet Films.
A feature film about Benjamin Britten, released as part of the 100 year celebrations of his birth. Britten is the most performed British composer worldwide. This film premiered at Gresham's School, which he attended, and focuses on how his life-long pacifism influenced his life and music. Written and directed by Tony Britten (whose film about Alma Cogan was featured at last year's festival), narrated by John Hurt and with a superb cast of young people, including many supporting roles taken by students of Gresham's School, the film weaves dramatisation with a documentary narrative. Tony and Anwen Rees Myers, the producer, will be here to introduce the film. We are also screening War Requiem later in the day.
Thanks to Capriol Films.
McCullin is a whirlwind tour through a remarkable professional life spanning 20 years. Don McCullin's photographic career, which began in 1959, specialised in examining the underside of society. McCullin couldn't read properly and his community was full of gangs and violence but ironically they proved his salvation. With an inherent gift for composition and knowing when to press the shutter, his portraits of a local gang were bought by The Observer, opening the door to another world. McCullin became an internationally known photojournalist, particularly recognised for his war photography and images of urban strife.
Thanks to Artificial Eye.
How much emotional impact can a single touch have? And, have you ever wondered what the beauticians say about you? Touch gives us an insight into the daily goings on in a nail salon. It also presents understated and believable characters, where often what goes unsaid matters the most. That said, the dialogue is powerful and interesting enough to keep you guessing as to what the eventual outcome might be. It is a case of enjoying the journey, as each of the characters slowly reveals more of him or herself. Nguyen is a storyteller and a gifted director, one to watch out for.
Thanks to Minh Duc Nguyen and Melissa Tong.
A film that will tickle the taste buds as well as satisfy much else. Deanie Ip puts in a career defining performance and, as she puts it, acting as an old lady is not difficult at all, as she is just playing herself. In lesser hands the film may have become a mawkishly sentimental mess or a tub thumping tirade about the treatment of elderly Hong Kongers, or even worse, both. Instead, thanks to Hui's sensitive direction and the loving focus on the central relationship beautifully played by Ip and Lau, A Simple Life is one of the best and most rewarding films you are likely to see for many a year and deserves all the praise and many awards lavished upon it.
Thanks to Verve Pictures.
Totally based around the music of Benjamin Britten and the poetry of Wilfred Owen, this is a must-see for fans of classical music or poetry, but much more than that, it is a film for everyone who wants to watch a unique anti-war film. Containing a powerful montage of images, there is no better summary of the film (and no better embodiment of our Senses theme) than that of the Washington Post - 'Jarman has added visuals so intense that this is likely to be the ultimate embodiment of the idea until someone develops a technique for recording and playing back physical sensations other than sight and sound: the impact of a shell exploding a few yards away; the feel of mud everywhere; the taste of blood coughed up from a lung wound.'
Thanks to Producer Don Boyd.