The 36th edition of the Cambridge Film Festival serves up an eclectic programme of cinematic delights
Ken Loach’s Cannes success I, Daniel Blake is the opening night movie at Cambridge Film Festival on 20 October.
It’s just one of 148 films showing across eight days. And as usual with so many flicks, you’ll need to plan ahead, and book ahead, as most films are only screened twice, three times if you’re lucky.
Syd Barrett, Ingrid Bergman, silent films and family classics are just some of the treats in store for cinema lovers from 20-27 October.
The closing night film is Werner Herzog’s Into the Inferno, exploring nature’s most destructive force from within, volcanoes. Terence Davies’s life story of celebrated poet Emily Dickinson, A Quiet Passion, is sure to be another favourite, also on the last night.
Elsewhere features mix with documentaries, including the Tilda Swinton-produced and narrated Letters From Baghdad, which tells the story of British spy and explorer Gertrude Bell, Clint Eastwood directs Tom Hanks in Sully about events behind the headlines of an aviation accident and Light Years, the debut feature from BAFTA-winning Esther May Campbell, features Beth Orton in a coming-of-age story.
Renowned for its eclectic programme, the event is entering its 36th year and is now recognised as one of the most prestigious events of its kind in the UK. Run by Cambridge Film Festival with backing from the British Film Institute, the festival takes place at the Arts Picturehouse and various other venues around the city.
A true icon from the Hollywood’s golden era, Ingrid Bergman is world renowned for her roles in classic films like Casablanca, Notorious and Voyage to Italy. Her acting career began long before this though, and Ingrid Bergman: The Early Years will shine a light on the lesser seen films she made during her formative years in Sweden and Germany. This festival strand includes a lovingly assembled documentary on her life, plus a selection of her finest early films including A Woman’s Face and The Four Companions; all of which demonstrate her formidable talent as a young star in the making.
Another icon, and one who called Cambridge home for much of his life, Syd Barrett also gets a special focus at this year’s festival. Organised in association with Cambridge Live Trust, Syd Barrett – A Celebration will pay homage to Pink Floyd’s ‘crazy diamond’ ten years after his tragic passing. Taking place at the Guildhall on 21 October, the event will premiere a series of films about Barrett and the swinging sixties including Get All That, Ant?, a free-form documentary made up of film footage, stills and archive footage taken during the 60s in Cambridge, London and San Francisco.
For fans of late night cinema, Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies or Boris Karloff’s classic Universal Horror Frankenstein will be on their must-watch list.
By popular demand, the festival will be continuing its ongoing showcase of the cinema of Catalonia, one of Europe’s oldest cultures. Camera Catalonia, now in its fifth season, will this year feature screenings including Sex, Maracas & Chihuahuas, a fascinating documentary about Xavier Cugat, one of the originators of the Latin sound. The festival will also premiere Barcelona Summer Night and the sequel Barcelona Christmas Night; two of the most successful box office comedies in recent years, both set in beautiful Barcelona.
Hopping continents, the cinematic output of Africa will also be celebrated at this year’s event as the Cambridge African Film Festival (CAFF) teams up with the Film Festival for the first time in its 15-year history. Titles getting an airing include As I Open My Eyes, an award-winning tale of rock and teenage rebellion from Tunisian director Leyla Bouzid, plus Zanzibar Soccer Dreams; which follows a group of women who’ve embraced football and challenged taboos of gender, religion and culture on their journey.
The popular Cambridge Family Film Festival also makes a welcome return for 2016, offering a bumper programme of much-loved characters, old and new, from film and TV. Highlights include a visit from acclaimed musician and broadcaster Neil Brand (BBC4’s Sound of Cinema and Sound of Song), who’ll bring a special show celebrating the magic of deadpan comic genius Buster Keaton, which features a live piano accompaniment to Keaton’s legendary work.
Staying with silent cinema, the festival will premiere a BFI restoration of Fritz Lang’s 1921 gothic masterpiece Destiny. Credited as a major influence on the work of Hitchcock, this noir tour de force will be screened with an atmospheric live piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne.
Elsewhere at the festival, see the UK premiere of The Interrogation, an action-thriller from director Stephen Reynold which takes its inspiration from the autobiography of Rudolf Höss, the longest-serving commander of Auschwitz.
Ebony Butler’s exposé of the brutal campaigns by dictator Yoweri Museveni’s regime, A Brilliant Genocide, also gets a screening. Described as urgent, compelling and beautifully shot, this documentary made waves at its recent premiere at the Raindance Festival.
There’s plenty more in store at the Cambridge Film Festival, including gala events and Q&A sessions with industry figures.