Cambridge Film Festival '18

Cyrus Pundole explores what's on the watch list for this years film festival 

It’s that wonderful time of year when fans of all film genres look forward to picking up perhaps the most important bit of reading there is: the new Cambridge Film Festival brochure. Whether you have wildly eclectic tastes or not, there’s always a feast of cinema goodies to be found. 

Picking through the films, working out when you can catch your must-sees, spotting any clashes in two screens at once and looking up when the second or third (if you’re lucky) screening of a particular film might be can be a time-consuming passion that’s no chore at all.

Early highlights have already been confirmed by festival organisers: Shoplifters, this year’s Palme d’Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival, will be screened, as will Robert Redford’s apparently-final film The Old Man & The Gun, Jean-Luc Goddard’s The Image Book and Lee Chang-dong’s thriller Burning.

From Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda, Shoplifters is a thrilling, lyrical tale of Tokyo’s down-and-outs, centring on a young girl who is taken in by a family of shoplifters.

This image: Shoplifters 

Anyone who has seen his early feature After Life – a quietly astonishing take on what gives our existence true meaning, and what we ultimately value the most – will already be a fan and he’s gone on to make Like Father Like Son, Our Little Sister and After the Storm, which have all been nominated in Cannes’ top two categories. The buzz around Shoplifters has been full of praise, so expect a treat.

Also a hit on the international film festival scene this year, Burning is based on the short story Barn Burning by Haruki Marukami. Lee’s sensuously-scored mystery thriller focusses on Jong-su, who is introduced by former classmate Hae-mi to Ben, a man with a tendency to set things alight...

Goddard’s The Image Book has been described as a film without actors, but with a storyteller. While it didn’t win the top prize at Cannes, it was awarded the first ‘Special Palme d’Or’. 

Redford, the 82-year-old screen legend, who nowadays is equally-known among filmmakers and cinemagoers for being the founder and driving force behind the Sundance Film Festival, the largest independent film fest in the US, has indicated that The Old Man & The Gun will be his final role. Also starring Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover and Tom Waits, it’s a crime comedy that sounds unmissable.

This Image: The Old Man and the Gun

There’s so much to see at the Cambridge Film Festival (not just films, but Q&As and much more) that it can be hard to catch everything you want to get to.

Festival director Tony Jones explains what makes the festival special for local moviegoers. “It’s a chance to relive and enjoy past glories, but also to see what’s happening in film right now, and reveal new talents who will shape the future of cinema.

“A good example is a chap who had his student short selected for the programme here back in 1996, named Christopher Nolan. Apparently he’s done quite well since! Of course, it’s also a chance to see films from around the world, from other cultures, and it’s all brought to our doorstep. It brings the people who make the films here, too, so it’s a chance to put your questions to actors, writers and directors. The festival attracts big names, but is nonetheless intimate and approachable.”

There will be more than 150 films from at least 30 countries, and other highlights announced so far include Margarethe von Trotta’s Searching for Ingmar Bergman, South American drug mafia epic Birds of Passage from director Ciro Guerra, and The Workshop from Laurent Cantent.

This Image: Birds of Passage

There are also festivals within the festival: a Camera Catalonia strand, short films in the Short Fusion section, the Cambridge African Film Festival, Family Film Festival, Microcinema, Restorations & Rediscoveries, and Cambridge Connections.

So, whether you buy all your tickets at once or pay as you go, grab your popcorn and get ready for a feast of cinema that can’t come soon enough... 

Cambridge Film Festival runs from 25 October to 1 November.

The full programme will be available at