Bradford International Film Festival: 17, and not to be missed

FANFARE OPENING: Anthony Hopkins in You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
FANFARE OPENING: Anthony Hopkins in You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
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THE 17th annual Bradford International Film Festival opens next month, featuring premieres, new releases, vintage classics, special guests as well as an array of documentaries, short films, retrospectives and tributes.

Headlining this year’s event will be award-winning director Terry Gilliam who receives the BIFF Fellowship Award for his contribution to cinema along with a retrospective tribute to his unusual array of work ranging from Jabberwocky to Time Bandits, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

Also receiving an accolade is celebrated actress Claire Bloom, who will gain a BIFF 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award, joining the illustrious list of past recipients which include Ken Loach, Sir Richard Attenborough and John Hurt.

Best known for her work in various features such as Islands in the Stream and Look Back in Anger, Bloom will be attending this year’s festival on March 25th to receive her award. A selection of her movies to celebrate this achievement will be screened during the festival including Richard III and The Haunting.

This year’s festival will also hold the UK’s first ever retrospective of Germany’s talented director Thomas Arslan, who will also be attending and participating in a screentalk on Thursday March 24.

His latest film, In The Shadows, will be given its UK premiere and will be screened as part of the Moviedrome strand, along with his earlier movies such as A Fine Day, Vacation and Turn The Music Down.

Other movies being screened as part of Moviedrome include 13 Assassins, directed by Takashi Miike, Jim Loach’s Oranges and Sunshine and Werner Herzog’s new documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

The curtain-raiser for this year’s festival is Woody Allen’s You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger. It tells the story of a pair of married couples; Alfie and Helena (Anthony Hopkins and Gemma Jones) and their daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) and her husband Roy (Josh Brolin) whose hopes, dreams, aspirations and anxieties lead them into troubles and difficulties, leaving them on the verge of irrationality. While each of these individuals display obsessive traits with other people, they attempt to use their ambitions to avoid their obvious problems, creating delusions for false happiness which in turn only lead to one outcome... heartache. Allen has attracted a stellar ensemble cast which includes the talents of Antonio Banderas (Desperado), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), as well as Naomi Watts (Eastern Promises), Josh Brolin (True Grit) and Anthony Hopkins (Red Dragon).

The festival’s closing gala will be the UK premiere of The Messenger, screenwriter Oren Moverman’s first film at the helm. Starring Ben Foster (3:10 To Yuma), Samantha Morton (Minority Report) and Woody Harrelson (Zombieland), The Messenger tells the story of Staff Sgt Will Montgomery (Foster) who, after returning home from Iraq is assigned to the Casual Notification Service partnering Capt Tony Stone (Harrelson). However, Montgomery breaks one of the golden rules of Casual Notification as he develops feelings for Olivia Pitterson (Morton), a recently widowed woman of whom he delivers the news of the death of her husband…

New for this year, the 17th annual Bradford International Film Festival will be part of a National Satellite Broadcast of Frankenstein from The National Theatre Production. Directed by Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle and starring the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, audiences will be able to watch live theatre from the comfort of their cinema seat on Thursday March 17. Prior to the performance, Boyle will take part in a live interview from the South Bank.

Bradford International Film Festival is renowned for its diverse range of features and this year is no different. Showcasing over 100 features from the four corners of the world, special guests, short films and the popular Widescreen Weekend – which once again presents rare and old favourites including a unique three-strip Cinerama print of How the West Was Won with newly added footage – is an example of the exciting classics on offer. Working with the David Lean Foundation, BIFF are proud to present a newly restored version of the unforgettable Bridge on the River Kwai as well as digital prints of epic award winning movies Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. The Widescreen Weekend guests include film historian and professor; Sir Christopher Frayling, director Stanley Long and technician Joe Dunton.

l March 16 to 27, National Media Museum, Bradford, Tel. 0844 8563797 www.nationalmedia

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