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Who Cares About Festivals?

Tuesday 24 April 2012, 17:20

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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This Friday Robert Redford is coming on the 5 live programme to talk about launching Sundance London.

What I want to know is are festivals really important and who goes to them?

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    Comment number 1.

    I went to Cannes twice and the only films I managed to get to see was a fabulous documentary called 'The Story of the Weeping Camel' which was an early morning screening that was viewed on no sleep and an emerging hangover, Gus Van Sants 'Elephant' and 'Kill Bill part deux'. Two out of the three films ended up being really good and Kill Bill became somewhere to have a nice long snooze in between the rambling dialogue.
    Being there trying to sell a few films i had worked on clouded my idea of what the festival was like and it would be nice to go back and actually experience the place without running from meeting to meeting, party to party and trying to avoid wading in the quagmire of bullshit that flows around the place.
    over the last decade i have helped out at the London Sci-Fi film festival and that has been a totally different experience. I have managed to see some fantastic films from around the world (some bad, a few terrible and quite a lot excellent.) I even managed to have a lightsaber fight with David Prowse crutches until he walked out of the screening he was presenting and caught us making silly noises and duelling with his NHS appendages.
    All in all i believe festivals can be enjoyed if you are a punter but avoided if you are there in a working capacity.

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    Comment number 2.

    having thoroughly enjoyed the dodge brothers and The Ghost @ Cambridge this weekend I am loathe to say anything bad about festivals. also a few years ago I went to a silent film festival @ Harwich Electric Palace which was fantastic.

    It is in this space that I think festivals work best where they are enabling people to see cinema that would otherwise be inaccessible.

    My grouch however is to do with the international festival circuit and having to wait until January the following year for a UK release date for films that have been premièred at Cannes or Venice eg Brokeback Mountain and more recently Shame.

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    Comment number 3.

    Bradford is a great film festival as its one of the places that shows pretty much exclusively classic films. I also believe it houses one of the three working Cinerama screens in the world, and every other year they play Stanley Kubrick's 2001 in Cinerama as well as How the West Was Won and other films that were filmed for the format.

    That's exciting for me. Cannes/Toronto/Venice have no interest because they are showing films which I will eventually see as they are released throughout that respective year, but Bradford and other festivals show films which are older than I am and films which I have never before had the chance to see before other than on DVD. And I think that's important, it gives audiences a chance to see those films properly, as well as screening other obscure classics from actors or directors which may never have been seen

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    Comment number 4.

    Within a week of having moved to London to study film, a friend scored tickets to Che Part 1 at the London Film Festival. The screening followed by a Q&A with Steven Soderbergh took place in a huge Leicester Square cinema. Having grown up in Cornwall having only access to a tiny Wadebridge cinema, the experience blew my mind. Watching a film that I not only enjoyed in the perfect environment with the opportunity to ask the director everything and anything, is something that I won't forget in a long time.

    I have since attended many such screenings and every time I feel that not only my understanding and insight of a particular film is expanded but of 'film' as a whole.

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    Comment number 5.

    I've never been to a film festival even though I do live in Toronto, but I would say Cannes is the one I'm most interested in. I'm sure as Mark describes, it's absolutely horrible trying to get in to screenings, but being able to get a peek at some of the most exciting films of the year many months in advance of them coming out is always quite exciting, and the line up this year looks really really strong.


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