Books, Film & TV Thursday, December 22nd Words by: Lauren Rogers

Put The Date in Your Diary: Oscar contenders, women directors and a spotlight on Cuba at Borderlines Film Festival 2017

Books, Film & TV Thursday, December 22nd

Put The Date in Your Diary: Oscar contenders, women directors and a spotlight on Cuba at Borderlines Film Festival 2017

If an early peak at Borderlines Film Festival's 2017 programme tells us anything it's that the resolutely rural festival - now the sixth largest film festival nationally - still strives to support cinema in remote communities.

Having been programmed by the UK's Independent Cinema Office for the past five years, Borderlines continues to give cinema-goers access to some of the world's best films, regardless of how remotely they live. Border folk, we're talking to you.

From February 24 to March 12, the festival will screen 80 titles across Herefordshire, Shropshire, the Welsh Marches and (new for 2017) the Malvern Theatres in Worcestershire.

As well as Oscar contenders and Cannes favourites, 25 of the films will be previews - showing here ahead of their UK release.

That list, carefully hand-picked with the Borderlines audience in mind, includes eagerly-awaited British feature Lady Macbeth, based on a dark 19th century Russian novella; The Odyssey, a stunningly shot barnacles-and-all biopic of legendary deep-sea explorer, filmmaker and environmentalist Jacques Cousteau; and Park Chan-Wook’s The Handmaiden, a loose but sumptuous Korean adaptation of the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.

From Cannes comes Graduation by Romanian director Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days) who shared the Best Director award, and The Salesman, which won Best Screenplay and Best Actor, by Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, The Past).

Their Finest is a British WW2 drama, starring Gemma Arterton as a fledgling screenwriter for the Ministry of Information Film Unit, while cutting-edge animation is represented by My Life as a Courgette, from a script by Girlhood director Céiine Sciamma about a 9-year-old boy who is sent to live in an orphanage.

"The increasing number of previews we can showcase at Borderlines enhances the prestige of this distinctively placed and really quite special film festival within the industry," said ICO programmer Jonny Courtney.

"More importantly, it allows audiences to discover films for themselves.

"Borderlines is not a festival that revolves around stars and red carpets; it’s about audiences and community, bringing in people to watch films together."

Min-hee Kim and Tae-ri Kim in The Handmaiden. The Korean adaptation of the Sarah Water's novel Fingersmith is one of 25 previews being screened at Borderlines Film Festival 2017.
The festival includes top new releases, alongside acclaimed word cinema. Highly acclaimed coming-of-age drama Moonlight - coming to Borderlines in 2017 - has already won the Best International Independent Film Award at the BIFAs and has been nominated for 6 Golden Globes

A constant characteristic of Borderlines since it launched 15 years ago has been celebrating films from far-off places. In 2017 the festival shifts this focus onto the work of contemporary women directors in world cinema.

The Women in World Cinema titles, carefully chosen to highlight the viewpoint and skills of their female directors, will include The Apple (Samira Makhmalbaf, Iran), Sweet Bean (Naomi Kawase, Japan), Caramel, (Nadine Labaki, Lebanon) and The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel, Argentina).

The festival is also joining the F-Rated scheme pioneered by Bath Film Festival. In the same vein of the Bechdel Test - in which fiction must feature at least two women talking to each other about something other than a man to pass - the F-Rated scheme highlights films directed or written by women, or featuring a woman in a significant role.

Natalie Portman in Jackie, an Oscar contender.

Natalie Portman in Jackie, an Oscar contender. Does it pass the Bechdel Test?

There's a timely Cuban strand too, bringing together three very different films that explore the complex cultural and political identity of Cuba from Tomas Gutierrez Alea’s masterpiece of revolutionary cinema Memories of Underdevelopment and the exhilarating, Soviet supported Soy Cuba to 2014's tale of an intimate Havana reunion between friends and exiles, Return to Ithaca.

On top of that, audiences will be able to see a newly digitised five-and-a-half-hour restoration of Abel Gance’s 1927 epic Napoleon (...with breaks, phew); Danish silent film siren Asta Nielsen in 1921's Hamlet and Buster Keaton’s The General, both accompanied by live piano.

1921 promotional poster for the silent film Hamlet.

1921 promotional poster for the silent film Hamlet, which will screen at Borderlines 2017.

While special guests are expected to be announced in January when the full programme is released, it has been confirmed that director Charles Garard (Waiting For You) and David Hemmings’ biographer Peter Burden will introduce a screening of 60s cult film Blow-Up at Ludlow Assembly Rooms.

Other highlights to keep an eye out for: an Abbas Kiarostami retrospective - celebrating the visionary Iranian film director who died earlier this year; the iShorts programme curated by Hereford Sixth Form College students; a 3-day site-specific film screening in collaboration with mashcinema; projections at the Left Bank, Hereford; and a Best Short Film competition in partnership with the Rural Media Company.

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Tickets will go on sale from January 17, when the 2017 programme is released in full. They will be available from the Courtyard in Hereford on 01432 340555, online and on the door at individual venues.

Borderlines Film Festival is funded by The British Film Institute through the National Lottery, Hereford City Council, The Elmley Foundation, and Wyevale Nurseries.

More info www.borderlinesfilmfestival.org.

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