Days of beckoning: 20 must-sees at Bradford International Film Festival 2013

03 April 2013

Whether you're visiting for one day or eleven, this year's Bradford International Film Festival presents daily quandaries as to what to catch. Here's one possible personal journey through its programme...

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Earlier this week I overviewed the dizzyingly varied programme of this year's Bradford International Film Festival (11-21 April) for Front Row Reviews. In an ideal world, one has the time, means and patience to see everything on offer. In reality, though, conflicts and compromises lie ahead. To assist navigation, then, here's idFilm's day-by-day round-up of hot picks, a list that is unavoidably personal but is also designed to complement both the variety and quality on display throughout the festival's eleven-day run (excluding the single-film opening night and the official four-day add-on that is Widescreen Weekend, which takes place 26-29 April).

The following list assumes that most attendees seek the unexpected, and remains sensitive to the fact that few of us have money to burn. We should note at the outset, however, that there are very reasonable ticket deals available from the festival's website (and the National Media Museum's box office), whether you're planning to attend five or six films or more than a dozen. Without further ado...

See these films before everyone else:
^ World-premiere           # UK-premiere

Fri 12
A Throw of Dice (1929): newly-restored silent Indian gem with score from Nitin Sawhney.
# Memory of the Dead (2012): surreal Argentine chiller.

Sat 13
^ Master Plan (2012): contemplative survey of domestic and cinematic space, screening on 16mm alongside two experimental shorts (also screens Tue 16).
The Last Dogs of Winter (2011): both documentary on and haunting ode to a near-extinct breed of dog in northern Canada (also screens Mon 15).

Sun 14
Mother India (1975): epic Bollywood weepie, on 35mm and complete with intermission!
# The Love Songs of Tiedan (2012): more (less weepy!) musical delights, preceded by David Lynch's new one-minute short (also screens Tue 16).

Mon 15
# One Way Boogie Woogie (2012): American avant-garde powerhouse James Benning returns to and extends his 1977-2005 series of landscape contemplations (also screens Sat 13).
^ Nor'easter (2012): a priest negotiates tricky physical, psychological and moral terrain (also screens Thu 18).

Tue 16
# Tokyo Waka (2012): documents the ongoing battle between the co-habitants of Japan's most cinematic city - 13 million people and 20,000 crows (also screens Fri 19).
The Chess Players (1977): irresistible, one-off 35mm screening of Satyajit Ray's lesser-known work.

Wed 17
A Bradford Filmmaker - C.H. Wood (1920-70): a rare opportunity to view a 90-minute compilation of footage captured in and of Bradford over the course of eight decades.
# A Stoker (2010): pitch-black deadpan comedy crime caper (also screens Sat 20).

Thu 18
# A Dream's Merchant (2012): the Romanian New Wave - much-championed here at idFilm - continues with this road movie featuring a bike named 'Doyle'... Popeye? (Also screens Mon 15).
sixpackfilmclassics (1960-99): a compilation of ten classic avant-garde shorts, especially curated by the co-founder of Austrian distributor sixpackfilm, Brigitta Burger-Utzer (also screens Sun 14).

Fri 19
# Me Too (2012): effortless black comedy that looks to the end of the world while irreverently reworking Tarkovsky's Stalker with a foot-tappingly incessant soundtrack (also screens Thu 18).
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012): big-screen UK debut (following a quiet DVD/Blu-ray release in Feb), in 3D, of John Hyams' follow-up to his 2009 masterpiece, Universal Soldier: Regeneration (also screens Sat 13).

Sat 20
# Sometimes City (2011):  Tom (brother of Jim) Jarmusch's poignant portrait of the inhabits of the economically emaciated Cleveland, Ohio; screens with Jarmusch's haunting short Alfredo (also screens Fri 12).
# Cargo 200 (2007): completes a selection of three films by theatrically neglected Alexey Balabanov, following A Stoker and Me Too; the craziest of the three (also screens Mon 15).

Sun 21
# Fata Morgana (2013): fresh from its world-premiere at Rotterdam earlier this year, a challenging, durational film that might not screen in the UK again for some time.
# Tower (2012): effective, pertinent character study of a relatable thirtysomething guy trapped by social pressures (also screens Mon 15).

As noted at the top of this piece, you can expect more in-depth daily coverage of BIFF 2013 once the festival begins. Don't miss out: subscribe via e-mail.

Ps. More-than-honourable mention to Chris Marker's Sans Soleil (1983), which screens on Wed 13.