Last weekend I was at the 11th Keswick Film Festival and once again it was a great three and a bit days of film. Everyone seemed to agree that the opening party and screening of The World Is Big And Salvation Lurks Around The Corner was a great start to the weekend and it was nice to actually get a chance to talk to people because for the rest of the weekend people were rushing from film to film. It’s hardly a complaint but with so many films on offer there often doesn’t seem like time eat or socialise.
It was great to see so many people turn out for the first films of Friday, I saw Mugabee and The White African and thought it was an incredibly powerful documentary. I stayed at the Alhambra for Katalin Varga which I probably admired more than enjoyed, I think I could have done with something more uplifting after Mugabee. I really wanted to see Treeless Mountain but decided that I will be able to see it elsewhere and I should take the opportunity to see some of the more unique things on offer at the Festival. I headed over to the Theatre By The Lake for two (long) short films, like much of the audience I didn’t really have much idea what was going on with Door Out Of The Dark but My DDR T Shirt was an interesting look at life before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall and it was great to have the director there for a Q&A. There was also an entertaining Q&A with Alexandre & Sonia Poussin walked the entire continent of Africa and filmed it to make Africa Trek. Involuntary was the final film of the day and quite a disappointment, marred by technical issues (too loud and bad projection) and a late start on a long day, the stories just didn’t engage and quite a few people walked out. Fortunately about half way through the film seemed to improve considerably but it was still too little too late for me. Involuntary ended up receiving the second lowest score in the film club’s history but I know at least two people who really loved it and I think that is one of the reasons why the club and festival are so great.
Saturday started with the charming The Secret Of Kells which I am now secretly hoping will win the Best Animated Oscar tonight, although I don’t think it really stands a chance against Up. I really wanted to see Glorious 39 and Tideland (again) but both clashed with the Cumbrian Short Film Awards which I was judging. An afternoon slot meant audiences were bigger than last year but it’s still such a shame more people don’t come and see some of the best work at the festival. Next year I must do more to promote these wonderful local films. I decided not to stay and watch the films and took the opportunity to find something to eat before returning to hand out the prizes with fellow judges Carl Hunter and Clare Heney and get some photos with the winners (which reminds me I need to do something with those photos).
I wasn’t familiar with Jan Dunn but she was doing a Q&A after Gypo so I stayed to watch it and was really glad I did because it was one of my highlights of the Festival. Unfortunately I had to leave the Q&A early to rush up to the Alhambra for The Horde, it was a strange time slot for a less than popular film, especially considering what was on later and the previous evening. Many didn’t enjoy the film, there were quite a few walkouts and interesting comments on the feedback sheets but I really liked it, it didn’t quite delivery on its excellent premise though. Finally for Saturday and about as far removed as from The Horde was a screening of the silent film My Best Girl with musical accompaniment from The Gardner Sisters, it was a wonderful experience and a shame more people didn’t attend, perhaps it should have been screened earlier in the evening.
I was feeling fairly tired by the start of Sunday but the weekend was nearly over and the timing of Sunday’s schedule seemed more relaxed even if the films were fairly relentless: The Unloved, The Calling and Samson and Delilah were all good but didn’t exactly offer an uplifting end to the weekend. It was also interesting to see some archive film on a big screen in King Coal. My personal highlight perhaps came just before the final film when we decided to show the winners of the short film competition and I finally got to see if an audience agreed with out decisions, I was delighted to to hear they enjoyed both A Cup Of Chocolate and To Brampton With Love which we picked as winners in the Open and Under 18 category respectively.
All in all it was another great festival with perhaps too much on offer to squeeze into the long weekend but I’m already looking forward to getting more involved and making the 12th Festival even better next year.