Festival Season (vol. 1)

With the great British summer drawing to a close, the nation kicks into film festival mode with a veritable feast of filmic delights popping up all over the British isles. The jewel in that particular crown is, of course, the London Film Festival, but with their announcement still a couple of weeks away, it’s worth noting some of the Australian films screening at smaller festivals in the coming weeks.

Chichester International Film Festival
Various venues
15 August – 1 September, 2013

This is the 22nd edition of the consistently interesting Chichester International Film Festival, which brings the latest and greatest cinema to the West Sussex cathedral city. This year, comedy-horror fans will be treated to an advance screening of the Cairnes Brothers’ riotous Oz splatter comedy 100 Bloody Acres (2012), which recently thrilled audiences at its UK premiere at Film4 FrightFest. Following its screening at the Chichester Cineworld at 9:15pm on August 28, 100 Bloody Acres goes on general release across the UK on October 11.

One of the several festival strands this year is a Charlotte Rampling retrospective which – amongst other highlights from her stellar 48-year film career – gives audiences a second chance to catch her delightfully bitchy performance as Elizabeth Hunter, the overbearing matriarch of Fred Schepisi’s adaptation of the classic Patrick White novel, The Eye of the Storm (2011). Also starring Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis, it screens on August 28 – 11am at the Chichester Cinema at New Park.

Further details can be found on the Chichester International Film Festival website. In the meantime, here’s the trailer for The Eye of the Storm:

Portobello Film Festival
Westbourne Studios, London
28 August – 15 September, 2013

London’s biggest free and independent film festival, Portobello is now in its 18th year, and always has some Australian content on offer. For better or worse, Portobello has a very loose screening structure, with non-stop, un-timed sessions running on a drop-in basis, so it can sometimes be hard (and a little frustrating) to get in to sessions at the right time, especially if you want to check out a particular film. As such, the times listed below are rough approximations based on other films screened in the same session and, as always, sessions are subject to change.

There are two documentary features screening during the main sessions of this year’s festival. Howard Jackson’s Big Dreams Little Bear (2012, 52 mins) – the story of one Borneo man’s attempt to ‘save the smallest, least studied and, pound for pound, most dangerous bears on earth’ – screens at noon on August 31. Later that evening (approx. 8:45pm) comes Des Devlin’s intimate portrait of Sydney’s nascent punk rock scene in the late 1970s, Distorted: Reflections on Early Sydney Punk (2013, 75 mins).

There are also a number of Australian short films on offer, starting with Jason Kempnich’s food-shortage sci-fi drama Cough (10 mins – 6:15pm, 30/08), and David Ridley’s adolescent space vs. sex comedy Douglas Adams Eat Your Heart Out (7 mins – noon, 07/09). The 12 – 9pm session on September 14 features a further four Aussie shorts; Natalie James’ Shanghai-set ghost-in-the-house chiller Tritch (15 mins – approx. 2:25pm), David Ridley’s ‘medley of poetry, animation, wit and witless charm’, A Message to Mere Mortals (4 mins – approx. 3:10pm), Richard King’s runaway drama Unspoken (11 mins – approx 4:55pm), and Max Little’s lost battleship thriller Wake (4 mins – approx. 5:50pm).

The final day of Portobello – Sunday September 15 – is a chance to select your own films in the festival’s Video Cafe. As well as a second chance to see Unspoken, the Australian titles on offer include Christopher Houghton’s feature-length theatre company doc Sons & Mothers (82 mins), Pauline B. Appiah’s black magic belly dancer fantasy Obeah (9 mins), and Jean Djet’s bad cop thriller The Sham (21 mins).

More details can be found on the Portobello Film Festival website, or by downloading their festival guide [PDF]. Meanwhile, here’s the trailer for my pick of Portobello, Distorted: Reflections on Early Sydney Punk:

Cambridge Film Festival
Various venues
19 – 29 September, 2013

The 33rd Cambridge Film Festival runs for ten days at the end of September, with a variety of new films, retrospectives and local showcases. One strand that should prove very popular this year is a selection of films direct from London’s Film4 FrightFest, all screening at Cineworld Cambridge. Alongside a batch of new releases are some classics, including Ted Kotcheff’s brutal outback nightmare, Wake In Fright (1971). Starring Gary Bond as a beleagured school teacher who enters an interminable Dantean nightmare of gambling, booze and male bonding in the outback mining town of Bundanyabba, it gets two outings at CFF – September 27 at 6:15pm and the following evening at 9pm. Also featuring Donald Pleasance, Jack Thompson and Chips Rafferty, this all-time Oz classic is set for a limited UK theatrical re-release and Masters of Cinema blu-ray in early 2014.

The festival also features an extensive programme of short films, with the UK premiere of Australian director Ben Ryan’s psychodrama The War (20 mins) appearing in the ‘Existential’ session (20/09 @ 11am, repeated on 24/09 at 11:15pm). Further details for all screenings are available on the Cambridge Film Festival website.

Anything we’ve missed? Tweet us the details, post it on our Facebook page, drop us an email, or post a comment below. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for future posts, which will (hopefully) include a new batch of Australian films screening at the London Film Festival, Raindance Film Festival (London) and other fests around the UK.

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