Last summer, the Chichester International Film Festival marked its first 25 years in style – the perfect platform on which to continue to build this year.
Artistic director Roger Gibson was delighted at the way it went: “There was a buzz about it. Every year we say it is the most successful festival yet, and we always think we must plateau some time, but it keeps on getting better. I was very pleased with the programme we had, very proud of the programme, and audience numbers were up. Everyone seemed to have a really good reaction to what we were doing and people were coming up to me saying what a wonderful festival it was.”
Which means the pressure is on to deliver something even better this year (August 10-27). Roger is certainly hopeful: “Last year was something to aspire to. This is a continuation!”
Roger started working on it last December, a chance to look at forthcoming anniversaries. The death of John Hurt earlier this year was a chance to reassess his work. There will be a John Hurt retrospective with films including The Naked Civil Servant, The Shout, Elephant Man, The Hit, Scandal, The Field, Englishman In New York and That Good Night.
Another retrospective will look back over the work of Tilda Swinton, from Orlando to John Berger and A Bigger Splash etc with a supporting illustrated talk
The opening film will be Hotel Salvation, which Roger describes as an Indian version of Marigold Hotel: “It just seemed the right film to start with. You have got to have something that will draw lots of people together – without being terribly shocking!”
Another key film will be Blood And Glory. Set during the Anglo-Boer War, prisoners of war take a stand against their captors.
“It is a bit like Escape to Victory,” Roger explains. “You have got the English prisoners, and there is a rugby match between the Africans and the English.”
Across the festival, Roger is promising premières, previews and new releases from UK distributors, plus European premieres from European sales agents and distributors.
In the independent low-budget section, there will be feature films, documentaries, animation etc selected from personal submissions from film-makers and festival sites (FreeFilmway) etc with particular interest from Eastern and Western Europe.
Another strand will be Focus On The Documentary with premieres of feature-length documentaries from around the world; plus also French cinema in partnership with the French Institute: a selection of unreleased (in the UK) French films.
Retrospectives will also include tributes to the late Andrzej Wajda; and Mick Csaky will offer a retrospective of nine documentaries. There will also be a New Romanian Cinema section, featuring films by Christi Piui (Death of Mr Lazarescu) and Christian Mungiu (Graduation) with supporting illustrated talk, plus a section marking the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, including a screening of October with live piano accompaniment and an illustrated talk by Ian Christie.
This year’s Film and Jazz offers jazz films and documentaries with two live jazz and film events (a tribute to the late Bobby Wellins plus live jazz by Claire Martin and friends). The Opera and Art section will include La Traviata and Canaletto.
The festival is based at the Chichester Cinema at New Park. www.chichestercinema.org or 01243 786650.