The 2012 Cornwall Film Festival kicked off in style with a Gala Screening of Michael Haneke’s poignant Amour (2012), setting the bar for the rest of the festival. This year the festival was extended from three days to four and showcased considerably more feature films than previous years with particular attention on festival favourites. New Festival Director Tiffany Holmes stated that “this year’s festival contains a heady mix of new and recent releases from around the world- to satisfy any cinephile’s taste for the alternative- as well as South West and UK premieres of exciting new British films”. Considering the festival’s roots are in short films and exposure for Cornish filmmakers, the festival felt much more established this year with a huge variety of thought-provoking feature films.
The Seventies were revived for audiences in films such as The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom (2011) and the popular Berberian Sound Studios (2012), both set in 1976, but the first offering open landscape vistas and a coming of age road trip whereas the latter depicting a claustrophobic descent into madness. Challenging and provocative films were also abundant from Leos Carax’s bizarre Holy Motors (2012) to Bobcat Goldthwaite’s pop culture parody God Bless America (2012). One word I heard mentioned the most after screenings was ‘bonkers’, which proves that these films really do have something new and exciting to offer.
Murder was also on the menu in the South West Premiere of Ben Wheatley’s latest, Sightseers (2012) which had viewers laughing and squirming in equal measures. Berlin Film Festival favourites the beautiful Tabu (2012) and Barbara (2012) were on offer to locals as well and the intriguing About Elly (2009), from the director of last year’s success A Separation, and Elena (2012), winner of the Cannes’ Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize, also screened. What was clearly evident this year was CFF was offering Cornish audiences a variety of successful films from international film festivals that they would not normally get an opportunity to see on the big screen.
The festival clearly embraces British film with the South West Premiere of period piece Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (2012) starring Felicity Jones and Elizabeth McGovern, as well as Dustin Hoffman’s delightfully funny and charming Quartet (2012), featuring British acting heavyweight Maggie Smith and the hilarious Billy Connolly, closing the festival. Nostalgic classics were also resurrected with Straw Dogs (1971), When Harry Met Sally (1989) and Labyrinth (1986) all showing and music documentaries The Chemical Brother: Don’t Think (2012), Marley (2012), Shut Up and Play the Hits (2012) and Searching for Sugar Man (2012) showcased.
Of course the festival wouldn’t be such without the many short films from talented filmmakers from all around the globe. Categories for the awards this year were Made in Kernow, Reel Women, The Edge (for experimental and non-narrative films), Films without Borders, Eye Toons (animated films) and Decent Exposure. For a full list of the short films and the winners go to www.cornwallfilmfestival.com.
With networking events, Q and As and workshops and talks the festival really does offer something for everyone with an interest in film. The atmosphere is friendly and inviting and if you do get time or want a bit of fresh air there are gorgeous beaches just minutes away. This is such an important cultural event for Cornwall and it is a real pleasure to watch it grow and grow.
Personal highlights for me included seeing childhood favourite Labyrinth (1986) on the big screen with a Q and A with conceptual designer Brian Froud, who also worked on The Dark Crystal (1982), afterwards, a fascinating man with lots of interesting stories to tell. Also both Kauwboy (2012) and Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) feature two of the most amazing and moving performances by young actors in film I have ever seen, watch out for them at the awards ceremonies next year. Yossi (2012) has already been compared to Andrew Haigh’s Weekend (2011) and for me did a much better job of capturing the true essence of a love story, a charming surprise.
Overall the Cornwall Film Festival is a delightful experience, you can invest in it completely and pack in as many films as possible, or dip in and out as you please. Either way it offers an eclectic mix of feature and short films in a welcoming and relaxed environment and is the perfect reason to indulge in the motion picture at its best, on the big screen.
About Elly (2009)
Berberian Sound Studio (2012)
Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (2012)
God Bless America (2011)
The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom (2011)