No/Gloss Film Festival 2013 – Festival Debrief

No Gloss Film Festival

Anyone who knows me know that I love food, and if I’m well fed then I’m generally predisposed to enjoy myself. The offerings at No/Gloss Film Festival certainly fulfilled that side of things – I had delicious pulled pork (Saturday) and burnt ends/beef brisket (Sunday) sandwiches from Crowder Barbecue, as well as a lovely slow cooked pork burrito provided by Barburrito. There was tea and cakes, craft beer and on Sunday morning I was even handed a bag of free tortilla chips and salsa.

The good news is that there is absolutely no reason for me to spend the rest of this review focusing solely on the food, because the festival as a whole was just as impressive and well organised as I’d hoped.

Returning for a second year, No/Gloss is a Leeds based independent film festival dedicated to films created on a limited (or in many cases zero) budget. The final line-up included a massive variety of films with different themes, styles, country of origin and ranging in length from 1 minute to 104 minutes. There were a good number of full length features scattered throughout the programme and the phrase ‘something for everyone’ definitely applied.

Many of the submissions came from overseas – glancing back over my programme guide there are listings from Argentina, Israel and Bolivia alongside the numerous films produced in the UK and USA. It made it all the more impressive how many of the film-makers were able to make it to their screenings. If I had a minor quibble about anything over the weekend it would be that it was often hard to see over people’s heads to read the subtitles on the foreign language films. It made following along difficult if you weren’t sitting in the first couple of rows, but once I figured that out I made sure to snag myself a seat further forward!

The festival ran for ten hours on Saturday and seven on Sunday and with two screens running simultaneously both days it was impossible to see everything. I’d picked a few must-see selections from the programme in advance and took in as much as I could, though I wish I’d been able to see it all. There were so many films on display I’ve chosen my top five instead of trying to say something about everything I saw – Tim wouldn’t have received this write-up until well after Christmas if I attempted to do that!

The Compositor

The Compositor (32 minutes)
The Compositor has won a number of awards, including a Student Oscar, and it’s easy to see why. Despite being a sci-fi story it’s also semi-autobiographical, created by real-life film compositor John Mattiuzzi. We follow Paul as he struggles to keep his real life separate from the digital realities he creates for a living. The visual effects are impressive throughout and that’s really the film’s main focus and the reason it was one of my favourites. Paul’s life outside of the computer and his personal issues are in many ways of little consequence when it comes to how enjoyable the film was.

Frau Schwein geht in die Scheissedisko

Frau Schwein geht in die Scheissedisko (8 minutes)
The synopsis in the guide describes this as something that will ‘either make you laugh in total bemusement or wonder what the hell just happened’, and that’s absolutely accurate. It’s 2D animation created entirely out of felt, making the experience of watching a pig eat, digest and excrete various items for eight minutes strangely compelling. The film-makers were on hand to tell us a little about the animation before we saw it, and even they admitted that they’d started animating without a story in mind so I don’t think it’s a slight to their talents to say that two days later, I’m still left wondering what the hell just happened!

Qui a tue Cendrillon

Qui a tue Cendrillon? (85 minutes)
‘Who Killed Cinderella?’ is, surprisingly, a comedy. It opens with a news bulletin telling us of the death of actress Coralie Bonnet, best known in France for her role as Cinderella, and then takes us back through key moments of her life including the reality television programme that won her the role. Her life story is told via a True Crime-style documentary investigating her death and trying to solve her murder and despite the dark title the film is thoroughly enjoyable and very funny. It even succeeds in throwing you off the scent with a couple of unexpected twists before we finally find out who did kill ‘Cinderella’.

Kenneth

Kenneth (72 minutes)
Kenneth is, to use production company Monster Island’s own description, “a film about love, friendship and an invisible ear goblin”. It’s a heartfelt quirky tale about love and loss and star Duncan Casey is great as Kenneth, confused about how his life became such a farcical mess so quickly. Going in, I was expecting something that was a mixture of the League of Gentlemen, Harvey and the TV series Wilfred, and while I wasn’t a million miles away Kenneth is actually a lot deeper than any of those. There are plenty of laughs but the comedy of the goblin and his new homeless friend Peter blends well with the drama of Kenneth’s recent unemployment and problems with his girlfriend.

Two thirds of the way through I’d already decided it was one of my favourite films of the weekend, even before I realised one of the scenes had been shot around the corner from my house. I probably shouldn’t have been so surprised and excited to recognise part of Yorkshire at a Yorkshire based film festival, but considering it came hot on the heels of a short film from Mexico it sort of felt like I was in a weird little locationless bubble – not Leeds.

Lad A Yorkshire Story

Lad: A Yorkshire Story (95 minutes)
Lad was the last thing I watched at No/Gloss 2013 and it was a perfect way to end. We had a brief introduction from the film’s teenage star Bretten Lord, and I was impressed with his confidence in front of the audience! The film had a feel of something like Calendar Girls – family-centric, heartwarming and with some lovely Yorkshire scenery to boot. When Tom Proctor’s father dies suddenly of a heart attack he’s forced to grow up quickly, and after stealing a tractor and covering the local bank in slurry as part of a mini rebellion, he’s slapped with a Community Service Order and sent to work with Yorkshire Dales ranger Al. What follows as Tom gets to grips with the changes in his life is a joy to watch, and I’ve never enjoyed watching something involving dry stone walling as much as I enjoyed this!

No/Gloss Film Festival – Ticket Giveaway & 25% Discount

No Gloss Film Festival

As you may remember we at Mild Concern are trying to eschew our London bias by attending not just Raindance and the London Film Festival this October but also sending our Northern Correspondent Rach along to the No/Gloss Film Festival in Leeds.

No/Gloss is a showcase of truly independent film making running on the 19th and 20th October 2013 in Canal Mills up in Leeds. You can read more about this great enterprising festival in our earlier post and be sure to check out the new interactive programme and decide what gems you can uncover. Rach has found hers:

Rach Tweets

Now I know what you’re thinking, “I thought you mentioned a ticket giveaway?”. And we are! We have one weekend ticket to the festival to giveaway and to enter our competition there is a three-pronged attack plan. The first two requirements are that you “like” the facebook page and click to attend the event. Then just enter your name and email address in the form below so that I know who are entries from Mild Concern and can select one of you at random.

For anyone who doesn’t win but does enter I will be sending you a 25% off promo code to use on the No/Gloss official ticket page so in many ways there are no losers in this game. Have at it:

The competition is open to UK residents age 18 and over only and you must be able to get yourself to the festival. Rach will not be giving you a lift. A winner will be selected at random on 24th September 2013 when this competition closes, at which point I will double-check the winner has fulfilled their social media obligations and pass their details on to the festival.

After Lucia – Film Review

After-Lucia

Lucia is a wife and mother. Lucia is dead. Confronted with their great loss father, Roberto (Hernán Mendoza), and daughter, Alejandra (Tessa Ia), move to Mexico City to get a fresh start. Things do not go well for Alejandra after one night’s mistake spirals out of control and she becomes the target of her new classmates bullying. With her mother gone Alejandra is taking a more parental role looking after her father than he is when it comes to looking after her. Alejandra is adrift in a new school, terrorised by her peers, and with no-one to turn to for help.

I first saw After Lucia at last year’s BFI London Film Festival and was so stunned by it I couldn’t bring myself to write about it. How can a short review do justice to this film and how do you recommend a film that had you writhing in your seat with discomfort?

Writer/director Michel Franco shot this film with a very simplistic style that allows the actors and their characters to take precedence. Almost every scene is shot with the camera fixed in place; a single voyeuristic eye that never looks away and never moves. The space this creates for the story to unfold allows for no distraction by way of fancy editing or suave camera moves. The result is a much more believable story, a story that explores the cruelty children will inflict on each other in order to ensure they are not the one being picked on.

After Lucia 2

As the bullying escalates to extreme degrees (the picture above being a prelude to some of the most uncomfortable cinema I have seen) I was begging the camera to move, to give me the chance to look away, or for the scene simply to end so that I was no longer bearing witness to these horrors. The horrors are not the sort to have you jumping in your seat or wincing at the sight of a bloody wound. These are the horrors of real life, the horrors that could actually come true.

With a film focussing on the loss of a parent and extreme bullying Franco was never going to make a film that is enjoyable to watch. The acts we see committed are brutal and unsettling and so quite rightly the film is too. To make it all the more difficult for the viewer the fact that we are a static eye in the corners of the story watching it all unfold makes us somehow complicit in what is happening. The same way you would be if you were a character at that school, watching the bullying but not stepping in to help.

After Lucia 1

Almost painful to watch After Lucia is a masterclass in pulling the audience into the story and not letting them go until it has come to its shattering conclusion. It has been 9 months and I still feel a little unsettled. A beautifully tragic tale that won’t let you look away, no matter how badly you might want to.

After Lucia has no UK release date yet but is playing at the MexFest in London this weekend. For tickets and more information visit the MexFest website.

No/Gloss Film Festival

No Gloss Film Festival

It seems we are into Film Festival season as this week* our friends (we’ve exchanged emails and everything!) at the No/Gloss Film Festival in Leeds have announced the date and venue for their second celebration of independent filmmaking. This year’s festival will take place on the 19th and 20th of October and will be held in the oh so trendy looking Canada Mills.

What makes No/Gloss Film Festival a little bit exciting is their ethos of being a no frills film festival. Tickets to the festival are affordable (and available to buy online), the submission process is free for filmmakers, and the selection process aims to remove any bias towards famous personalities. While No/Gloss is running I will be at the all-frills BFI London Film Festival at which I have seen many a film that seemed to have been chosen for its cast rather than its quality. As I will be busy swanning around in Londontown we will (hopefully) be sending along our Northern correspondent to see what’s going on up there.

The festival promises:

Over 30 hours of DIY, independent films from the UK and world over, an amazing outdoor food tent, live art and spectacular visuals on display, free tortilla chips and salsa provided on ONE of the days courtesy of Bar Burrito, 5min film workshops, meet your favorite film-makers, and of course the after party – we promise it will be an unforgettable weekend!

Honestly I think I’d go anywhere with an outdoor food tent.

*OK, seven days ago. I got distracted.