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London Road

Daring, startling and wholly original musical adapted from Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork’s play.

Catch Me Daddy

Two young lovers are forced on the run through nocturnal Yorkshire.

Fidelio: Alice’s Journey

The sexual liberation of Alice, a ship’s engineer.

BFI London Film Festival 2014

240 films. From 72 countries. 16 cinemas. 12 days. One Festival.

7-18 October 2015

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Hand Gestures: ‘You walk into the dark and find yourself transported to another world’

Audiences in NFT2 at BFI Southbank right now are grappling with an outstanding documentary debut from Italian filmmaker Francesco Clerici: Hand Gestures, a meditative portrait of a historic bronze foundry in Milan.

Hand Gestures (2015)

Hand Gestures (2015)

Comparable to the work made by the Harvard Ethnography Lab, Clerici documents a technique that dates back to the 4th-century BC. Foregoing any extraneous music or dialogue, Hand Gestures casts its hypnotic rhythms through meticulous editing and striking compositions. Matthew Thrift grabbed Clerici to speak to him about his filmmaking process:

I’ve always been interested in manual work, people working with their hands. My grandfather was a house-builder and a carpenter, and I was always fascinated by what he was able to make with basic materials, whereas today everyone seems to work with computers. I started working with the artist – the sculptor in the film – in 2009.

I’d visit him at the foundry and watch him work, and the more often I went there, the more I found myself becoming hypnotised by its environment. It’s a crazy place, right in the centre of Milan. They’re using the same techniques that were used for thousands of years, and when you enter the foundry it’s like entering another dimension, and for me that’s cinema. You walk into the dark and find yourself transported to another world.

I was looking for a story I could tell visually, with very little dialogue. I knew this was the place, I just had to find out how I could disappear, how I could become a spectator rather than a director. I didn’t want to use music, and wanted the editing rhythms to act as an homage to the work, to be as discreet and intimate with the foundry workers as possible, following their process. What they were doing was so beautiful, it was easy for me to to step back and let their work speak.

It’s difficult in Italy to make this sort of film. Viewers think a documentary should be a documentary, with voiceovers and interviews. I didn’t want any of this. I wanted a unique flow, where you enter the foundry, but you also enter in cinematic time.

I’m not that interested in bronze-sculpting really. I wanted to make an homage to people working, to their rhythms. Also to connect to something deep inside us, our connection to materials. They make everything with air, water, fire, earth and little else, there’s almost no technology involved. This direct contact with the elements is an experience I wanted to pass on to an audience.

Sean Baker on Tangerine

Last night’s screening of Sean Baker’s indie sleeper hit Tangerine presented an early contender for feelgood film of the festival, writes Paul O’Callaghan.

Tangerine (2015)

Tangerine (2015)

Tangerine has received a huge amount of press attention since it debuted to raves at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, thanks to two major talking points. It offers a sun-drenched, gloriously cinematic evocation of Los Angeles, which happens to have been shot entirely on modified iPhones. It’s also been heralded as a major breakthrough for the representation of transgender people on film, with first-time actors Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez delivering jaw-dropping performances as a couple of impoverished sex workers who find themselves involved in an increasingly absurd quest for revenge and retribution on Christmas Eve.

Baker and Taylor were in town for the film’s UK premiere last night, and spoke compellingly about the film’s development process and trans equality.

Sean Baker: “The way I’ve made the last few films is that they’re, in a way, found. In this case, I live about half a mile from the corner of Santa Monica and Highland. (Co-writer) Chris Bergoch and I are both cisgender white men from outside of that world, so we didn’t want to go into it imposing any sort of script or plot – we wanted to find people to work with, and our main collaborator became Mya.”

On its refreshing depiction of Los Angeles

SB: “I’m originally from New York – I came from that sensibility where I’m a walker and a biker, so I tried to keep doing that in Los Angeles. And in doing that, I realised there’s so much of LA that hasn’t been shown in film and television - we actually only see LA through Venice Beach and Beverly Hills, but there’s so many more neighbourhoods and communities and subcultures. We think of LA as a car culture, but there’s a whole other side, where people who don’t have the means still have to get around somehow.”

On the film’s treatment of female friendship

Mya Taylor: “As far as friendship goes, we told the truth about the area. When you’re struggling, when you’re down and out like these girls are, all you have is each other. You don’t have family – if you did you wouldn’t be out there.”

On the ongoing battle for acceptance of trans people

MT: “I feel like there’s a lot of cisgender people who think ‘trans people just want us to accept them’. I feel it’s not about acceptance - it’s more like, why can’t people just mind their business? I don’t care whether you accept me or not, as long as you respect my right to be here. All people need is a basic level of respect – why do some people feel they have the right to interfere with other people’s lives?”

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High-Rise red carpet with cast & crew

Director Ben Wheatley and actors Sienna Miller and Tom Hiddleston talk about adapting this story of British urban dystopia before its Festival Gala screening.

Friday 9 October 2015

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Film of the week: By Our Selves

Toby Jones, Andrew Kötting (as a straw bear) and their merry men revive the wanderings and wonderings of Northamptonshire peasant poet John Clare, writes David Jays.
David Jays
Thursday 1 October 2015

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