Widening visions: the Bradford Film Festival

The 19th Bradford International Film Festival gets underway with a centenary celebration of Indian cinema and a showcase of some of Hollywood’s biggest retro pleasures in its annual Widescreen Weekend.

Samuel Wigley
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The Look of Love (2013)

The Look of Love (2013)

A colourful trip into the glamour and sleaze of the Soho sex industry, the latest collaboration between Steve Coogan and director Michael Winterbottom opened the 19th Bradford International Film Festival last night. The true story of sex magnate Paul Raymond (played by Coogan), who from humble beginnings became one of Britain’s richest men, it provided a suitably glitzy curtain-raiser to the 11-day festival, which runs from 11-21 April at Bradford’s National Media Museum and other venues across the city and West Yorkshire.

This year’s special focus is a celebration to mark the centenary of Indian cinema, dated from the screening of D. Phalke’s wholly Indian-produced Raja Harishchandra in 1913. All 12 minutes that are known to remain of this groundbreaking first are screening during the festival, programmed with the perennial Indian/German/British silent classic A Throw of Dice (1929). Elsewhere, Bollywood classics like Mother India (1957) and Mughal-e-Azam (1960) rub shoulders with a selection of brand new Indian titles, including UK premieres of The Sound of Old Rooms, I.D., and Mumbai’s King.

The Sound of Old Rooms

The Sound of Old Rooms

Another anniversary is honoured in the festival’s ever-popular annual Widescreen Weekend. Marking 60 years since the advent of 20th Century Fox’s anamorphic process CinemaScope, the weekend (26-28 April) features new digital restorations of The Great Escape (1963), The Guns of Navarone (1961), The Longest Day (1962), and How to Marry a Millionaire (1952) starring Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall.

The festival’s first weekend is more about new talent, with the Filmmakers’ Weekend (20/21 April) offering two days of workshops and masterclasses on the nuts and bolts of filmmaking, from producing and directing to developing screenplays and financing projects. Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty, Slumdog Millionaire) is among the talent on hand to talk from experience.

The joys of the wide screen: Cinerama Holiday (1955)

The joys of the wide screen: Cinerama Holiday (1955)

Tom Vincent, who co-directs the festival with film critic Neil Young, says, “As well as the usual mix of UK premieres, cult classics, guests, tributes, documentaries and family friendly events, the festival will look to the past and pay tribute to cinema’s rich heritage – at home and abroad – as well as to its future, and throw a spotlight on young up-and-coming filmmaking stars.”

The festival closes on 21 April with a screening of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mira Nair’s provocative new drama about a Wall Street banker whose loyalties come into question after the events of 9/11.

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