We have just reached a special Birthday. From modest beginnings in 1992 showing 29 films, we are now celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Chichester International Film Festival, screening over 156 films from over 30 countries plus live events in 8 venues.
An amazing journey!
The world feels very different after the pandemic and with the catastrophic Ukrainian situation. Therefore, it's not surprising that this Festival is reflecting changing times, with an important survey of undervalued Ukrainian cinema (often subsumed as "Russian" films of the Soviet period.) Two silent classics, Vertov's Man with the Movie Camera and Dovchenko's Earth (with live piano accompaniment by the brilliant Stephen Horne) are both truly Ukrainian films. Some recent films such as Reflection and Atlantis are challenging but we surely need to spotlight this vital cinema.
Even Spy films take on a new relevance today as can be seen in the two Andrew Eaton productions he will introduce, with director James Watkins: Munich, Edge of War, The Ipcress File’ (ITV serial ep 4) and the Estonian - Dawn of War, sharing similar themes. Recent Russian films included -especially White Whale and 100 days (retelling Solzhenitsyn's novel about Denisovich) are savage critiques of Russian society (hardly pro-Putin).
For those seeking less volatile material there are two Chinese tales of rural life: the thought-provoking Return to Dust and the life-affirming Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom. Both our animation programmes, Where is Anne Frank and a special programme of short animations I’m Fine, should also appeal to our younger audience, and don’t forget Pixar's Lightyear, one of the open air shows in Priory Park.
For teenagers and upwards we have a group of films dealing with rites of passage, with 18khz (our first film from Kazakhstan), Magnetic Beats (French pirate radio antics), a Canadian romantic coming-of-age story Wildwood and from Finland, Girls Girls Girls (Three teenage girls seek love over three weekends). What better for Saturday night viewing!
If you are looking for comedy, I would highlight Official Competition, a hilarious Spanish parody of the film industry starring Penelope Cruz as a director struggling with a cast of egomaniacs (Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martinez). Adapted from Balzac’s novel, Lost Illusions, is a French satire ridiculing society and social media. It couldn't feel more germane. Nobody's Hero veers from fierce satire to broad farce and back in its witty observation of our troubled times. Look out for some great indie comedies in the Studio with Brigitte Bardot Forever (echoes of Cinema Paradiso), and Sweet Disaster, a feel-good delight from Germany.
For those interested in film composers, I recommend the documentaries Ennio (Morricone of course) and Vangelis as well as O Thou Transcendent. Tony Palmer will introduce his fine film on Vaughan Williams celebrating the 150th Anniversary. It is Charles Mingus's centenary year, so we celebrate with the documentary Triumph of the Underdog and live jazz featuring BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year finalist, Alex Clarke. Should be wild! Stephen Horne will perform his wizardry at the Guildhall and Ben Hall returns on organ for the Centenary of Nosferatu at St John's Chapel.
There are a number of Festival sections celebrating centenaries and commemorations and we are proud of the breadth of these retrospectives. Supported by illustrated talks, this is a unique element of our Festival. This year we are presenting 10 such events, all with outstanding experts in their fields. Many of these films are true classics such as Godard's Breathless, Resnais' Last Year in Marienbad and Antonioni's L'Avventura which when first shown in Cannes was booed and the participants fled the theatre. By the second screening it was declared a masterpiece! See if you have changed your mind.
A word about the more intimate Studio. It may not be as comfortable, but films shown here - often with talks - can rival the Auditorium. For technical reasons, no DCP drives can be played in the studio.
We have re-introduced F-rating for female directors, and the number this year is 25. We have also created an Exclusive to the Festival category, either imported from Europe or elsewhere or not yet available as UK releases. So catch them if you can as they are unlikely to return.
We welcome several filmmakers to introduce their films. We are proud to present three World premieres with directors: Jane Mote and guests with My Bones are Woven, Phil Grabsky with his latest Exhibition on Screen – Mary Cassatt and, on the last day - Richard Dee-Roberts director and guests with The Reverend and Mrs Simpson.
We are delighted to continue our partnership with the Institut Français who are providing 5 outstanding French previews.
I would now like to thank all the Cinema team and enthusiastic volunteers who make this marathon possible - and most especially Walter Francisco, Chichester Cinema at New Park's Cinema Director & Programmer.
This 30th edition could not be staged without the enthusiastic support of our Partners (BFI and Greenwood Wealth Solutions), Carol Godsmark (Hospitality & Guest Relations), the Projectionists, Box Office Staff, New Park Centre, our partner venues and their teams, and those invaluable Volunteers that make everything possible.
Remember - word of mouth is the best publicity, so spread the word everybody!
See you at Priory Park.
Roger Gibson Artistic director July 2022