Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Or better known as Leeds International Film Festival. I have finally done my last shift volunteering at the festival, and boy has it been a mixture of pure stress and then on the other side of the scale brilliant and beyond inspiring. I have seen my fair share of films, and I have since been walking around complaining I have square eyes from watching so much! But here is my experience....

Sunday 4th Nov:
During my first shift I didn't actually go to watch any of the films showing (Here Comes the Devil & Shine of the Day), as I am a girlie wimp and don't like scary films! But I did get a grasp of what my time working at LIFF would be like, and I had a few lovely conversations with other volunteers as well as some staff from The Vue.

Saturday 10th Nov:
A Town Called Panic

The first film I actually saw at the festival, was the French stop-motion comedy 'A Town Called Panic' in Hyde Park Picture House. I have wanted to watch this film for over a year now, and it's been patiently sat in my Amazon basket for months now, but I have never got around to buying it. So when I saw that it was playing this year at LIFF I was excited beyond belief to get the chance to watch it on the big screen, and for free with my volunteer pass! I have to say, it really exceeded my expectations. The stiffness of the models was perfect and not over played. The story-line was also great and included every emotion you can think of, and managed to execute each one perfectly. I could not sing this film's phrases enough really.

Later on the Saturday I was working another shift in The Vue, with the first film being 'The Shine of the Day', which I was unable to watch due to a low number of volunteers on that shift. However I was able to watch Wrinkles afterwards thankfully; as the disk with the film wasn't working on the projector as it was the wrong format, meaning there was a half hour delay whilst the technical problems were being resolved. As I was working on the shift, I had to deal with members of the public who weren't overly pleased with the delay, but the majority of people were happy with the film afterwards and most gave it the highest rating.


Wrinkles was a slow starter, and took a while for the story to develop and really get anywhere, which perfectly reflects a care home (as dull as it may seem to watch to begin with). Throughout the film, more and more small events and changing every day happenings occur, which the characters reflect about with sincere concern. With this story, you half expect the ending, but when it actually comes it really warms your heart and makes you think again about your own life as well as caring for the elderly. With a few unexpected twists and turns throughout, and a beautifully animated style, you can't really go wrong with this film.

Sunday 11th Nov:
Wolf Children

Like on the Saturday with 'A Town Called Panic', this was a film I specifically wanted to go and watch, and luckily had the time to see. I have always adored Studio Ghibli's work, but find most other manga/anime animations don't quite grab my interest, or the story isn't really to my taste. When I saw the synopsis for 'Wolf Children', I was really excited by the concept (although done before) and just hoped that the film wouldn't let me down. Like 'Wrinkles' it was slow in parts (the whole film lasted just over two hours...), but without these sections the meaning would be lost, and the emotion would not be portrayed as well. This emotional film was breathtaking, and the scenery was beautifully hand crafted, and the character in the children particularly was so well executed, especially in the transition between them turning from humans to wolves (and vice versa). This was another popular film in the festival and got rave reviews, and to be honest, I am not the least bit surprised!

Like the day before, I was actually working a shift in the late afternoon/evening time as well as watching a film in the morning. To my surprise, this shift consisted of three films rather than the usual two. Two of which were documentaries I particularly wanted to watch anyway, and luckily it was my job this shift to sit in all of the films to make sure there were no glitches. Unfortunately during 'Jobriath AD' the film stopped half way through, so I had to run out to alert the technical team, and it was fixed in minutes (luckily!).

King of Comics

This was one of the Documentaries I was hoping to watch, little did I know it was about a openly gay comic book artist (with rather graphic drawings in parts!!!). To begin with, I was slightly uncomfortable watching a documentary of this nature in public, especially as I didn't know if I could laugh along with his jokes as I was working on the shift, but after not that long at all I was laughing like a loon (awkwardly looking back...) and really enjoyed it. His work openly embraces stereotypes and exaggerates them to new proportions. Overall this was a great watch regardless of if you like comics or not!

Jobriath AD

Jobriath!? Who? Well exactly, that is what the whole documentary is about. Jobriath was a massive influential figure in Glam Rock, and one of the first musicians to openly recognise his sexuality as gay, without hiding it from the public. This in itself I find truly inspiring. As a child I was never brought up to stereotype or judge people before getting to know them properly, and I find it really and truly upsetting that in this day and age people still have problems with accepting people for who they are regardless of sex, race, religion or this case sexuality. I have family members and close friends who are LGBT, and I can't ever imagine people judging them on these grounds. Although I didn't particularly like all of Jobriath's music, I can fully appreciate what a unrecognised social figure he was. It was a truly inspiring story, and I loved how different view points were shown to give a well rounded view of him.

Better Things: The life and choices of Jeffrey Catherine Jones

This was another of the Documentaries I was dying to see. As a recent lover of comic books (I enjoyed looking at them as a child, but have only recently returned to the obsessive state I was in before), I am really interested in gaining a wider insight into comic book culture, and the legends that made it what it is today. And Jeff Jones really was one of those people. This documentary covered all aspects of his life which he has usually not wished to talk about in depth, such as his sex change to become a woman, as well as the struggles he has had in the past. Before the completion of the film, Jones sadly died, but did see the rough cut before editing and loved it so far. Jones' work is absolutely phenomenal and really nothing like I was expecting at all, which made it even more moving to see the work and link this to his background. For this viewing we were even more lucky to attend, as Maria Paz Cabardo the director of the film, flew over from New York especially for LIFF to make it's first British screening. She talked about the documentary with such pride and joy, and you can see that she did everything she could to reflect this woman and her life truly.

Monday 12th Nov:
The Golem

This viewing came slightly out of the blue, when Mike suggested we all went as a year group to see this free showing in the Town Hall. As I had already had a busy weekend with many films, I wasn't too fond of the idea, but I am really glad I went. I don't usually watch silent films, but this one was different as it had a live accompaniment of an organ. As it is such a large hall, the noise really projected, filling the whole place, and it was amazing the timing he had with the film, considering he wasn't able to watch it at the same time. It was off in a few places, but all in all, it was spectacularly timed! The film itself was very over dramatic and staged, but considering it is almost 100 years old, you can't help but be impressed regardless. Although I wouldn't watch it again, I have definitely been inspired, especially by the change in colour which reflects the mood of the scene.

World Animation Award part 1
Later in the day, annoyingly, was another film session I wished to go to see. In this showing, rather than having one main film, they showed a series of short animations which had been chosen to compete against each other for this years award. Sadly in this bunch of animations, I really only liked one, and it was the amazing stop motion (with small elements of 2D thrown in for good measure) animation called 'Fear of Flying' by Connor Finnegan. I had seen the trailer for this a few days before seeing it at LIFF, and this was actually the only reason I went to this showing!! For all 8 minutes of goodness! The characters and narrative was so well thought out and just, ah, words can't even! I won't ruin it for you, but watch this lovely lovely trailer!
FEAR OF FLYING trailer from conorfinnegan on Vimeo.


Tuesday 13th Nov:
British Animation Panorama: Animate Wildly
Like the Animated shorts shown in Anifest, the British ones didn't really shine much for me. They either had a strong narrative idea or they had a strong visual style, but I felt that none particularly had a mixture of both. Other than the short film 'Belly' by my favourite animator Julia Pott. As mentioned before on my blog, Julia is a god in my eyes, she does everything so smoothly and perfectly. THIS is where I want to be one day. This piece was created for her final project in her Masters in Animation at the Royal College of Art (where I wish to one day study... and follow in her footsteps..).
Belly from Julia Pott on Vimeo.

World Animation Award part 2
The next shift I was working on after the British Panorama, was the second part of the World Animation Award. In this showing there was some beautiful pieces, but none again particularly grabbed my attention, and I left feeling a little demotivated, as I see so many well crafted animations on Vimeo everyday which don't get the credit they deserve, compared to some of the animations shown at these sorts of festivals. It did however give me hope, that if these are supposed to be the best in the world, then I have not a lot to live up to!!!

I am so thankful that I was chosen out of the 180 odd applicants to be one of the 90 volunteers, as I met some truly lovely and inspiring people of all age groups and backgrounds, as well as obviously watching loads of films which I may not necessarily have gone to see if I wasn't working on those shifts or had got involved with the festival. Most of us are full of good intentions to do or go to various things, and I am guilty of this, as last year I didn't go to any of the major event held in Leeds, but this time around I have really embraced the opportunities available. Saying this I was not able to see half the films I wanted to, due to times clashing with University work and having volunteering shifts in other places at the same time. However I have written a list of the films I would still like to see, and hopefully will have time to see before the next year of LIFF madness!!!

Earnest and Celestine
Robot and Frank
Rust and Bone
Seven Psychopaths
The History of Future Folk
King Kong vs Godzilla
The Art of Negative Thinking
Electric Man + Judge Minty
Five Broken Cameras

As a volunteer I also received an email at the end of the festival with the top 20 most popular films that were shown, voted by the public. So hopefully I will have time to watch these films too if I haven't already! The list was...

1. The Hunt
2. In Search of Blind Joe Death
3. Ernest and Celestine
4. Wolf Children
5. War Witch
6. Morgan Spurlock's Comic Con
7. Five Broken Cameras
8. Robot and Frank
9. Argo
10. Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet
11. In My Mother's Arms
12. Amour
13. This Band is So Gorgeous
14. Seven Psychopaths
15. Laurence Anyways
16. When the Lights Went Out
17. Yadig? Presents Seven Signs
18. José and Pilar
19. Back to the Square
20. Berserk: The Golden Age 2

So yeah... That was my hectic time at LIFF 2012. Roll on next year!

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