As the 27th annual FilmBath Festival opens on 2 November, Georgette McCready looks at the way films can transport us to places and situations far removed from our own experiences
Audiences in Bath will get a rare treat this month as the city’s annual film festival has lined up a record 32 previews, giving them the chance to see movies from all over the world before they go on general release.
The new re-brand for the south west’s oldest film festival – FilmBath Festival – wheels out some big names for its 2017 programme, which runs from Thursday 2 to Sunday 12 November.
Among the previews organisers have managed to secure is Battle of the Sexes, in which Emma Stone plays tennis ace Billie Jean King. There’s also Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, about the fascinating story behind Wonder Woman and Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, with Jamie Bell (Billy Elliott) and Annette Bening. Angelina Jolie has produced Nora Twomey’s latest family animation The Breadwinner, while The Florida Project features what some critics say is Willem Dafoe’s best performance yet. There’s the added bonus of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which was the stand-out hit of the Toronto Film Festival.
The festival – now in its 27th year – also becomes the first mainstream film festival in the world with a programme that features more credits for women directors than men.
The programme, which is available in print and online, shows that 22 of the 43 feature films on offer have women directors.
Battle of the Sexes starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell
In addition, a dozen of the films directed by women are written by and star women, too, so qualifying as triple F-Rated under the fast-spreading classification system pioneered by FilmBath to challenge the film industry’s gender bias.
There are films in this programme that make us think about lives lived in places and ways very different from our own. Sitting in the darkness of a cinema or screening room we are transported by the film-makers to worlds and situations we might not ever have considered – and in a troubled world the medium of film can highlight issues for us to ponder.
So here are some of the films we think might make you view an issue or situation in a fresh light and having you talking about it with your friends afterwards. And that you can boast that you saw them here first.
Beach Rats, Friday 3 November, 7pm, at the Odeon
Set in South Brooklyn, working class Frankie lives with his dying father, long-suffering mother and younger sister and spends his time hanging out with his ‘bros’. He’s living a double life as he keeps his attraction for men under wraps – but sooner or later the two worlds will collide. Directed by Eliza Hittman this coming of age LGBT movie has been described as dark, dreamy and entirely engrossing.
Ingrid Goes West, Saturday 4 November, 8.30pm at the Odeon
Aubrey Plaza plays the young woman obsessed with Instagram and celebrity, who leaves a psychiatric ward to latch on to Taylor (played by Elizabeth Olsen), bewitched by her apparently perfect life. This savage and hilarious satire went down a storm at the Sundance festival. Critics said: ‘a neon candy heart dipped in asbestos.’
Mountain, Sunday 5 November, 6pm at the Odeon
Some films just cry out to be watched on a big screen, so you can lose yourself in the landscape. This documentary explores the art of mountaineering and uses specialist high altitude cinematography.
Hotel Salvation, Sunday 5 November, 6.30pm at the Odeon
If you’ve ever spent time with an elderly relative, this family comedy drama set in India will chime with you. A father, nearing death, drags his workaholic middle aged son off to a hotel for the dying by the Ganges river.
Annette Bening and Jamie Bell in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Dark River, Monday 6 November, 6pm, at the Odeon
Sean Bean, who showed in his recent quiet but powerful role as Father Michael in Broken that he doesn’t need a sword in his hand to grab our attention, plays the Yorkshire sheep farmer who bequeaths his farm. Ruth Wilson (mesmerising in Luther, strong as Jane Eyre and compelling in The Affair) plays his daughter who comes home to find her brother struggling to keep the farm going. This is an absorbing battle for the land film which will resonate with fans of British realist drama, the female director is Clio Barnard.
Women of the Silk Road, Tuesday 7 November, 6pm, at Chapel Arts Centre
This is a documentary about four women weavers, from Iran, Oman, Turkey and Tajikistan, countries which are all on the legendary Silk Road. The director, who will be at the preview, has said that she hopes her camera will act as a source of illumination between the East and the West.
Thelma, Friday 10 November, 8.30pm at the Odeon
Fans of the Nordic style of film-making and its beautiful landscape will be rapt by this ice-cold coming of age story, which has echoes of Carrie. It’s been described as monious, unnerving and strangely powerful. Judge for yourselves.
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Saturday 11 November, 6pm at the Odeon
Annette Bening puts in one of those memorable performances, as a faded Hollywood star who entrances a young man (played by Jamie Bell). He takes her back to his family in Liverpool, who are also starstruck by her.
Journeyman, Saturday 11 November, 8.30pm at the Odeon
The new Dr Who Jodie Whittaker stars alongside Paddy Considine, who plays an over-the-hill boxer who has been hit on the head too many times, and as a result his life, his marriage and his future hang in the balance.
To add appeal for younger film-goers FilmBath Festival 2017 has a ticket deal for those aged 25 and unders, with 50% off the ticket prices.