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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

In Review: Bradford Fantastic Film Weekend

Bradford Fantastic Film Weekend

The 9th Bradford Fantastic Film Weekend was held at the National Media Museum from 4 to 6 June. The annual event began in 2002 as a celebration of classic ghost stories and the supernatural and has evolved into a major celebration of horror, sci-fi and fantasy TV and film.

As always, the three-day event featured a packed schedule with movies showing on two screens (as well as classic TV such as Captain Scarlet playing in the TV Heaven viewing area). It's simply not possible to see every film on offer (although attempts are made to make it as easy as possible, with popular films showing more than once) but here are my thoughts on some of the films I was able to see (and boy, I watched a lot!!)...

Modern films included the excellent 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later shown as a double bill and I was also pleased to see eXistenZ, a film unfamiliar to me but which is very thought-provoking and clever and, like 28 Days Later, features Christopher Eccleston. 2009's Shadow, directed by Federico Zampaglione, was very intense, very gory (as in Saw levels of gore!!) but also wonderfully political, topical and very intelligently made. There was also a selection of short films - these included The Cicerones (featuring Mark Gatiss visiting a creepy church to view a painting) and Full Employment (which was so funny it had to be seen to be believed).

There was also no shortage of vintage material including the classic Matthew Hopkins Witchfinder General, a beautiful digital version of Psycho (superb in every way) and The Giant Spider Invasion, one of those 'so bad it's good' movies which the audience loved and which featured a giant spider that looked like a prop from The Goodies!! A highlight for me was Three Cases of Murder, a wonderful British film from the 1950s which consisted of three self-contained stories, including a wonderfully spooky tale of an artist who emerges from one of his own paintings and drags a museum worker into his sinister world. The FFW team always do a great job of digging out rare, overlooked films such as this.

In addition to these amazing films, there were two special guests in the form of director/cinematographer Stanley A Long (who worked with Boris Karloff on The Sorcerers) and writer/director Michael Armstrong (Mark of the Devil). I missed Michael's talk but saw Stanley's and he was absolutely fascinating and very popular with the audience.

The whole event was held together by festival director Tony Earnshaw who gave fascinating and humerous introductions to many of the movies. His insights set the scene for each film. He was well supported by the museum staff who were very helpful and friendly. In fact, the whole event had a very friendly atmosphere with a group of like-minded people coming together to enjoy great films.

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