Hope Lies at IDFest – Liveblog

SOLDAT EVENT

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Welcome to our coverage of this year’s IDFest. Things got off to a start last night with a screening of Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman, but today begins the festival proper. Keep an eye on this blog-post and our twitter feed for commentary and updates throughout the day.

Friday.

Today is all building towards one event for those of us present from Hope Lies; the screening of The Dark Side Of The Rainbow, in which Victor Fleming’s The Wizard Of Oz is paired with a Pink Floyd accompaniment later this evening. That begins at 6pm, so there’s still plenty of time to join us (tickets here).

First on the schedule is Woody Allen’s Hannah And Her Sisters

[Post-Hannah And Her Sisters]

– I’m not sure why but Woody Allen and I have never really clicked. HOWEVER, the sheer joy that is Hannah And Her Sisters has gone some way towards rectifying that. An immensely powerful film, and one that deals with issues and ideas far bigger than those advertised, it’s a wholly satisfying and complete work. It’s a film that is ultimately concerned with issues about mortality, and the idea of existing as a part of something bigger than oneself, and the character-filled print on display today was the perfect medium for presenting the film.

[Post-The Straight Story]

– Danny Leigh introduced the film most often declared David Lynch’s furthest removed. I’m not sure that’s really the case tho; it’s a Lynch film in almost every way: unlikely protagonist? Check. A tale of a sleepy town that holds an extraordinary tale? Check. Foreign financing due to an American film industry too afraid to support one of its greatest sons? Check.

Again, mortality is the order of the day, with Lynch’s tale of a man stubbornly coming to terms with the ultimate one ground in the real and, like the Allen film, completely affecting. See, the scene in which our protagonist discusses the war over a beer with one of the kindly individuals that helps him along his way; these men do not feel like actors. They feel like people.

[Post -The Dark Side Of The Rainbow]

– Our screening of The Wizard Of Oz with Pink Floyd accompaniment appears to have gone pretty well. I’m not actually a fan of the band or the film, but thought it was mightily effective. Maybe there is something in the urban legend after all…? 

[Post-Terry Jones In Conversation]

– Tradition calls for Mr. Jones to be referred to as one of the founding members of Monty Python, but truth be told it’s his Personal Services, the David Leland-written, Julie Walters vehicle from 1987 with which I associate the man mostly. I saw Jones in similar surroundings some years ago, but he was in a more reflective, laid back mood tonight. Empire magazine’s Chris Hewitt was the master of ceremonies, with a particularly memorable audience Q&A session following.

2007_we_own_the_night_013

Sunday.

I had to skip Saturday. Families…. But alas, Sunday was always destined to be the greatest of days at this years IDFest thanks to one event: our screening of James Gray’s We Own The Night. I can’t wait.

O’ and if you’re looking for this week’s Editorial, there isn’t one, due to me being here doing this. Normal service will resume next week. But back to today, and a short film session.

[Post-Shorts]-

Short films really aren’t my thing. I struggle to commit to the adjusted rules of attention span required for them. Having forgotten that trains operate in a reduced capacity on Sundays I actually missed my first scheduled event (Terry Jones’ Wind In The Willows), so decided to give this a shot. Of the three shorts I took in my favourite was The Sweat Shop, which told the story of an illegal sweat shop in an unnamed city. The focus was on a small boy, and is apparently based upon a true incident. If I get a chance I’ll provide further details soon. The French short, Time 2 Split was pretty great too, if not a tad familiar. Split screen tells the story of a relationship parted. The use of technique is innovative enough to hold attention tho. The third and final short wasn’t so effective. Five Years charts the immediate aftermath of a young Mann’s parole, with gang deception et all brought in to play. I dubbed it “Bieber’s Goodfellas” in my notes, such is the far too clean cut and unconvincing nature of the core group of actors.

[Post-Forbidden Planet]

Forbidden Planet was preceded by a fantastic introduction from Ben Spiller, the director of the IDFest’s host venue’s in-house theatre company (a transcript of which can be found here). The film itself is actually pretty great. It’s very funny, it looks great, and is retrospectively relevant too, to boot. The film screened in 35mm, and the aged print really added to the whole experience. 

[Post- Shorts panel]

– Shorts again, with the spirit of the festival taking control and swaying me from my original path (I was planning on seeing The Bicycle Thieves). This session revolved around a panel discussion on the life of a short film maker. While enlightening in parts, ultimately I found it to be pretty uninspiring, with an emphasis on the hows, as opposed to the whys. There seems to be something of a resentment towards artistically-driven cinema in some quarters, with instead a more business orientated, real-world slant the sole one offered up by the panel. Call me a dreamer, but I found it pretty disheartening to hear young filmmakers so casually pedal a stance that stands at complete odds with my own.

[Post-We Own The Night]

– Well, that didn’t go to plan. A delayed start to the event immediately prior to We Own The Night meant that our screening was pushed back. Which meant that I actually missed it, due to the fact that I need to be in London early tomorrow morning. Disappointed doesn’t even begin to cover it, but I’ll write up my positively mind-blowing introduction sometime this week and stick it up on here. 

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11 Comments

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  1. With reference to your post about the Shorts panel, one of us has no idea what you’re talking about – personally I think it’s you.
    All I can say is that if you weren’t happy at the content of the discussion (despite the fact it followed the brief very closely) the power to change it lay in simply raising your hand …

    • Hands were raised, but time was against us, I’m afraid.

      • Say the Master of pretty accusations.

        • What I find most interesting about this whole affair is the lack of an actual point being addressed. You’re both attacking my person, instead of engaging with the criticism.

          • I’m sorry, and more than a little disappointed if you considered my post an attack on your person – it wasn’t, it was an attack, if you choose to call it that, on your opinion of the panel, which I continue to view as flawed and unfair.
            That’s as far as I can tell, of course, as you said nothing in your blog to explain exactly what you’re criticising or why, nor did you make it clear what your stance is, and why you found the panel to be dishearteningly at odds with it – bearing in mind that there was quite a range of views, with, I feel, James’s (somewhat inevitably) being the most corporate.

            As for the hand-raising – time was not against us. The event drew to a close when the questions dried up, Carl didn’t have to apologise to the hordes of arm-waving enthusiasts he couldn’t get to, and there were a couple of pregnant pauses as the more timid participants plucked up courage to say their piece, so there was ample opportunity.

            It would have been interesting to have had this viewpoint raised at the time. For me, saving it for the blog just makes it inevitable that it will be viewed negatively.

            • “As for the hand-raising – time was not against us.”

              Sorry, what I mean is that I was actually hosting next door straight after, so time was against myself and my compadre. I actually had my hand up until Adam Marsh, who was sat directly in front of me, asked his question towards the end of the panel.

              “That’s as far as I can tell, of course, as you said nothing in your blog to explain exactly what you’re criticising or why, nor did you make it clear what your stance is, and why you found the panel to be dishearteningly at odds with it – bearing in mind that there was quite a range of views, with, I feel, James’s (somewhat inevitably) being the most corporate.”

              In the limited space dedicated to the shorts panel in the blogpost I think the ultimate point and exact criticism is made pretty clearly. To quote – “While enlightening in parts, ultimately I found it to be pretty uninspiring, with an emphasis on the hows, as opposed to the whys.” As for my “stance”, granted it might not be made wholly clear in that brief paragraph, but such is the nature of my work and this website that I trust that the regular reader will be fully aware of my leanings (in short, I’m a staunch auteurist, and that is my “angle”, my theory and my critical approach; I value the art and the history of cinema over technique). I found it to be disheartening because, as the other commentator below admits, there was little in the way of any discussion about “the creative goals and intentions of the panel”.

  2. My opinion from being in attendance is that, I do agree that the focus was on funding, finance and career path and I personally would have also liked to have heard more about the creative goals and intentions of the panel. That’s in no way to suggest that some weren’t implied – for example, the generation of work to the North and in Derby and the technical progression in their respective crafts were admirably mentioned – and also, that the panel don’t hold any because they weren’t discussed.
    The above seems to be the argument of art vs. commerce and I can see both sides of the coin. It’s also a matter of personal preference, some people might just see making film as a job whilst others want to say something
    . The hand raising comment is absolutely fair and if the focus was on the ‘realities’ of making films, then perhaps it’s what the majority of people wanted to hear about or what the panel were best equipped to talk about. However, I myself did feel that the panel were at their best and most inspirational, particularly the actors, when talking about their unadulterated love of what they do rather than focusing on making money or making a career. There were a couple of examples of great engagement with the younger members of the audience and a positive, general message of go out and do it yourself that should be commended.
    People make and watch films for lots of different reasons and their are invariably sensibilities and opinions that come with that. Personally, I’d have liked to have heard a lot more about the collaborative, community experiences of the panel, their artistic drives or passion projects, creative ambitions for the future etc. but that’s my own sensibility.
    I’m absolutely sure a panel that discussed only artistic leanings and blue sky thinking would have conversely been criticised as arty-farty or unrealistic. If that was the case, it would be fair to respect the opinions of those that felt it and vice-versa.

  3. I am Tommy Draper, I was the writer on the short film discussion panel last night. While I respect the views you have about the discussion, even though I felt we expressed our thoughts and opinions honestly to the questions we were asked, I would like to address the issue that we came across as very business minded and career driven. I myself have been writing screenplays since 2005-ish, making short films since 2008 and now have my first very low-budget feature looking for distribution in Cannes next week. I have only actually been paid to write a screenplay once and that was recently, and it was on the back of all the hard work I have put in over the years to get to this stage. To support myself and my family I work a day job (nothing to do with movies) and I work very hard at night to make the writing go somewhere. I only do this out of love for movies. Yes, there are times when I do work for money, I offer script feedback for a very small amount (not being a known writer I can’t charge a lot for this) but every screenplay I produce I have done to entertain an audience and because I have a story I want to tell.

    Prior to the Short Film Discussion panel was the “Eat My Shorts” Short Film selection. If you had seen the last two movies shown you would have seen a movie from myself (Pro Kopf) and one (Caught in the Headlights) from Chris Bevan, Karl Poyzer, Joseph Maudsley and Lucy Varney, those films show our artistic-drive and I feel both of those films show our love and passion for what we do. On the other hand we are all very realistic about moviemaking, to progress and make any sort of career out of it you have to be. With funding getting harder and harder, every time I get a film made I feel blessed because it such an achievement. Every time a film I have written is played to a festival audience I get a buzz, I wish I could make bigger films to reach a wider audience but that takes focus and drive.

    Anyway, I need to go back to my screenplay work. I just felt I should get those thoughts out there and I hope some of the people who saw us talk last night did take away something positive and go out and make movies. I really want to see what they produce on the screen at the Quad sometime soon.

    • Tommy, thanks for taking the time to write such a response. I’d just like to clarify a few things.

      My thoughts on the Short film panel were just that: thoughts on the panel, and the content therein. It was not a criticism of anyone’s work. As far as I am aware I haven’t actually seen any, so please don’t this personally. The knee jerk responses earlier yesterday didn’t help, and this whole thing has actually been blown way out of proportion.

      My comment about their appearing to be “some resentment towards artistically driven cinema in some quarters” was actually in reference to the loftier ideals openly criticised on the panel; I thought the whole “misery porn” rant, and the discouragement of iPhone filmmaking came across as a bit snobby, and as unhelpful, especially to those in the audience who might lean that way, or whose only option to make a short might sit with the camera inside of their mobile phone. Jafar Panahi made one of 2012’s most important films on an iPhone (the sublime This Is Not A Movie)! I understand the need to be realistic, and that’s all well and good, but as I said in the original post this is a stance that sits at the opposite side of the cinematic spectrum to my own, and felt unrepresented on the panel.

      I wish you, and the rest of the panellists the best of luck with your future projects.

      • Hello again Adam

        Thanks for the reply to my reply! I didn’t take your thoughts on the panel personally so no harm no foul as far as I’m concerned. After reading your views on it and the responses to it, I felt I should give my opinion on what was said and clarify a few of the issues, at the very least, from my point of view.

        It was good to read the comments posted. They will be something I bare in mind if I ever take part in a panel like this again. On the whole though I enjoyed the panel and thank everyone who came and who have posted any thoughts about it. After all it was supposed to be a discussion and its good that it has continued on after the event.

        And, before I go, I found the entire iDFest weekend to be a pretty amazing event. I hope to see you at the next one. Shame you missed out on We Own The Night (the film me and my wife finished the festival with). I’ll look forward to reading your introduction when you post it, I hear you hold it in high regard.

        Tommy

        • Glad to hear that you made it to WOTN. Yes, I do hold it very highly, and I’d recommend Gray’s follow-up, Two Lovers too. I was involved with the Wizard Of Oz/Pink Floyd experiment too, it’s been a great weekend.

          I do quite a bit thru Quad, so I’m sure our paths will cross again sometime in the future. Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

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