Sunday marked the final day of the 2012 Derby ID Fest at the QUAD cinema. The previous three days had already amounted to a fantastic experience, but there was still plenty to come. Among the events taking place on the Sunday were the BAFTA animated shorts, a screening of silent classic Sunrise and a talk from Professor Sir Christopher Frayling, the leading world expert on the cinema of Sergio Leone. All followed by an opportunity to see Once Upon a Time in the West on the big screen.
BAFTA Production Design Masterclass with Eve Stewart
We kicked off with a masterclass from Eve Stewart, a prolific production designer who has worked on a host of interesting films such as The King’s Speech, Revolver and Vera Drake.
One thing that Eve made abundantly clear was how vitally important and extensive her job on any film is. She works incredibly long shifts, oversees a huge team of people, handles an often gigantic budget and has to liaise between directors, producers and even actors.
Having already been nominated for two Oscars (for her work on The King’s Speech and Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy), she is currently working on Tom Hooper’s big screen adaptation of Les Miserables. Expect it to have faultless mise-en-scene.
BAFTA 2012 Animated Shorts
After the live-action shorts were played on Friday, we now had a chance to see the three short films nominated for the animated BAFTA in 2012.
The first, Grandmothers, a stop-frame animation about Argentinian women who had their sons, daughters and grandchildren kidnapped by a fascist regime, is an insightful and touching look into a truly shocking conflict. The terms ‘concentration camps’ and ‘fascist regime’ conjure images of Nazi Germany and the Third Reich, but here they’re used to describe an entirely different horror, which is less remembered. It’s very effective, not the most interesting in animation terms of the three but regardless, it’s an excellent short.
The second short, Bobby Yeah, is a creepy as fuck clay-mation that goes on for far too long but provides some bonkers thrills along the way. Describing any facets of the plot would be pointless, but if you like horror movies and a grinding metal score, this might be for you. The length is a major issue, at well over twice the running time of the other two in competition it feels majorly drawn out.
The third, A Morning Stroll, which deservedly scooped the BAFTA, displays enough ingenuity and beautifully engaging animation to make it a really top short. Christ knows how long it took to draw this one, but it’s remarkably impressive.
Out of the three, A Morning Stroll is the most watchable, but it’s the best of a good bunch.
16 Frames per Seconds – Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
This event was presented by Adam Batty, the editor of film website Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second. He’s a huge silent film enthusiast and is currently in the process of running his latest venture, Hope Lies at 16 Frames Per Second, which intends to introduce silent film as a regular feature to Derby QUAD.
The screening selected for today was F.W. Murnau’s 1927 film Sunrise. It’s a beautiful romance that seems almost unbelievably ahead of its time. The experimental camerawork and visual effects are still very interesting to look at, and it’s a touching, clever story as well. Adam introduced it as the most masterful silent film ever made, directed by a man who had perfected his craft, and it’s hard to disagree with him. Catching it on the big screen is essential viewing for any silent film fan – keep an eye out for future Hopes Lies at 16 Frames Per Second events!
Before heading to the showcase event of the evening, I was roped into contributing to the QUAD podcast, in which me and five of the other bloggers covering the event volunteered some chat and opinion on the weekend’s happenings. It’s not online yet, but if you keep an eye on my Twitter feed – @tomsmovies – I’ll post a link when it is.
Professor Sir Christopher Frayling Lecture – The Cinema of Sergio Leone
This talk, and the following screening of Once Upon a Time in the West, was my number one anticipated event of the festival. If you’re a fan of the Spaghetti Western genre, you’re probably familiar with the writing of Frayling, who is the world’s primo voice on the Spaghettis. He’s written such books as Sergio Leone: Something to do with Death and Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone, bibles for fans of the genre, and he’s also branched out by writing a variety of texts on history, art and literature.
As you would expect from a man of his academic stature, he’s a phenomenal lecturer. Interesting, articulate, engaging, his presentation on the creation of Once Upon a Time in the West and Leone’s primary influences was fascinating and enlightening. If you’re a complete novice with an open mind to Spaghetti Westerns, or a hardened fan of the subgenre, the experience would teach you and entertain you in equal measure. It’s a real privilege to listen to someone so knowledgeable.
Once Upon a Time in the West
Unfortunately, I had to duck out of this screening, which was a beautifully resorted print, after only half an hour because I had to catch a train. I stayed until the Henry Fonda revelation, an iconic sequence that is one of my favourite moments in the film. If you ever do get a chance to see Leone’s masterpiece on the big screen, you absolutely must do so, as much for the electric Morricone score as much as Leone’s visuals. I’ll be in the front row if it ever gets screened within a reachable distance of me again.
Announcements for next year – Family + dates.
To round up my final report, I’ll talk briefly about next year’s ID Festival at the QUAD cinema, which was confirmed today. The 2013 incarnation will run around the weekend of the 10th of May, and the theme will be ‘family’. As of yet, there are no confirmed guests or events, but the two Adams who run the festival did hypothesise with us about potentials. Don’t be surprised to see Paddy Considine returning, he has strong links with the area, including being a patron of the QUAD, and he clearly enjoyed the masterclass he conducted on Saturday. After the incredible success that was the ‘Brian Blessed in Conversation’ event this year, it would be a real hoot to get Patrick Stewart down along to confirm/deny some of his stories. Whether that will be feasible or not isn’t clear, but that would be one hell of a catch.
I queried the two Adams about whether the ‘family’ theme was done with a mind to attracting a more family orientated audience. They admitted the appeal but stated that it was not their primary motive, though it seems evident that the draw of the parents-with-kids crowd is a strong one. Expect there to be events that cater to the young and old, and also look out for more masterclasses; the QUAD team are very keen to create opportunities for budding filmmakers to get some tips of the trade from industry insiders.
What are your favourite family films? I think if it were me programming I’d do all that I could to show The Royal Tenenbaums and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and how about The Kids are Alright for something a little more left-field? I’d also be tempted to grab a classic like The Adventures of Robin Hood, hoping that it could attract a multi-generational audience.
That concludes my final report from ID Fest 2012. Thanks for reading!