Now in its third year, Derby Film Festival shows no signs of slowing down. Which is apt given that the theme of this year’s festival was that of ‘journey’. Indeed, the 10 days of previews, old favourites, the horrific and the fantastic simply flew by. Once again, the QUAD was an excellent host, with friendly staff and audiences alike.
In terms of previews, the undoubted stand-out was Mustang. Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s beautiful film is a coming-of-age tale set in a society mired in conservative tradition. It’s simply sublime and one of the films of the year so far. Live from New York! charts the meteoric rise of Saturday Night Live. An American institution, the show has gone from strength to strength but the appeal may not always travel across the Atlantic. There’s also the argument that its glory days are behind it, but as a source of nurturing comedic talent it’s unparalleled. Interesting, but much less so when it comes to more recent times.
The Fantastiq Festival portion threw up a couple of science fiction surprises. The first was the new film from the director of Persepolis – April and the Extraordinary World. Set in 1941, the world is stuck in the 19th century following the disappearance of all eminent scientists. It’s a throwback to the days of Tintin and a riotous old-school animation. The Call-Up has the premise which promises a film which could be up there with Starship Troopers. A group of gamers win a chance to test a new virtual reality game, but are they playing for a prize or is there much more at stake? Sadly, it never really delivers, due to a lack of budget, action and focussed direction.
In the spirit of the festival theme, I had the privilege of being able to see a double bill of The Driver and Vanishing Point in 35mm. Whilst it’s fair to say that the passage of time has been much more favourable to the former, they’re both great examples of a breed of film which has almost disappeared. Albeit Vanishing Point is very much of it’s time. There was also the rare chance to see Jacques Rivette’s seminal Celine and Julie Go Boating on the big screen. At times it felt like and endurance event but it was certainly worth it in the end. Quatermass and the Pit was a real slice of the Twilight Zone and still looks magnificent on the big screen. Great fun.
Derby Film Festival continues to have such an eclectic and inventive programme, and long may it continue.