Keswick Film Festival

Best Of The Fests

Sometimes you wonder if film festival juries watch the same movies as us ordinary mortals, however our selection for the Best of the Fests strand takes a consensus view from across the globe and we are sure that this group of films will both entertain and challenge.

We have two films from Down Under. The Dark Horse from New Zealand was that country's film of the year. It out-performed, in box office terms, anything released by its neighbour across the Tasman Sea and was well received at Festivals as diverse as Palm Springs and Rotterdam. That is not to say that Australia's The Infinite Man is in any way inferior – it won magnificent reviews at Festivals such as the South by South West in Austin, Texas.

Your Beauty is Worth Nothing is an Austrian film that deals with a newly-arrived Turkish family's struggle with day to day life in Vienna – it virtually swept the board of Golden Oranges at Antalya despite being the Director's Final Year project and Excuse my French survived the Egyptian censors before making it to the Festival circuit.

Stray Dogs left audiences and critics at the New York and Toronto Film Festivals mesmerised, and took the Grand Jury Prize from the panel at the Venice awards.

Class Enemy was also a winner at the Venice Festival and also played at Sevilla. The Venice Jury tends to like a dark film and this exploration of classroom dynamics promises to be up there with the best in the genre – you may remember The Wave at KFF14. The Venice critics (along with those at Sundance) also went for White Shadow an African tale of the perils faced by an albino boy.

The Retrieval is our offering from the USA. It too is a favourite of the Festival circuit, enjoyed by audiences in Deauville, New Orleans and Phoenix.

The real arbiter of what is a good film is you. Will any of these international favourites be good enough for a KFF Audience Award?


Thursday 26th February 7:30 PM - Alhambra
The Dark Horse
James Napier Robertson (2014) New Zealand 124 mins 12A

Never before screened in England, our opening film from New Zealand is an emotionally-charged and inspiring story of a man who has to overcome his own adversities to inspire a group of young people – through the unlikely medium of chess. We have enjoyed a number of powerful films from New Zealand such as The Piano and Whale Rider and The Dark Horse is sure to join that cannon of great films. One not to be missed.

Thanks to Koch Media

Friday 27th February 12:30 PM - Alhambra
Zeresenay Mahari (2014) Ethiopia/USA 99 mins 15

Difret is based on a true story and tells of the experiences of a young girl who fights back against the traditional Ethiopian method of finding a bride – essentially kidnapping. In trying to escape she sets in motion consequences that bring the full weight of the tribal as well as judicial system against her. Defended by a female lawyer who hears about her case on the radio, Difret is a story about justice and the emerging place of women in a traditional society.

The cycle has to break at some point," Director Mahari said at Sundance. "What you have to do is educate. I hope this film will go a long way toward changing thinking." It's hard to imagine a film this persuasive doing otherwise.- LA Times

Thanks to Soda Pictures

Friday 27th February 12:30 PM - Theatre By The Lake
Excuse My French
Amr Salama (2014) Egypt 99 mins 12A

Described as a dark comedy, Excuse My French centres on Hany Abdullah Peter Soussa (Ahmed Dash), a young Egyptian Copt boy, who, after tragically losing his devoted and influential father, is uprooted from private education and enrolled in a state school. Overwhelmed by this new dog eat dog environment, Hany is mistaken for a Muslim by pupils and teachers alike and, for fear of being ostracised by his new peers, decides not to correct them on their assumption.

Director Amr Salama's screenplay for the film survived four rejections by the Egyptian censor of three successive governments before the final cut was approved for filming.

Thanks to Film Clinic

Friday 27th February 5:30 PM - Studio (TBTL)
The Retrieval
Chris Eska (2013) USA 92 mins 18

Set during the American Civil War, The Retrieval tells the story of three Afro-Americans and what they had to do in order to survive. This is a meticulously shot period drama that eschews battle scenes in favour of character development and is all the more powerful for it.

Thanks to Chris Eska

Saturday 28th February 2:00 PM - Theatre By The Lake
Stray Dogs
Ming-liang Tsai (2013) Taiwan 138 mins 12A

Tapei, never knowing where their next meal is coming from. The father makes a pittance as a walking billboard for luxury apartments, whilst his children rely on free food samples from the local market to survive.

They seek refuge in an abandoned building, where the father becomes fixated with a strange mural painted on the wall. When they meet a lonely woman working in a local grocery store, it turns out she may be able to shed some light on the family's unanswered questions and lead them toward a better life.

A meditative drama which seeks to explore the definition of 'home'. An immensely bittersweet work, Tsai evokes the poetry and tragedy of life lived on the margins of society

Thanks to Verve Pictures (New Wave)

Saturday 28th February 4:25 PM - Alhambra
The Infinite Man
Hugh Sullivan (2014) Australia 85 mins 15

This is that rare thing – a sci-fi romantic comedy but don't let put you off! It is also one of the most inventive films about a man who wants to revisit the past to make things perfect for the woman he loves. And, of course, it all goes to plan – yeah, right!

Thanks to Shoreline Entertainment

Saturday 28th February 7:30 PM - Theatre By The Lake
The Vancouver Asahi
Yuya Ishii (2014) Japan 134 mins PG

All the great world's cities contain pockets of different nationalities and in the case of Vancouver in the 1930s, this film focuses on the Japanese community, more specifically the Canadian-born first generation of Japanese immigrants, who started their own baseball team – the Vancouver Asahi.

Out-sized and out-muscled by their Caucasian opponents and in the face of racism and prejudice, the team rethinks its strategy and starts to find success.

Much more than a sporting underdog movie, The Vancouver Asahi goes on to explore the tensions between communities and between generations as World War II looms.

Thanks to Pony Canyon Inc

Sunday 1st March 1:00 PM - Theatre By The Lake
White Shadow
Noaz Deshe (2013) Tanzania 117 mins 15

"Alias is a young albino boy growing up in the central African bush. He is the subject of taunting and also vulnerable to a terrible danger: the belief among witch doctors that the bodies of albinos offer magical powers. As a result ,many albinos are murdered or mutilated for the prize of a charmed body part. Bent on saving Alias from this ghastly fate, his mother entrusts him to her brother who runs a number of small businesses in the city. The waking nightmare of the African albino muti trade — whereby albinos are hunted for their supposedly restorative body parts — is a tricky subject to film without leaning too far in the directions of exploitation or exoticism, but artist-turned-filmmaker Noaz Desch’s staggering debut feature, 'White Shadow,' strikes the necessary balance with vision to burn." - Variety

The film will be followed by a discussion with Justine Atkinson of the Africa in Motion Festival

Thanks to Aya Distribution

Please note that this film is now showing at 1pm in The Theatre By The Lake and not 1pm at The Alhambra as stated in the programme.

Sunday 1st March 4:15 PM - Alhambra
Your Beauty is Worth Nothing
Deine Schönheit ist nichts wert
Hüseyin Tabak (2013) Austria 86 mins 15

Immigration is a hot topic, not just in the UK but all over the world. Set among the Turkish immigrant/refugee population of modern-day Vienna, the story revolves around little Veysel, a daydreaming stutterer struggling to assimilate into his German-speaking school. How does he fare? The answer is well worth finding out.

Your Beauty has been screened and acclaimed at some 60 Festivals around the world and is a welcome addition to our programme at Keswick.

Thanks to Dor Film Produktion

Sunday 1st March 7:30 PM - Theatre By The Lake
Class Enemy
Razredni sovraznik
Roc Bicek (2013) Slovenia 112 mins 15

Many films feature a suicide and its aftermath but few, if any, do so in quite the way depicted byClass Enemy. Set in a school, the conduct of a new German teacher sets in train a sequence of events and speculation. This masterpiece not only shows the impact on those who claim to know the victim but also the lengths to which the establishment will go to protect its interests. Based on events witnessed and experienced by the director, although the story has been heavily fictionalised, this is a stunning piece of cinema.

Thanks to Triglav Film

Supported by Film Hub North, led by Showroom Workstation. Proud to be part of the BFI Film Audience Network

Film Hub North BFI Film Audience Network