Established in 2003, the Borderlines Film Festival is now the country’s best-supported non-metropolitan film festival. Bar none. Last year’s attendances exceeded 18,000 and surely had a huge effect in establishing the Courtyard as the city’s premier cultural hub.
Having taken over the reins from David Gillam, Borderlines’ new director Naomi Vera-Sanso (assisted by programmer David Sin) has chosen to bring forward the festival’s start date in order to get first crack at many of the 2013 BAFTA and Oscar nominees. This year’s event (1–17 March) offers 200 screenings across Herefordshire and Shropshire, including no fewer than 15 BAFTA/Oscar nominations. There are 14 opportunities alone – at five separate venues – to catch the year’s top nominee, ‘Life of Pi’, Ang Lee’s lush retelling of the Booker Prize-winner. In collaboration with Flicks in the Sticks and others, this year Borderlines will be using 39 venues across the two counties, including – for the first time – the luxurious 48-seater minema in Booth’s Bookshop at Hay.
‘A Royal Affair’ and ‘War Witch’ are two of the Oscar-nominated foreign films in the festival, together with two screenings of the moving Palestinian ‘Five Broken Cameras’. This documents the reactions of one Palestinian farm worker to the construction of Israel’s monstrous security wall and of his town’s resistance to the building of a new settlement. Although staunchly pro-Palestine, the film has recently become mired in controversy as one of its co-directors – Guy Davidi – is an Israeli. Following its nomination in January, Israeli embassies around the world started crowing about an ‘Israeli film’ being selected for this year’s Oscars!
Other movies to look out for are Fellini’s 1973 masterpiece ‘Amacord’, Vittoria De Sica’s 1948 classic ‘Bicycle Thieves’, the Oscar-winning foodies’ delight ‘Babette’s Feast, a film profile of war photographer Donald McCullin, the gripping – and ultimately grizzly – Turkish thriller ‘Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’ and Tommy Lee Jones’ directorial debut ‘The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada’ about the Mexican drug wars.
A mini-Hitchcock segment in the festival programme offers screenings of restored prints of two of the master’s nine surviving silent classics – ‘Blackmail’ and ‘The Lodger’ (complete with piano accompaniment) – as well as the new biopic ‘Hitchcock’, starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren. The film is built around the making of ‘Psycho’ (also being screened) whose most notorious scene did more to ruin plastic shower curtain sales than any other movie in the history of the cinema.
Another innovation introduced this year are Hay Literary Festival-type live stage interviews, for which Borderlines has secured the services of Radio 4 Film Programme’s Francine Stock. She will be talking to the award-winning cinematographer Chris Menges (1 March) and Sir Derek Jacobi (10 March). Fringe-type events include a ‘Shadowlands’ guided walk along the apparent ‘Golden Valley’ (9 March; 10.30am start at Symonds Yat) and an Italian-themed ‘Dolce Vita’ party at Lyde Arundel’s Haywain on the festival’s final Friday.
Bookings via the Courtyard box office (01432 340555) or at www.borderlinesfilmfestival.co.uk