Borderlines: A hard act to follow

Gaffer reviews Borderlines in the first of his film columns

For such a relatively under-populated region, the Marches is blessed with at least seven major festivals: the triennial Three Choirs; Brecon Jazz; Hay’s over-precious (and pricey) literary bash; Ledbury’s poetry-fest; the Ludlow foodies’ autumnal love-in and its rather more rustic rival event in Abergavenny; and the Borderlines Film Festival, which this year celebrates its 10th birthday. The rise and rise of Borderlines’ popularity is largely down to one man: David Gillam, who this year has decided to step down as festival director.

This year’s festival features 200 screenings of 73 movies, at 36 different venues over 17 days, including no less than half-a-dozen BAFTA or Oscar nominations (quite a coup, given that much of the festival’s programme was put together in the summer of last year). In May, Borderlines also plans to go al fresco, with open-air screenings in the grounds of Berrington Hall (11 & 12) and Hellens at Much Marcle (16 May) and in a disused aircraft hangar at Shobdon Airfield (19-20 May).

Stand-outs at Borderlines 2012?  ‘My Week with Marilyn’, featuring a stunning debut performance from Michelle Williams; Martin Scorsese’s ‘Last Waltz’, which includes Bob Dylan’s best concert performance on film; Pedro Almodovar’s creepy but compulsively-watchable ‘The Skin I Live In’; ‘Four Days Inside Guantanamo’; and the British-made low-budget ‘Resistance’, which posits the notion of a German occupation of rural Herefordshire. Flicks in the Sticks has set up 10 rural community settings for the ‘Resistance’ screenings, including one in the village hall at Michaelchurch Escley, close to the Olchon Valley setting of several of the scenes in the film. Mercifully, the two screenings of La Streep as Maggie T are confined to a village hall in Wem, bedrock of north Shropshire Toryland.

Nostalgia buffs will be able to re-visit the 1949 British comedy ‘Whisky Galore’ (one of whose screenings is in the bar of The Sun Inn, Leintwardine); ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’ (unquestionably the best movie in the tragically short career of Robert Hamer); the 93-year-old German expressionist masterpiece ‘The Cabinet of Dr Caligari’; and Jean Vigo’s 1934 l’Atalante, which Gillam himself describes as “the most romantic film ever made.”  Praise indeed.       


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