Thoughts of a Festival Director About to Give Birth (+ My Pick of the Fest)

Thoughts of a Festival Director About to Give Birth (+ My Pick of the Fest)
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Rachel+bump - now two months bigger...

Well, this is the funniest of festival years for me. Just as Birds Eye View gears up to what looks to be an outrageously brilliant festival – a true celebration of the scope of women’s creative vision, I gear up to a very different moment of creativity – giving birth for the first time. There’s something rather poetic (and nuts) about the timing for me. Should I go those two “permissable” weeks over the official due date, our baby girl could be coming into the world on opening night. Which means that the festival – my first baby, of sorts, is now safely in the hands of BEV’s most excellent team, allowing me to focus on this momentous and unknown journey ahead. Obviously, should baby decide to come this week, or next, I may shuffle down to share in the joys of closing night delight, but maybe our new little world will be too fresh and fragile – we shall see…

Happily, I was able to shape and seal the festival programme before fading into maternity leave, so whilst I will be extremely sad to miss the buzz of events and those juicy, live, unrepeatable elements, I do already know most of the treats that are in store for you. Lucky you! Here’s (some of) my pick of the fest:

Entre Nos, dir. Paola Mendoza & Gloria La Morte

Entre Nos, dir. Paola Mendoza & Gloria La Morte

Our new programmer, Emily Seed, did a fantastic job of bringing together the features and docs this year. Entre Nos held me captivated throughout – acted to perfection, the intensely engaging narrative is made all the more powerful once you realise the story is true, lovingly honed from the director’s memories of an extraordinary childhood – about which she’ll be telling you all in person. Amreeka is a delightful tale of Palestinian immigration to America, that deals with harsh realities whilst keeping a sense of humour and warmth. I just loved From A Whisper – incredibly powerful, with the perfect soundtrack, it explores family loss and the motivations for extremist islamic terrorism with equal skill. I’m not surprised it swept the board at the African Academy Awards last year! Once again, the filmmaker will be sharing her wisdom with you at the event.

Rough Aunties, dir. Kim Longinotto

Rough Aunties, dir. Kim Longinotto

Sticking with both African perspectives and reparations post-tragedy – the doc My Neighbor, My Killer brilliantly lays out the struggles of moving forward in truth and reconciliation, post Rwandan genocide, whilst Rough Aunties, from one of the world’s greatest, our local Kim Longinotto, deals with personal recovery post-child abuse in South Africa.

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Whip It, dir. Drew Barrymore

If all that sounds a bit too deep, then fear not – Birds Eye View loves the profound and moving, but remember we’re a ‘glamorous bunch’ (so says The Times) and our festivals are good-time celebrations with plenty of scope for fun! So we close the festival on a roller-derby high with Drew Barrymore’s directing debut Whip It. We’re also celebrating the intoxicating feminine delights of blondeness (maybe it’s apt that Amy – our new blonde MD – will be running the show in my brunette-absence this year?!) with our BFI Southbank retrospective. This year’s live music to silent film commissions look set to be outstanding (these I *will be gutted to miss) – including the incredibly talented young jazz singer and composer Gwyneth Herbert (also blonde) accompanying the hilarious silent classic The Patsy

The Patsy will be screened with live accompaniment from jazz singer Gwyneth Herbert

The Patsy will be screened with live accompaniment from jazz singer Gwyneth Herbert

and the darker, but still fabulously hot Patti Plinko working her magic to the original Chicago. Also unmissable is The Adventures of Prince Achmed – the stunning 1926 animated feature from one of films pioneers, Lotte Reineger, with accompaniment from current British Composer Award winner, the uber-cool Warp-signed electro-genius, Mira Calix.

And there’ll be more. Every time I ring the office or check an email (in between NCT gatherings and shopping for baby-grows) there is another flash of exciting news. Jane Horrocks (oh how I loved Bubbles! Hours spent mimicking her character on teenage Thursday nights) is confirmed to open the festival on March 4th, and the amazing Gillian Anderson will be presenting our alternative Oscar Secret Screening on the 8th (Vote now! to make sure your favourite film of the year gets shown! It’s all here on the Marie Claire site). I must get used to being that bit more out the loop for a while – the news just can’t help coming with such a cracking frontline team!

So, happy BEVers, newcomers and film-lovers alike, have a fantastic festival! Spread the word, round up your friends and make the most of this unique and dazzling week of events. I shall be thinking of you all – just occasionally – as I no doubt spend the days in wondrous gazing at our little lady. And if I remember, I’ll raise a cup of herbal to the wonder of women’s creativity the world over. So much to celebrate!

Until next year…

The Birds Eye View Film Festival runs March 4th-12th at BFI Southbank, ICA, Curzon and Ritzy Cinemas. For full programme information please click here.

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