UK Film Festival Watch – June: Terracotta, East End, Sheffield… and Edinburgh

Days of Being Wild 2

Edinburgh International Film Festival is enjoying immense growth and attention under the watch of artistic director Chris Fujiwara, and its prospects continue to rise with the eclectic 2013 selection unveiled on Wednesday 29 May. Independent cinema from across the pond arrives in the form of The Bling Ring, Stories We Tell, Magic Magic, Upstream Color and What Maisie Knew. British cinema is represented by the likes of For Those in Peril and Another Happy Ending. Elsewhere, there are retrospectives for Richard Fleischer and French filmmaker Jean Gremillion.

While Edinburgh International Film Festival is undoubtedly sure to receive much of the festival press this month, it’s certainly not the only filmic event taking place across the country. There’s also the Sheffield Doc/Fest running from 12-16 June, featuring Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing, Nick Freand Jones’ The Fear of God: 25 Years of the Exorcist and Nick Ryan’s The Summit to name but a few, alongside stalwart feature presentations of Apocalypse Now, Aguirre: The Wrath of God and many more.

The Terracotta Far East Film Festival returns to London on 6-15 June, showcasing current East Asian cinema across all genres. This year, there’s a special spotlight on Indonesia cinema screening during the second week at ICA London, with the rest of the festival programme hosted exclusively by Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square.

I attended the sold out pre-festival screening of Wong Kar Wai’s excellent early feature Days of Being Wild on 29 May. As well as serving as a precursor to the main strand of the festival, the screening was a further instalment of the ongoing Terracotta Film Club, a monthly event held at the PCC where fans of East Asian cinema can convene to watch a film suggested by members on the group’s Facebook page.

Days of Being Wild

Days of Being Wild is Wong’s first feature with legendary cinematographer Christopher Doyle, in a partnership that would continue for another six films and help to cement Wong’s status as a preeminent modern auteur with a unique emotional aesthetic. It’s a step in the right direction after the Hong Kong director’s debut misstep As Tears Go By: a rather bloodless, unoriginal melodrama, light on form but heavy on plot. In Days of Being Wild, Doyle’s humid green hues complement Wong’s affection for an ensemble of wanderers bouncing off one another in slow motion, forging connections and breaking apart time and again.

The film is especially notable for its cast, including Maggie Cheung, Andy Lau and Leslie Cheung, the latter of whom is remembered during the festival programme with a special screening of Happy Together that marks the tenth anniversary of his death. Anita Mui also passed away in 2003, and she too is commemorated with a screening of Stanley Kwan’s Rouge, in which she starred alongside Cheung.

New Asian cinema is well-represented by 13 UK premieres over the course of the festival, including Sunny Luk and Longman Leung’s Cold War, Johnnie To’s Drug War and Sion Sono’s The Land of Hope. Horror fans are catered for with the Horror All-Nighter, beginning at 23.30 on 7 June and ending at 07.00, showcasing modern tales such as Ohata Hajime’s Henge alongside classics like Nobuo Nakagawa’s The Ghost Story of Yotsuya.

From the Far East to the East End: The annual East End Film Festival touches down 25 June, playing until 10 July with thought-provoking films both homegrown and abroad. The festival’s opening gala presents Mark Donne’s The UK Gold, a documentary indicting the City of London’s role in ‘the secretive network of tax havens and tax avoidance’. Other films include Cristi Piui’s Trois Exercises, Kiyoshi Kuroswa’s Penance, Jazmín López’ Leones, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Blackfish, Drake Doremus’ Breathe In and Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha. No doubt many eyes will be on Ben Wheatley’s A Field in England, screening a few weeks in advance of its multi-platform July release.

Last but certainly not least: BFI London is running a Werner Herzog season throughout June to coincide with the nationwide rerelease of Aguirre: Wrath of God. The season offers cinemagoers the chance to briefly catch the likes of Even Dwarfs Started Small, Fata Morgana and Stroszek on the big screen.

Sheffield Doc/Fest runs 12-16 June.
Terracotta Far East Film Festival runs 6-15 June.
East End Film Festival runs 25 June-10 July.


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