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BFI London Film Festival 2013 Round Up

The London Film Festival has wrapped again for another year, closing with the Tom Hank’s film, Saving Mr Banks, which takes a look at the real life story behind the making of the Disney classic, Mary Poppins.  Here’s a look at a few of the other films screened during its 12 day run.

My Father’s, My Mother and Me,

Austria 2012 | 93mins Dir. Paul-Julien Robert

A brutally honest, intriguing and often poignant documentary, as told by the filmmaker himself, about his time spent at the Friedrichshof commune in Austria as a child.  The commune existed based on the principles of communal property, free sexuality and dissolution of the nuclear family and each member of the commune was responsible for raising the children that were born into the group. Born into the commune himself, filmmaker Paul-Julien Robert spent the first 12 years of his life living under these rules, until the commune’s demise in the early 90s.  Life in the commune was heavily documented, by journals, photography and film and Robert’s investigation into his past (often via archive footage) reveal some harrowing experiences that have affected his adult life.   There are extremely tense moments between mother and son, when he questions her motives for being part of the group and later her motives for staying in the group despite her knowledge that things weren’t quite right in the commune under the rule of its founder Otto Muehl.  This is a brave film by 32 year old Robert, which brings to the surface emotions that are quite clearly still very raw for him 20 years on.

Only Lovers Left Alive, USA 2013 | 123mins

Dir. Jim Jarmusch | Starring Tom Hiddlestone, Tilda Swinton

Possibly the film of the festival for me, Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, is the perfect mixture of eccentricity, sarcasm and cool.  Centered on the love story of century’s old vampires, Adam (Hiddlestone) and Eve (Swinton), the film switches between his life as a reclusive rock star in deserted Detroit and her life in the darkened alleyways of Tangier with the 16th Century poet, Christopher Marlowe.  The pair reunites in Detroit due to Adam’s constant dissatisfaction with eternal life and Eve’s bid to reintroduce him to the joys of being a vampire. This is not a heavily plot driven film, so if you’re expecting twists and turns with a dramatic peak then they will not be delivered.  But this film is effortlessly beautiful; its two leads perfectly cast, its locations dark and mysterious, and its soundtrack ethereal and almost sublime. There are wonderfully sarcastic references to centuries worth of culture and the characters are entertaining and mesmerizing in equal measure.   Consider this film celluloid Marmite. You’ll either love it or hate it.  Safe to say, I loved it.

Broadway Idiot, USA 2013 | 81mins

Dir. Doug Hamilton

Whether you are a Green Day fan or not, this documentary provides an interesting look at the process of turning a concept album into a successful Broadway musical. If I didn’t just lose you at Broadway musical, then stick with me a while and do consider watching this film.  Theatre director Michael Mayer and Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong couldn’t be more different, yet the bond that grows between them during the production of this stage musical is inspiring.  Mayer was moved enough by Green Day’s American Idiot album enough to approach Armstrong about bringing the album’s story to the stage, and in turn Armstrong remains open-minded and enthusiastic about the possible end results.  Throughout the film we are shown the rehearsals, the set design, the re-arrangement of the songs and much more, as well as an in-depth look at the reignited passion in his work that Armstrong gains from the whole experience.  I’ve never been a huge fan of musicals, but based on this documentary alone, this is one I would certainly want to see!

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