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REVIEW: BFI London Film Festival 2014

The 58th BFI London Film Festival kicked off on Wednesday night with the European Premiere of The Imitation Game in Leicester Square. Brit stars were out in force, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Kiera Knightly spending over an hour on the red carpet talking to fans and signing autographs. Sherlock himself even took a selfie!

But with the glitz and glamour of the Opening Night out of the way, what else can we expect from this year’s festival? 248 features and 148 shorts screening over 12 days from 8-19 October in various venues across London, that’s what. And that doesn’t include the special events, masterclasses and educational activities. There’s a live blog and a YouTube channel with frequent updates on what’s happening at the Festival and also sharing exclusive access to red carpet arrivals (if you like that sort of thing…) Audiences across the UK can also enjoy the Festival via simultaneous screenings at their local cinemas of this year’s Opening and Closing Night films.

Within the now established strands; Love, Debate, Dare, Laugh, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Sonic, Family, Treasures & Shorts and Experimental: there is sure to be something for everyone, but make sure you don’t miss these two documentary gems.

Austin to Boston, UK 2014 | 72min | Dir. James Marcus Haney

 

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Like one long atmospheric music video, and at times resembling a home movie shot on super-8, Austin to Boston is the kind of film most music fans dream of. It’s a documentary about old fashioned, grass roots touring. Musicians, mostly from the UK, trying to break American; playing gigs night after night in small venues, packed out with crowds, some of whom have travelled miles in order to see the acts in question.

The musicians themselves deal with endless travel, sleepless nights and multiple transport breakdowns, yet all the time keeping their music at the heart of their experience. Why are they doing this? Because they want to! The camaraderie between the bands sharing camper vans as they tour the East coast of America is heart-warming, inspiring and smile inducing. And in the words of the film itself, “it’s a damn good time”.

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild Untold Story of Cannon Films, Australia 2014 | 107min | Dir. Mark Hartley

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If you haven’t already seen Director Mark Hartley previous documentary on Australian exploitation cinema (Not Quite Hollywood), go find it, it’s great! And so is this one.

In 1979 two Israeli film producers, Menahem Golan and Yoram purchased Cannon Films with the hopes of breaking into the US film market. And break into they did…in the worst possible way! Churning out over 70 films during 80s, Cannon became the benchmark for movies that were so good they were bad. Low budget, low brow, but high earning, Cannon films were frequently panned by the critics, but extr emely popular with audiences. Action heroes lined up to star in the duos, often eccentric, films. Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson and Sylvester Stallone are just a few of the names you’ll recognise from the Cannon Catalogue.

What is most shocking about what The Cannon Group managed to achieve during their heyday, is not the extensive output of terrible films (or in fact how many of them you will realise you have seen by the end of this film – I put my hand up to having seen the classic that is American Ninja…13 times), but the fact that they once owned Elstree Studios, most recently home to some of UK TV’s biggest (sadly) hits…like Big Brother and Dancing on Ice!

CALM’s Lisa Balderson will be reporting back from the festival and reviewing a selection of it’s offerings, so watch this space!

Check out LFF Listings for when and where screenings are happening.

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