Thursday, March 05, 2020

A Review of the Festival

Over four days this past weekend, the Keswick Film Festival showed 28 feature films across three venues - Alhambra, Theatre by the Lake and Rheged. The films were remarkable for their range and many were pre-release having their first UK showing here in Keswick.

One of the films that played to a full house was “Parasite”, a South Korean film that has just won the Best Film Oscar – the first not in English. The Festival team had noted the film some time ago and so it was booked long before the Oscars. For those that missed it, you can catch it at the Alhambra next week.

A moving and thought-provoking film from Syria, “For Sama” gave the highest score ever from the audience. It was introduced by the Keswick Peace and Human Rights Group and showed the appalling suffering against a very human story.

The screening of an old Ken Russell film, “Dance of the Seven Veils” was a unique event and made the national news, as it was the first showing since it was banned after just one show fifty years ago. The film was made in Borrowdale and several people who worked as extras were in the audience including one who had travelled 200 miles to see it. The evening was introduced by Lisi Tribble, Ken’s wife, who had a great store of interesting background stories.

A moment of serendipity came with the showing of “No Fathers in Kashmir” when it was discovered that the star of the film, Zara Webb, was in the audience with her extended family, seeing it for the first time. She gamely stepped up and told us about the making of the film – an interesting story given that it is a subversive film made in a war zone.

A special part of the Festival has always been the Osprey Awards. These are given for short films with a Cumbrian connection and again showed the terrific range and creativity among filmmakers, particularly some of the younger ones.

The audience award for the best film of the Festival went to “The Personal History of David Copperfield”. It’s a very funny, lively take on the Dickens classic, so do see it as it’s now on general release.

Roger Gook