Monday, March 20, 2023

Hit The Road - Sunday 26th March 5pm

Our final film of the season is HIT THE ROAD, 'Best Film' winner at the London Film Festival and made 28 in the BFI top 50 for last year.

A family is making a tense, hot, uncomfortable road trip in a borrowed car through remote north-western Iran, heading apparently for the Turkey/Azerbaijan border. The elder son is at the wheel, a quiet young guy who says little but often seems in the grip of an intense, suppressed emotion. Pantea Panahiha is excellent as his mum, sitting in the front passenger seat, bantering drily with her husband in the back: a shambling, grumpy bear of a man with a broken leg in a plaster cast and a consistent need to smoke. Next to him is a wacky 8-year-old boy who gives a glorious performance...

 Great child acting is rare: so is great adult acting, and so is great directing of children and adults. But they all come together in this lovely, beautifully composed debut feature drenched in a subtle but urgent political meaning" – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Charcoal - Sunday 19th March 5:00 PM

You are very poor and desperate for more money. Your father is very ill – dying - and there is nothing you can do to help his suffering. A gangster on the run comes along and offers you money to hide in your isolated house for some time, but the deal is that he replaces your father... what would you do? This might have made a great story just like that, but director/writer Carolina Markowicz has gone one further by adding humour.

"Charcoal stands as an artistic character study, honed in on the imperfections that make people fascinating." - Josiah Teal, Film Threat

 “A sharp, specific thriller that also has a nice undercurrent of dark humor.” - Brian Tallerico,

Monday, March 06, 2023

Saint Omer - Sunday 12th March 5:00 PM

A young woman attends the trial of another woman as research for her own project, but gradually comes unstuck as her own emotional chords are struck. "Documentarian Alice Diop's narrative debut 'Saint Omer' is a visually arresting courtroom set drama that explores the similarities (and distinct differences) between two young women of Senegalese descent living in France." -Marya E Gates,

"The standard for ‘Best of 2023’ lists has already been set." - David Jenkins, Little White Lies

Monday, February 27, 2023

Holy Spider - Sunday 5th March 5pm


Holy Spider is a crime thriller, based on a real serial killer in the early 2000s who targeted female sex workers in Mashad, but the reason we thought we should show it is that is portrays how hard it is for women in Iran. With the recent murder of Mahsa Amini, and the resulting women-led protests, this becomes doubly relevant. This may be a hard-watch in places, but should give us a lot to discuss. It is also the Danish entry for the Oscars and was nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes, where Zar Amir-Ebrahimi won best actress.

Festival Review

With a choice of 25 films and the best shorts in our Osprey Competition, there was really something for everybody last weekend. Where to begin? 

I guess the highlight was having the director Hassan Nazer to introduce his film ‘Winners’, the Iranian comedy which is the UK entry for the Best International Film at the Oscars. Always good to have guests, this was a real coup for our David Miller, our programmer.

I cannot hope to review all the films, so I will start with the most successful; ‘Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom’ was the most popular film at the festival: 181 people watched it at Rheged and 129 of them gave it 5 stars! With an overall score of 94%, this moving, beautiful story from Bhutan’s most remote school as a city boy is won over to love the village was both easy to watch AND it was from Bhutan – our first from there.

Return to Dust’ was very different, but almost as popular (89%). A middle-aged couple in a remote village in China are forced into an arranged marriage but, surprisingly to all those around them, the marriage is successful until she falls ill and dies. Watching them making bricks out of mud and their total dependence on their donkey was truly a story from another world.

Talking of donkeys, I must mention another Oscar nominee from Poland – ‘EO’. Not quite as popular with our audiences (70%), but fascinating (to me!): we watched a donkey’s world fall apart as he wanders away from the circus, from kindness to cruelty. A definite ‘animal-rights’ movie told from the donkey’s eye-view.

Our final film was by a director we love – Hirokazu Koreeda. From Japan, his latest film ‘Broker’ was filmed in South Korea. He likes to make up ‘families’ from a group of people, in this case a woman who has deserted her baby but gone back for it, two men who are trying to find a buyer for the baby and a small orphan boy who tags along for the ride. A clever, sometimes funny, sometimes sad story links the family together and we go along as they meet potential buyers… and much more. Another big hit (80%) with the audience.

I really enjoyed ‘Joyland’ (78%) which was a film full of surprises from Pakistan. The first Pakistani film to show at Cannes Festival, which featured a family dominated by a patriarch, but breaking all traditions with a house husband who gets a job with a trans dance group and falls in love with the group’s trans leader. 

But an Eastern world festival this was not. There were films from America, Europe and UK as well, including an action-packed, petrol-head motorbike gang movie from France – ‘Rodeo’. 

A great weekend: our thanks go to all who helped! See you all next year… and this Sunday at the Alhambra for ‘Holy Spider’, the Danish Oscar hopeful. 

Vaughan Ames