Regular followers of this blog will know that at the end of last year I resolved to cover film festivals in much greater detail in the new year and… even participate in one. At the time I figured it would be one local to me (which didn’t go ahead this year for some reason) but never did I think that I would actually attend one. I did. I attended this:
The 56th BFI London Film Festival was my first major film festival and I enjoyed it tremendously. It was a chance for a cinephile like me to enjoy films the year they are released and at their UK premiere and in some of the best cinemas (?) in the country. Now I live over an hour away by train from London. I very rarely venture down to the city of fog (as the Japanese know it) without a really good reason and I daren’t stay overnight. Not because I am scared I hasten to add but because I am a little conservative when it comes to spending my money on anything other than essentials like food and films…. After some planning (hardly meticulous), I ventured forth and spent two days in London watching three films which I took a gamble on being the most entertaining of the Japanese films at the festival.
Although there were slight delays on the train into the capital, things went off without a hitch. I became quickly oriented with the city and the tube system right off the bat (thanks to previous experiences and planning) and while I misjudged distances and time on my second day (resulting in me heading too far south and having to make a breathless dash across two bloody bridges in bright sunlight amidst bewildered tourists and aggressive flower sellers) I found my way around central London fairly well. Whatever ordeals (and there were miraculously few) it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the films and for the city itself.
As far as the three screenings went… Finding the cinemas proved rather easy and transport links were efficient. Indeed, I wish I used the tube trains more on the second day. The cinemas were rather well-furnished and comfortable.
- The Vue cinema was in a nice central location. While the outside and lobby of the cinema was hardly impressive the screening rooms were. Plush seats, nice low-lighting and big screens with clear sight lines were more than enough to please me but there was also a nice steady temperature.
- The Ritzy in Brixton, which was three a minute walk from the tube station, was a rather low-key but comfortable cinema. It seemed to have low seating capacity but comfortable seats (although a little cramped when it came to admitting other people into the row) and the large amount of BFI paraphernalia was intoxicating. The audience seemed to be predominantly suits which meant that there was a lot of light emanating from cell-phones – which they turned off.
- The BFI Southbank was the most impressive. I didn’t get a good look at the lobby area as I tore through to try and get to the screening but from what I saw when I glanced it looked nice. Great air conditioning meant that I cooled down after my short marathon. Again, a large screen, great seats and the staff there were very helpful.
The screenings were packed for Key of Life and For Love’s Sake although there were some notable gaps for The Wolf Children. The audience reacted to the films well. I was not the only person crying at The Wolf Children or laughing uproariously with The Key of Life. Ai to Makoto? The audience loved it. In fact, the audiences for each of these films loved them.
Overall I had a great time. I would love to live in London (and Toronto and Japan) because there are so many film events as the informative Otherwhere blog shows.
I must admit that I made some errors in my adventure… basic things. On the train back home I spent time writing notes much like Kondo the hitman in Key of Life. Review notes and notes on how to improve my next trip to London for a film festival (Premiere Japan seems to be off the cards). Indeed, inspired by him I have ditched my lackadaisical personality and become much more meticulous.
I never would have gone without the encouragement and help of another blogger who I would like to thank! ありがとう ございます！