Saturday, November 5, 2011

LIFF25 - Convento, Battenberg and Architects of Harmonic Rooms

Aaaaand the Leeds International Film Festival has kicked off. The opening gala of Wuthering Heights was not really the thing for me so, skipping over the first day, my festival started on day 2. There were lots of exciting sounding bits and pieces on today, including Human Centipede 2, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, 22nd May and The Beat is the Law - Pulp and the Sheffield music scene. I saw...

This was an incredibly fun animated short, a crazy magpie battling a squirrel armed with a fishknife in a scary guesthouse. With a train that brings battenberg cake.  It's about as cool as that sounds.

This was a "poetic documentary" about a curious Dutch family who, part-way through a ballet career, moved out and bought a shabby old convent in Portugal. The (now ex-)
ballerina and her two sons live a quiet, happy life in this convent. One of them attaches motors to various animal skulls to make mechanised creepy sculptures whilst the other is er... best friends with his horse.
It's a beautifully shot and gently paced documentary but its long, lingering shots are, I thought, a weak point in the end. The three people have so many interesting things to say when they do get to speak that I left thinking it was a shame we heard so little from them. For all that, it is utterly gorgeous and definitely worth a watch.

Architects of Harmonic Rooms & Records
This was a selection of six short films put together by the same people, exploring a handful of different underground artists and their thoughts on their work. So we get the (unbelievably naïve) Josephine Foster singing re-arranged Spanish folk, avant-garde screaming noisesmiths debating the merits of playing naked and punching pianos, and and Costa and Nero, a pair who re-work Greek folk tunes on guitar and bouzouki.
The pick of the bunch though was the much longer, completely mad experimental noise trip through salvaged-from-VHS 70s and 80s Asian horror. We had bass drones accompanying vampire bats, Frankenstein-esque experiments scored with throbbing guitar and a jangling crescendo of other living-dead far Eastern monsters. I just wish they'd given out a list of the films they'd culled their clips from! Great fun!

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