Adventures in world cinema

This November the CINECITY festival presents its 17th edition bringing the very best in world cinema and a diverse programme of premieres and previews, treasures from the archive, live soundtracks, artists’ moving image, talks and special events to the English public.

The festival gives audiences premiere viewing of highly anticipated titles ahead of UK release and showcases many others brought to Brighton from around the world for one-off screenings. 

This is the region’s biggest celebration of cinema and is presented in partnership with the University of Brighton. Main cinema venues are Duke of York’s Picturehouse and Depot, Lewes but screenings and events take place at venues across Brighton & Hove including Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Fabrica, Duke’s at Komedia, The Old Market, Lighthouse and the University of Brighton.

Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in Robert Eggers` “The Lighthouse”

It opens on Fri 8 Nov with a special preview of The Lighthouse, Robert Eggers second feature, this highly anticipated psychological thriller featuring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson charts the slow descent into madness of two lighthouse keepers and closes on Sun 17 Nov with the latest film from renowned director Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit is an anti-hate satire that follows a lonely German boy whose imaginary friend is a parody of Adolf Hitler.

They put an emphasis on film debuts with half the programme comprised of first features; the showcase for new and emerging talent continues with many more debuts from local filmmakers, selected from submissions to the festival and a new showcase for emerging talent aged 25 and under, New Voices, supported by Screen and Film School, Brighton.

Co-director of CINECITY, Professor Tim Brown of the University of Brighton, spoke to Overtime Online about the creation of the festival and the role of them in independent filmmakers’ careers.

Professor Tim Brown
  • What made you decide to start this film festival?

We started it in 2003 as Brighton did not have a film festival of its own. This seemed to us like a major gap in the city’s cultural calendar especially given Brighton’s own screen history in film and television and the fact that it is home to so many filmmakers and creative practitioners.

  • What`s behind the choice of the theme “adventures in world cinema”?

It’s always been important to explore other cultures through art and film and a great way to develop understanding so this is part of the rationale behind our ‘Adventures in World Cinema’ tagline. As more and more films are produced foreign language cinema especially gets squeezed out of cinema screens. I think it’s really important that film festivals try and help in whatever small way they can by shining a spotlight on this world of cinema. Increasingly film festivals become the only real option to see cinema from around the world on the big screen.

  • What do you think it`s the role of Festivals like yours in a filmmaker`s journey?

 If a festival is around long enough, one of the most enjoyable aspects is the way you can develop on-going relationships with directors. For instance, with us at Cinecity we showed Ben Wheatley’s low-budget, debut feature Down Terrace back in 2009, one of only a couple of UK festivals to screen it. Then a few years on were able to preview his film Sightseers at the festival, then High Rise and in 2016, Free Fire with all the screenings followed by Q&As with the director. There are many other film-makers based in the city or in the region with whom we regularly work. Eva Riley is showing her debut feature, Perfect 10, at this year’s festival. We have shown a number of Eva’s short films over the years which she submitted as part of our Open Submissions scheme for film-makers based in the region and it is very special for us to be able to screen her first feature, which was shot in Brighton. And for young and emerging directors, those first film festival screenings on the big screen in front of an audience can be really important as they set out on their journeys as film-makers.

  • How does the selection process work when it comes to submitted work?

For the Open screenings selected from submissions to the festival, we have a panel of festival staff along with some guest film-makers and curators who all view the work independently, make notes on the individual films and then submit their reports.

  • What do you wish more filmmakers did more of or didn’t do?

There is the maxim ‘write about what you know’ that one often hears and to some extent, this can also be applied to film. Sometimes new film-makers make a film that is in a particular genre and it’s clear it is so far removed from their own lived experience; equally, of course, films can and should also come from pure imagination. But sometimes, especially when film-makers are starting out, their films fall somewhere between experience and imagination and are ultimately more about other films they have watched. Now, of course, this can also be really interesting but as a festival, we are always drawn more to originality.

Sub-edited by Gemma Rootes

Leave a Comment