Rod White introduces the April 2016 brochure

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Mon 4 Apr 2016

Rod White introduces the April 2016 brochure

One glance at our April programme and what stands out for me, beyond the astonishing array of quality cinema, is just how many different languages are represented in it. Hungarian, Yiddish, German, Japanese, Russian, English, Polish, French, Greek, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Korean, Marathi, Gujarati, Hindi... N’orn Irish... After all those American Oscar® hopefuls that tend to be released over the Awards Season (the first two months of the year, or the ‘Awards Corridor’ as some of the more meaningless-jargon-prone film distributors tend to refer to it), and as much as we have all enjoyed them this year, it feels good to go all ‘arthouse’ again, n’est-ce pas? The film responsible for quite a few of those languages deservedly and perhaps unsurprisingly won one of those Awards – namely the Best Foreign language Film Oscar® – and is of course Son of Saul, László Nemes astonishing drama set around one of a group of Hungarian Sonderkommando in Auschwitz in 1944. Here’s what Variety had to say about it: “a masterful exercise in narrative deprivation and sensory overload that recasts familiar horrors in daringly existential terms” - and whilst I regularly take issue with film critics and their oft-questionable assessments, well... I’m not going to argue with that one.

That’s toward the end of the month, there’s the Cannes 2015 Palme D’or winner to get out of the way first! Dheepan was perhaps a slightly surprising winner at the time given the competition, but Jacques Audiard’s simply and brilliantly told crime tale – about an ex-Tamil Tiger asylum-seeker (and his ‘family’) starting over as the caretaker of a gangster run Parisian housing project – was a very worthy winner nonetheless. Victoria, which we screened to much acclaim last year in our Fokus: Films from Germany season, is the almost insanely ambitious, hugely impressive, 138-minute one-take Berlin-set thriller that sees a young Spanish woman drawn into the increasingly dodgy dealings of a bunch of local likely lads. Changing the pace rather spectacularly is Hirokazu Koreeda’s lovely (best word I could think of for this gentle charmer) Our Little Sister, in which three sisters, who live sans parents in their late grandmother’s house, meet their half-sister at their estranged father’s funeral... The intriguing Couple in a Hole is about a Scots couple (played by our very own Paul Higgins and Kate Dickie) who, for no reason that is immediately obvious, live in a hole in a Pyrenean French Forest. Also, as plagued by production problems as it was, Jane Got A Gun turns out to be a very decent femme-centred Western in which a doughty young mother (Natalie Portman) must ask her ex-lover for help in order to save her outlaw husband from a gang (led by Ewan McGregor) out to kill him; and I Am Belfast is now local boy Mark Cousins’ poetic and moving love letter to the city of the title and of his birth.

Our annual horror festival Dead by Dawn takes its usual April berth in a remarkable 23rd edition, which I read somewhere makes it the UK’s longest-running of its kind. Impressive stuff... Akira Kurosawa’s late masterpiece Ran has had the full restoration treatment and screens here in the first week of the month – we’ve followed it up with a couple of ace double bills from the great man, and a rare screening of his undisputed masterwork, Seven Samurai, or, as I like to call it, Shichinin no samurai.

Ni iru spekti filmon!

Rod White, Head of Filmhouse

Rod White

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