If it seems that everyone everywhere is watching the same movies, then we have good news for you. It's that time of year when movie buffs flock eagerly to Gopi Krishna for the fourth annual British Film Festival. This year's selection promises to be an entertaining array of comedy, thriller, adventure and epic journey to showcase modern British films.
It has been a good year for films made in the UK: many did very well in world box office takings and nearly 75 films were produced with British investment or talent. It was a welcome relief from 2002, when the industry went into a slump after waning Hollywood investment that had become a mainstay for UK film production in the 1990s.
Though the US is still a huge investor, the UK film industry continues to make its distinctive mark in cinema. The tenuous partnership, if it can be called that, is a balancing act between artistic integrity and summer blockbusters. More often than not, films co-produced with US moviemakers means more UK movies are appearing on international markets. Barbara Hewitt, director at the British Council in Kathmandu, says, "The problem is finding the stories to engage audiences used to Hollywood product, but Britain is lucky to possess enough good directors, actors and technicians to make much of the rest of the world distinctly envious."
Recently the UK Film Council decided on a new mandate: commercial cinema would be at the heart of the British film industry but without compromising on quality. The end product would be distinctly British but with the appeal of greater diversity.
The organisers at the British Council are excited about the selection at this year's festival. The five films that made the grade-each a powerful representation of modern British cinema-does exactly that, taking into account a patchwork of ethnicity both in the UK and here in Kathmandu. "Every story is a compelling drama of people struggling to survive and make sense of their lives, winning but sometimes failing, in ways we all recognise. Yet each story emerges from a totally different context and this tells us much about the rich multicultural world of modern Britain," says Hewitt.
Discerning young Nepali moviegoers are the target audience for the festival this year. It should be an exciting alternative to the usual Bollywood and Hollywood fare. (Sraddha Basnyat)
Touching the Void
Running time 106 mins
Director Kevin Macdonald
Starring Joe Simpson, Simon Yates, Brendan Mackey, Nicholas Aaron
This film is based on the international bestseller by renowned climber Joe Simpson, which describes one of the most extraordinary true stories of survival and adventure of our time. The book recounts a climb Simpson and his partner, Simon Yates, undertook in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. The two young and ambitious mountaineers set off to scale the hitherto unclimbed west face of Siula Grande, a remote and treacherous 21,000ft peak. Starting the descent through a blizzard, Simpson fell, shattering his leg. A heroic battle for survival unfolded in which both men were faced with life or death decisions which test the human spirit to its limit. Simpson and Yates returned to Siula Grande together for the first time to retell their story for the camera.
Dirty Pretty Things
Running time 97 mins
Director Stephen Frears
Starring Audrey Tauton, Sergi Lopez,Chiwetel Ejiofor
In this urban thriller, an African night porter enlists the help of a prostitute, a Turkish chambermaid and a Chinese mortuary technician to solve a bizarre murder. Set in a world of asylum seekers that lies behind the familiar urban metropolis. This is a tale of two cities, both of them in London. Pietter Okwe is a doctor who was framed for murder in Libreville and now scrapes a living in London, driving mini-cabs and working as a night porter in a West End tourist hotel. When he discovers a human heart in one of the hotel rooms he knows that as an illegal alien working without papers he cannot ask too many questions. Okwe struggles with his sense of injustice as evidence emerges that the hotel is being used to remove human organs from third world donors. Finally, with the aid of his motley crew, he investigates the murder and enforces a strange kind of poetic justice. Dirty Pretty Things explores a Dickensian landscape of rag trade sweatshops, hotel kitchens and mini-cab venues in a London that most Londoners never see.
Running time 86 mins
Director Asif Kapadia
Starring Irfan Khan
A timeless tale of an epic journey from the deserts of Rajasthan to the snowcapped peaks of the Himalayas, the story follows Lafcadia, head of a small band of warriors employed by a tyrannical lord who rules the region from his crumbling fort in the desert. The warriors are ordered to wipe out a village that is late with its payments. The warriors set off on horseback and proceed to raze the rustic village to the ground. In the midst of the slaughter Lafcadia has a mystical encounter with a young girl. He drops his sword, vows to never kill again and he decides to escape his violent life. He sets off with his young son, Katiba, for his native village in the mountains.
Anita and Me
Running time 92 mins
Director Metin Huseyin
Starring Chandeep Uppal, Anna Brewster, Sanjeev Bhaskar
It is 1972 and Meena, a 12-year-old, lives in the village of Tollington in Britain. She is the daughter of Indian parents who have come to England to give her a better life. Her idyllic adolescence, surrounded by eccentric relatives and friends, is disrupted by the arrival of Anita Rutter and her dysfunctional family. At 14, blonde, aloof, beautiful, outrageous and sassy, Anita is everything Meena thinks she wants to be. Meena wheedles her way into Anita's life, but the arrival of a baby brother, teenage hormones, impending entrance exams for the posh grammar school and a motorcycling rebel without a future, threaten to turn her salad days sour. Anita and Me paints a comic, poignant, compassionate and colourful portrait of village life in the era of flares, power cuts, glam rock, decimalisation and Ted Heath.
About A Boy
Running time 101 mins
Director Paul Weitz and Chris Weitz
Starring Hugh Grant, Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz
About a Boy tells the story of Will, a rich, child-free and irresponsible Londoner in his thirties, who, in search of available women, invents an imaginary son and starts attending single parent meetings. As a result of one of his liaisons he meets Marcus, a strange
12-year-old boy with problems at school. Gradually, Will and Marcus become friends and as Will teaches Marcus how to be a cool kid, Marcus helps Will to finally grow up.
Venue: Gopi Krishna Cinema, Kathmandu
Movie Timing: 6:30 PM
Free tickets available in advance from the reception at the British Council, Lainchaur, remaining tickets on the day of the film from 6:10 PM at the cinema.
Contact: Sangha Bhattarai, 4410798