BIFF 2014 Day Summary - Sunday 6th April

Bradford has a history of short film support, with most feature screenings accompanied by at least one shorter effort, sometimes two. Of the few that I've seen this year, two non-fiction shorts were the clear highlights, with Banya starting off my second day at the festival, and BIFF's official closing day, though Widescreen Weekend does extend the festival next weekend.

Where other film-makers might attempt to turn the topic of a certain type of Russian bath - the titular Banya - into a feature length film of its own right, Fyodor Druzin wisely limits us to a 13 minute experience of talking heads and inventive camerawork; the highlight being the point where he straps his camera to an axe as someone chops the wood required to heat the sauna-like contraption. It was entertaining and invigorating, ditto Niche In The Market, available to watch above, which covers some of Britain's smallest shops and was shown during my previous day here. All hail the Nigerian DVD and CD stall which operates out of a 'building' roughly the size of your average understairs cupboard.

Lightness well and truly set aside, it was on to Mouton, a supposed coming of age tale about a French chap (nicknamed Sheep, or Mouton) who works as a chef, this boasted chapter titles such as They Live The Rest Of Their Lives and Mimi Abandons A Dog and therefore whiffed somewhat of pretentiousness. The decision to shoot the film on 16mm and display it on 35mm gave it a throwback feel that aided the underplayed Drama, but largely it felt a bit too empty, confused and experimental for its own good.

Thankfully, Mother, I Love You introduced a nice bit of lightness into proceedings, though it too had an underscored seriousness it was happy to mix in to its overall offering. In less adept hands, this is a tone that can go awry, and quickly, but Latvian director Janis Nords has it pegged and this plays the line nicely between showing young Raimonds as a loving child and as a tearaway-in-waiting. The end superbly leaves it up to you to decide how you feel he will ultimately turn out. The short before this, In My Corner, looked fantastic and had plenty of good work, to the point where it feels like a documentary at first, before it loses it in the final few minutes and goes for 'tell don't show', where before it was the other way round.

In theory, I should have been in the Best of BIFF film afterwards (fingers were crossed for a big screen screening of Sexy Beast or Trainspotting), but when In Bruges was announced as winner I had a gap in the schedule. I'm willing to give In Bruges, which I didn't like the first time around, another go, but not during an already-hectic festival day. Off to the museum cafe for a few hours.

Screentalks, my limited experience has taught me, can go either way depending mainly on the attitude of the subject and the attitude of the audience. The previous one I had witnessed at BIFF (Ray Winstone and Mark Kermode) was fantastic but could have descended into calamity when a punter asked Winstone (not a man to suffer fools) un-ironically if he had only done Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull for the money. Why people go to these things apparently just so they can be rude to the subject is beyond me. Thankfully Winstone took a flippant question seriously, answered and moved on.

Doubly thankfully there was no such occurrence in Brian Cox's talk with Neil Young, the former proving keen, willing to talk and appreciative. There will be a full summary, as with everything else mentioned, on the site later in the week but Cox's opinions on everything from his career to Scottish independence (plus his impression of Woody Allen) are worth seeking out.

That left it to Locke, a film I had been looking forward to, to close the festival. It's a good film and certainly a significant showcase for both director and star but it also did nothing to sway me from a general belief that artificially imprisoning your film-making - to a car, a box, wherever - does little to improve your chances of making a good film. Locke is just that: a good film, but had it veered away from keeping Tom Hardy in a BMW you suspect it may have done itself and its audience a couple of favours.

Having spent 90 minutes in a cinema, in Tom Hardy's car, I was off to spend 90 minutes in my own, as BIFF closed for another year. My drive proved less eventful.

The 20th Bradford International Film Festival runs from 27th March to 6th April 2014, with Widescreen Weekend taking place between 10th and 13th April. It is based at The National Media Museum, in the centre of Bradford.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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