Manchester International Film Festival: July 11th 2015

There's something pleasantly different about the new Manchester International Film Festival (or ManIIF, if you will).

Manchester has tried film festivals before, with limited success. But where they felt slightly cobbled together, this feels professional. Where they favoured the hard-to-ignore largesse of Odeon's The Printworks location, ManIFF has opted for Great Northern's AMC. Where 'promotion' and 'social' were optional extras, not afforded to the film-makers and their product, here ManIFF has the might of Tangerine PR, a large North West agency, behind them.

If something has the chance of sticking here - and surely, surely, Manchester both needs and has the market for a major international film festival - then ManIFF feels as though it has the best chance in years. The friendly busker and 'film-maker's lounge' show that some thought has gone into making this a friendlier scene.

As with all festivals, and especially, you suspect, those in their first year, there are teething technical problems, which has always for me been part of the charm. The advertisement for a local Indian restaurant before Kyra Kryalina, my first film of the festival, was played at ear-drum bothering levels, like a bhangra-influenced Iron Maiden concert. As with several films at Leeds and Bradford's festivals over the years, the subtitles weren't quite at a 'polished' level. Kyra's claim that she wanted to deliver 'holly and just revenge' was a particular highlight; a vengeful Romanian sprite but with pleasing Christmas overtones.

The film itself was a mixed bag. An adaptation of a piece of classic Romanian literature, you can observe the conversation the film is having about harsh practicality and a desire for bourgeois decadence, without ever seeing anything meaningful happen with either of them. Decadence to Kyra seems to translate to dancing around the living room for five minutes, which just doesn't cut it when excess is the apparent nature of your film. Someone like Von Trier would have had a field day with this source.

Great Northern doesn't boast Leeds' The Light's La Bottega Milanese, but, without boring you too much with the traditional departure into local food, there is a nice split-level Italian restaurant/coffee house at the end of the square. Tip your waiter, try the fish, etc., etc.

Today was a fleeting visit for me, so the only other film I could squeeze in was Personal Gold, a documentary about the US women's cycling team at the London Olympics. It's good programming. There's a nice link between the country of origin and the UK and the subject matter is populist enough to have the potential of drawing an outside crowd.

The film too is lovely, if predictable. In any underdog story that has made it to the big screen, the outcome for the underdog is normally only going one way. Still, director Tamara Christopherson, who also features in the documentary, shows she has a good eye for a satisfying narrative and the characters involved are magnetic - this is a group you want to do well, through the tears and mini-triumphs.

And that's it for my day one. I'm back tomorrow for another three films, starting with American Native. See you then.

Manchester International Film Festival runs from 10th - 12th July 2015 at the AMC Manchester Great Northern Warehouse. More details are available on the ManIFF website.

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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