LIFF29 Day Summary - Friday 6th November - Black-and-white cinema is the only way to travel

Having arrived in Leeds slightly later than planned, and determined to make an early start tomorrow (I'm still considering the free screening of The Breakfast Club at 9.00 a.m. despite it being past midnight as I type), my first day at LIFF29 consisted of just two films. Purely by chance, both were contemporary black-and-white offerings with 19th Century journeys at their respective centres - although other than that the two probably couldn't be much more different from each other.

My first film of the day was Aferim! at Vue in The Light, a Romanian period drama with a distinct Western flavour which focuses upon the retrieval of a runaway Gypsy slave by a police constable and his son. Whilst I was glad to have seen Aferim! after watching, particularly for its continually impressive cinematography, I have to admit that it left me considerably unsatisfied. I'm still mulling over exactly what part or parts of the film resulted in this feeling - especially as its one that seems to have been particularly well-received at several festivals throughout 2015 - but looking pretty wasn't enough to save it for me.

Next up was By Our Selves, a film high up my list of films I was keen not to miss whilst in Leeds. Saying exactly what the film is about is anything but simple, but much of By Our Selves is centred around the life and works of English poet John Clare, particularly a journey he took on foot from High Beach Asylum in Essex towards his home in Northamptonshire over four days in July 1841. There's plenty more layers to uncover, some of which are quite surreal - the film occasionally decides to become its own "making of" featurette, for example. Overall, an original, enigmatic and informative film that I enjoyed a great deal.

By Our Selves was also the first opportunity I've had to experience the Everyman Cinema in Leed's Trinity Centre, despite this being my third year attending the festival. It's not for want of trying, though, as there were films I wanted to see at the Everyman in both 2014 and 2013 that sold out before I could get a ticket.

Despite being a venue that seems to split opinion amongst festival attendees, my first time there was a very positive one. However, I could see where some of the negativity may have come from. The screening I was in was no more than half full, meaning most people got a sofa to themselves (the Everyman offering sofas and armchairs as opposed to traditional cinema seating), but even then there were some people who came in later than me who struggled to find a position in the auditorium that offered an optimal view. It was also quite warm in the cinema when the film started as the previous screening had been a full house; watching even something the length of By Our Selves' ninety-ish minutes in that level of heat could easily become an uncomfortable affair. There seem to be more showings at the Everyman this year than in either of my previous years, however, so its obviously a venue LIFF are committed to using, and based on my first film there I'd certainly be happy to return.

The 29th Leeds International Film Festival runs from 5th-19th November 2015 at venues around the city, including Hyde Park Picture House, Cottage Road Cinema and Leeds Town Hall. Tickets and more information are available via the official LIFF website.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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