LIFF30 Day Summary - Monday 7th November - From Norway to America via Iran and Belgium

My third day in Leeds really emphasised the "I" in LIFF30, allowing me to take in a quartet of international films from across the globe. The first was a mid-morning screening of Norwegian film Eggs at Hyde Park Picture House, which in all honesty I had chosen to attend just as much to visit the historic cinema as to see the film, otherwise my favourite LIFF venue would most likely have not featured in my schedule this year. Originally released in 1995, the film proved light on plot but rich in oddball characters and situations, reminding me a great deal in that respect of the Coen Brothers' releases during the same period.

From Hyde Park to Vue in The Light, and from Norway to Iran for Under The Shadow, a film which I'd been eager to see before I knew it was part of the LIFF30 schedule. Having heard universally good things I hoped that this would live up to my expectations and thankfully it did. If you're a fan of The Babadook then Under The Shadow will almost certainly be for you. The way in which first-time director and writer Babak Anvari intertwined paranoia of both the supernatural and of the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s worked particularly well.

Film number three was The First, The Last, a Belgian film which I knew little about other than what I'd read on the LIFF30 website and which delivered an experience I couldn't have predicted. A philosophical and existential road movie with some cracking performances (including a bit part fulfilled by a surprise big name veteran) this was the second film of the day to feel Coen-esque, reminiscent of both Inside Llewyn Davis and No Country For Old Men.

My final film of the day was The Birth Of The Nation, Nate Parker's biopic of Nat Turner, who led a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831. Whilst I found the film to be a success overall, many have struggled to separate the film from Parker as writer, director and star due to his chequered past which includes allegations of rape. It's a point of view I can understand, but as I only learned of Parker's personal history after watching The Birth Of A Nation it's something I may be able to do more easily than some who go into the film with that knowledge. Whilst not perfect, the film powerfully portrayed the brutality of slavery in America on screen, which for me made it a worthwhile and effective piece of cinema.

The 30th Leeds International Film Festival runs from 3rd-17th November 2016 at thirty venues across the city, including Hyde Park Picture House 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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