Friday 15 May 2015

What's worth a look at this year's Southend Film Festival?

Seeing as how I live in the town it would be very remiss of me not to mention the Southend Film Festival which is now in its seventh year. This year's event is already under way but really comes to life next Thursday (May 21) with its black-tie official Opening Gala and a screening of new Brit thriller Age of Kill. The film stars Martin Kemp (above) as a disgraced former special ops sniper trying to save his daughter from the fiendish terrorist holding her hostage. Phil Davies, Dexter Fletcher and Patrick Bergin co-star and, to be honest, it really doesn't sound like my cup of tea. Lucky, then, that the festival boasts a whole host of far more interesting films - British and foreign, old and new - worthy of your attention. 

Amongst a long list of great pictures, you can check out The Gang's All Here (a Busby Berkeley musical comedy from 1943, Friday May 22), Rude Boy (an acclaimed documentary/drama featuring the Clash, also Friday, trailer below) and Houdini: The Man from Beyond (a strange sort-of-sci-fi starring the renowned escapologist, Saturday May 23). For the kids, there's Paddington (also Saturday) and Sing-a-Long Frozen (Sunday, May 24). 

The thing I really like about the festival is the sheer diversity of the movies it screens - not only "something for everyone" but stuff that Southend's increasingly conservative and unimaginative Odeon wouldn't touch with a bargepole. 

The event's Closing Gala is Still (Monday, May 25), the Aidan Gillen-starring Brit noir I reviewed here earlier in the week. Writer/director Simon Blake will be on hand to introduce the film and answer questions afterwards. 

But if Martin Kemp put a "shooter" to my head and ordered me to choose my top festival picks, here's what I'd go for...

1. Two Days One Night (Friday, May 22)/Ida (Sunday May 24)/Leviathan (also Sunday): Three of last year's very best foreign language films. The bleak but beautiful Ida is especially worthy of your attention. 
2. My Horrible Love (Friday, May 22): British black comedy about a warring family on holiday in an Essex caravan park. Don't you geezer me! 
3. For the Love of Mod Tokyo (Monday, May 25): Fascinating documentary focusing on mod culture in Japan's capital city. 
4. Sex, Death and Celebrities: 1980s British Horror Cinema (Sunday May 24): Fully illustrated presentation in which Dr Karen Oughton dissects the themes, films and fandom of 1980s Brit horror. 
5. Of Horses and Men (Monday, May 25): Gloriously offbeat Icelandic gem about horses and, um, men.
6. The Laurel & Hardy Laughter Show: 125 Years of Stan (Monday, May 25): Comedy double bill featuring the legendary duo in Brats and a Stan Laurel solo outing, his spoof of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. 
7. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre/Suspiria (Friday, May 29): Fantastic horror double bill.

Visit the festival's main site for more information and details of how to buy tickets.

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