Impressions of a First Time London Film Festival Visitor

For the past two years I’ve been to the Russian Film Festival (now in it’s third year and hopefully I’ll be visiting again), I’ve developed a bit of a liking for Russian film as well as seeing non-mainstream film releases.

So this year I decided to be a bit… funky(?!) and attend the London Film Festival – couldn’t get tickets for ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’, ‘The Men who Stare at Goats’ or ‘The Road’ (and to be honest, being a member of my local Playhouse I can see them cheaper at a later date), so went with a Russian film called ‘Wolfy’ and a British/South African film called ‘Cracks’ (which I shall be seeing next Sunday). Might try to see a few more films over the course of the festival but I’m back at work next week.

As I stood in the foyer of the Vue Cinema in Leicester Square I had the opportunity to observe my fellow Film Festival goers. The conclusion I came to is that I looked horribly out of place (I was the one standing in the corner wearing a threadbare hoodie, dark green fleece and bog-standard BHS jeans.)

Like every event there seems to be several categories that people fall into :-

1. The Film Reviewer
This is the harassed looking fellow, running around loosing things and clutching a festival programme as if their lives depended on it. Often seen frantically searching for a wi-fi port.

2. The Film Student
These are the ones that look a bit greasy and look like they’ve just stumbled out of a dark room, bed or the pub. Will be the proud owner of an Apple Mac laptop and discuss Final Cut Pro with anyone who’ll listen. More interested in the camera angles rather than the actual film.

3. The Cinema Lover
The Indie looking ones wearing thick black rimmed spectacles, smoking endless roll ups and alternating between discussing Proust and the decline of modern cinema in a dreadfully weary tone. Refuses to see anything that isn’t subtitled or in black and white.

4. The ‘Luvvie’
Often confused with #3 but differs in that they mainly talk the latest fringe show, experimental performance art or their one visit to a grand opera. Sees film as a lower form of art but since it’s art, it has to be experienced.

I’m sure there are others, such as the overly hip boyfriend/girlfriend, the star hunter or the bloke you know that has to see everything before you do so he can impart his wisdom (not to be confused with the film reviewer) but I imagine that a large portion of festival goers don’t fit into any of my incredibly stereotyped categories. I certainly don’t, although this week I did go see a Samuel Beckett play (‘Endgame’ at the Duchess, really rather good) so maybe I do fit in a category… for the record, I had absolutely no idea what was going on but I found it strangely compelling and think perhaps the way to view Beckett is with utter confusion. I also saw ‘An Inspector Calls’ which was the most intense, amazing and brilliant theatre productions I have ever seen, and worth seeing for the utterly brilliant staging (see? I’m turning into a ‘luvvie’!).

For those desperate to know what I thought of the film (‘Wolfy’), I’m afraid my only answer is ‘interesting’. I wasn’t compelled or hooked or any of those words, nor can I say I enjoyed it as really isn’t that sort of film but I was definitely intrigued by the whole thing. It reminded me of a film I saw at the first Russian Film Festival called ‘Mermaid’, as it had a similar premise (and a fairly similar ending but they are both very different films). I suppose it was a film about innocence and how we innocently love those around us without really understanding why they are human… does that make sense? Anyway, it’s worth seeing if you are a fan of modern Russian cinema.


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