With the festival program finally landing, it is only reasonable to take a look through the schedule and see what catches the eye. Browsing through the schedule is a daunting affair at times. With so many films and so much choice it is sometimes a real task to narrow it down (and also manage to get some sleep during the week). But on first inspection there are a few that instantly jump off the page for me.
The first film that I’m looking forward to seeing is Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Céline Sciamma’s historial French drama competed for the Palme d’Or this year and won the Queer Palme (the first woman-directed film to do so) and also won Sciamma the award for the Best Screenplay.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
At the end of the eighteenth century Marianne, a young painter, is commissioned to paint a portrait of a young woman to be used to elicit marriage proposals. Knowing that the woman, Héloïse, has previously refused to sit for portraits as she does not want to be married, Marianne disguises herself as a lady’s maid in order to gain her subject’s trust only to find herself inadvertently falling in love with her.
Next up through the schedule is the feature film debut of writer/director Mirrah Foulkes’ Judy & Punch which looks suitably dark. Starring Mia Wasikowska (who recently put in an excellent performance in Piercing) as Judy and Damon Herriman (who captivated the viewer as the enigmatic Charles Manson in the second season of MindHunter) as Punch.
Judy & Punch
Seaside (nowhere near the sea), puppeteers Judy and Punch are trying to resurrect their marionette show in an anarchic town on the brink of mob rule. When puppeteer Punch accidentally kills his baby during a drinking binge his wife, Judy, having suffered a violent beating, teams up with a band of outcast heretics to enact revenge on Punch and the entire town of Seaside.
The third film that I am excited about seeing is Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse. Now, I loved The VVitch so I am hoping that Eggers’ folky-horror style and ability comes through in this black and white horror-drama. With an incredibly strong double act fronting the film (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson), and lots of good word of mouth, The Lighthouse is probably my most anticipated film for this years festival.
Chronicling the gritty adventures of two lighthouse keepers as they are faced with loneliness, friendship and their worst fears, including how long it has been since they have been in the lighthouse.
There are numerous other films that sound amazing and are probably going to end up above some of the ones mentioned here in my end of year lists, but sometimes the beauty is in finding or stumbling onto a hidden or not-as-well-known gem. And this is what the Cambridge Film Festival is extremely good at: finding those astounding films that you wouldn’t otherwise have heard about or even seen. So, go on, if something is playing and you have no idea what it is, why not take a chance on it?
And it shouldn’t go without saying that I will be dabbling in the Secret Film again this year (as long as I can get a ticket!). Wonder what it is going to be…….