Cambridge Film Festival returns with an exciting line-up
Indie films galore – do NOT miss the Festival’s 40th anniversary
The Cambridge Film Festival (CFF) returns next month to celebrate its 40th anniversary with 95 titles from 44 countries. It will be an in-person event running from November 18 to 25 at the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse.
As the third longest running independent film festival in the UK, the event has a strong history. This year’s lineup is no exception, featuring an ever-vibrant mix from all walks of film: documentaries, dramas, comedies, animation, and much more– premiering a grand total of 26 feature-length films.
Naturally, there’s quite a lot to crack into, but if you’re just looking for a quick, short selection of what’s to be on display, here are our personal highlights:
Titane is a body horror film starring Agathe Rousselle in her feature film debut. She plays Alexia, a woman who had a titanium plate fitted into her head after being injured in a car accident as a child.
Image credits: @titanemovie via Instagram
The film won the top award at the Cannes Film Festival, the Palme d’Or– making its director, Julia Ducournau, only the second woman in history to have done so. It was also selected as the French entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards.
Described as “nightmarish yet mischievously comic”, it promises to be a gruesome, brutal, sexy affair that will leave you reeling.
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain is a biographical drama film starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, Andrea Riseborough, and Toby Jones.
The story follows the Edwardian artist and illustrator Louis Wain, a brilliant man who might today be considered neurodivergent. He became famous for his cute drawings of cats for the Illustrated London News. This quirky and lighthearted comedy sets out to shed light on a largely forgotten historical figure and the fascinating life he led.
Proof that there’s room for all forms of cinema at the Festival, Salaryman is a documentary peering at the titular archetype of Japan’s working class. Directed by Costa Rican artist Allegra Pacheco, this film examines the harrowing realities of long work hours, compromised family lives, and even the extreme and often fatal ramifications of overworking.
Carrying a strong questioning of the ethics of capitalist labour, this film is unlikely to be an easy watch, but it brings to the minds of attentive viewers hard yet important questions.
Petite Maman is a French drama fantasy film that first premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and was the audience award winner at the San Sebastian Film Festival.
The story follows Nelly, an eight-year-old who just lost her grandma. While helping her parents clear out her mother’s childhood home, she meets a girl her age building a treehouse in the woods.
Directed by Céline Sciamma, an established director in the French indie film scene, this slow, thought-provoking film wrestles with the themes of loss, friendship and acceptance through the lens of childhood.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
The Eyes of Tammy Faye is an American biographical drama detailing the history of the controversial televangelists Tammy Faye Bakker and Jim Bakker, her husband. The duo worked together in the 1970s and 80s to create the world’s largest religious broadcasting network.
Image credits: @eyesoftammyfaye via Instagram
Discussing powerful themes of cults of personality and the ‘megachurch’ structure so common in America today, this tale of their meteoric rise and fall promises powerful themes of “hypocrisy, religion, self-empowerment and denial”.
A reimagining of a classic ballet, Coppelia is a bright, colorful blend between live action and animation.
The film follows Swan (played by Michaela DePrince), a girl whose small-town life is thrown into chaos after the arrival of the mysterious Doctor. Swan must find a way to save her friends and the other townsfolk, before the Doctor can enact his plan to extract their hearts and use them to spark life into his animatronic ‘perfect woman’. Coppelia is a must-see for anyone interested in dance and its portrayal on the silver screen.
As a final mention, the legendary British ballerina Darcy Bussel not only plays a role in the film, but will also be attending the screenings!
Poupelle of Chimney Town
One of the few feature films at the Festival to be entirely animated, the charming Poupelle of Chimney Town follows Lubicchi, a young boy who refuses to believe that the sky is forever shrouded in smoke. Lubicchi embarks on a quest to see the stars he is sure lie behind the smoky veil.
Lighthearted and cheerful, with strong, painfully relevant themes of environmental destruction, this film is of particular interest to anyone with a love for Japanese animation, and the works of Studio Ghibli in particular.
The actress Tilda Swinton has long been a mainstay of the indie film scene, and this season proves to be no exception. Memoria centres around a Scottish woman living in Colombia who goes to visit her sister. Swinton’s character is subsequently startled by a catastrophic bang that induces a bizarre sensory experience.
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons via the Creative Commons License
Highly praised by The Guardian and other review outlets, this masterwork by legendary Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul promises a slow, surreal experience not soon forgotten.
The main prize winner at the Tallinn Black Nights Festival, Fear is a dark comedy with a lighthearted twist. It narrates the story of Svetla, a jobless widow living in a village near the Bulgarian-Turkish border that is home to many refugees. One day, she meets a refugee from Africa. After initially trying to send him to the border guard station, she decides to take the man in.
The film grapples with heavy themes but attempts to do so in a heartwarming way to leave them with you for a long time to come.
There is plenty more to the world of film beyond that of full feature-length movies – a fact the Cambridge Film Festival has not forgotten. Organised by broad narrative themes ranging from ‘CONTEMPLATE’ to ‘CHEER’, to ‘DEBATE’ to ‘UNNERVE’, shorts at the Festival (by new and experienced filmmakers alike) promise to never once be boring.
These ten are just a snippet of the titles available, a full list of which you can find here on the Cambridge Film Festival website along with booking details. Regardless of whether you’re a long-time film buff or just looking for something different from your average cinema experience, the Cambridge Film Festival promises a unique, diverse assortment of film not to be missed.
Cover Image Credits: Cambridge film festival Via instagram