I live in #London, which is just about the greatest city in the world. There is always something happening, and this week that happening thing is the #BFI's. There are screenings of 100's of films in screens all over the city for two weeks each October.
Last year was the first time I attended the festival, and was lucky to see a good number of films. I joined the party a bit late and found that the ones I really wanted to see had sold out quickly. I vowed that I would do it better in 2018.
So I purchased a BFI membership, and as soon as the final list of films was drawn, I received my catalog in the mail of all the films times showing, the Q & A's offered, along with other events. I then allowed that catalog to sit on my desk for about three weeks.
Of course I managed to miss tickets for most of the really big films, but I managed a good selection, if only still a small sampling of what what on offer, and was very pleased with what I was able to see.
My week started with "Bill Murray: Life Lessons Learned From A Mythical Man" This is a very sweet film about the random acts of Bill Murray; about him washing dishes at a frat party in Bristol, to strolling into a wedding photo, to stealing fried off of someone's diner plate. But this film was not really so much about Bill Murray as it was about all of the people that he met showing up in random places, and the effect that that interaction had on these people's day. Take him or leave Bill Murray, the real stars of the film are everyday people who had, randomly, been given a moment in time that they will remember the rest of their lives.
Next up for me was "Girl" by Lukas Dhont, staring Victor Polster, a cisgender Norwegian actor, playing a 15 year old transitioning from both male to female, but also dancer to ballerina. The physical agony this young person put herself through to achieve her dreams was unbearable to watch and I considered that even if a person in this situation has the strongest support system and a lot of love behind them, there are still painful choices to be made and indignities to suffer. I thought that the portrayal of the father by Arieh Worthalter was beautifully performed. And I was interested by that the family dynamic was only ever discussed as a trio: the mother was not part of the discussion and there was no explanation of why she was not part of the story. The family just was what it was.
"Colette" is the story of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a French novelist, actress and mime, and the events of her life between the ages of 17-34 years old. She had married a much older, hedonistic man who encouraged her independence, but published her writing under his name, and stole and gambled most of the profits away. As #Colette grows with age and experience, she realises that she is more than capable of success in her own right, and starts a new life to find it.
The film was opened by it's director, who told a beautiful tale of the love and death of his life partner, an their determination to get this passion project completed.
"Wildlife" is the directorial debut of actor Paul Dano, written by himself and his partner Zoe Kazan. This is a beautifully shot film dissecting the disintegration of a family in 1960's America told from the 14 year old son's point of view. There were very good performances by Jake Gyllenhaal, Carrie Mulligan and Ed Oxenbould, a young actor from Australia.
I also enjoyed Dano and Kazan's Q&A at the end of the film.
Finally for my week I got to see a documentary I have been waiting for for a while. "Won't You Be My Neighbor." tells the story of children's television innovator Mr. Fred Rodgers. Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood was shot in my home town so the show was a part of my childhood. I can't honestly say that I loved it when I was a kid, or remember watching it much, but somehow I remember all the puppets names and the sounds of all of their voices.
The movie itself is uplifting and joyful, but saddened me was the complete optimism that Fred Rodgers had in his belief that children are entitled to100 percent our love and deserve to be understood, empathised with and made to feel secure in even the most darkest of situations. It upset me because we as a human race have come such a long way, but have learned so very little since the show debuted on local programmer WQED in 1968. This film should be watched by parents, caregivers and teachers everywhere as there is really no better tool to learn how to, simply be a nice person.
Morgan Neville gave an amazing Q&A afterwards, reminding everyone in the audience of the power of intelligence and the joy of living one's passions.
So if you have a festival like the BFI's in your home town, or any type of event that allows you to experience something different than your day to day, please take advantage!