CINECITY Film Festival returns

The CINECITY independent film festival hits screens across Brighton & Hove and Lewes once more on Fri 10 – Sun 19 Nov. This annual celebration offers a diverse programme of premieres and previews, giving audiences first sight of highly anticipated titles ahead of their UK and works from around the world enjoying one-off screenings. 

In addition to the latest dramas and documentaries, the line-up also features perfume-enhanced and 3D screenings, live soundtracks, a ‘draw to film’ event, locally-made shorts, treasures from the archive and director Q&As. Plus the inside story of a riotous independent cinema, a tribute to a Brighton film-making legend, a once banned paean to Acid House and a celebration of one of the greatest film-making duos of all time.

It opens and closes with previews of two eagerly awaited films both tipped for success in the awards season. On Fri 10 Nov the Duke of York’s welcomes Yorgos Lanthimos’s Poor Things. Winner of the Golden Lion at the recent Venice Film Festival, it has been described as a steampunk black comedy fantasy film, and stars Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe and Mark Ruffalo. 

CINECITY closes on Sun 19 Nov at the Duke of York’s with All of Us Strangers. Directed by Andrew Haigh, and starring  Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott, it’s been praised as a mysterious, beautiful and sentimental work. There’s also a special preview of Alexander Payne’s charming 1970s-set comedy The Holdovers, starring Paul Giamatti – their first film together since 2004’s Oscar-winning Sideways.

There’s a host of award-winning international films all screening in the region for the first time ahead of UK release, including animated fantasy, The Boy And The Heron, Aki Kaurismaki’s bittersweet comedy Fallen Leaves and Evil Does Not Exist– a timely and unsettling study of humanity, nature and the threats to our survival. Other treats include Monster, which examines the horror of untamed adolescence, Amanda Nell Eu award-winning feature debut, Tiger Stripes, and Kenton & Hassiba Freiha-Oxley’s Farah, a drama about a student prescribed a controversial antidepressant. 

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CINECITY’S Reel Lives reinforces cultural exchange between the UK and Ukraine at this critical time. It features acclaimed documentary, We Will Not Fade Away, a moving portrait of Ukrainian youth in the Donbas region, who in spite of everything, are able to recognise and celebrate the fragile beauty of life, alongside In Spring, a city symphony devoted to Kyiv made in 1929 is presented with a live score from accomplished composer and pianist Roksana Smirnova with long-term collaborator and countryman, Misha Kalinin.

Elsewhere, Scala!!! celebrates the glory days of one of London’s most loved and infamous independent cinemas. It became a beacon and refuge for the city’s film lovers, creatives and LGBTQIA+ community during the repressive Thatcher era. Wim Wenders returns to the screen with Anselm, an epic 3D study of German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer. A riveting and visually stunning insight into a career which has spanned five decades, the doc explores Kiefer’s use of mythology and literature, the preoccupation with his country’s troubled past, as well as his working practices and processes.

Musically themed offerings come in the form of Chloé Raunet’s I Am Weekender, which celebrates the iconic Weekender promo video. Directed by Brighton-based WIZ, this was an accompanying film to Flowered Up’s classic acid house LP. Initially banned on its release, it is today hailed as one of the most innovative music films ever made, providing a pioneering meditation on the British rave experience. 

Live cinema has been an important part of CINECITY since the festival’s first edition twenty years ago. This year Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts presents a packed schedule of events, including Sean Burns’s Dorothy Towers, a film about the famous residential blocks adjacent to Birmingham’s Gay Village. Shot on 16mm, it explores the complex relationship between architecture, community and memory, it explores ideas of queer kinship and inheritance alongside experiences of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s/’90s. 

As part of the BFI’s UK-wide celebration of film-making duo Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, CINECITY Presents multi-sensory screening of Black Narcissus. Now widely regarded as a masterpiece, the 1947 psychological drama is about a small group of nuns sent to establish a new convent in an abandoned palace in a remote and vertiginous part of the Himalayas. CINECITY also celebrates the 75th anniversary of the most iconic dance film of all time, with a preview of the soon to be re-released The Red Shoes, Powell and Pressburger’s visually ravishing masterpiece inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale. 

This month sees 100 years since the birth of legendary Brighton-based artist and filmmaker, Jeff Keen. Dubbed the ‘Peckinpah of the South Downs’, he pioneered experimental film with rapid-fire animations, multiple screen projections and raucous performances redefined multimedia art in Britain. There are a number of festival events and screenings celebrating his life and work, including a talk by his daughter and archivist Stella Starr as part of a Catalyst Club special taking place in Horatio’s Bar on Palace Pier and a screening of his film, Mad Love, at Fabrica.

Local film-making talent features elsewhere in the line-up, as CINECITY presents a showcase of short dramas and docs selected from open submissions to the festival’s CINECITY Open and New Voices programmes, featuring young filmmakers aged 25 and under supported by Screen and Film School, Brighton. 

For full programme details, visit: 

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