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6 February 2024

20 Movies to See at the 28th Leeds International Film Festival

Today sees the beginning of England’s largest film festival outside London, and a prized asset of the north. LIFF28, to use the acronym, will see well over 200 screenings take place in and around the biggest city in Yorkshire over a 15-day period of time, with an abundance of UK premieres, exclusive lectures, director Q&As, live events and cultist celebrations.
Needless to say, then, we can’t wait to get involved. Two particularly relevant titles open Leeds International Film Festival for 2014- The Taking, a taught thriller crafted by Dominic Brunt (TV’s ‘Paddy’ from Emmerdale and the man who terrified audiences with his debut, Before Dawn), and an adaptation of Vera Brittain’s First World War epic, Testament of Youth, from first time feature filmmaker James Kent. Both look great, but neither make our list of 20 essential titles to see during the course of the next two weeks (give or take), so take a look below for our most excellent selection. 
With recent headline-making comments from the new GCHQ boss regarding the importance of surveillance on social media in terms of terrorism, and the UK government’s increasingly anti-free speech stance, we believe a documentary looking at the power of online networking for positive activism, with a particular focus on Syria, couldn’t be more timely. 
Screenings: Mon. 17th Nov @ 18.00 – The Carriageworks 
See film here:
Because I Was A Painter
It’s always fascinating to watch films that investigate untold stories of conflicts, and despite the seven decades that have passed since the fight against global fascism the Second World War still has plenty of tales to recount. Because I Was A Painter looks at the art created by those interned in Nazi concentration camps during Europe’s darkest days, and if art is a window on society it should offer quite a view. 
Screenings: Sat. 8th Nov @ 14.30 – Vue The Light / Mon. 10th Nov @ 14.00 – Vue The Light 
See film here:
Combat Shock
This year’s LIFF28 has an entire programme dedicated to the death of the American dream, and our pick therein takes the form of this often gruelling and incredibly poignant 1984 masterpiece centred on a day in the life of Vietnam veteran and Agent Orange victim, ‘Frankie’, as he struggles with depression, rejection, poverty and addiction. Bleak but important and rarely seen stuff from the U.S. underground. 
Screenings: Sat. 8th Nov @ 23.00 – Hyde Park Picture House 
See film here:
Faro Dokument 1969
Ingmar Bergman, as regular readers will know, is a filmmaker of such potency we adore him to the point of obsession. Known for feature narratives, Faro Dokument 1969 goes against the common grain of his oeuvre in that it’s a documentary. Set on the Swedish island of Faro, where Bergman made many a classic, it deals with youthful disillusionment, unemployment and apathy- all relevant themes today. It’s also so overlooked we couldn’t get our hands on a trailer- apologies. 
Screenings: Tue. 18th Nov @ 14.00 – Hyde Park Picture House
Concerning Violence
One of the films we’re the most excited about seeing this year goes on general release later this month. The idea is simple but symbolic, and as superpowers come under increasing criticism for not doing enough to stem the spread of ebola in Africa- despite having ravaged the continent for its natural resources- a documentary dealing with the need for conflict to be used in a bid to put an end to that most evil of doctrines, colonialism, should be seen by everyone. Even if you don’t care for pop star narrator Lauryn Hill. 
Screenings: Mon. 10th Nov @ 18.30 – Hyde Park Picture House 
See film here:
Giovanni’s Island 
Animation for kids that simultaneously deals with very adult and highly sensitive themes isn’t something you see everyday, and with that in mind we’re keen to feast our eyes on Giovanni’s Island, a Ghibli-esque production that touches on the subject of Japan’s reaction to the end of the Second World War, and comes with some truly sumptuous looking visuals. 
Screenings: Sun. 9th Nov @ 16.15 – Leeds Town Hall / Wed. 12th Nov @ 16.00 – Vue The Light 
See film here:
Goodbye To Language 3D
Jean-Luc Godard re-wrote the rules of filmmaking with 1960’s Breathless, arguably the greatest French New Wave film ever made, and here he’s attempting to change our perspectives on modern direction and production with Goodbye To Language, a group of stories that nods to his juxtaposed approach to tale telling and comes in the divisive format of the moment, 3D. 
Screenings: Thur. 6th Nov @ 18.00 – Vue The Light 
See film here:
Horse Money 
Not only does this Portuguese offering look beautiful, it promises to give audiences something significant to think about, dealing as it does with social injustices in a post-colonial Europe (just don’t tell the folk behind Concerning Violence we said that last bit). Set in the slums of Lisbon, we observe a Cape Verdean emigre reflect on a life spent subjugated and disenfranchised, important themes across a continent that remains obsessed with an ‘us’ and ‘them’ attitude. 
Screenings: Mon. 17th Nov @ 18.00 – Vue The Light / Wed. 19th Nov @ 18.00 – Vue The Light 
Jour de Fete 
Jacques Tati’s timeless take on modernism in the post-war de Gaulle era, Playtime, returns to UK cinemas this month, but we’re far more excited about this opportunity to see his wonderful small-town satire about a hapless postman and the perceived superiority of America during the late-1940s. 
Screenings: Sat. 8th Nov @ 10.00 – Leeds Town Hall (FREE)
La Grande Illusion
In the centenary year of the First World War it makes sense that the greatest film ever made on the conflict in question makes an appearance at LIFF28. Featuring some truly iconic scenes and largely concerned with the socio-political aspects of how the war was fought, it’s both an indictment of large scale violence and a comment on perceived differences in terms of the value of life between the classes.
Screenings: Fri. 7th Nov @ 14.30 – Leeds Town Hall / Tue. 11th Nov @ 15.30 – Leeds Town Hall 
See film here:

Fritz Lang is perhaps best known for his dystopian sci-fi landmark, Metropolis, but most film geeks would rank this tale of a murdered child and the hunt for their killer as superior in almost every way. After all, it touches on ideas including profiling and scapegoating, and comes complete with a stellar performance from Peter Lorre. 
Screenings: Sun. 16th Nov @ 20.30 – Leeds Town Hall / Mon. 17th @ 15.30 – Leeds Town Hall
See film here:
Mother. I Am Going. 
Less a film and more an art installation, the footage shown on a triptych of screens was shot in remote areas of Bulgaria and northern England, which means it should offer some breathtaking panoramas, but we’re more intrigued by the subject of memory’s relation to photography and the recorded image. 
Ongoing exhibition: Fri. 14th Nov. – Sun. 23rd Nov. 
Stop Making Sense 
Bjork’s Biophilia flick might be grabbing the most attention of any music piece at LIFF28, but 30 years on Talking Heads still steal the show for us. Stop Making Sense makes most other concert videos look like uninspired documents of a gig you probably didn’t attend, whereas this effort set a benchmark for production and developing a sense of place and event. The tunes aren’t half bad either. 
Screenings: Sat. 15th Nov @ 18.00 – Leeds Town Hall 
See film here:
The Canal
This could be the darkest offering at this year’s festival, and it certainly represents one of the most imaginative ideas for a genre piece we have encountered since Berberian Sound Studio. A film archivist discovers footage revealing that a murder took place in his own home (before he lived there). Then his wife’s affair is exposed, supernatural forces are blamed and a descent into madness begins. 
Screenings: Fri. 14th Nov @ 19.00 – Everyman Leeds Trinity / Sun. 16th Nov @ 19.00 – Everyman Leeds Trinity 
See film here:
The Drop
When James Gandolfini passed away it was a real loss for both film and television. The man who was once Tony Soprano stars in this tense crime drama that is one of the most hyped films of the post-summer months, set in the nasty world of Brooklyn’s bars and criminal underbelly, where heists go wrong and lots of people get stressed out with one another as family ties are pushed to their limits.
Screenings: Tue. 11th Nov @ 20.30 – Leeds Town Hall / Wed. 12th Nov @ 17.30 – Leeds Town Hall  
See film here:
The Green Prince 
You don’t win Sundance’s Best Documentary for nothing, and despite our feelings on the whole towards reconstructed scenes in non-fiction works, The Green Prince is too important to ignore. Looking at Yousef, the son of a Hamas founding member, it addresses how he was arrested for arms smuggling and subsequently forced into work for the Israeli secret service, giving a rare insight into the confusing and often contradictory nature of the Middle East’s most notorious war of attrition. 
Screenings: Fri. 7th Nov @ 15.00 – Everyman Leeds Trinity / Sat. 8th Nov @ 17.00 – Everyman Leeds Trinity
See film here:
Forget Slumdog Millionaire and four-hour-long Bollywood epics, this is the most exciting slice of Indian life you’re likely to encounter, as a thrilling crime story unfolds in Delhi’s overcrowded and under-resourced backstreets, where two youngsters try to escape from their respective non-too-respectable families together, aided by some great performances courtesy of a largely non-professional cast.
Screenings: Sat. 8th Nov. @ 18.00 – Hyde Park Picture House 
Kevin ‘Clerks’ Smith is an American director with serious longevity and a huge cult following. Here he veers away from sex comedies like the underrated Zak & Miri Make A Porno, and leaves Jay & Silent Bob at home, to head down a surrealist avenue wherein a guy asks an old man to share some stories with him for a podcast, whilst the old man plans to turn him into a walrus. Confused? Worry not, the director will be in a Skype discussion with audiences after the movie, what with this being the UK premiere and all.
Screenings: Sat. 8th Nov @ 20.30 – Leeds Town Hall 
See film here:
As the Republicans take hold of the U.S. Senate following the American midterm elections this week, and pro-life a stance many politicians in the victorious party hold dear to their hearts, it seems appropriate for us to draw some attention to this female rights doc about the pro-choice group, Women On Waves, which targets regions of the world wherein abortion is illegal and allows women to board a boat that has been converted into a clinic so they can be given the procedure safely, and offshore, saving lives in the process. 
Screenings: Sat. 8th Nov @ 21.00 – Leeds Town Hall / Wed. 12th Nov @ 17.00 – Leeds Town Hall 
See film here:
Winter Sleep (pictured)
Another title we’re lying awake at night thinking about watching, Once Upon A Time In Anatolia skyrocketed Nuri Bilge Ceylan to the top tier of international directors, and Winter Sleep is being pegged as the Turkish director’s best offering to date. Set in a scarcely populated region of Anatolia, a once-successful actor turned hotelier is despised by his fellow villagers, including his wife and her sister, and is forced to consider some significant lifestyle and personality changes or risk complete alienation. 
Screenings: Fri. 7th Nov @ 13.00 – Vue The Light / Fri. 7th Nov. @ 19.00 – Vue The Light 
See film here:
The 28th Leeds International Film Festival opens on Wednesday 5th November and runs until Thursday 20th November. For an A-Z of films being shown, screening calendar and information on special events visit