From 1 to 17 March, 39 venues in Herefordshire, Shropshire and the Welsh borders are playing host to the UK’s largest rural film festival. Now in its second decade, this year’s Borderlines Film Festival presents its biggest ever programme, with 90 individual films and events and 200 screenings occurring across a 2,000 square mile area.
Top of the bill are five previews of films yet to be released in the UK. Kristin Scott-Thomas stars in In the House, the witty new thriller by François Ozon. Festival favourite Wadjda, directed by Haifaa Al Mansour, is the first feature by a female director to come out of Saudi Arabia. Post Tenebras Lux is the brilliantly original new film from Mexican provocateur Carlos Reygadas. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken and Catherine Keener star as chamber musicians in A Late Quartet, an emotional drama directed by Yaron Zilberman. Village at the End of the World is the documentary debut by Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane), set in a remote community in Greenland.
“I am really delighted that we will have five excellent features on special preview,” comments festival director Naomi Vera-Sanso. “It is a rare opportunity to see some fascinating films before they go on general release.”
Borderlines also offers an opportunity to catch up with some of the best films from the awards season, including the multiple Oscar-winning fantasy Life of Pi (directed by Ang Lee, who picked up Best Director); Kathryn Bigelow’s manhunt thriller Zero Dark Thirty; Quentin Tarantino’s controversial Django Unchained; and debut director Benh Zeitlin’s striking Bayou-set fantasia, Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Three of the Oscar nominees for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film are also screening: Pablo Larrain’s highly acclaimed No; War Witch, the powerful story of a child soldier in the Congo; and A Royal Affair, a period drama set in 18th-century Denmark. Best Documentary nominee 5 Broken Camera is a compelling Palestinian account of life in the West Bank.
The festival opens with a chance to hear Herefordshire-born, double Academy Award-winning cinematographer Chris Menges talk with broadcaster Francine Stock about his long career working with directors such as Ken Loach, Stephen Frears, Neil Jordan, Bill Forsyth, Roland Joffé and Stephen Daldry. Highlights from Menges’ career, including Kes (1969) and The Killing Fields (1984), receive special screenings during the festival.
Another esteemed guest, Sir Derek Jacobi will appear on stage with Francine Stock for a festival fundraiser for The Courtyard, Hereford, and there will be a select number of tickets available to join Jacobi at an exclusive reception.
For fans of classic cinema, there is a short Hitchcock tribute, including two of the BFI’s new restorations of the director’s silent films. His 1926 thriller The Lodger is screening with a live piano accompaniment from Stephen Horne, while 1929’s Blackmail will be introduced by BFI curator of silent film, Bryony Dixon.
And when festival-goers feel the need for some fresh air, there’s the opportunity for a guided walk to some of the Herefordshire ‘Golden Valley’ locations used in Shadowlands (1993), marking the 20th anniversary of Richard Attenborough’s biopic of the author C.S. Lewis.