by Elliot Davies.
It’s back! The Derby Film Festival! It’s back! And we’re covering it for the third successive year! Here’s some choice cuts from the 2017 programme.
Every year the Derby Film Festival runs with a different theme. Last year it was all about journeys, which extended to some very satisfying films about some very satisfying road trips; as well as some films about the journey of life, man.
The theme of the 2017 festival is Habitat. Because:
The environments that films take place in can vary hugely and create a massive impact on the narrative and characters. The films within this strand offer a range of classic films all featuring memorable habitats.
The festival’s official site illustrates this theme with a picture of a T-Rex. Does this mean they’re screening the original Jurassic Park? Why, yes it does. I can’t begin to describe how important that film is to me. I was six when it came out, so the first time I saw it was the first time I remember feeling enthralled and terrified in the cinema. It remains the gold standard for how to make films both thrilling and substantial.
And that’s not the only inarguable classic that’s making a welcome return to the big screen. They’re also screening The Truman Show and The Matrix back-to-back – two films that explore the concept of stimulated environments that manipulate their inhabitants to serve dark purposes. But putting it like that belies the fact that watching these two films together would make for a spectacularly fun evening.
In Heaven Everything Is Fine
Oh, and speaking of rare chances to catch old favourites on the big screen, this year’s programme has a delicious Lynchian flavour to it. They’re screening some of David Lynch’s greatest achievements, including The Elephant Man, Mulholland Drive, and Eraserhead.
Oh my god, Eraserhead. Honestly, if you’ve never seen this film before, go and see it. I promise you, even if you find it repulsive and infuriating – as many people seem to – it’ll be an experience you’ll never, ever, ever forget.
But even more exciting than a screening of Eraserhead is an advanced preview of David Lynch: The Art Life. This is a new documentary about Lynch’s art that promises to give an unprecedented insight into his creative process. It’s narrated by the man himself and features “camerawork and a score that reflects its subject’s aesthetic”. It sounds like it’ll be the closest thing we get to new Lynch until a certain beloved cult classic returns to our screens later this year.
And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s a David Lynch DJ Night too. I nearly fell off my chair when I saw that on the programme, as it seemed to suggest that he’d be travelling to Derby specifically to DJ. Alas no; it’s merely a night of “Twin Peaks inspired tunes” featuring cherry pie and coffee, which is arguably the most enticing thing that’s ever been introduced with the “merely” adverb.
In Sleep He Sang To Me
Once again, Derby Cathedral will play host to a truly special screening: The Phantom of the Opera with live organ accompaniment! And we’re not talking about Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Pink Floyd rip-off here. Nope, this is the real deal – Robert Julian’s silent 1925 classic featuring Lon Chaney’s iconic scarred visage. The programme specifies that the film won’t start til “after sunset”, so expect a spectral evening of striking sights and haunting sounds.
The Elephant In The Room
That screening of The Elephant Man I mentioned earlier? For more reasons than one, that’s going to be a sad one.
Legendary actor, Derby Quad patron and all-round-good-egg John Hurt passed away earlier this year. The Elephant Man’s being screened as a tribute. Before that, film critic Danny Leigh is going to give an illustrated talk about Hurt’s life and career, while the Quad’s going to rename their Cinema 1 as the Sir John Hurt Cinema.
The Horror, The Horror
Every year, the Derby Film Festival plays host to Fantastiq. It’s supposed to be a weekend of fantasy, sci-fi and horror. But as was pointed out at last year’s festival, many auteurs seem more drawn to horror than fantasy and sci-fi. So the Fantastiq programme invariably errs towards the blood-splattered and disturbing, as opposed to the, you know, fantastic. So! Horror fans rejoice! Everyone else…look out!
This year Fantastiq welcomes some very special guests. Norman J. Warren and David McGillivray will be in conversation. These are the guys who attempted to steer British horror away from the quaint and camp world of Hammer and Amicus into a world that was more modern, macabre, murky and mucky. Two of their finest achievements – Satan’s Slave and Terror – will be screened in gritty 35mm.
David McGillivray will also be introducing Worst Fears, a 21st century take on that quintessential British horror subgenre: the portmanteau film. And if modern horror’s your bag, there’s previews-a-plenty with Nails, Cage Dive, Holy Terrors, and Lilith’s Awakening.
And as if to prove that, no, it’s not all about the blood-curdling horror, Fantastiq has also invited Director and producer Alan J.W. Bell to discuss his work. He’s most renowned for his BBC adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. All six episodes of this cult series will be screened back-to-back in two three-episode chunks. It’s not likely that you’ll be offered a free drink if you remember to bring a towel, but it’s not impossible either. Just highly improbable.
And That’s Not All!
Nope, despite having prattled on for nearly 1,000 words now, we’ve barely scratched the surface with this preview.
It looks amazing, doesn’t it?
The 2017 Derby Film Festival runs from April 28 – May 7. We’ll be covering as much of it as we possibly can. Do join us, won’t you?