Manchester is now home to a proper international film festival. The Manchester International Film Festival premiered some fantastic features and shorts last year, two of which have since been nominated for Oscars – proving we don’t just create talent in Manchester, we discover it and celebrate it, too says Dennis Keighron-Foster.
After covering the inaugural Manchester International Film Festival last year, we’ve been eagerly awaiting its return, and this year’s line up promises to be even better.
Manchester’s first city wide international film festival will take place between 3rd – 6th March 2016 at venues including HOME, AMC Manchester (Great Northern Warehouse) and The Printworks.
Founding director Neil Jeram-Croft said : “Film fans came out in their thousands for our first year and we’re delighted to be expanding the festival in its second year and excited to be partnering with new venues including HOME and Odeon. We’re looking forward to showcasing a strong slate of bold new films in Manchester this March.”
Full Feature Film Line-Up
A Beautiful Now – International Premiere (United States)
Directed by Daniela Amavia
Starring- Abigail Spencer (Mad Men, Suits, True Detective), Cheyenne Jackson (United 93, American horror Story, 30 Rock), Collette Wolfe (Interstellar, Young Adult)
A group of five friends reunite for one night to save beautiful dancer, Romy (Abigail Spencer), who was at the centre of their former circle. As the night progresses they struggle with their past relationships and finally truths are revealed as Romy, who has barricaded herself in the bathroom, tries to put the pieces of her life back together. This thrilling journey into the mind of a woman teetering on the edge of letting go ultimately asks “if your life flashed before your eyes- would you like what you see?” and reveals a gripping story of how the past shapes who we will become.
Audition – International Premiere (United States)
Directed by Matt Heron
Starring- Lolita Foster (Orange is the New Black)
What is real love? New York filmmaker Matt Herron spent over 15 years peeling back layers of expectations and disappointments to uncover the raw essence of this inescapable emotion through his powerful new award-winning film, AUDITION. Set in the midst of a real-life acting competition, this cautionary narrative within a documentary takes us on a provocative journey into the heart of one of the most profound questions most of us will ever face.
Broke – UK Premiere (Australia)
Directed by Heath Davis
Starring- Claire van der Boom (Dear Eleanor, A year and Change, Hawaii Five-0), Max Cullen (The Great Gatsby, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Steve Le Marquand (Vertical Limit, Kill me Three Times)
An old working class man named Cec stumbles upon his favourite rugby league star come gambling addict, Ben “BK” Kelly, at the end of his shift. Taking pity on the one-time local legend, who he admired for his on field fortitude, Cec offers to take the now homeless Ben home for the night where he resides with his single mother daughter and fellow footy tragic, Terri. Unable to resist his urges, Ben’s addiction gets the better of him and the warm kindness shown by the adoring family is met by Ben’s devilish actions. With the world against him Ben must fight his demons and win the trust of a family and worshipping community that he has let down and betrayed.
Despite the Falling Snow – UK Premiere (UK)
Directed by Shamim Sarif
Starring- Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Wallander), Charles Dance (The Imitation Game, Child 44, Game of Thrones), Sam Reid (’71, Railway Man, The Riot Club), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Raven, Dracula, Mr Selfridge), Antje Traue (Woman in Gold, Man of Steel), Thure Lindhardt (Into the Wild, Fast and Furious 6,The Bridge), Amy Nuttall (The Keeping Room, Downton Abbey) Ben Batt (Captain America, Shameless)
Adapted from the best selling novel.
In 1950s Moscow, communist Katya secretly spies for the Americans in the Cold War arms race. When she lands her biggest assignment, stealing secrets from rising government star Alexander, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with him. When Alexander unwittingly closes the net around his own wife, Katya decides to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect him – a sacrifice that Alexander only uncovers forty years later.
Kidnap Capital – UK Premiere (Canada)
Directed by Felipe Rodriguez
Starring- Jonathan Sousa (Relative Happiness, The Animal Project), Paulino Nunes (Brooklyn, Narc, Traitor)
Based on real events. Trapped and tortured inside a Phoenix, Arizona ‘Drop House’, Manolo and a group of helpless, illegal migrants must unite and find a way to escape the violent Human Kidnapping Ring holding them hostage.
Made in Taiwan – World Premiere (UK)
Directed by Jonny Moore and Leonora Moore
Under the elusive name ‘Made In Taiwan’, experimental filmmaker Jack invents an exciting type of film, which induces a high in the viewer and becomes an underground phenomenon throughout Taipei. With the help of Amy Lin, organised screenings pop up around the city and crowds of eager MIT fans flood in to see each of his newest creations. As his films become more and more popular, Jack fights obsessively to keep complete control of his product. He also comes to realize that his films have some lasting effects on the mind, and, with constant exposure to the films, Jack slides into a dark, dream world of his own creation that he may never return from.
Memories on Stone – Film Festival Premiere (Germany/Qatar)
Directed by Shawkat Amin Korki
Starring- Hussein Hassan (Crossing the Dust), Nazmi Kirik (Bizans Oyunlari)
After Saddam Hussein’s loss of power in Iraq, childhood friends Hussein and Alan decide to produce a film about the ‘Al Anfal’ Kurdish genocide. But making a film in post war Kurdistan is not easy. And the most difficult task seems to be finding a leading actress. Suddenly they find her: young, beautiful – and passionate about their project. But she cannot decide on her own. Her cousin and her uncle control her fate. As they run out of money and time, Hussein and Alan sacrifice everything to keep on filming but will the film ever reach the screen?
Northern Limit Line – UK Premiere (South Korea)
Directed by Kim Hak-Soon
Starring- Jin Goo (C’est Si Bon, The Admiral), Lee Hyun Woo (The Beauty Inside, The Con Artists), Ku Jin (Mother, Always)
Based on the true story that is known as the second battle of Yeonpyeong, this epic war film tells the journey of some of the young soldiers who fought and died in the battle. The battle took place in the yellow sea on 29th of June in 2002, against the backdrop of the 2002 world cup finals, when two North-Korean vessels broached the Northern Limit Line and fired at the South-Korean patrol boat named ‘Chamsuri 357’, killing six men and leaving 18 badly injured to fight for their lives.
Psychoanalysis – World Premiere (Australia)
Directed by James Raue
Starring- Benedict Wall (Pirates of the Airwaves, Underbelly), Ryan O’Kane (Save Your Legs, Pirates of the Airwaves), Michael Whalley (Unbroken, Slow West), Jennie Lee (12 Months of Kerry, All Saints)
Paul Symmonds is the country’s top suicide prevention specialist. But when five of his clients commit suicide within a one week period his reputation is thrown into question. He arranges for a documentary crew to follow him around as he attempts to prove his clients were actually murdered by a rival psych who wants the top spot for himself.
She Walks (France)
Directed by Naël Marandin
Qiu Lan, Yannick Choirat (Skin and Bones, La marcheuse), Philippe Laudenbach (Of Gods and Men)
Lin Aiyu, an illegal Chinese immigrant, lives in the neighbourhood of Belleville in Paris, with her teenage daughter Cerise. They are staying at Kieffer’s, a bedridden septuagenarian, who Lin takes care of in exchange for accommodation. To earn a living, Lin also prostitutes herself, but she carefully keeps her business secret from her daughter. One day, a wounded stranger, Parisian native Daniel, forces his way into the old man’s home. Pursued by men to whom he owes money, Daniel forces Lin to hide him. In Lin’s view, Daniel is a threat but he could also be a life-changing opportunity. She offers him a deal which will give rise to a struggle in which power and desire will mingle with one another.
The Manny – International Premiere (Germany)
Directed by Matthias Schweighöfer and Torsten Künstler
Starring- Matthias Schweighöfer (Valkyrie, Vier gegen die Bank), Milan Peschel (Das kalte Herz, Timm Thaler), Paula Hartmann ( Silvia S., Everyone Else)
Clemens (Matthias Schweighöfer) has very little time for his kids. He has been working on a big development for the City and the contracts are almost ready to sign. Just a few remaining tenants will have to vacate their apartments and construction can start. When Rolf (Milan Peschel) loses his apartment in the building, he vows vengeance and goes undercover as a male Nanny for Clemens’ kids. His plan is simple: Sabotage. Yet he did not reckon that Clemens’ kids Winnie and Theo would be so well prepared. They have made it a sport to drive any new nanny out of the house immediately. And they know no mercy when it comes to their weapons of choice and Rolf must learn that being a Nanny is far from easy – at least in this family. But while Rolf tries to save his home and neighbourhood, he unwittingly becomes the saviour of an entire family.
The Paper Store – World Premiere (USA)
Directed by Nicholas Gray
Starring- Stef Dawson (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 & 2), Penn Badgley (Margin Call, Greetings From Tim Buckley, Gossip Girl), Richard Kind (Argo, A Serious Man)
Annalee is an academic ghost writer. A freelance cheat working in the shadows of a college campus. Or rather, she was, until Sigurd books her for the entire semester. He’s subcontracting his entire film studies degree. She has reservations, but he’s paying double. Annalee takes up the challenge and Sigurd and herself become lovers. But things turn sour. She can’t end the romantic relationship without ending the business one. Secrets start to spill and the boy meets girl tale gets intelligently ugly.
There Should Be Rules – International Premiere (Sweden)
Directed by Linda-Maria Birbeck
Starring- Anna Hägglin , Lo Salmson, Ludvig Särnklint, Kodjo Akolor (Welcome to Sweden), Aleksandar Gajic (Hitta bort), Fredrik Gunnarsson (Wallander, The Bridge) Annika Hallin (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Morden, Millennium)
Mia and Mirjam are 14 year old best friends. Besides each other, they also have Karl, their super smart friend who knows almost everything. They live in a quiet town, but as long as they have each other life is tolerable. But one day, Per enters their lives. Per is a single, 35 year old man. Per and Mirjam begin a secret affair. Mia can hardly believe it‘s true, Mia and Karl begin what they call a “detailed reconnaissance mission”. By mapping out Per’s life they hope to confront the married man and in turn get their best friend back into their sacred circle .But things don’t go as planned.
Thugocratie – International Premiere (France)
Directed by FG KO
Starring- Salim Kechiouche (Blue is the Warmest Colour, The String, Gigolo)
Sam, a thug, is out of jail. He’s having a go at a crime free new life. He attempts to get closer to his estranged kid and tries his faulting best to maintain a glimmer of hope within an inner city existence. Caught up by his past and Wedged between mobsters and corrupt cops, Sam makes a string of difficult decisions, and struggles in his personal pursuit of a better world for himself and his child.
Trouble on Wheels – Film Festival Premiere (Turkey)
Directed by Burak Aksak
Starring- Cengiz Bozkurt (Taken 2, Telling Tales), Cihan Ercan (Telling Tales), Erkan Kolcak Kostendil (Let’s Sin), Seda Bakan (Behzat Ç.: Bir Ankara Polisiyesi)
Kudret has always lived life by the book. Until, that is, his routine is turned upside down by a succession of surprise events. Kudret jumps into his much loved car and sets off for Antep on a journey that will take him from one end of the country to the other. As he clocks up the miles, he makes a bunch of new friends. But at the same time, everything that could possibly go wrong with the car goes wrong and everyone who could possibly go after Kudret and his crew goes after them. By the end of the marathon trip, Kudret will have discovered both the value of true friendship and the delights of living without rules.
West of Redemption – International Premiere (USA)
Directed by Cornelia Moore
Starring- Billy Zane (Titanic, Dead Calm), Kevin Alejandro (True Blood, Southland, The Returned), Mariana Klaveno (Stalker, True Blood, Dexter)
A married couple living in a remote farmhouse are interrupted by a stranger, who is taken prisoner by the husband and interrogated for reasons the stranger doesn’t readily understand. Their lives are irrevocably changed once the truth of their history is revealed to one another.
All Rise – International Premiere (USA)
Directed by Jay Shapiro
Featuring – Abhinav Sekhri, Tomer Treger, Jonathan Morgan, Areej Alragabi, Olga Koroleva, Kenny Lau, Maurice Muhumaza
How are international disputes resolved through dialogue? All Rise brings this complex question into sharp and personalized focus, through the stories of six passionate international law students competing in the Jessup, the largest simulated court proceeding of its kind. Against the backdrop of the dramatic world championships in Washington, DC, this moving film lays bare the tragedies, triumphs and transformations that are unique to this tournament. Diving into the compelling stories of our protagonists, we see six unique sides of the Jessup story – six young people struggling against hardship, poverty, war, and inequity – but we also see a shared story of passionate scholars overcoming unimaginable pressure to persevere in one of academia’s most rigorous challenges. Some crumble. Some thrive.
Art Bastard – UK Premiere (United States)
Directed by Victor Kanefsky
Featuring – Robert Cenedella
What is art and how does it relate to society. Is its value determined by its popularity or originality? Is the goal profit or expressing one’s personal vision? These are some of the questions raised as we follow fiercely independent New York artist Robert Cenedella in his artistic journey through decades of struggling for creative expression. A protégé of German artist George Grosz, Cenedella is now passing on the legacy of Groszs approach to art, in the same room where Grosz taught. In portraying Cenedellas determination to buck the system of what’s popular while critiquing that popularity in his attempt to turn the art world upside down, ART BASTARD is a funny, touching, and insightful look inside the maverick mind of a true original.
Denis Rodman’s Big Bang in Pyongyang (UK)
Directed by Colin Offland
Featuring – Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman is on a mission. After forging an unlikely friendship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, he wants to improve relations between North Korea and the US by staging a historic basketball game between the two countries. But the North Korean team isn’t the only opposition he’ll face… Condemned by the NBA and The Whitehouse, and hounded every step of the way by the press, can Dennis keep it together and make the game happen? Or will it go up in a mushroom cloud of smoke? For the first time, Manchester based filmmaker Colin Offland brings you the true story of what happened when Dennis Rodman took a team of former-NBA players to North Korea and staged the most controversial game of basketball the world has never seen.
Dennis Viollet – A United Man – International Premiere – (USA)
Directed by Rachel Viollet
Featuring – Sir Alex Ferguson, Bryan Robson, Dennis Law, Nobby Stiles, Wilf McGuiness, Paddy Crerand, Mike Summerbee, Jeff Whitefoot, Johnny Giles, Fred Eyre
The Dennis Viollet story is for anyone who believes the impossible is possible. A pioneer in the footballing world, this inspiring documentary showcases Dennis’ career, and pays homage to a man whose vision helped first bring soccer to the US and the forefront of the sporting world. Born and bred in Fallowfield, Manchester, Dennis was a young boy growing up in a working-class neighbourhood of post-war England and signed for Manchester United at the age of fifteen. Ten years later, he becomes one of the greatest players in the club’s history. He saw United through its darkest hour, the Munich air crash, where tragically many of Dennis’s teammates lost their lives. After recovering from serious injuries suffered in Munich, Dennis went on to set United’s single season goal scoring record, and became Captain of the Club. It was also during this period that Dennis helped launch a campaign to abolish English soccer’s maximum wage, which saw players earning as little as thirty pounds a week, or the equivalent of forty-five dollars! This helped paved the way for football to become a full-time profession for players around the world.
Lunar Orbit – World Premiere – (Canada)
Directed by Patrick Buchanan
Featuring – The Orb, Guy Pratt, Youth, Carl Lobin, Steve Hillage, Tom Green, Mixmaster Morris Matt Black, Helen Mead, Kris Needs, Nina Walsh, Jon Berry, Simon Phillips, Nick Manasseh
The Orb are still creating fresh sounds and collaborations. In Lunar Orbit, we witness their creative process in Thomas’s Berlin studio where they embark on sessions for their latest album, Moonbuilding 2703 AD. The film illustrates the magic of making musical notes out of sounds. We join the artists and others as they reflect on the Orb’s early history, always looking forward to what’s next, and share in the power of music, which connects us all.
No Limits – Impossible is just a word – UK Cinema Premiere – (Germany)
Directed by Tim Hahne
A Formula 1 driver, a two-time Indy Car series winner, an athlete, an innovator, a gold-medalist at the Paralympics: That’s Alex Zanardi, the main character in the film “No Limits”, who lost his legs in an almost fatal crash at the Lausitzring in Germany in 2001. His new adventure takes Zanardi to one of the most famous endurance races in the world: The 24 Hours of Spa. He shares the cockpit of the BMW GT race car with ex-Formula 1 driver Timo Glock and touring-car champ Bruno Spengler. They form nothing less than a team of race-track pioneers, going beyond limits and limitations. Never before has a handicapped driver competed in a 24 hour race on this level with able-bodied drivers.
Paul Sharits – UK Premiere (Canada)
Directed by Francois Miron
Featuring – Paul Sharits
Long after his premature death, the impact of Paul Sharits lingers on. The prominent iconoclast and innovator provoked with fast-flickering, pulsating, colourful mosaics. In the mid sixties Paul Sharits (1943-1993) started to explore the potential of the flicker. In the decades that followed, Sharits was strikingly persistent in pursuing the total deconstruction of the parameters of 16mm film into such novel forms as multiple projection installations, frozen film frames caught in-between plexiglass sheets, and ink coloured partitions for abstract films. The ultimate impact of the work was not theoretical, but on the contrary very physical, even visceral. Miron’s documentary offers a great recapitulation of one of the most idiosyncratic and pertinent oeuvres within avant-garde film history.
Right Footed – UK Premiere – (USA)
Directed by Nick Spark
Featuring – Jessica Cox
Jessica Cox was born without arms as a result of a birth defect, but managed to overcome many physical and emotional challenges to become fully independent. She learned to type with her toes, drive a car with her feet, and amazingly — fly an airplane with her feet. Right Footed follows Jessica as she transforms from a motivational speaker to a mentor, and eventually into a leading advocate for people with disability.
Vince Giordano – There’s a Future in the Past – World Premiere (USA)
Directed by Dave Davidson and Amber Edwards
Featuring – Vince Giordano
Vince Giordano is responsible for the period music in Todd Haynes’ “Carol”, Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator”, Robert DeNiro’s “The Good Shepherd”, Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Cotton Club”, Gus Van Sant’s “Finding Forrester”, Sam Mendes’ “Revolutionary Road”, Terry Zwigoff’s “Ghost World”, half-a-dozen Woody Allen films, and HBO’s Grammy-winning “Boardwalk Empire.” Who is the eccentric musician who, for 40 years, has kept the past alive with his 11-piece big band The Nighthawks, a collection of more than 60,000 band arrangements, and a house-full of vintage musical instruments? And what does it take to make a life as a professional jazz musician in 21st Century New York? Giordano’s dedication has kept this cultural phenomenon on life support through hard times, and introduced it to a new generation of hot jazz virtuosos who are laying claim to this joyful, energetic music.
Martin Sheen Presents – The World is my Country – World Exclusive Sneak Peak (USA)
Directed by Arthur Kanegis
Featuring – Martin Sheen, Gary Davis
Director Arthur Kanegis brings to the screen The World Is My Country, the epic story of the daring, controversial, and decades-ahead-of-his-time legendary figure, World Citizen #1 Garry Davis (27 July 1921 – 24 July 2013). Martin Sheen calls his story “a roadmap to a better future.” A citizen of no nation, only the world – for 65 years — Davis was hailed by Albert Einstein for “the sacrifices he has made for the well-being of humanity,” extolled by Buckminster Fuller as “the new World Man”, and challenged by Eleanor Roosevelt to start “a worldwide international government.”
“I fell in love with this guy,” says Martin Sheen who introduces Davis in the film. “He was an actor, a song and dance man, who leapt off the Broadway stage, onto the world stage in 1948, taking on cops, border guards, armies and whole nations – showing us we don’t have to accept a world ravaged by war and plunging towered environmental destruction… We can build a world that is constructive for all and destructive to none.”
Break – World premiere (starring Sir John Hurt)
I’m Sorry to tell you
Nipple Jesus – English Premiere
You are Whole
Charlie Cloudhead – UK Premiere
Viking – UK Premiere
The Immaculate Conception
Midnight in my Life (starring Martin Freeman)
Strange Weather (starring Maxine Peake)
Hole – World Premiere (Starring James Cosmo)
Rumble – World Premiere
Winter Light (Oscar Nominated)
Winter – Germany – UK premiere
Perfection- Germany – World Premiere
The Fastest Fingers in Clayborn County – Canada – UK Premiere
Hope – Spain
Karma – Republic of Yugoslavia- UK premiere
Respite – Germany
A Walk in Winter – USA – International Premiere (Staring James Franco and Abigail Spencer)
Demilitarized Zone – South Korea- UK premiere
Debris – USA – World premiere
Family Bonds – Japan – World Premiere
Sing for your Supper – USA – UK premiere
Artificial – Spain – UK premiere
A full list of student films, experimental films and music videos can be found at the MANIFF website.
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