Sunday, 17 October 2010

The London Film Festival

The London Film Festival is marvellous. It showcases lots of interesting films, many foreign films that you wouldn't otherwise get a chance to see. But should it be renamed The Insiders Film Festival? Even if you can get on-line to them just after booking opens most of the best films are already sold out - which means that the tickets were pre-sold to insiders. The festival seems to receive a public subsidy, so how about making a fairer share of tickets available to the public?

I've just seen 'Africa United' at the festival, a sweet and well made advernture story about a bunch of African kids journeying through Africa, and their dreams, to get to the World Cup in South Africa. It addresses serious issues like child soldiers, incompetent officialdom, bribery, sex slavery and does do so in a context that is generally uplifting so that the continent is not made to seem like one huge rolling disaster. The film is worth seeing but too many big issues dealt with in passing to make a serious impact. Despite all the hype at the showing, and that I suspect is about to explode upon us, it is primarily a film for kids. Lots of not terribly plausible plot with the children somehow avoiding death and some mawkish sentimentality. Which does not have to be a bad thing if handled well. Comparison was made with Slumdog Millionaire but that, despite negotiating some of the same problems and issues, is a far more assured film.

Whilst on films, saw The Social Network last weekend. Its good reviews really are justified: a brilliant film about the founding of Facebook - amazingly just seven years ago. What distinguishes the film is that it is about people and relationships and it paints those people as complex and not as one dimensional. So whilst the precise way Mark Zuckerberg, for example, founder of Facebook, is portrayed will inevitably colour your judgement, nonetheless the film-makers try to show a person in a situation, leaving that judgement up to the viewer rather than trying to force you to a particular response.

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