Kirkcaldy Film Festival’s Artistic Director, Alan Morrison, previews the 2014 programme, which runs from Friday 19 to Sunday 21 September.
This year, when it came to programming the second Kirkcaldy Film Festival, I thought “it’s all about axes”. Not in a deranged serial killer, slasher movie kind of way (leave that to FrightFest), but more of an x-axis and y-axis mathematical sort of thing. As an English Literature graduate and career-long arts journalist, this is as scientific as it’s ever going to get, trust me.
Last year, when we were introducing the very concept of a film festival in Kirkcaldy to the world, it was a y-axis/vertical affair. Each of the three days had its own loose theme: new films on Friday, old films on Saturday, foreign films on Sunday. That way, we thought, we’d get on-the-day feedback that would tell us the kind of festival that audiences wanted.
It turned out that they wanted it all. Although the Adam Smith Theatre screened several films each week, right through the calendar year, here was a chance to extend what was on offer a little further and a bit more boldly: the latest movies before they appeared in the big cities; past classics shown on the big screen rather than a television in the corner of the room; subtitled gems that rarely, if ever, ventured this far into Fife.
All those elements remain in the programme of the second Kirkcaldy Film Festival, which takes place from September 19th-21st. It’s just that they’re now in a different order. Now an x-axis/horizontal plan has come into play, with strands running across the three days.
Perhaps the most obvious is the one that commemorates the centenary of the start of the First World War. There’s no sense of “celebration” here, rather a cumulative depiction of the devastation that this conflict wrecked on the mind, body and soul of a generation.
And so the festival gets going on Friday 19th with a schools (and public) screening of Stanley Kubrick’s great statement on military injustice, Paths Of Glory. On Saturday, the war is the backdrop to A Little Princess (directed by Alfonso Cuaron in 1995), our family matinee, the story of a girl abandoned in a boarding school in New York when her father is reported killed in action.
On Sunday, we have back-to-back screenings of La Grande Illusion, Jean Renoir’s masterful portrait of brotherhood across class and national divides, and Regeneration, Scottish director Gillies Mackinnon’s take on the war poets piecing together their shattered lives in Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh. That’s four different ways of looking at the same conflict, seen from the perspective of different countries and their film industries at different times in history.
Look horizontally through the festival programme, and you’ll also notice a strand that celebrates Scottish talent on the big screen and Fife on film in particular.
Crail and Pittenweem provided locations for Alan Rickman’s 1997 directorial debut, The Winter Guest, which screens on Festival Friday, while the Highlands are the setting for our closing film, What We Did On Our Holiday. The latter – a special preview screening the day before the official world premiere in London – stars David Tennant and Billy Connolly. (And while we’re flying the Saltire for home-grown movie heroes, let’s not forget Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldfinger, which is celebrating the golden 50th anniversary of its release and is our Saturday night gala.)
The Scottish element I’m most proud of, however, is the festival’s retrospective of the work of Paul Wright. A native of Lower Largo, just a bit further up the Fife Coastal Trail from Kirkcaldy, Wright delivered an astonishing feature debut last year with For Those In Peril. That same blend of emotional intensity, expressionist style and acting bravado is evident too in Wright’s four short films – Hikikomori, Believe, Until The River Runs Red and Photos Of God – which, as far as I know, have never screened together in the same programme here in Scotland.
Kirkcaldy will provide a unique opportunity to see, in one single Saturday afternoon, everything made so far by one of our most exciting new cinematic artists.
That’s the beauty of the Kirkcaldy Film Festival: new and old, local and international, high art and pure entertainment, all given the same space and the same respect on the cinema screen. I may not know much about science, but that seems like a winning formula to me.
Visit the Kirkcaldy Film Festival website for full details.