28th Leeds International Film Festival announces full programme including Birdman as Closing Film

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LIFF28 announces the critically-acclaimed Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) as its closing film in a unique joint UK Premiere with Brighton’s CINECITY film festival, which will open with the film on the same date, 20th November.

The highly-acclaimed black comedy Birdman is one of the most anticipated films of the year. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros, 21 Grams), Birdman is the story of an actor – famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself. Michael Keaton is brilliant in the leading role, hilariously parodying his Batman persona.

Chris Fell, Director of Leeds International Film Festival says:

‘Birdman is one of the most anticipated films of the year and we are delighted to bring the UK Premiere to two major events in different parts of the country on the same date. Regional film festivals like LIFF and CINECITY are working together increasingly to grow the UK audience for films, both with and without distribution, and the joint UK Premiere of Birdman is a great boost for closer collaboration.’

Tim Brown, Co-Director of CINECITY – The Brighton Film Festival says: ‘We are delighted to present Birdman in this unique collaboration with 28th Leeds International Film Festival and 20th Century Fox. It’s wonderful to be able to present the UK premiere of such a keenly anticipated film as a simultaneous screening – to open and close two of the UK’s key regional film festivals on the very same evening. We would like to thank 28th Leeds International Film Festival and 20th Century Fox for making this special event possible.’

The 28th Leeds International Film Festival runs from 5th to 20th November 2014 and features the best new and classic cinema from around the world, including comedy, drama, thrillers, animation, documentaries, music film, short film and horror, sci-fi and cult screenings across the film festival’s five strands (Official Selection, Retrospectives, Fanomenon, Cinema Versa and Short Film City). There are over 250 screenings during 16 days at venues across the city including Leeds Town Hall, Hyde Park Picture House, Everyman Leeds, City Varieties, Cottage Road, Vue and many more.

Other Official Selection special previews alongside Birdman include Winter Sleep, Palme d’Or winner at Cannes. Undoubtedly one of the films of the year, it is the latest from Turkish master Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Uzak, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia). Set in the extraordinary landscapes of rocky Cappadoccia, the film is a complex and enriching drama about a hotel owner’s relationship with those around him as the onset of winter fuels conflicts among them. Goodbye to Language 3D, another huge success at Cannes, which finds legendary director Jean Luc-Godard exploring the 3D medium, will also feature.  

Exclusive presentations in LIFF28’s Official Selection include UK Premieres of No One’s Child, a sensitive and compelling debut which won the main prize at Venice Critics’ Week for its portrayal of a child raised by wolves in the Bosnian woods; Modris, a Latvian coming-of-age story about a young gambler’s relationship with his parents, selected at Toronto International and San Sebastian Film Festivals; and Special Previews of The Drop starring Tom Hardy and the late James Gandolfini; Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch; and Wild, the new film starring Reece Witherspoon from Jean Marc-Vallee, director of Dallas Buyers Club.

Fanomenon, LIFF28’s strand dedicated to horror, sci-fi and cult screenings has the line-up for its globally renowned Day of the Dead 8 event headlined by a Special Preview of Tusk, the new horror-comedy by director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats), while a Special Preview of ABCs of Death 2 leads its legendary all-night horror marathon Night of the Dead XIV. Anime fans will be treated to The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, an unprecedented behind-the-scenes documentary about Studio Ghibli, full of fascinating insights into the inner workings of the celebrated Japanese animation studio founded by filmmakers Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, and producer Toshio Suzuki. The full Fanomenon programme gives horror fans first opportunity to see highly anticipated new releases with UK Premiere of Patch TownA Masque of Madness and Asmodexia, and the English Premiere of Witching and Bitching.

LIFF28’s documentary and music film Cinema Versa will welcome two very special guests. Acclaimed singer-songwriter, former frontman of Orange Juice and performer of hit ‘A Girl Like You’ Edwyn Collins will appear for a Q&A and musical performance at Hyde Park Picture House to accompany a screening of the film The Possibilities are Endless, about his gradual recovery from a cerebral haemorrhage. DJ Gilles Peterson will appear for a Q&A with his film Brasil Bam Bam Bam: The Story of Sonzeira, about his passionate project to create the Brazilian super-group Sonzeri. The UK Premiere of Heaven Adores You examines the life of much-missed US indie musician Elliott Smith. LIFF28 will break new ground with Once in a Lifetime, a music film event where we will give Leeds Town Hall’s Victoria Hall a makeover, replacing its traditional seating with festival-style deck chairs to create a special atmosphere that celebrates concert films with the UK Premiere of a brand new digital print of Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense, and The Who’s The Kids Are Alright1991: The Year Punk Broke(starring Nirvana and Sonic Youth) and the Beastie Boys’ Awesome; I __ Shot That! There will be street food available and drinks by Northern Monk Brewery.

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Testament of Youth opens LIFF28 and leads biggest ever line-up of new films from Yorkshire

The 28th Leeds International Film Festival opens on Wednesday 5th November at Leeds Town Hall with Testament of Youth, which leads the festival’s biggest ever line-up of feature films produced in Yorkshire. Testament of Youth is the first big screen adaptation of Vera Brittain’s iconic and powerful memoir about a fiercely independent young woman from Yorkshire who receives a scholarship to Oxford and falls in love with her brother’s close friends just as WWI looms. From award-winning television director James Kent, Testament of Youth stars Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Dominic West and Emily Watson. LIFF28’s Opening Night will be a double Yorkshire spectacular of particular interest to fans of the festival’s Fanomenon horror and cult film strand, as we follow Testament of Youth with the World Premiere of The Taking at Leeds Town Hall. The Taking is an intense new thriller directed by rising filmmaking talent Dominic Brunt, who will make a special guest appearance along with cast members. Known foremost for his role as Paddy on ITV’s Emmerdale, Brunt is an emerging filmmaking talent with a penchant for suspense.

Catch Me Daddy and X+Y, two other films which were supported with investment from Screen Yorkshire’s Yorkshire Content Fund also feature at the festival. Cast and crew will be in attendance for Cannes Film Festival selection Catch Me Daddy, a remarkable and visceral chase thriller by Daniel Wolfe (the award-winning director of Plan B’s music videos), in which a girl on the run from her family is hiding out in West Yorkshire when her brother arrives in town with a vicious gang to track her down. British screen favourite Sally Hawkins and Asa Butterfield star in Toronto International Film Festival hit X+Y, about an autistic maths prodigy who begins to experience the world differently under the guidance of an unconventional maths teacher.

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Celebrate Classic Cinema from around the world with LIFF28 Retrospectives

Leeds International Film Festival is renowned for its exceptional annual Retrospectives, which present inspired selections of classic films from throughout cinema history. The Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s films are admired by Hollywood greats from Woody Allen to Martin Scorsese, who both appear in the new documentary Trespassing Bergman which has its UK Premiere at LIFF28, and leads a selection of Bergman’s films made on the Faroe Islands, including Persona and Through a Glass Darkly. Spanish filmmakers Luis Garcia Berlanga and Juan Antonio Bardem have eight of their magnificent films featured, including Berlanga’s sharply observed black comedy The Executioner and Bardem’s noirish melodrama Death of a Cyclist.

The centenary of the First World War is commemorated with War and Cinema, in which classic silent films and enlightening documentaries provide a unique perspective on its cinematic heritage, with screenings at the Royal Armouries and Jean Renoir’s classic La Grand Illusion in Leeds Town Hall. LIFF28’s Masters of Film Comedy selection plays out over one day, with Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day at Leeds Town Hall and Buster Keaton masterpiece The General with live musical  accompaniment at City Varieties.

2001: A Space Odyssey screens in Leeds Town Hall for the third consecutive year at LIFF due to popular demand, as part of the BFI’s Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder season. We will also celebrate the season with Letters from a Dead Man and Visitor to a Museum, two extremely rare post-apocalyptic films by visionary Russian director Konstantin Lopushansky.

No area of cinema history could be of greater cause for celebration at LIFF28, of course, than the 100th Birthday of the city’s beloved Hyde Park Picture House on Friday 7th November. The cinema will present a day free screenings as part of Leeds Free Cinema Week.

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The UK Premiere of Vertical Cinema to launch the first Leeds Free Cinema Week

The UK Premiere of acclaimed live event Vertical Cinema will launch the first Leeds Free Cinema Week, a new audience initiative from Leeds International Film Festival. Opening Leeds Free Cinema Week in the spectacular setting of Left Bank on Cardigan Road on Friday 7 November, Vertical Cinema is a mesmerising light and sound experience that captivates the senses with hypnotic images and an amplified static soundscape that reverberates throughout the site. Funded for its presentation at LIFF28 by Leeds Inspired, Vertical Cinema features newly-commissioned work from ten renowned experimental filmmakers and audio-visual artists to be projected on a giant screen using a custom built 35mm projector.

Leeds Free Cinema Week launches as part of LIFF28 with a unique programme of film screenings and events from 7 to 13 November, all free of charge. As well as Left Bank, other participating venues will include Leeds Town Hall, the Hyde Park Picture House, Royal Armouries, The Tetley, The Reliance, and Chapel FM in East Leeds. The full programme for Leeds Free Cinema Week will be announced during LIFF28’s programme launch.

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The full LIFF28 programme will be live on leedsfilm.com from 7.00pm on Friday 3rd October.

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