London Film Festivities: Good Stuff opinion

Today! IT started today. The 56th London Film Festival, that is. It’s a tad lacking this year – underwhelming big films and apparently (relatively) sparse exciting indies – but there’s always hidden fun amongst the plenty of remaining jollies and, to keep it all positive and nice and smiley and lovely on this fine day, here’s a look at some of the smaller (read “low budget”, “indie”, “foreign” or “star-lacking”) fresh nuggets. Three particular favourites, “recommendations”, some might call them, are The Hunt, Sister, and Wadjda.

The Hunt

General overheard mutterings in the dark hallways of the pre-event press screenings suggest that I’m not the only one to regard The Hunt as one of the best films at the festival.

Thomas Vinterberg’s latest sees Mads Mikkelsen playing a teacher accused of kiddy fiddling. If you can buy the community’s swift and universal assumption of his guilt, the film builds superbly and convincingly draws the viewer into an increasingly desperate, fragile world with gut-wrenching sympathy.

Sister

A story about a little boy-man tyke thieving in the ski resorts of the Swiss Alps whilst barely maintaining a difficult relationship with his titular “Sister” proves to be a delightful surprise. Wonderful white backdrops canvas superb performances from the two leads, 13-year old Kacey Mottet Klein (even his name’s “small”!) being especially impressive, reminiscent of the lead performance in The Kid With a Bike, a highlight from last year’s festival. How is such believable acting possible by one so young and inexperienced? Great admiration.

Wadjda

And another how-do-these-kids-do-it moment, Saudi Arabian film Wadjda follows a headstrong, resourceful schoolgirl living in a strict society she respects but rebels against. Characters are rich and interesting and give some insight into a culture rarely seen up on the big screen. It’s hard not to pass judgement on the issue of extreme sexual bias arising from religious doctrine but is it arrogant to do so? Wadjda lets you decide and it’s done in such a mature and technically proficient way that it’s hard to believe this is from a first-time director.

Aaaand…

Other small(ish)fry worthy of note are Bridesmaids-style indie romcom Celeste and Jesse Forever, bold Brit bits My Brother the Devil and Shell, cute French animation Ernest and Celestine, and touching, funny, man-obsessed (with Big Brother) drama Reality.

Far, far, FAR from being an exhaustive list, these are just some of the best on offer.

10th Oct 2012