Chiswick In Film
The idea of a festival showing films made locally or by locals, was born from a random conversation with chief-editor-in-command of The Chiswick Calendar Bridget (she might hate me for that…but then again, she never censors me… and if you’re reading this she hasn’t).
This wasn’t just a great occasion to celebrate our community, but a way to combine our love for both movies and our leafy neighbourhood in the splendid new Chiswick Cinema (without which this could never happen).
We came up with dozens and dozens of titles and to pick just six of them seemed an impossible task, but we kept on telling ourselves “well, we’ll keep that for next year”.
The Chiswick Film Festival 2022 runs between the Friday 30 September and Sunday 2 October.
The Servant – Friday 30 September, 6.30pm
The film to open the festival is also one of the slickest, most beautifully photographed and fascinating British films of the sixties.
Its beauty lies in the subtleties of the storytelling and the great performances, particularly by Dirk Bogarde, here portraying the vicious, poisonous and Machiavellian “servant” from the title. He’s a snake and yet we don’t seem to be able to take our eyes off him.
Behind the spooky and hypnotic atmosphere of the film, with its power games, the tense and unspoken homoeroticism, it is of course a great study on social classes, power and corruption.
The great snowy exteriors of Chiswick House, in contrast with confined spaces of the interiors, add that extra frozen edge to already brilliantly icy film.
Maudie – Saturday 1 October, 3pm
When Maudie originally came out in the UK in July 1997, it grossed a mere £65,000 and was pretty much eclipsed summer juggernauts like Spiderman, Dunkirk and the Planet of the Apes sequel. And it’s a real shame because this touching true story based on the life of Maud Lewis (the disabled folk artist whose paintings now hang in the White House) is a sweet, heart-warming and affecting film.
It also happens to have a great performance at its centre: Sally Hawkins seems to be born to play this role. This is your chance to see her and the film on the big screen and also appreciate the rough beauty of the Nova Scotian coast where the film takes place.
Writing about an exhibition of Maud’s work in 1997, the director of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Bernard Riordon said:
“It will bring joy to people, and they will go away feeling a great deal of satisfaction in the value of simple things.”
The same can be said about this film.
The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director (and Chiswick resident) Aisling Walsh
Misbehaviour – Saturday 1 October, 7pm
Released just a few days before the UK’s first lockdown, it’s not surprising how this film went by completely unnoticed. Ironically it’s just the type of lovely feelgood, crowd-pleasing British cinema that people would have needed at that time.
The story is based on real events and centres around a group of women and their plan to disrupt the 1970 Miss World beauty competition, an event which, with more than 100 million viewers tuning in from around the world, was bigger than the moon landing or the 1966 World Cup Final.
Misbehaviour still tells an important story about sexism and racism in 70s and while director Philippa Lowthorpe keeps things light and fun, building up to a rousing finale, it’s easy to see the relevance even in today’s world.
The film will be followed by a Q&A with producer Suzanne Mackie, creator Rebecca Frayn, actress Phyllis Logan, all Chiswick residents, as well as three of the actual protesters on whose story the film is based.
Gnomeo & Juliet – Sunday 2 October, 11am
This toy-story-inspired laugh-out-loud comedy, with a big heart on its sleeve and a witty script crammed with pop-culture references, may not teach the kids much about the Bard, but it’ll certainly keep them entertained.
The adults can enjoy all Shakespeare frivolity and the soundtrack peppered with songs by Elton John and amazing voice cast that packs this film, from Michael Caine, James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Matt Lucas, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Stephen Merchant, Patrick Stewart, Julie Walters and so many others.
What’s not to like?
The film will be followed by Q&A with Screenwriter Rob Sprackling and… myself (I have nothing to do with the film, but you know me… I have to be involved!)
Darling – Sunday 2 October, 1.30pm
On the closing day another film with Dirk Bogarde, for which he won a Bafta back in 1966. But he’s not the reason why Darling in on this list.
When I first saw Julie Christie, seven minutes into the film, running by the river towards Strand on the Green shouting “Oh I’d love to live here” I knew this was the film to be shown at this festival. No matter what! It does help that she won an Oscar for this, beating the favourite, Julie Andrews for The Sound of Music.
The film itself was also nominated and its director too, John Schlesinger (who then went on to make cult films like Midnight Cowboy, Marathon Man, and Sunday, Bloody Sunday).
Eventually it won for best screenplay and costume design.
Darling may have a typical sensibility of many European films from that time, from Fellini (there are echoes from La Dolce Vita), Bertolucci, Goddard and Truffaut but its themes about the desire to success and the price to pay for it, however cynical make still very relevant today.
Downton Abbey: A New Era – Sunday 2 October, 6pm
It’s rare to find a sequel that can top the original, but “A New Era” manages to do just that..
It gives series fans a little more time with their beloved characters in those familiar settings they know so well, but at the same time it doesn’t alienate the occasional viewer who may not be so in tune with the ins and outs of the series.
It’s the equivalent of comfort food and cinematic escapism at its finest: funny, cosy and even moving.
The film will be followed by a Q&A with Executive Producer Gareth Neame, Director Simon Curtis, Lesley Nichola (who plays Mrs Padtore) and Phyllis Logan (who plays Mrs Carson).
See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali
See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features
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