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Borderlines Film Festival returns this March

The UK’s largest rural film festival, supported by the BFI, awarding funds from the National Lottery, will be bigger than ever with close on 295 screenings taking place over 17 days.

One Life is one of the films being screened during the festival
One Life is one of the films being screened during the festival

Returning to cinema screens across 24 venues in Shropshire, Herefordshire, Malvern, and the Welsh Marches for the 22nd year running, the festival opens on Friday 1 March.

The BFI funding, together with support from the Elmley Foundation and Hereford City Council, enables Borderlines to reach rural audiences across a wide geographical area, covering four counties.

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As well as arts centres and cinemas such as Ludlow Assembly Rooms, Kinokulture in Oswestry, The Courtyard Hereford, Malvern Theatres and Booth’s Bookshop Cinema in Hay, the festival will play once again at The Regal, a wonderfully restored Art Deco cinema in Tenbury Wells.

Borderlines will also run in market towns like Bromyard, at The Conquest Theatre, Ledbury, at the Market Theatre, at Presteigne Screen and throughout the Flicks in the Sticks network of village halls and community centres. Many of these smaller venues are located far from conventional cinema provision in this predominantly rural area.

At a time, when international conflicts are bitter and rife, the name Borderlines, devised back in 2003 for a film festival that straddled borders rather than creating boundaries, seems more pertinent than ever, as do the principles of diversity and inclusivity for which the festival stands.

Naomi Vera-Sanso, the Festival Director, comments “This year, we have multiple films in our programme that focus on people throughout the world who cross borders to seek refuge and a better life. Films like Io Capitano, Bye Bye Tiberias, Shayda, Norwegian Wood and the powerful, but rarely seen Syrian classic, The Dupes. We are proud to be able to show films that represent a variety of cultural experiences and are told from a different viewpoint from our own.

“We would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who plays the National Lottery. Without your support, a film festival of this scale, ambition and reach would be impossible to mount.”

Borderlines is the only film festival to be programmed by the Independent Cinema Office. As a result, the programme contains many of the major prize-winning independent films from renowned international festivals that have yet to hit British cinemas.

Award-winning films

Award-winning films included in the festival are: the 2023 winner of the Palme d’Or, Anatomy of a Fall, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Monster, awarded Best Screenplay, and Trần Anh Hùng given Best Director for The Taste of Things, all at Cannes Film Festival; Evil Does Not Exist, Best Film at the BFI London Film Festival 2023 as well as the Grand Jury Prize winner at Venice Film Festival; Hoard, the Sutherland Prize-winner for Best First Feature, and Bye Bye Tiberias, which won the Grierson Award at the BFI London Film Festival; Disco Boy, winner of the Silver Bear at the 2023 Berlinale, alongside the Joint Winners of the Encounters Award, Special Jury Prize, Samsara and Orlando, My Political Biography.

The Promised Land from Denmark and The Taste of Things from France, Io Capitano from Italy, Perfect Days from Japan, Tótem from Mexico and The Zone of Interest (from the UK but with German dialogue) are all shortlisted for International Feature Academy Awards.

All of Us Strangers, The Zone of Interest, Past Lives, Anatomy of a Fall, One Life, and The Great Escaper are all tipped for BAFTA success.

New features by well-established directors

Exciting new features by well-established directors are a prominent element of the festival this year: Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s About Dry Grasses from Turkey, Alice Rohrwachers’ La Chimera from Italy, a new film by Japanese festival favourite Hirokazu Kore-eda, back on home territory with the enigmatic Monster, while veteran German director Wim Wenders makes his first film Perfect Days– about the serene existence of Tokyo toilet cleaner – in Japan. US auteur Kelly Reichardt embarks on her fourth collaboration with actor Michelle Williams in Showing Up and Indigenous Australian director Warwick Thornton is back with The New Boy, starring Cate Blanchett in the intriguing role of a scatty, bewildered nun running an orphanage in the outback during the 1940s.

British filmmaking talent

The festival will also highlight fresh and highly original British filmmaking talent with Luna Carnoon’s Hoard and Naqqash Khalid’s In Camera, both with a main character who is an outsider at their heart.

Approximately a third of the titles in the programme in the programme are directed and/or written by women and we continue to employ F-Rated badging to highlight their work.

This year’s strands include trios of French (Rosalie, The Goldman Case, The Taste of Things) and African films (Banel & Adama, Omen, Goodbye Julia), new LGBTQ+ movies, themes that encompass Afterlife and as, you’d expect a wealth of films that reflect rural life all over the world.

The hugely popular Argentinian film noir season from 2023 is followed this year by screenings of three terrific Mexican film noirs from the 1950s, two of them, The Brute and The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz, directed by master of cinema, Luis Buñuel. The third, Victims of Sin stars the unbelievably supple Cuban rumbera star, Ninón Sevilla. These rare showings have been enabled through our collaboration with Film Noir UK.

Open Screen event

The Open Screen event, initiated by the festival six years ago, now offers a prize, sponsored by Hereford based John Finch Computers, as well as providing a valued showcase for short films by filmmakers living or working within the area. Feedback offered by peers, the industry professionals who make up the organising team, and festival audiences also benefit those taking part. A Talent Mixer supported by BFI Network Midlands concludes the event.

Local filmmakers

Local filmmakers Lynda Myer-Bennett and Clive Myer will present their new feature film about a terminally ill archaeologist connecting with his family in The Mire Archive, filmed in Hereford and Monmouth with and by members of the filmmakers’ own family.

The Rural Media Charity’s contribution this year is a project Razom/Together, made with members of the Ukrainian community, in collaboration with the Leominster-based Fetch Theatre. Meanwhile Oska Bright, the world’s leading disability film festival, bring short films from their Best of the Fest in Brighton on tour to Borderlines.

And there’s a special treat for cyclists, screenings of possibly the best documentary about cycling ever made, the Danish A Sunday in Hell from 1977, to be introduced by Guardian cycling correspondent William Fotheringham, who will be signing copies of his book.

Brochure and tickets

The festival brochure with details of the whole programme will be available to download from the Borderlines website from the fourth week of January and will also be distributed to outlets across the area covered by Borderlines.

Tickets and passes for the Festival go on sale from 10am on Friday 26 January through borderlinesfilmfestival.org and in person or by phone through The Courtyard Hereford (01432 340555).

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