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Borderlines Film Festival 2024 gets underway

Borderlines Film Festival, a major and much-anticipated cultural event across Herefordshire, Shropshire, Malvern and the Marches, is back for its 22nd edition at 9 separate venues on its opening night on Friday 1 March.

Koji Yakusho and Arisa Nakano in Perfect Days.
Koji Yakusho and Arisa Nakano in Perfect Days.

From the eerie and moving recent British release All of Us Strangers, starring Fleabag’s Andrew Scott and Normal People’s Paul Mescal, showing at the art deco Regal at Tenbury Wells in Worcestershire, to The Great Escaper with Michael Caine and the late Glenda Jackson at Knighton Community Centre on the Welsh border, the range of venues and movies on offer is breathtaking.

Friday’s programme alone comprises 22 screenings that take you from Japan, Mongolia, and Argentina (Monster, If Only I Could Hibernate, The Delinquents at The Courtyard Hereford) to Tibet, Senegal, and Georgia (Snow Leopard, Io Capitano, Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry at Malvern Theatres). And the festival runs at 23 venues for a total of 17 days through till Sunday 17 March.

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The small all-woman team behind Borderlines have each selected a personal recommendation from the line-up that stand out from the more familiar titles, like BAFTA-winners The Zone of Interest, American Fiction and Anatomy of a Fall.

Festival Director Naomi Vera-Sanso, who has been with Borderlines from the very beginning, champions Disco Boy, a bold first feature from Italian director Giacomo Abbruzzese. In it, he smuggles his protagonist, young Belarusian Aleksei, (played by the versatile and charismatic Franz Rogowski) from his homeland through Poland into France where one of his only options is to join the Foreign Legion.

Deployed to put down an insurgence in the Niger Delta, Aleksei’s fate becomes inextricably linked with that of his deadly opponent, revolutionary Jono in a mind-blowing conclusion.

Naomi says: “What I love about this film is the terrific energy, both of the performances and the direction. While we have screened many films in Borderlines that feature Franz Rogowski, for me this is his most compelling performance.”

Marketing Manager Jo Comino’s choice Omen (Augure) is also set in Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Koffi returns with his Belgian fiancée after many years in Europe.

“It’s wild, full of colour, witchcraft and ritual as cultures clash.” says Jo.

Press Assistant Alison Chapman is looking forward to veteran German director Wim Wenders’ latest film, Perfect Days, made in Japan.

“The soundtrack sounds amazing and I think the uplifting story about a toilet cleaner who finds beauty and contentment in everyday life is a must see!”

Festival Coordinator, Sandie Caffelle, wants to see Snow Leopard, the penultimate film by director Pema Tseden, who died last year.

“It not only showcases the struggle between man and nature but highlights the decisions that we have to make to try and keep the world a better place for all.

“The cinematography is stunning, and the film uses the latest technology to highlight the beauty of the world around us,” says Sandie.

Marketing Officer Holly Dennison recommends Robot Dreams, “As it is dialogue-free, it’s a super accessible film and is based on a beautiful graphic novel with a lovely art style. Dealing with love, friendship, and living in the big city, it has something for everybody. Plus, we have relaxed screenings of Robot Dreams at the Courtyard Hereford and Malvern Theatres which are super additions to this year’s programme.”

Finally, Leah Johnson, who is the Malvern Festival Coordinator, says “The film I am most excited about at this year’s festival is Ehsan Khoshbakht’s Celluloid Underground.

“Documenting the Iranian regime’s restrictions on access to cinema, it explores the true story of Ahmad Jorghanian who devoted his life to preserving thousands of films at risk of being lost forever, collecting, and screening them secretly in underground locations around Tehran. Remarkable.”

Many of these choices are previews, screening prior to their UK cinema release, and the film festival is a singular opportunity for audiences in the area to view, enjoy, share and debate such a diverse and stimulating range of films range

Support from funders, the BFI, awarding funds from the National Lottery, the Elmley Foundation and Hereford City Council, together with sponsorship by local businesses, groups of friends and individuals have made this festival experience, a real immersion in cinema, possible.

Tickets and passes for the Festival are now on sale through borderlinesfilmfestival.org and in person or by phone through The Courtyard Hereford (01432 340555)

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