DESPITE the upheaval going on in the world, there are still people who hope the art of film can bring people together.

“After all the events of the past year, exploring other cultures has never been so important,” says Tim Brown, the co-founder and co-director of Cinecity 2016.

This year’s film festival explores world cinema and spreads its net far and wide.

Tim says, “There is a whole online world out there but films are designed to be seen with other people and it’s important to remind people how good that big-screen experience is.

“People can take a chance. World cinema is our tagline, really. There are so many great films being made all over the world that we don’t get a chance to see in this country.

“The audience don’t even have to take our world for it.”

Among the offerings is Toni Erdmann, a German film which received rave reviews at this year’s Cannes festival, getting the highest ever star rating from critics. It is a touching comedy about a father who tries to reconnect with his adult daughter, and closes Cinecity on November 27.

Tim says Cinecity is a good chance to see films before they go on general release. Toni Erdmann is due out in February.

One of the big draws for this year’s festival will be Free Fire, which opens Cinecity with a special preview tonight.

The action thriller is directed by Brighton’s own Ben Wheatley and is due out in March.

Charting a fractious deal over guns, the film was shot on location in the now-disused Argus printing press in Hollingbury – not that you would know it from the film.

Starring Brie Larson (pictured), Cillian Murphy, Sharlito Copley and Arnie Hammer it is packed full of dicey situations and gunfights, which is probably why the fire alarms went off at Argus House during filming.

Tim says, “It feels like so few feature films are physically shot in Brighton that are good and get a national release. Clearly it’s a big thing nationally and internationally. Ben Wheatley has established himself in the leading group of film-makers in this country. We are lucky to not just have him based in Brighton but also filming here.

“It made it a no-brainer for us to consider it for the opening night and it’s a great way to start the festival off with a bang.”

Cinecity added a late-night screeing at 11.15pm because an early screening sold out.

Another highly anticipated film is Paterson, featuring Adam Driver (pictured) of Star Wars fame.

It charts the life of a bus driver who writes compelling poetry.

Tim says, “I think it will very busy for our screening. It has had fantastic advance reviews. It was the next highest score to Toni Erdmann at Cannes.”

It is one of two features directed by pioneering American indie film-maker Jim Jarmusch, both showing on Sunday, November 13.

Tim adds, “On the one hand you could say it is a typical Jarmusch film but it’s also a lovely experience watching it. It’s very quiet and gentle. I came out of the cinema after seeing it and feeling a great sense of humanity.

“A lot of films contain dark subject matter, sex and violence. Paterson is full of positivity and makes you feel good about the world.”

The other Jarmusch title, Gimme Danger, is a musical documentary and hymn to Iggy And The Stooges, with interviews with Iggy Pop. Jarmusch has spoken in the past of the profound effect The Stooges had on him while growing up.

Set up in 2003, Cinecity is a partnership between the University of Brighton and Picturehouse cinemas, screening at both the Duke of York’s and Dukes @ Komedia.

A series of special screenings will feature short dramas, art documentaries and will also explore Brighton and Hove’s success as a place for experimental film-making. A related exhibition runs at Spotlight Gallery, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery and at the University of Brighton Gallery at Grand Parade.

Cinecity also puts on masterclasses for the aspiring film-maker.

Tim says there are lots of Q&As with directors and composers involved with films.

He says, “It’s an incredible opportunity to not only hear about a film-maker’s work but, if you’re brave enough, ask a question.

“It’s quite special in that sense, discussing what you have just seen.

“Some of them are quite extended. There are three film-makers showing their work as masterclasses, where they talk about their work and show extracts. Someone else asks them about their work and puts it into context. Very often they get into real detail.

“I would say to students and anyone making films that the best way of understanding films is talking to the people who make them.”

For the general punter, Tim says Cinecity is a “leap of faith”.

He is proud of getting Manchester By The Sea, Lady Macbeth and A United Kingdom among other films on show.

Tim says, “We are essentially saying, ‘trust us’.

“We’re saying, ‘Here’s a film you might not have heard of, you won’t know any of the actors or perhaps ever seen a film from that part of the world before’.

“It’s about that sense of discovery but, of course, we are balancing that sense of discovery with what people want to see.

“There is a leap of faith that I hope, having done it for 13 previous editions, will mean the audience trust our judgement.”


WHILE Ben Wheatley has been occupying much of the limelight afforded to Brighton-based film directors, there is another also appearing at Cinecity aiming to follow up his success.

Robbie McCallum has chosen to not only shine a light on the cinematic potential of the small African country of Cape Verde but also film in its language.

Called Atlantic Heart, the film employs local people, some with very little acting experience. But they all speak Kriolu, a Cape Verdian creole unique to the islands off the west coast of Africa.

Robbie, a Bafta-nominated screenwriter, was living in Cape Verde when he realised he wanted to make a film there.

The 49-year-old says, “I thought of this idea of a boy losing his dog while I was out there.

“People lose their dog every day but the trick is to make it mysterious and full of life, and uplifting.

“This film isn’t City Of God, it’s something different.”

Set against the tropical backdrop of a Mardi Gras carnival, the story charts teenage siblings Lucas and Telma as they struggle to cope with the seedier side of island life and hold on to their innocence and their dreams.

When naive Lucas loses his dog among the busy carnival crowds, he begins a journey through the bars, backstreets and bordellos of Cape Verde that challenge his hopes and change the course of his life.

Robbie’s film is the first full-length narrative to have ever been filmed in Kriolu.

Now a fluent Kriolu speaker himself, Robbie wrote the film in English and had it translated into Kriolu to add authenticity.

He says, “It is a special African creole, not a French one. They officially speak Portuguese in Cape Verde and, historically, Cape Verde films have been filmed in Portuguese and the actors can be quite stiff. But they relaxed a lot more when speaking in Kriolu.”

Only five films have been made in Cape Verde over the past 50 years, the most notable being Pedro Costa’s Casa De Lava (1995), which showed at Cannes.

The lack of coverage worked to Robbie’s advantage.

“There are no actors in Cape Verde, there’s no filming, there so we didn’t have an option.

“So there were some amazing performances from people who had never acted before. They are not inhibited people. They are not a suspicious people, they are very friendly and open.”

But he adds, “Europeans tend to come along and build a hotel and then leave, almost like a raid. And especially with a film we had to be careful not to do that.”

Robbie went on holiday to Cape Verde with his family in 2005, four years after moving to Brighton. They loved it so much they went out again for six months.

“The six months turned into three years,” Robbie says, “The children spoke Portuguese and Kriolu, and that was important in making friendships and alliances when it came to making the film.”

Even so, the process of finding actors proved difficult.

Robbie says, “After trying to find the right kids and getting them to meet in a public place, none of them ever showed up.

“I would see them three days later and they wouldn’t even recognise me; their lives are so chaotic.

“We then went to a school and auditioned 600 kids but they weren’t from the street. It wasn’t right.”

They then met a “street kid” called Elton Medina (pictured) through a friend and knew they had found the right person to play the lead role of Lucas.

Robbie says, “We had known of Elton for a while. He has acute amnesia so he really lives for the moment.

“He has these enormous soulful eyes and I asked him to be in this movie. His eyes lit up.

“He said, ‘I can’t help you with that, Robbie, because I have amnesia. That’s why I am so happy all the time’.

“He could not separate a story from reality and so I realised he was my kid. I cast him right there and then.

“He could not read or write so we had to improvise the scenes. It meant we had to work a lot harder. But he worked his socks off and he loved it.

“We had been filming for about three weeks and I needed him to say this rather long sentence.

“But you can ask him to say something 100 times and he will just say it and say it.

“Sometimes I would trim bits out, which is good because if you don’t need a word in the script then it shouldn’t be there anyway.

“We could all learn from Elton; he has a wonderful clean soul.

“By the end he was taking direction and delivering very powerfully.

“After we had finished filming it took him a few days to realise the filming was done.”

Robbie lived in the Govanhill area of Glasgow until he was 10. At 18 he went to university in Nottingham and then had spells in Paris and London followed by time in Dallas, Texas, US, working on commercials.

Not content with one film, Robbie has another feature lined up for Cape Verde, called Hips, Lips and Fingertips. It is about a pickpocket who sets up a lapdancing club on the island. It is about betrayal and ambition, says Robbie.

Robbie’s own ambition, meanwhile, could see Atlantic Heart the biggest film to ever come out of these small islands.

Atlantic Heart is at the Duke Of York’s on November 19 at 1pm


AMONG a host of hotly anticipated titles is Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea, starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams. It received ecstatic reviews and was a top candidate for Academy Awards. Duke Of York’s, November 19, 6pm.

WORLD cinema highlights include Graduation from director Cristian Mungiu (a Palme d’Or winner) who shared the Best Director Award at Cannes for this impressive film exploring the moral complexities of life in contemporary Romania. Dukes @ Komedia, November 20, 9pm.

EROTICALLY-charged psychological thriller The Handmaiden from South Korean Park Chan-woo, inspired by Sarah Waters’ 2002 novel Fingersmith, is at Duke Of York’s, November 17, 6.30pm.

THE SALESMAN from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, winner of the Best Screenplay and Best Actor at this year’s Cannes is showing at Duke’s at Komedia, November 22, 9pm.

A WORLD cinema treasure from the archive is Limite. Described by Martin Scorsese as “a completely unique cinematic experience – at certain moments a poem, at other moments a piece of music, and a delicately emotional experience throughout”, it was made in 1931 by Mario Peixoto aged just 21, the only film he ever completed. Effectively lost for decades it has only recently been restored. It featured in a top 10 Latin American and Spanish Films of all time when curated by David Bowie for a season in New York in 2007. It is showing at the Duke Of York’s, November 20, 2pm.

AMONG the other notable debuts is Raw, directed by Julia Ducournau, a bold and bloody exploration of womanhood with echoes of both Catherine Breillat and the body horror of early David Cronenberg. A number of cinema-goers reportedly fainted at a recent screening at the Toronto Film Festival and Cinecity co-founder Tim Brown says, “It’s very gory and not for everybody.” Dukes @ Komedia, November 25, 9pm.

LADY MACBETH is the highly acclaimed debut from William Oldroyd, Director in Residence at London’s Young Vic theatre. It runs at the Duke Of York’s, November 15, 6.30pm.

EXPLORING the arts and culture, the art documentaries strand of Cinecity is a selection of some of the best internationally. The stellar line-up includes Gimme Danger (mentioned above), Jim Jarmusch’s definitive “rock doc” on Iggy And The Stooges. Duke’s at Komedia, November 13, 9pm.

KIKI – presented with Brighton LGBTQ group Eyes Wide Open – explores New York’s Kiki dance clubs, part of the city’s voguing ballroom scene. Duke Of York’s, November 24, 9pm.

ELSEWHERE, artist film-maker Andrew Kötting will present in person his latest film, Edith Walks, (pictured). Inspired by a walk from Waltham Abbey in Essex via Battle Abbey to St Leonards, the film documents a pilgrimage in memory of Edith Swan Neck, King Harold’s lover. Duke’s at Komedia, November 12, 2pm.

THERE is also a screening of acclaimed New York film-maker Jem Cohen’s latest work, World Without End, commissioned for the Estuary Festival recently. Duke’s at Komedia, November 21, 9pm.

LOCALLY, The Brighton Screenings celebrate films made in Brighton selected from open submissions to Cinecity. Fabrica, November 16, 6.30pm.

THERE are also programmes of short dramas, art documentaries and an experimental programme – part of Experimental Motion: The Art Of Film Innovation, a display which runs at Spotlight Gallery, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery until June 4, 2017. It explores Brighton and Hove’s success as a place for experimental film-making. A related exhibition also takes place at the University of Brighton Gallery at Grand Parade. Presented by Lighthouse and featuring world-class sound artists and professionals, The Sound Of Story will explore the power of sound and music in storytelling through a series of talks, workshops and masterclasses. November 17-19, Lighthouse and various venues.

CINECITY runs from today until Sunday, November 27. It is presented in partnership with Picturehouse Cinemas and the University of Brighton. Main venues are the Duke of York’s Picturehouse and Duke’s at Komedia but screenings and events also take place at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, Sallis Benney Theatre, the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Fabrica, Lighthouse and Latest Music Bar.

TICKET deals are available. Deals such as four for three offers a fourth film free when you buy tickets for three films. This can also be used to get two titles free when buying six films. There are also tickets priced at £5 for those aged 25 and under.

For full listings and time, prices and tickets, visit