After last year’s successful debut, Soundtrack, Cardiff’s international film and music festival returns this week for another ambitious programme exploring the relationship between sound and celluloid.
Proving that sequels can be a good thing, the 5 day festival kicks-off this evening with an opening night screening of Powell and Pressburger’s sublime and tragic masterpiece the Red Shoes. Ravishing, sweeping and utterly powerful, the Red Shoes tells the story of a lead ballerina, torn between her Mephistophelean impresario and the young, ambitious composer of the prophetic The Red Shoes ballet. It’s an explosion of grace and colour and a perfect opening choice for a festival that aims to reveal the symbiotic relationship between film and sound.
And nicely done too: fresh from winning an Oscar for Powell and Pressburger’s previous classic Black Narcissus, the Red Shoes’ cinematographer was Jack Cardiff.
The rest of the festival programme lives up nicely to its opening night promise. On Thursday Cineworld hosts the world premier of Separado!, Gruff Rhys’ psychedelic western musical in which Gruff takes us on a pan continental road trip in search of his long lost Patagonian uncle, the poncho wearing guitarist Rene Griffiths. The Premiere of Separado! will be followed by a Q&A featuring Gruff Rhys, co-director Dylan Goch and Guardian journalist and author Will Hodgkinson.
Gruff Rhys returns on Friday with Super Furry Animals at the Coal Exchange as part of ‘Recreation’, an evening dedicated to Creation Records, the legendary independent label and subject of Upside Down, which is to be released in February 2010. The film’s trailer will be unveiled at ‘Upside Down: A Creation Records Evening’ at Cineworld earlier in the evening, as well as exclusive clips. The event will be hosted by Director Danny O’Connor and Ride frontman Mark Gardner, who will discuss the movie and Creation’s lasting impression on the modern musical landscape. Gardner will then join Super Furry Animals at the Coal Exchange – I am literally hanging out for Leave Them All Behind.
Friday also feature’s a special screening of American Psycho, Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ killer satirical novel. Special in that the writer of the film’s score, Garnant’s John Cale, will discuss his career as a composer before the screening. Cale then returns the following night for an exclusive performance of his haunting, cerebral masterpiece Paris 1919 at the Coal Exchange – the absolute highlight of this year’s Soundtrack.
Preceeding John Cale’s concert will be a screening of Beautiful Mistake, Marc Evan’s ode to a period of Welsh musical history that saw several bands cause so much fuss that the music press cobbled together a make-believe scene and condescendingly dubbed it ‘Cool Cymru‘. Made at the turn of the century Evans’ film portrays these artists – Catatonia, Super Furry Animals, Gorky’s and the much-missed Derrero among them – more as the serious and meaningful musicians they were, stubbornly staying put in their homeland and refusing to run, as Cale did himself: to New York, John Cage and the Velvet Underground. Performing alongside Cale in the film, Evans’ sets the emergence of so much quality new music at one time against Cale’s early move away from his homeland; both beautiful mistakes in their own way.
Sunday sees the action stick mainly to the projector and the sound on the screen. Kicking off with the first showing in Cardiff of All Tomorrow’s Parties at Chapter. Shot on Super 8, camcorder and mobile phone, the film feature’s performances by many of artists that have played ATP over the last 10 years, including Belle And Sebastian, Daniel Johnston, Boredoms, Slint, GZA, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Shellac and Patti Smith.
Later in the afternoon director Julien Temple, who has delivered great insight into several complex musical subjects through the Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, the Filth and the Fury, Glastonbury and Joe Strummer: the Future is Unwritten will unveil his latest film, Oil City Confidential, at Chapter.
Concentrating on Dr Feelgood, “four men in cheap suits who crashed out of Canvey Island in the early ’70s, sandpapered the face of rock ‘n’ roll and left all that came before a burnt-out ruin, four estuarine John-the-Baptists to Johnny Rotten’s anti-Christ,” the film explores the strange cultural vacuum which existed before the coming of punk rock . The screening of Oil City Confidential will be followed by a Q&A with Julien Temple.
Soundtrack’s closing night film is Bunny and the Bull, the first feature film from Mighty Boosh director Paul King. Bunny and the Bull follows Stephen (Ed Hogg) and Bunny (Simon Farnaby) as they leave the dull routine of life in England behind and embark on an extraordinary odyssey, journeying from the industrial wastelands of Silesia to the bull fields of Andalusia and bringing them into contact with a Polish dog farmer (Julian Barratt), a moustachioed matador (Noel Fielding) and a hot-tempered crab waitress (Veronica Echegui) who soon tests how far their friendship really goes.
Paul King will introduce the feature as well as joining producer Mary Burke for a Q&A following the screening.
These are just a few of my must-sees at this year’s Soundtrack. Other highlights include Let Him Be, about two undergrad film students who discover a long thought to be dead rock icon living in a remote part of Canada; Mugabe and the White African, an extremely powerful and intimate feature-length documentary film charting one family’s extraordinary courage in the face of a relentless campaign of state-sanctioned terror; and a Hammer Horror double bill with Hammer experts Marcus Hearn and Dr. David Huckvale delving in to the history of the men whose chilling scores raised the hairs on the necks of a generation of classic horror fans.
There are also a series of workshops and seminars, including a look at Warp films at the Norwegian Church tomorrow.
Soundtrack runs from 18 – 22 November. Full event information and ticket prices are available at www.soundtrackfilmfestival.com
btw – if you don’t fancy the Red Shoes (seriously, it’s a great film) get over to Gwdihw at 7pm tonight for a free showing of The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T. Not sure if this is part of Soundtrack, but it should be