The second edition of Bolton Film Festival came to a glorious triumph when a selection of 13 films, dubbed “Best of the Fest (Pt 2)”, were presented to a packed-out crowd of filmmakers, students, fans, the local Mayor and Mayoress, and the odd press. In this “best of” article, we take a look at the best of the closing night’s filmic festivities, alongside analysis of the interval pasty and concluding awards.
No better way to open an evening than with a German comedy about a teenage threesome of sorts. A slightly shy boy pops round to this girl’s house, but her angry-ish step-brother answers the door and warns Mr. Shy off, only for the girl to subsequently let the boy in. When intimacy looks set to occur, the tables are turned. Arkadij Khaet’s masterful manipulation of comedic timing and viewer expectation establishes Scheideweg as one of the funniest and smartest films at Bolton Film Festival, despite the extremely short running time like fellow comedy, Ouija Sex, from the Opening Night.
By far the most beautifully shot film of Bolton Film Festival, Recall, is the story of a wandering young man, Beni (Tamas K. Kovacs), finding an old film roll camera, but unknowingly using it with dangerous consequences. During a session at the beach, Beni takes pictures of Gilla (Piroska Moga), only for her to dramatically mysteriously vanish in the water. Recall’s transcendence into full-blooded mystery attracts the help of local Inspector (Zsolt Trill), who feels the situation to be all too familiar. Like Tracks from the F-Rated range, Recall lacks significant dialogue early on, but instead, the story is told through (beautiful, beautiful) imagery, and not necessarily character speech. Daniel Reich’s Hungarian masterpiece views like it could easily be expanded into a series or even a feature.
Ablution – perhaps the most touching of LGBT films screened at Bolton Film Festival. Affiliating with Islamic subculture, Ablution carefully portrays Waleed’s (Omar Al Dakheel) balance of preparing and practicing his prayers with his disabled father, Khaled (Jay Abdo), and maintaining his gay romance with Mark (William Austin Speis) secret. Ablution is the kind of film where we know that a bombshell of sorts will occur, but the key interest to viewers is of how it will play out and what the consequences will be. At times, Ablution is heartbreaking to observe, but then utterly beautiful at others. Omar Al Dakheel’s magnificent producing, directing and writing of Ablution, as well as acting, is a glorious and important addition to contemporary LGBT cinema, and a film for LGBT Muslims.
Pixar aside, Garden Party views as animation to the highest level – truly elite. Garden Party is, essentially, party time for a bunch of frogs – all shapes and sizes – at quite the luxurious property. Succeeding a deliciously exquisite pasty from Bolton’s own, Carr’s Pasties, Garden Party injected a new lease of comedic life into its full-bellied audience. From one obese frog, rolling about the dinner table in a macaroon jar, to an overzealous frog chasing a butterfly around the outside and comedically crashing into a window, Garden Party is full of laughs and the odd shocking surprise, of which is slightly sickening to say the least. For an animation about amphibians, Illogic Collection certainly has a beast in their hands.
Opening with a Catholic priest’s (Lalor Roddy) recollection of childhood and wren bird activities, the viewer is soon presented with a trip to a prison between both the priest, Conor, and his hard nephew, Seamus (Diarmuid Noyes). Revealing itself as an LGBT film, Conor is taking Seasmus to prison to marry his incarcerated partner. Presented in a severely grainy, dated, film look, there were lengthy suggestions that Wren Boys is far from new, coinciding with old clothes and cars worn and driven by the main characters. Only when a smart phone is used in a prison visitors’ waiting room, does Wren Boys reveal its true stance on time and era. Ultimately, Harry Lighton’s drama is gritty, both in terms of content and its visual quality.
Closing the festival… A futuristic sci-fi with a personal dystopian element, The Replacement is quite possibly the most mainstream of short films to be screened at Bolton Film Festival. Opening with Abe (Mike McNamara) – a lowly, smelly-looking janitor – infuriated at the 2032 Presidential Election result, the futuristic world is full of powerful, intelligent clones…many of whom are of Abe, and one is now the first clone President. Janitor Abe (real Abe) is fuming at what has transpired and wants everything cancelled because he’s a loser, but with clone-hating gangs performing hate crimes on Abe clones, the real Abe (the janitor) is at risk of his life. Sean Miller’s sci-fi thriller, The Replacement, is entertaining and clever in its narrative, but does possess slightly familiar notions of clones/robots/androids striving for equality and so on. That being said, however, The Replacement is also in possession of a late-night Channel 4 feel, of which is very admirable.
Below are the winners of the ten main awards at this year’s Bolton Film Festival, though a full list of award winners ca be found on Bolton Film Festival’s Twitter account, @BoltonFilmFest.
Grand Jury Prize – Recall | Best International – Recall
Best UK Short – Wren Boys | Best North West – Landsharks
Best Documentary – High Chaparrel | Best Comedy – Ouija Sex
Best Sci-fi – The Replacement | Best Animation – The Full Story
Best LGBT – Ablution | Best Women in Film – Spinosaurus
Another successful Bolton Film Festival has prompted the ambition and hope for Bolton to grow stronger as an exciting place for contemporary art to be produced and admired. Festival Director, Adrian Barber, pledges to establish Bolton as a place for diverse and cultured art to be consumed, so spectators don’t have to constantly travel to Manchester for this privilege. Looking at how Bolton Film Festival has grown from strength to strength in only two editions, Adrian’s dream can soon become a reality.