Anouar Brahem: back with another musical jewel

I first became properly aware of the musical genius of Anouar Brahem back in 1998, and like most revelations it was accidental. I had, as it happened, already heard the Tunisian playing his oud – a North African lute-like instrument – first, unconsciously, on the soundtrack he composed for Moufida Tlatli’s 1994 film The Silences … Continue reading Anouar Brahem: back with another musical jewel

The Sound of Distant Memories: Valentin Silvestrov

Of the many fascinating composers who began their careers under the artistically reactionary regime of the Soviet Union and later found fame in the West – besides the obvious example of Arvo Pärt, I’m thinking of figures like Sofia Gubaidulina, Giya Kancheli, Tigran Mansurian, Alfred Schnittke and Galina Ustvolskaya – one of the most distinctive … Continue reading The Sound of Distant Memories: Valentin Silvestrov

Four More Discoveries: An Update after the London Film Festival

Some of you may have already read my recent blog in which I recommended a number of films in the BFI London Film Festival, films which I’d already seen at other festivals earlier in the year. For much of the LFF I was involved in introducing movies and hosting Q&As, but I did, fortunately, find … Continue reading Four More Discoveries: An Update after the London Film Festival

The 2017 BFI London Film Festival – some personal recommendations

With this year's edition of the London Film Festival due to begin in a few days, I thought I'd suggest a few titles to look out for. There are many movies in the Festival, of course, which I haven't yet seen, but of those I have managed to catch already – in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, … Continue reading The 2017 BFI London Film Festival – some personal recommendations

A new jewel discovered in Venice: ‘Custody’ (‘Jusqu’à la garde’)

A few months ago, I received an email from Alberto Barbera, artistic director of the Venice Film Festival, asking (to my considerable surprise) if I'd be interested in being a member of the ‘Opera Prima’ jury for the upcoming 74th edition of the event. Needless to say, I replied that I'd be more than delighted … Continue reading A new jewel discovered in Venice: ‘Custody’ (‘Jusqu’à la garde’)

Turning Tarkovsky into music: Nuit blanche

A confession: while I recognise the cinematic importance of the late Andrei Tarkovsky – his influence on certain filmmakers, and the high regard in which his work is widely held – I myself have never been a great admirer of his films. I like Ivan’s Childhood and Andrei Roublev well enough, but I have always … Continue reading Turning Tarkovsky into music: Nuit blanche

Back in Bologna: the forgotten films of Helmut Käutner

Now in its 31st year, the Cinema Ritrovato festival mounted by the Cineteca Bologna has become something of a pilgrimage site for cinephiles in search of restorations, rarities and rediscoveries. Indeed, some might argue that it is a victim of its own success; in recent years the number of attendees has increased so much that … Continue reading Back in Bologna: the forgotten films of Helmut Käutner

Of films and photos: more from Romania’s remarkable Cristi Puiu

A few months back, I received an invitation to participate as a member of the jury for the main competition of the Transilvania International Film Festival (TIFF) which takes place in Cluj-Napoca, Romania’s second largest city after Bucharest, in early June. Honoured to be asked, and keen to visit a country which has been giving … Continue reading Of films and photos: more from Romania’s remarkable Cristi Puiu

Cannes 2017: My personal best from the 70th edition

This year’s Cannes Film Festival – the 70th edition of the event, and my own 30th attendance at the gig – was far from remarkable; indeed, in terms of the films in the main competition, it was probably a little underwhelming. Yet Cannes is the world’s most famous film festival, and that arouses very high expectations … Continue reading Cannes 2017: My personal best from the 70th edition

70 years of Cannes… and this is my 30th. (A view from the queue.)

This piece was originally written for and published by BFI online at bfi.org.uk With thanks to Sam Wigley for editing. Though the Cannes Film Festival is undoubtedly the most famous event of its kind, it isn’t the oldest. That honour belongs to Venice. Still, 2017 does mark the 70th edition of Cannes – having been … Continue reading 70 years of Cannes… and this is my 30th. (A view from the queue.)