Cambridge Film Festival 2018 – 5 Films I’m excited to see

Another year comes around and another Cambridge Film Festival takes place. As my local city, this film festival is ideal for me. Not far to travel, a wide variety of films and, after making great friends from my past couple of years attending, a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere (not to mention great food from the Arts Picturehouse!). Things are obviously going well as another local cinema, The Light, is hosting a number of screenings this year alongside the main venue.

The Cambridge Film Festival is one of the longest running film festivals in the UK, this year is the 38th edition spanning over 40 years from its inception in 1977, and has been the home to many fantastic films from all corners of the world. Highlights can be found here.

Highlights for me over the past couple of years attending have been the visceral and brutal minimalism of Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, Yorgos Lanthimos’s strangely compelling The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Ken Loach’s uncompromising look at the broken system in I, Daniel Blake and Yeon Sang-Ho’s adrenaline-fuelled Train to Busan. There is also a Surprise Film every year, which I am always willing to take a chance on and is usually well attended, however, this year there is the bane of many a festival and it clashes with another film I really want to see (see below).

The last couple of editions have been huge in advancing my appreciation of film, already a convert to world cinema my eyes have been opening further to films from countries and people I wouldn’t normally have taken the time to watch. There is something special about a film festival that embraces and beckons you to watch films you wouldn’t normally plug for. Especially in the age of the multiplex, blockbuster dominated world, this cosy little corner of Cambridge is a haven to those films not usually afforded the spotlight. This year I’m going the whole hog, taking the whole week off and attempting to dive even deeper into the festival, seeing even more films that before and chancing my hand at an even wider selection in the hope of finding a gem or two.

So without further ado, I dig into the 5 films that I am most looking forward to at the Cambridge Film Festival 2018:


Burning (Beoning) (15)

South Korea, 2018, 148 mins. Korean with English subtitles.


Burning played recently at the London Film Festival, where it received a good deal of high praise, comes Lee Chang-dong’s latest film based on a short story by Haruki Murakami – Barn Burning. Selected as South Korea’s entry into the 91st Academy Awards Best Foreign Film award and gaining the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) award at Cannes earlier this year it already has some form. With mystery and drama, and the fact that it’s a South Korean film, placing it high up in my wheelhouse and then that it is based off a Murakami story tells me all I need to know about wanting to see this one.

From the Film Festival brochure:

Lee Jong-soo (Yoo Ah-in – The Throne), a part-time worker, runs into Shin Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo), a girl who once lived in his neighbourhood. She asks him to watch her cat while she is on a trip to Africa. After Hae-mi returns, Jong- Soo is dismayed when she introduces him to Ben (Steven Yeun – Mayhem, The Walking Dead), a mysterious man she met on the trip. One day, when Ben visits Jong-soo he confesses his own secret hobby.


The Guilty (15)

Denmark, 2018, 85 mins. Danish with English subtitles.


Another entry into the 91st Academy Awards Best Foreign Film, this time for Denmark, is The Guilty directed, and co-written, by Gustav Möller in his first feature film. Taking place in a single location and ramping up the tension certainly leads me to think that this one is going to be edge-of-the-seat stuff.

From the Film Festival brochure:

A real crowd pleaser (it won the audience award at Rotterdam this year), The Guilty takes place in a police control room and centres on Asger (Jakob Cedergren – The Killing) who has been taken off frontline duty while being investigated. Bored by answering the incoming calls, he is suddenly jolted by one that is from a woman who has been kidnapped. Is this a chance for redemption? While not able to leave the room, he coordinates the forces to rescue her. Absolutely compelling and fascinating as the threads slowly unravel.


Border (Gräns) (15)

Sweden/Denmark, 2018, 108 mins. Swedish with English subtitles.


Anything the mind that brought Let The Right One In is going to be on my list and with a slightly absurd central premise should go a long way to making this one to watch and also being a Nordic Folklore adaptation? Yes, please. Also, in keeping with the previous two films, this is Sweden’s entry into the 91st Academy Awards Best Foreign Film award.

From the Film Festival brochure:

Ali Abbasi’s Border, awarded Best Film at Cannes Un Certain Regard 2018, is a timely reboot of Nordic folklore from the writer of cult vampire fable Let The Right One In. Border guard Tina is extraordinarily good at spotting smugglers. One day, a suspicious- looking man steps off the ferry. Unable to identify what he’s hiding, she becomes obsessed with him and the disturbing aura he exudes. Her investigation reveals much more than expected, and she is soon forced to confront terrifying revelations about herself and humankind.


Suspiria (18)

Italy/USA, 2018, 152 mins.


The remake of Argento’s classic 1977 giallo horror has garnered attention to say the least. Whilst I liked the original film and appreciated the visual and auditory aspects of it I wasn’t enwrapped by the film as a whole, so I am excited to see how this film goes. The highly respected and loved original is always going to be a hard bar to reach for a lot of people and, more importantly, I’m missing the Secret Film to watch this. No pressure then!

From the Film Festival brochure:

The latest film from Luca Guadagnino (director of Call Me By Your Name), is a thrilling remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 Italian horror masterpiece, a darkness swirls at the centre of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the troupe’s artistic director (Tilda Swinton), an ambitious young dancer (Dakota Johnson), and a grieving psychotherapist (Lutz Ebersdorf). Some will succumb to the nightmare. Others will finally wake up.

Guadagnino’s Suspiria could set a new precedent for horror remakes in terms of respecting the original and serving as a companion piece instead of attempting the impossible and trying to better it.


More Human than Human (PG)

Belgium/Netherlands/USA, 2018, 79 mins.


AI is a topic for all to discuss at the moment and, as film people, we have seen more than our fair share of the imaginings of the use and problems associated with the development and implementation of this advanced technology. Sold!

From the Film Festival brochure:

Stephen Hawking has warned that the creation of powerful artificial intelligence will be “either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity”. More Human Than Human explores the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and its effects on our lives. Once the realm of science fiction and futurist visions, it is now an inescapable part of our reality, with self-driving cars, autonomous drones seeking their next target or government agencies mining our personal data. Increasingly, we expect machines to know what we want and understand us when we talk – just ask Siri. In this personal, playful and at times dramatic investigation, director Tommy Pallotta finds out to what extent his own creativity and human values are at stake as he builds his own robot to replace himself as a filmmaker. Will artificial intelligence be infinitely smarter, more interconnected and self-aware, rendering humanity obsolete?


The Cambridge Film Festival runs from Thursday 25th October to Thursday 1st November. If you haven’t been before then now is a perfect time to find out what it is all about!

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