Updated: Sunday, 29th March 2020 @ 7:27am

Get ready for a MANIFF weekend... sixth Manchester Film Festival kicks off

Get ready for a MANIFF weekend... sixth Manchester Film Festival kicks off

| By Max Blakeley

The stars will be out and converging on the Odeon Manchester Great Northern tonight as the city’s Film Festival enters its sixth year of running.

The timetable of events that culminates with an awards ceremony on Sunday 15 March features cinematic contributions from a variety of emerging talents currently working around the globe.

Accentuating the festival’s line-up will be Q + A sessions with directors, industry panel discussions, and in-depth Filmmaker Studio Live interviews, led by a dot-to-dot of industry figures that stretch from the likes of Cornetto-trilogy star Simon Pegg, to the highly-acclaimed Joanna Hogg, director of indie-romance The Souvenir.

Programming for the festival is split into a selection of Narrative Features, Documentary Features, “Das Kino” aka German Film Showcase, as well as a full program of short-films, split into the subcategories of Narrative Shorts, Documentary Shorts, Animation, and Music Videos.

There’s also a ‘Twenty in 20’ series of screenings that, yes you guessed it, is dedicated to modern classics that will be turning twenty years-old this year. Including Ardman Animations’ Chicken Run, Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending neo-noir Memento, and Danny Boyle’s indie cult-hit adaption of The Beach.

It's fair to say there’s something for anyone and everyone with even a mild interest in cinema.

OPENING NIGHT

Opening the festival tonight is a film about the cinema itself and its immovable power to bring people together in defiance of both physical and metaphysical barriers.

Traumfabrik, part of the ‘Das Kino’ program, is a period German romance about a movie extra’s ambitious efforts to be reunited with the love of his life after they are separated by the construction of the Berlin wall.

“German film has always been one of the most popular with the MANIFF demographic,” says head of programming Al Bailey.

Directed by Martin Schreier, this will mark the first of the five entries to the German Film Showcase program, all of which are having their UK premiers in Manchester.

What better way to begin a film festival in 2020 post-Brexit Britain, than with a European film about art and the artists’ power to transcend barriers?

NARRATIVE FEATURES NOT TO MISS:

Lost Transmissions – Directed by Katherine O’Brien

Screening: Sunday 8 March at 5:30pm – Odeon, Great Northern

Katherine O’Brien’s Lost Transmissions has one of the most enticing premises of any of the films being showcased this year. It follows Simon Pegg as an acclaimed music producer who ditches his schizophrenia medication and leads his worried friends on a chase through the LA music scene as they try to recommit him to a psychiatric hospital. The film is said to offer a critique of the current mental health care system, whilst teasing a standout performance from Pegg.

The screening will be immediately followed by a Q+A with Katherine O’Brien and Simon Pegg, which promises to be worth staying for.

Write When You Get Work – Directed by Stacey Cochran

Screening: Sunday 8 March at 7:45 – Odeon, Great Northern

The trailer for Stacey Cochran’s Write When You Get Work is of a rare distinction of film trailers (which are an art-form in themselves) in that it makes the viewer excited to see the film, without giving away too much about what they can expect from the narrative.

With cinematography by frequent Paul Thomas Anderson collaborator Robert Elswit, and stars such as Emily Mortimer, Finn Wittrock and Rachel Keller, this “story about money, mischief, love and entitlement, set in New York City” is one of the most exciting contributions to this year’s line-up.

Stacey Cochran will be in-conversation with fellow director and long-time friend Joanna Hogg before the screening begins; a meeting of two of the most important voices in independent cinema right now, and very much worth your time and money.

There will also be a post-screening Q+A with Stacey Cochran.

Days of the Bagnold Summer – Directed by Simon Bird

Screening: Thursday 12 March at 8:15pm – Odeon, Great Northern

Simon Bird’s feature directorial debut, Days of the Bagnold Summer, is a coming of age dramedy about a teenager who spends his summer listening to heavy metal music and trying to get along with his librarian mum.

The cast boasts a selection of British comedy favourites such as Rob Brydon, Tamsin Greig, Alice Lowe, and new-comer Earl Cave who had a small but memorable role as ‘Frodo’ in Channel 4’s The End Of The F***ing World. The screenplay was adapted by Lisa Owens from a graphic novel of the same name by Joff Winterhart.

The film marks an exciting career move for director Simon Bird, who most will know as ‘Simon’ from The Inbetweeners.

These films listed here merely scratch the surface of the plethora of high-quality work that has been produced and is being showcased at this year’s festival. For the full list of events and screenings, and information about the filmmakers involved, please visit the MANIFF 2020 website.