While many would name Paris, California or even London as locations integral to the birth of cinema, it was in fact Leeds where the first moving images were filmed, by Louis le Prince in 1889. And so it's of particular significance that Leeds, fourteen this year, has grown into one of the UK's broadest and most innovative festivals. Running from October 5th to 20th, the Leeds plays host to over 180 events in 18 venues, across some twelve distinct strands, alongside four exhibitions.
Between October 12th and 15th plays Fanomenon, the UK's largest fantasy film marathon, celebrating horror, mystery, sci-fi and Hong Kong cinema. Eerily coinciding with Friday 13th October, the festival marks the event with Spanish horror from midnight 'til dawn. Edinburgh favourites The Ring and Audition provide the focus for the Far East section of this strand, alongside the international premiere of Shususe Kaneko's Pyrokenesis. Also making its international debut is The Duel, with Andy Lau.
Helter Skelter, is the music strand dedicated to documentaries on musicians and record labels; music videos; and concert footage, played across Leeds' well regarded bars and nightclubs. The twenty films in Helter Skelter include a special retrospective of Robert Mugge, described by LA Weekly as 'the king of the American music documentary'.
UK Film Week, from October 9th to 13th showcases the latest in British talent. Headlined by the English premiere of Mark Herman's Purely Belter, which is the opening gala, the week also includes Ben Hopkin's The Nine Lives of Thomas Katz and the world premiere of a new score for Maurice Elvey's 1927 drama Hindle Wakes.
Other strands include the Leeds New Directors Competition Weekend, with nine first or second features from leading international directors; while Leeds Children's Film Festival, running 7th to 14th October, shows premiers of Disney's Dinosaur and the Danish Katja's Adventure. Eureka showcases the latest European features; and Eureka Archive rediscovers rarely seen European treats, with a special look at the early Dutch films of director Paul Verhoeven. E*Volution2000 is a convention on entertainment convergence, where Sony will give the Playstation 2 it's first UK outing; and the Louis le Prince International Short Film Competition presents leading shorts from around the world across four programmes.
And that's before mentioning Taking The Screenplay Seriously, an event chaired by chairman of the Film Council, Alan Parker; Voices of Cinema interviews with Mike 'Get Carter' Hodges and Ben Hopkins; a masterclass with Mark Herman; and four exhibitions with world premiere showings of commissions in photography, video, digital media and art.
While lacking any major premieres, Leeds has a breadth of content that is arguably unrivalled in the UK. This is a testament to festival director Chris Fell's aggressive strategy to make Leeds stand out in the UK's busiest festival season, and to the imagination of its programmers. From art-house film fanatic and mainstream action obsessive, to those with only a passing interest in film there is something of appeal to all.
Tickets can be booked by phone from +44 (0)113 214 5315 or online at www.leedsfilm.com.