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FESTIVALS / AWARDS UK

The curtain is about to be raised for the 40th Cambridge Film Festival

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- The prestigious UK gathering, running in-venue from 18-25 November, will have more than 100 titles present, with over half being UK premieres

The curtain is about to be raised for the 40th Cambridge Film Festival
Ali & Ava by Clio Barnard

The town of Cambridge, located in South-East England, is of course internationally renowned for its world-leading university, founded in 1209 and boasting sundry Nobel Prize winners and world leaders amongst its alumni. But it also annually hosts the Cambridge Film Festival, which begins its milestone 40th edition later this month, proudly specifying itself as the UK’s third-longest-running film festival, and one of Europe’s largest internationally. The event will run primarily at the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse, located at the town’s southern tip, with special events taking place around the university itself. The festival sat out its regular November spot last year owing to the pandemic, but will be running in-venue from 18-25 November and launching its first UK-wide digital programme from 21-November-5 December.

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Over 100 titles will be present, hailing from 44 countries, running the gamut from much-travelled festival highlights of the past year, to films receiving their full international and European premieres. The opening and closing films will be homegrown productions: Clio Barnard’s Ali & Ava [+see also:
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to start with and Will Sharpe’s The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy) on the closing night. Its Gala Screenings strand – a new designation in the festival line-up – will open with the UK premiere of Michael Showalter’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye, featuring Jessica Chastain in full 1970s televangelist garb. Rounding off this gala section are Julia Ducournau’s Palme d’Or-winning shocker Titane [+see also:
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, Sebastian Meise’s Great Freedom [+see also:
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, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria [+see also:
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, further Tilda Swinton action in Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir: Part II [+see also:
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, and Justin Chon’s Cannes-premiered US indie effort Blue Bayou, with Alicia Vikander.

If these international festival highlights weren’t enough, the gathering also harbours a section literally entitled International Festival Highlights, where Petite Maman [+see also:
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, Playground [+see also:
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and last year’s Tallinn Black Nights winner Fear [+see also:
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will unspool. Also notable is the festival’s “ever popular” Camera Catalonia section, focusing specifically on Catalan cinema: fresh 2021 titles like Agustí Villaronga’s The Belly of the Sea [+see also:
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, a UK premiere, and Neus Ballús’s The Odd-Job Men [+see also:
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, at its second UK festival after BFI London, will enjoy an airing in this specific, regionally focused showcase.

Isabelle McNeill, the chair of the Cambridge Film Trust (which presents the festival), said, “I’m so excited to be returning to an in-person festival experience, and I can’t wait to share incredible films with audiences at the cinema and online.” For Matthew Webb, the organisation’s executive director, “The 40th-anniversary programme is packed with timely and topical films and voices. Issues such as climate change and social justice provide a core thread through the programme, as well as joy, love and empathy to bring us together.”

Events geared towards the industry will include a remote Q&A and screening with Ai Weiwei and Wang Fen, beaming in to discuss their production strategies during the pandemic. Developing Your Voice will be a three-part session held by Jesus College at the university, featuring short-film screenings and panel discussions with industry guests.

The festival is supported by the BFI’s Film Audience Network, awarding funds from the National Lottery.

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