Cambridge Film Fest comes to Norwich

The Cambridge Film Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary against a background of financial belt-tightening but festival director Tony Jones tells ANDREW CLARKE the premieres continue and film will always come first.

UK premieres, high profile foreign language films, rare documentaries, star guests, live music and even a clutch of unfinished films by master film-makers are all part of the mix which makes up the 30th anniversary of the Cambridge Film Festival.

For artistic director Tony Jones, who has presided over 25 of the 30 years, it is important the Cambridge festival, the biggest in the region, is open and accessible to all.

'It's all about providing a wide range of good quality films for everyone to enjoy. That's what it has always been. It may be getting a little more difficult to stage as everyone hangs onto their films until the last possible moment but we still have our fair share of premieres and rare screenings.'

This year he has managed to pull out all the stops and has the UK premiere of the new Luc Besson movie The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec to open the festival — which he hopes that Besson will attend and host a post-screening question and answer session.

'He's incredibly busy but he's a huge fan of the festival and we've just arranged for him to fly in to Cambridge airport in his private jet and then fly off immediately after the screening, so we are hoping that will help him fit us into his schedule.'

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Tony described Luc Besson's film as an eye-popping fantasy based on a popular French comic strip. 'Who else could unleash a pterodactyl swooping above the boulevards of pre-First World War Paris?' he laughed.

As with recent festivals, highlights will also be showing at Cinema City, amongst them The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest — the final instalment in the Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy which started with the record breaking The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Cinemas City members will also be able to get discounted tickets.

The festival will also include a screening of the highly anticipated Made In Dagenham – a new UK feelgood movie from Nigel Cole, director of Calendar Girls as well as a rare opportunity to see Almost The Truth – the celebrated documentary on the influence and the history of Monty Python which will be attended by Terry Jones. Other film-maker question and answer sessions will accompany the UK premieres of Brilliant Love – a film about when some compromising snaps become public art – and GravyTrain, a new absurdist comedy from Canada.

One of the most high profile guests at this year's festival will be British directing legend Stephen Frears who will be hosting a Looking Back… event.

'It is an ever-changing canvas but we are particularly pleased with the wide range of films we have on offer this year - particularly the exceptionally strong documentary strand that gives the festival a real kick,' said Tony.

Documentaries showing include Two In The Wave, a look at the founding fathers of the Nouvelle Vague, Jean Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut; Nenette, the story of oldest inhabitant of the world's oldest zoo, an orang-utan; while The Desert of Forbidden Art, narrated by Sir Ben Kingsley, looks at banned art and artists banned in the former Soviet Union.

An unusual documentary strand this year is a couple of events which look into films that were either unmade or suffered a fate worse than death at the hands of unfeeling studio executives.

On September 20, Stanley Kubrick's lost film Napoleon will be explored in an illustrated talk by Bill Lawrence, who will take audiences through the evolution of a film that never was.

In a related strand Professor Ian Christie will be looking at films by four great directors that were either killed in the editing suite or never made it before the cameras at all. In a relaxed talk, entitled Unfinished Symphonies, Prof Christie will look at Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons, Sergei Eisenstein's Que Viva Mexico!, Josef von Sternberg's I Claudius and Erich von Stroheim's Queen Kelly.

The credit crunch has meant that the 30th anniversary celebrations are rather more muted than organisers they would have wished.

'At the end of the day we are about films and we would rather put films up on the screen than use precious money to fund a large party – as nice as that would have been,' said Tony. 'But, having said that we have some special events, including a rare appearance by film critic Mark Kermode's band The Dodge Brothers who will be providing live accompaniment for the silent melodrama Beggars of Life and we have wonderful restored screenings of the FW Murnau silent classic City Girl and Fred Zimmerman's Oscar-winning war-romance From Here To Eternity.'

?The 30th Cambridge Film Festival runs from September 16-26. For full details of the films showing, times and tickets information visit: