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The Bermuda International Film Festival Wrap-Up

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21st Mar 2019




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 Since its foundation, Hub Culture has been a Bermudian company, and ever since it set up it Innovation Campus at Ariel Sands in 2017, we have been exploring ways to get involved in the community – financially, politically, and culturally.

This year, Hub Culture partnered with the Bermuda International Film Festival to start a new category, VR IMMERSION, to bring virtual reality short films to the public during the film festival.  State-of-the-art equipment was provided by Core.Live, and the public could experience VR during the festival in the City Hall.  With the VEN prize for the best VR short, we contributed to the local video, gaming, and digital experience, and hope to encourage more creators to come to this island!

The VR Immersion award-winner was PLOMO:  JOURNEY OF A BULLET.  This innovative, explosive film allows you to experience a Venezuelan riot from the perspective of a bullet, fired from gun into a crowd, past military troops, hurling rocks, and the posters of political rioters, straight into the exploding brain of a young, apparently innocent, citizen.  Beneath menacing skies, there’s such chaos in the city, it becomes clear that anyone could become a unwilling victim to a stray bullet.  Giulia Jimenez, the film maker, creates a disturbing but riveting elliptical journey.  We also applaud so many of the other creators who created equally unique experiences.  OVERLOOKED puts you into the shoes of Vancouver’s homeless, and the indifference so many of them endure:  from the streets literally littered with the bodies of those in need; to the back-alleys where a young homeless child is pulled by her drug-addled mother; to the imaginings of a narrator who describes the disappearance of her sister into the night.  TOWER OF BABEL BY THE SEA utilizes incredible high-resolution photography to create a journey into nature and apocalyptic landscapes, where our protagonist is constantly confronted by the devil and other temptations – intermixing modern elements with almost medieval iconography, referencing Bruegel and Bosch.  And AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 SECONDS demonstrates where travel journalism may ultimately go, as it escorts the viewer to various tourist locations around the world, allowing us to look in detail in every direction.

Of course, while we were focussed on the VR Category, the Bermuda Film Festival offered so much more! 

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Local film-makers turned up in droves, showcasing the work that they’ve done in Bermuda and beyond.  Bermuda actress Lana Young kicked things off with the premiere of the film BENTLEY’S WILL, directed by Zachary Parks Grigg, with Young in the title role.  She demonstrates the array of her talent by also appearing in the short film (also at BIFF) of BEAT BLUE.   Programmer Jüliz Ritchie, and fellow Bermuda resident Antoine AR Hunt, premiered the documentary they co-directed, A STORY OF MEZCAL, to great acclaim.  Bermuda producer Bayard Outerbridge shared his profoundly harrowing ALEPPO, directed by Anthony Grippa, which takes a look at the effects of war on a Syrian doctor.  Bermudian producer and cinematographer Alyson Thompson was there with her short, one of the first films funded entirely by crypto-currency!

But Bermuda doesn’t just have its eyes on home—the international selection in all categories was impressive.  In the shorts department, quality films came in from around the world – whether it be the award-winning ATLAS, an exquisite Polish comedy about a mental patient with his hands in the air, and the speculation of those around him on why he might have ended up that way.  Is he really holding up the sky?   This stylish and humorous film stars Thomasz Kot (who also more famously appears in the BIFF feature, COLD WAR).  Other international short film entries of note included: PIG HEART, a German film which took away ‘Special Mention’ award, about a young girl dying of heart disease, and whether she’ll take the heart of a pig, genetically bred to save her life; or IN HIS PLACE, a Palestinian movie about a man who brings home the child of his deceased Jewish lover, to meet his family; or LUCY, a Spanish-language film about a man who obsessively films his neighbour, a modern REAR WINDOW.

The feature film section was equally rich with international titles – from the aforementioned award-winning saga COLD WAR, Pawel Pawlikowski’s wrenching movie about star-crossed lovers navigating Communist Eastern Europe; to NON-FICTION, Olivier Assayas the smart, comedic French look at the declining publishing industry and extra-marital affairs (and where they collide), to the British feature which closed the festival, the joyous STAN AND OLLIE, a biographical film about the comedians we know as Laurel & Hardy. 

Documentarian Peter Raymont screened his own film, THE CORPORATE COUP D’ETAT, while assembling an impressive collection of top-notch current documentaries.  From the Oscar-winning FREE SOLO, a nail-biting adventure documentary about a man who scales cliffs without harnesses or topes; to the mind-bending twisted tale of THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS, about the triplets reunited late in life, who aren’t aware of the secrets of their separation; to the adorable PICK OF THE LITTER, which follows five puppies as they train to become guide-dogs; to the strangely zen THE BILL MURRAY STORIES:  LIFE LESSONS LEARNED FROM A MYTHICAL MAN; and to the movie so important for our seas, which looks at the illegal hunt for shark fins, SHARKWATER EXTINCTION.

British director Mike Newell, the director of such stellar, memorable films as FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, DONNIE BRASCO, MONA LISA SMILE, and so many others, served on the jury and also received a lifetime achievement award, which was presented to him by Bermuda’s Deputy Governor, Alison Crocket.  Patricia Horner, Juliz Ritchie, Tim Stewart, and the rest of the BIFF team should be applauded for a wonderful event.