The Best Of Brighton’s 11th Cinecity Film Festival

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC The Best Of Brighton’s 11th Cinecity Film Festival

By Liz Tobin.

Brighton’s very own film festival has just cranked it up to eleven and edged its way into a second decade of existence under the guise of ‘CINECITY’. And, although it may not yet have the clout of Europe’s many other film fests, it has managed to etch out a name for itself as one of the best curated film festivals in the UK due to a consistently high quality selection of film premiers, previews, retrospectives, cult classics and local talent.

This year’s theme is billed as ‘Adventures in World Cinema’ which sees the festival piece together a select schedule of films from an international crowd. In particular you can expect directorial work coming from the likes of Kurdistan, Scandinavia, Israel, Czech Republic, Mexico, Poland, Iran, Singapore, and a whole host of other countries. So, if you happen to have a passion for foreign films, then this year’s selection will make your subtitled dreams come true.

However, the festival’s opening screening on Thursday (Nov 14th) was an English language film from the US director and dark comedy master Alexander Payne’s (of Sideways and The Descendants fame). The opening preview showcased his latest offering Nebraska – a rugged, father-son, road movie which has all the bittersweet undertones of a Payne film as well as a superb lead performance from Bruce Dern, who won this years Cannes award for Best Actor for this role.

The rest of the opening weekend was littered with ingenious couplings such as a late night screening of Esteban Sapir’s La Antena, a surreal homage to silent films, accompanied by a subtle synth laden live score. The next evening saw writer Chuck Palahniuk hold an inspiring Q+A session and reading following a screening of David Fincher’s famous adaptation of Palahniuk’s novel Fight Club. In amid this were films such as the Robert Redford epic All Is Lost and Australian/Laos film The Rocket which is collecting acclaim everywhere it’s shown. As opening weekends go, it’s fair to say it was a success.

But that’s enough about what you missed, let’s talk about what’s to come? The festival continues for a further two weeks climaxing just in time for you to get your advent calendars out on December 1st, which means there’s still plenty to festival gems ahead.

The centrepiece of this years line up is a major retrospective of the celebrated Czech surrealist Jan Švankmajer. If you’ve never heard of him, that’s alright, just know that his body of work has influenced the likes of Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton and The Quay Brother. If want to discover more or you’re already a fan then there are screenings of his major works such as Alice and Little Otik, as well as panel discussions on the influence of his work, short film showing and an impressive collection of his artwork on display at the Brighton University Gallery throughout the festival.

Other than the an intensive look at Jan Švankmajer’s work there’s also plenty of stand alone films with multiple screenings planned pretty much every night, and here’s our festival highlights.


Wed 20th  – ILO ILO

A Singaporean feature by Anthony Chen centered around a Filipino maid forced to leave her own child to look after an affluent couple’s troubled son in order to make a better life for her family. Set amid the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, this comedy cum drama has layered tensions that are winning over the critics.

Fri 22nd – Wake in Fright

This late night showing of a classic long thought to be lost to the world has been rediscovered, remastered and re-presented here with all it’s disturbing raw attitude in tact. The 1971 film directed by Ted Kotcheff is set in Australia’s mining outback where a passing through teacher slowly self destructs.

Sat 23rd – The Invisible Woman

Ralph Fiennes’ second run at directorship sees him take on Dickens rather than Shakespeare this time round. However, this Abi Morgan script is a look at Dickens himself and his affair with a young actress. A promising period drama.

Mon 25th – Shirley – Visions of Reality

Art on a monday? why not. Bringing the aesthetics of Edward Hopper’s paintings to the world of cinema through the narrative of an actress reflecting on a life lived through the key events of American history.

Tues 26th – My Sweet Pepper Land

In essence this is an Eastern take on a spaghetti western which is hardly true to life but has flecks of black comic genius that echo reality. Set on the border of Turkey and Iraq this is film that has a cast of heroic police chief, ruthless smugglers, a harassed school teacher and a pack of female freedom fighters.

Fri 29th – Stranger By The Lake

In the lingering southern french summer sun men bathe near a lake where casual sexual entanglements promise to ensue. A story of lust, loneliness and death, this is slowburn of a thriller that leaves plenty of room around it’s protagonists with suspense filling the void.

Sat 30th – We Are The Best

If you love Lukas Moodysson as much as I do, then this is a no brainer. For his latest film the Swedish director is taking us back to 80’s Stockholm to follow three young girls forming a punk band. A heartwarming coming of age tale that’s reminiscent of his initial feature films such as Show Me Love.

Sun 1st – The Double – closing night

The Double is Richard Ayoade’s follow up to his acclaimed instant indie classic Submarine, with many of the same cast in tow but with the addition of a few big names like Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska. Adapted from a Dostoyevsky novella this a classic narrative of boy meets girl and then boy meets his doppelganger (AKA The Double), with Ayoade style hilarity and mishaps follow. This will be a sell out show so book ahead as it’s not to be missed.

Lastly, if you do head down to Brighton for a screening try and check out a screening in the original Duke of York’s Cinema on London Road so you get to see one of the oldest cinemas in the country in all it’s high ceilinged, spacious beauty.

For more information and booking check out the website at

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.



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