20-20 Visions : British Screenagers Hit the Big Two O. by Patrick Hurley

20 20 Visions 2OK, so Brexit may mean Brexit but The 20th British Screen Festival in Nîmes means what it says on the tin. The years have flashed by and from February 24th to March 5th 2017 the fair city of Nîmes is once again hosting the biggest showcase of British Cinema, both current and classic, right here in the heart of the Languedoc. Special guests over those twenty years have included Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, John Boorman, Peter Greenaway and a red-carpet’s load of British actors and cinematographic technical talent. 2017 promises to keep up the good work.


20 20 Visions 1This year provides you with the opportunity of meeting the man who not only brought plasticine to life on film and introduced Wallace and Gromit to an unsuspecting public, but, it is said, forced the French to invent the word rocambolesque to try and describe the batty world of those unlikely superheroes. Yes, Peter Lord, British animator extraordinaire, will be in Nîmes presenting some of his films and taking Q&As from you, the great cinema-going public. After an early career at the BBC (The Amazing Adventures of Morph) and including work such as the video for Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer in the eighties, Lord has kept faith with the craftsmanship of filmed, frame-by- frame hand-made animation in this age of Computer-Generated Imagery and made the Aardman Studios a householdname. So not-to-miss.


And if that prospect hasn’t warmedthe cockles of your heart then perhaps you’ll want to be around to check out one of Britain’s favourite actors, Cannes 2014 winner Timothy Spall (Mr Turner, Secrets and Lies, Harry Potter, TheKing’s Speech) at the 2017 Festival with a retrospective tribute to the toweringachievements of this quirky, loveable genius. Other names pencilled in for appearances include Terence Davies for the pre-release of his latest movie A Quiet Passion, and a return visit of Ken Loach in the wake of his Cannes Palme d’Or award for I, Daniel Blake.


The Festival will feature once again the Ciné-Concert sessions with live musicians bringing Buster Keaton slapstick roaring into the 21st century. And who can ignore the major impact that Sherlock Holmes has had on British and Hollywood film-makers? A retrospective of the adventures of Holmes and Watson on the big-screen promises to provide a feast for all fans of the deerstalkered sleuth of Baker Street.


Another pre-release special presentation this year will be a showing of Andrew Steggall’s film, Departure funded and shot here in the Languedoc-Roussillon region and starring Juliet Stevenson in a moody coming-of-age story set in a disintegrating British expat household. Fascinating stuff, but there’ll be lots more new release British films for your diary as well. Start clearing those dates now and keep an eye on the website www.ecransbritanniques.org for all the latest updates and news.


Bon festival!