La Silence de la Mer

My LIFF got off to a fairly gentle start with the sad, understated La Silence de la Mer. Jean-Pierre Melville takes us through Vercors‘ novel of the same name which sees a German officer stationed in with the French narrator and his niece in occupied France. The French pair don’t have a lot of choice about giving up their spare room to an enemy officer and, lacking any other form of resistance, choose to pointedly ignore him.

I won’t wander too deeply through the rest of the plot, suffice to say that it turns out some Germans were nice people, bought into the propaganda lies of a happier, German-er Europe flourishing once the Nazis had triumphed. Needless to say, he soon learns things are not as he has been led to believe. The film handles its subjects delicately, choosing to focus words rather than images – almost all the of the film takes place in the front room of the French hosts’ house. We meet few characters, still fewer are seen speaking. Undeniably moving and carefully crafted, it’s perhaps just a little bit too delicate for my tastes.

Leeds International Film Festival #29

What better way to kick off a new blog than with one of the best film festivals around? LIFF, now in its 29th (!) year goes from strength to strength and is always a fabulous showcase of the classy, the grotesque, the polished and the imperfect. This year has some killer offerings in the retrospectives, some exciting looking horror choices and some great documentaries lined up.

This is my first year as a full passholder. For the last number of years I’ve variously worked and volunteered for the festival – and seen a great range of films and met some wonderful people. This year though I’m going all out. I can go to whatever feature I like, won’t have to hang around in the town hall until midnight waiting for Once Upon a Time in the West to finish and can drink a lot more!

Let’s go…