LIFF31: The Best Films

And the Leeds International Film Festival is almost over. Before we emerge from the darkened cinema room, blinking in the crisp November sunshine, its time to hand out this year’s awards. The film festival itself has some awards, obviously, but I’m talking about the highly-esteemed, much-coveted, Rum and Popcorn Film Awards. So without further ado, it’s time for the Rum and Popcorn 2017 award ceremony!

The 2017 Rum and Popcorn Documentary Award

Brimstone and Glory

Documentary was a mixed bag this year, but Brimstone and Glory and Gaza Surf Club shone through as best in show. While I almost certainly learned more from Gaza Surf Club, Brimstone and Glory was so fabulously cinematic that it just had to claim the prize. Both excellent films.

The 2017 Rum and Popcorn Re-screening Award


An astonishingly strong line-up this year. Volver only narrow beat the likes of The Wages of Fear and Nikita to this prize. It’s an absolute joy to watch from start to finish.

The 2017 Rum and Popcorn LIFF Official Selection Award

The Florida Project

The strongest of the official selection was Sean Baker’s tale of life, struggles and loss in Florida motels. Visually stunning, fantastically cast and absolutely full of joy and life and beauty. And sadness. Superb film-making. Honourable mention here goes to The Stuff of Dreams which was a completely unexpected favourite of mine.

And finally…

The 2017 Rum and Popcorn LIFF Films of the Festival

The Breadwinner Mutafukaz Canaries

There were a few very near misses – The Bar, Dave Made A Maze and Summer Time Machine Blues were so nearly on this list – but these were each truly fantastic in their own way. Animation had a strong year this time round: The Breadwinner and Mutafukaz are probably at opposite ends of the spectrum in many ways but I was gripped by both from start to finish. Canaries was a much later entry and just shows how great low-budget genre film can be with a little imagination. A stylish, self-contained, clever film.

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