The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
Festival opener, Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai's biopic The Grandmaster, is based on the life of Ip Man, the master of the Wing Chun master art who famously trained Bruce Lee. Visually beautiful, upbeat and spectacularly choreographed, it's a flawless tribute to Man in its combination of tradition and visual poetry.
The rest of the festival's programme saw a line-up dominated by realism, as in Danis Tanovic's An Episode In The Life Of An Iron Picker in which protagonist Nazif struggles to make ends meet in Bosnia while his pregnant wife Senada looks after their two young daughters.
When she has a miscarriage, the local hospital refuses to treat her because she has neither an insurance card nor 500 euros. Senada, carrying her dead five-month old foetus, is forced to return home to her Roma community in this deeply moving film.
Based on real events, with Nazif and Senada playing themselves, it's an outstanding piece of cinema verite and it's rich in human insight. Five stars.
Ken Loach's The Spirit Of '45 is a wide-ranging documentary which charts the growth and fall of the British welfare state from a post-war period of social reform and nationalisation to the Thatcher government.
Using archive footage and interviews, Loach gives us yet another lively and radical gem in which the sense of political outrage is palapable.
Gus Van Sant's Promised Land, starring Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Frances McDormand and Hal Holbrook, was another film of striking political relevance which follows two corporate salespeople who visit a rural town in an attempt to buy drilling rights from the local residents.
The film goes on to explore the issue of fracking, the controversial method of extracting natural gas where environmental damage, driven on by corporate US greed, seems impossible to avoid.
While intelligently and skilfully told, the emotional impact is diluted and the audience is consequently distanced from the narrative.
A highly-anticipated film was Jafar Panahi and Kamuzia Partovi's Closed Curtain. Panahi is banned from leaving Iran or making films, a sentence dealt him in 2010 for his participation in election protests the previous year.
It tells the story of a scriptwriter hiding away be the sea and what happens when two strangers break into his house. A mixture of serious drama and satire in which fiction merges with reality, it's a message about not giving up but it certainly leaves a bitter aftertatse.
A delightful surprise was Sebastian Lelio's Gloria about a 58-year-old divorcee who's determined to defy her advancing years and loneliness.
Paulina Garcia gives an impressive performance as Gloria, a complex and charismatic character who epitomises the strength of the modern woman giving a new energy to society.
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