Overnight Film Festival is proud to announce that our special guest curators are Emma Dabiri, Jenn Nkiru and Ariane Labed. You can read more about them on our Curators page.
Our three guest curators will present two programmes each over the weekend, with the opening, closing and Sunday morning hangover programmes presented by the Overnight Film Festival team…
Friday 26 February, 7.30pm: Loves of a Blonde
Milos Forman’s rarely shown second feature is a sweet, funny, sad and open-hearted gem focusing on the romantic travails of a young female factory worker from rural Czechoslovakia.
Overnight Film Festival’s head of programming Isabel Moir says: “I first saw Loves of a Blonde as a student. I was really into 1960s European cinema, especially the women of the French New Wave, and a friend suggested this Czech film from the same period. I fell in love with everything about it! The song in the opening credits, the depiction of youthful friendship, the all-female world that the girls have created for themselves while longing for any male presence. I love the main character – she’s so charming – and I completely identify with her infatuation. It’s the perfect tragicomedy! Also the fact that they’re away from a major city fits with our festival setting. I grew up in Eastbourne and screening one of my favourite films in my home town is going to be really special.”
Saturday 27 February, 11am: Bad Hair (Pelo Malo)
Chosen by Emma Dabiri, Bad Hair (2013) is Venezuelan filmmaker Mariana Rondón’s sharply observed, brilliantly acted and refreshingly unsentimental drama about childhood gender identity and mother/son dynamics amid the bustle of inner city Caracas. Nine-year-old Junior (Samuel Lange) wants to straighten his curls and dress up as a flamboyant pop singer. But our hero’s shiny coiffed dreams meet the homophobic disapproval of his stressed-out single parent Marta (Samantha Castillo).
Saturday 27 February, 2pm: Pariah
Chosen by Jenn Nkiru, Pariah (2011) is the multiple award-winning feature debut by Nashville-born, New York-based writer-director Dee Rees, developed from her own 2007 short and executive produced by Spike Lee. This powerful yet nuanced coming out/coming-of-age tale stars the deeply empathetic Adepero Oduye as Alike: a Brooklyn teenager juggling identities, who risks friendship, heartbreak and family in a desperate search for sexual expression. Shot on location in Fort Greene, it’s further lit up by Bradford Young’s unerringly gorgeous cinematography.
Saturday 27 February, 4.30pm: Woman of the Dunes
Chosen by Ariane Labed, Woman of the Dunes (1964) is a truly unique cinematic experience: an immersive, sensual, visually and sonically intoxicating parable which saw Hiroshi Teshigahara become the first Asian director to be nominated for an Oscar. Its plot is deceptively simple: when visiting a remote coastal village, an amateur Tokyo entomologist (Eiji Okada) is trapped by local fishermen into living with a woman (Kyōko Kishida) whose life task is shovelling sand for them. The pair’s confinement opens up both the characters’ and viewers’ minds to notions of desire, and the essence of what it is to be human.
Saturday 27 February, 8.30pm: Eve’s Bayou
Chosen by Jenn Nkiru, Eve’s Bayou (1997) is actor turned writer-director Kasi Lemmons’ landmark first outing behind the camera: a feminist, African-American family saga set in early ’60s Louisiana. Multilayered and lyrical, with magnetic performances and a rich Southern Gothic atmosphere, her story unfurls the chain of events triggered by recklessly debonair doctor Louis Batiste (Samuel L. Jackson), forever changing the lives of his youngest daughter Eve (Jurnee Smollett), her big sister Cisely (Meagan Good) and their mother Roz (Lynn Whitfield).
Sunday 28 February, 10am: Wildwood, NJ
Sunday morning’s selection will be the first ever UK screening of cult ’90s documentary Wildwood, NJ. Our head of programming and Eastbourne native Isabel Moir explains further…
In 1994, filmmakers Ruth Leitman and Carol Weaks Cassidy strolled along the boardwalks of Jersey Shore’s prime summer spot Wildwood. They ended up meeting a mix of young, vibrant and opinionated women, and listened to what they had to say about their lives, female friendship, love, sex and summer in New Jersey. I think the themes discussed are universal to all teenage girls, and since I grew up in a seaside town I felt an instant connection to the memories that can be created over a single summer.
Little did the filmmakers know that Wildwood, NJ would soon have a rebirth after artists inspired by the film tried to recreate the Nineties nostalgia it brilliantly captures. I had the privilege to speak with Ruth Leitman about how she feels about her work being reappropriated by other artists:
“When we made Wildwood, NJ in 1994, the film had the life we’d planned for it, enthusiastic audiences at festivals and the like. We could never have imagined or planned the second life that a general internet public would have for the film changing the narrative of its exposure and even the story itself. When clips were posted on the web in 2009, fashion designers, bloggers, musicians and fans of the NJ vernacular appropriated parts of the film. People insert their own narrative using the film to create more interactive connection to the history of the people and the place. For me as a filmmaker, it is a phenomenon that I am witnessing with my work rather than controlling. It’s way beyond us at this point, which is exciting, but not without some concern (like with Lana Del Ray’s ‘Diet Mountain Dew’ video).”
Ruth and Carol created a fascinating collage that gives a voice to these women of New Jersey, who are often overlooked in film. I am really excited to screen Wildwood, NJ for the first time in the UK and think a festival by the seaside is the perfect location for it.
Sunday 28 February, 1pm: Au Hasard Balthazar
Chosen by Ariane Labed, Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) is Robert Bresson’s unflinching and utterly sublime story about a saintly donkey’s life in rural France – an arduous, open to interpretation journey that Jean-Luc Godard hailed as “the world in an hour and a half”. Beautifully composed, edited and scored, yet also brutally naturalistic in its depiction of the hardships that the titular beast of burden endures, this concise spiritual allegory boasts an unforgettable central turn by the young Anne Wiazemsky as Balthazar’s loving first owner Marie. The donkey is an absolute heartbreaker too.
Sunday 28 February, 3.20pm: An Oversimplification of Her Beauty
Chosen by Emma Dabiri, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (2012) is the head-spinningly original and heart-burstingly romantic “one-sided nonfiction” feature debut by Dallas-born, Brooklyn-based director/star/dreamer Terence Nance. Assembled over six years, this frank and funny Afrofuturist meta-collage traces the wayward course of its creator’s real-life love via poetic narration, home video intimacy, kaleidoscopic animation and a specially composed soundtrack by Flying Lotus (as well as Nance’s own music).
Sunday 28 February, 6.15pm: Wanda
Written, directed and produced by the often overlooked and underrated Barbara Loden – who also plays its title character – our closing night film Wanda (1970) is one of the all-time great independent pictures, a trailblazing work of feminist art that demands to be more widely celebrated. Drawing both on contemporary newspaper reports and her own experiences growing up poor in rural America, Loden crafted this tale of a runaway Pennsylvania housewife on a shoestring budget, employing a crew of just four people (including herself). Once seen, you’ll never forget it.
How the screenings will work
We’re converting the hotel’s splendid ballroom into a bespoke cinema equipped with 35mm, 16mm and digital projection capabilities. There will be nine film screenings spread over the weekend: one on Friday night, four on Saturday and four on Sunday. There will also of course be parties every night, so bring your dancing shoes!
On Saturday and Sunday we’ll have a break at lunch time and dinner for you to head out of the hotel and explore the many varied delights of Eastbourne. We’re partnering with local businesses to get discounts on food. There are plenty of outstanding fish and chip shops nearby, not to mention the picturesque seafront.
Our dreamy OFF community will have opportunities galore to talk film and much more over breakfast and via salons all around the magnificent Queens Hotel. Stand by for surprises!