Watching Cinema Online: Between 2021 and 2022

Casting our minds back to London Film Festival earlier this year, Claire Horrocks of Exeter Phoenix writes in reflection on the online format and two films which films stood out amongst the crowd.

News that BFI London Film Festival was, once again, offering a virtual delegate pass was warmly received by those of us who could not spare the time, money, or resources on a  trip to the capital. The virtual pass offered access for all suggesting delegates could experience a “full force” hybrid edition.

 

I liked the sound of this. 2020 made way for a new model of experiencing film festivals, opening up opportunities to view films previously reserved for a limited cinema audience. From an industry perspective, it felt like LFF were recognising the barriers many face when trying to attend key industry events.

 

With my virtual pass purchased I had high hopes for witnessing the hype and sparkle of ‘the world’s best new films, but from the comfort of my office and/or bed.

 

Perhaps I hit a wall with the hybrid, or my laptop screen is now too familiar to evoke and sense of magic – but I was disappointed. 2021’s virtual offer felt like an afterthought. A second prize. Don’t get me wrong, there were some incredible, significant and important films to watch but it all felt rather detached. Limited viewing windows and no opportunities for virtual delegates to network lead me to question the £85 price tag.

FLEE, film still c/o Curzon

CANNON ARM AND THE ARCADE QUEST, film still c/o Cargo Releasing

  • FLEE | Dir. Jonas Poher Rasmussen  | Release date 2022 | Released by Curzon

Masked through a layer of gorgeous and accomplished animation this real-life account of one man’s journey from Kabul to Denmark. FLEE does everything to make you experience how exhausting, debilitating, and terrifying it is for many refugees who had to flee their homes in order to seek a safe life.

Told through personal and intimate interviews between Amin (his real identity kept secret) and his best friend Jonas (who directed the film), we witness a personal account of how Amin has to leave his home as a child, navigate armed borders and avoid the corrupt Russian police. Amin did not experience childhood or his teenage years as we know it; yet he tells his story with subtlety, kindness and without judgment. The painful memories are peppered with happy ones as the animation draws us closer to Amin’s experiences engulfing us in each moment with a clarity that other storytelling techniques would not allow. FLEE is a film I have found myself thinking about a lot. It will stay with me for a long time yet.

  • CANNON ARM AND THE ARCADE QUEST | Dir. Max Hedegaard | Released by Cargo Film

Documentary or drama? It took me a full 20 minutes to be sure.

Cannon Arm is a legend at the Bip Bip Bar and he plans to be the first person in the world to play Arcade Quest, a game from the 1980s, for 100 hours straight with just one coin. Think Rocky meet Napoleon Dynamite.

Loaded with genuine, quirky characters and a mission like none seen before CANNON ARM AND THE ARCADE QUEST champions the outsiders and the weirdoes. With a narration that echoes the style of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and a well-structured story, I was invested to the bitter end.

It’s a documentary by the way. Which makes the story even more incredible.

 

Claire Horrocks is the Film Programmer at Exeter Phoenix

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