The 28th Leeds International Film Festival opens on Wednesday 5th November with Testament of Youth, which leads the festival’s biggest ever line-up of feature films produced in Yorkshire. Backed by Screen Yorkshire and filmed primarily in the region, Testament of Youth is the first big screen adaptation of Vera Brittain’s iconic and powerful WW1 memoir. Irrepressible and free-minded, Vera Brittain overcomes the prejudices of her family and hometown to win a scholarship to Oxford. With everything to live for, she falls in love with her brother’s close friend Roland Leighton as they go to university to pursue their literary dreams. But war is looming and everything will change. From award-winning television director James Kent, Testament of Youth stars Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Dominic West and Emily Watson.
Catch Me Daddy and X+Y, two other films which were supported with investment from Screen Yorkshire’s Yorkshire Content Fund also feature at the festival. Cast and crew will be in attendance for Cannes selection Catch Me Daddy, a remarkable and visceral chase thriller by Daniel Wolfe (the award-winning director of Plan B’s music videos), in which a girl on the run from her family is hiding out in West Yorkshire when her brother arrives in town with a vicious gang to track her down. British screen favourite Sally Hawkins and Asa Butterfield star in Toronto hit X+Y, about an autistic maths prodigy who begins to experience the world differently under the guidance of an unconventional maths teacher.
LIFF28’s Opening Night will be a double Yorkshire spectacular of particular interest to fans of the festival’s Fanomenon horror and cult film strand, as we follow Testament of Youth with the World Premiere of The Taking. Two market stall holders’ dreams of opening a tea room are shattered when they fall foul of a sociopathic loan shark in this intense new thriller directed by Dominic Brunt, who will make a special guest appearance along with cast members. Known foremost for his role as Paddy on ITV’s Emmerdale, Brunt is an emerging filmmaking talent with a penchant for suspense.
Two notable Yorkshire figures are the subjects of features in LIFF28’s Cinema Versa documentaries strand. To Hell With Culture explores the life of the Yorkshire poet Herbert Read, who after serving in WWI became an influential art critic, author, anarchist and co-founder of the ICA in London. The highly eccentric Huddersfield resident Jake Mangle Wurzle is the subject of Mr Somebody?, a compelling portrait of his unforgettably oddball lifestyle.
Yorkshire’s rich filmmaking culture will receive further celebration in LIFF28’s Yorkshire Short Film Competition as part of its Short Film City strand. With a combination of documentary, drama, comedy and animation, we present a Yorkshire-based microcosm of what’s happening in the film world. We’re especially pleased this year to feature some great little treats from young filmmakers at the beginning of their careers.
The full LIFF28 programme will be revealed at the festival’s free launch tomorrow night at Leeds Town Hall at 6.30pm, as part of Light Night Leeds. It will offer audiences their first chance to get their hands on the free, 104 page LIFF28 Guide and to experience a feature length trailer reel including films from across the festival’s five strands (Official Selection, Retrospectives, Fanomenon, Cinema Versa and Short Film City). There will be comedy, drama, thrillers, animation, documentaries, music film, short film and horror, sci-fi and cult screenings, with over 250 screenings during 16 days at venues across the city.