Northwest Film Event Highlights – December 2015

Yes, Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be dominating cinemas from 18 Dec, but it’s not just droids we’re looking for. There are plenty of other great film events on offer this month – and not just Christmas movies

Feature by Simon Bland & Jamie Dunn | 30 Nov 2015

James Benning: People & Places

We’ve been looking forward to the prospect of a James Benning season since it was hinted at by HOME’s artistic director of film, Jason Wood, back when the venue opened in May, and this month we finally get the chance to experience the great American filmmaker’s formally rigorous yet wonderfully graceful cinema on the big screen. Benning sees his role in refreshingly unpretentious terms as “someone who pays attention and reports back.” HOME have five of his missives: One Way Boogie Woogie (6 Dec), Ruhr (10 Dec), Small Roads (12 Dec), Twenty Cigarettes (14 Dec) and Faces (17 Dec). 

Sunset Song with Terence Davies

There's also a chance to hear, first-hand, from one of the UK’s greatest filmmakers this month. Ahead of Terence Davies' long-in-the-making Sunset Song's release on 4 Dec, the filmmaker will be in Manchester and his hometown of Liverpool on 3 Dec to present preview screenings. Any opportunity to hear Davies talk about his work should always be snapped up, and we're pleased to report that his latest is another corker (we called it “a Scottish answer to Gone with the Wind.”) See Davies at HOME from 6pm before he races down the M62 for FACT’s 8pm screening.

Read our interview the stars of Sunset Song, Agyness Deyn and Kevin Guthrie

Häxan with Josephine score

HOME also celebrates the wealth of new filmmaking talent on our doorstep with their regular short-film showcase, Filmed Up (4 Dec), plus there’s the not-to-be-missed final screening in the venue’s specially commissioned Music and Film trilogy. Having seen brand new scores performed by Robin Richards and GoGo Penguin, it's the turn of Josephine Oniyama to lend her soulful voice and skilful guitar playing for a new live score to Benjamin Christensen’s sadistic silent classic Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (11 & 13 Dec).

Ghostly Murray Christmas Double Bill

We have to talk about Christmas movies, we guess. You’ll find plenty of yuletide favourites on the big screen –The Muppet Christmas Carol (12 Dec, FACT), It’s a Wonderful Life (15 Dec, Printworks, Manchester), Home Alone (19 Dec, FACT) – but it’s not all syrup. Take Grimmfest: they’ll be wishing everyone a very Murray Christmas with their Ghostly Murray Christmas Double Bill (10 Dec) at Salford’s Ordsall Hall. This festive frightener boasts two Bill Murray belters, Scrooged and Ghostbusters, back-to-back in a venue that’s reportedly haunted, so don’t forget to bring your proton pack.

Christmas at the Bridgewater Hall

If you insist on something truly Christmassy, though, we recommend heading to the Bridgewater Hall, where the Hallé Orchestra will be providing a live score to The Snowman (22 & 23 Dec). Fans of iconic movie music may also want to stick around the same venue for The Best of John Williams (27 Dec), as the legendary composer’s key tracks get the full orchestra treatment. The perfect way to combat the post-Christmas blues.

Simon Bland on Twitter: @sitweetstoo

Correction: in print we only listed three of the five films in the James Benning seasons