Festival set for stylish opening and closing

The 23rd Chichester International Film Festival, which launches today, will open and close in style.

Running from August 14- 31 at the Chichester Cinema at New Park (www.chichestercinema.org), the festival opens with the UK premiere of Night Train to Lisbon in which a Swiss Professor (Jeremy Irons) abandons his buttoned-down life to embark on a thrilling adventure that will take him on a journey to the very heart of himself.

Closing the festival – and a major coup for the event – will be a special preview, courtesy of Warner Bros, of Woody Allen’s new film Magic in the Moonlight with Colin Firth.

Artistic director Roger Gibson said: “We are not allowed to call it a premiere. We have got to call it a first screening. I don’t know all the politics, but we have to say it is a special preview. I didn’t think we would get it. There was a lot of discussion if we could have it and on what basis we could have it (ahead of its cinema release in late September), and I am really pleased we got it.”

This year’s major retrospective will focus on director Michael Winterbottom and producer Andrew Eaton who together have made more than 20 films.

In addition, there will be a strong documentary section of 14 films covering a wide range of subjects including classical pianist, jazz, cycling, watchmaking, slow food, photography, poetry, sculpture and journalism.

“We are particularly delighted to be giving the UK premiere of a new documentary on Niki Lauda: 33 Days-born to be Wild hopefully in the presence of its director Hannes M Schalle and the great German star Daniel Bruhl, who played Lauda in Rush (Andrew Eaton produced), which will also be screened with the documentary in a special event double bill.”

Roger added: “No Chichester Film Festival would be complete without Tony Palmer, who will be presenting his documentary on Dvorak originally made for Czechoslovakian television in 1988, but never shown in communist-controlled Czechoslovakia.”

A second retrospective focuses on Contemporary Italian Auteurs with 14 films. A special event Mafia double bill will showcase two new Italian films in partnership with the London Italian festival who premiered both films in London in July including the often hilarious but also serious The Mafia Kills only in the Summer .

The festival is also staging a number of special events including s screening of Derek Jarman’s War Requiem with Benjamin Britten’s score in Chichester Cathedral, and Ben Hall returns to give live organ accompaniment to the German expressionist silent classic The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, performed in the atmospheric St John’s Chapel.

Building on last year’s great success, the festival is also mounting another film and live jazz evening, with Stan Tracey’s jazz suite Under Milk Wood performed by a quartet including Bognor Regis’ Bobby Wellins and narrated by Ben Tracey, Stan‘s grandson .

The evening will start with a jazz documentary on Stan Tracey, an event which comes as part of the centenary celebration of Dylan Thomas, which also includes the film Under Milk Wood, starring Richard Burton. The director Andrew Sinclair will be introducing his film, together his documentary Dylan on Dylan.

Other special events include three outstanding opera productions from La Scala, Milan, and a NT live event of the new production of David Nice’s play Skylight.

The festival is bookended by the two films made by the late Philip Seymour Smith: God’s Pocket and the John Le Carre thriller The Most Wanted Man, two strikingly-different performances.