Cambridge is a world famous city known for a lot of different things. The world class University which has endured for over 800 years springs instantly to mind. As does the far more modern flurry of tech and biotech companies which have sprung up or migrated to the region in recent decades. But there are also many smaller, less well known aspects that Cambridge is famous for. Those that we at the Varsity Hotel Cambridge are particularly fond of.
The Film Festival
When we think of film festivals, what is it that typically comes to mind? Probably the key image in most of our minds is that of a plethora of very expensively dressed film stars and directors – the real movers and shakers of the film industry. Probably strutting down a lavish red carpet while being mobbed by hordes of paparazzi.
Or perhaps it is for the scandal that sometimes results from them. When a particularly eccentric or maverick director screens a film that takes some of the cultural norms or moral sensibilities of the time and eviscerates them. Some hail them as visionaries, pushing the bounds of art beyond the current limits as so many great artists have done in the past. While others describe their “art” in terms generally not considered suitable for polite society.
When we think of film festivals we think of Cannes. Or perhaps Venice. Berlin or Toronto. Sundance or Raindance. The really big international ones. And ironically, to the outsider at least, it seems that the actual films themselves have ceased to be the point. Next to the bling and the razzmatazz of such events.
A Unique Style
To our mind, that is what makes the Cambridge Film Festival so different and interesting. In many ways it is like Cambridge itself. Internationally minded and representative of many different nationalities and cultures. But also more compact and informal – less seeing stars on the red carpet than bumping into them in a coffee shop.
Every year sees a different emphasis and line up. Trying not to focus too much or for too long on any given style or genre. One year may see a heavy Korean cinema influence. The next the emphasis is on modern retellings of Shakespeare. Another may be focused on the evolving style of an “elder statesman” director – by screening many of his films shot across several decades.
But one aspect they always try to keep from year to year is to showcase local talent. Often by screening student film productions to a far wider audience that they could ever naturally hope to reach. A good example of this was in 1996 when a student short film entitled Larceny was screened and favourably received. The director was an emerging talent named Christopher Nolan. Yet another Cambridge alumni to have made an oversized impact on the world.