Showroom’s BFI Young Programmers Festival returns this February with a week of film screenings selected by the talented 16–19 year olds from this year’s BFI Film Academy Specialist Programming Course. The course runs each year at Showroom and is designed to introduce young people to the concepts of running a cinema, with course members learning abut film programming, marketing, distribution and audience development alongside industry professionals and filmmakers from across the world.
They’ve come up with an eclectic, diverse and punchy programme that comprises ten titles paired within five different strands, each scheduled as its own double bill. Showcasing a knowledge of cinema history, the thoughtful pairings span time, genre and location, provoking audiences to consider each film in a new context alongside its counterpart.
The festival runs from 13 – 18 February, and kicks off with two films directed by women, each featuring “Unlikeable Women”. The aim is to celebrate depictions of complex characters who may have been viewed as unsympathetic, and then to challenge that view. So the young programmers have selected to show Barbara Loden’s 1970 classic Wanda in which a woman abandons her family and ends up on the run. Accompanying Loden’s film is Věra Chytilová’s 1966 Daisies, a satire that follows two teenage girls who anarchy and rebellion in the face of authoritarianism.
the thoughtful pairings span time, genre and location, provoking audiences to consider each film in a new context alongside its counterpart
There’s a focus on youth across the selections. On Wednesday 14 February, “Look How Far We’ve Come” looks to use film as activism by posing questions about the nature of the immigrant experience, with screenings of Sarah Gavron’s London-set teen comedy-drama Rocks and modern classic Mathieu Kassovitz’s La Haine, which follows three friends over a day in a Paris housing project. While a Friday night (16 Feb) transatlantic teenage tearaway double bill titled “A Night to Remember” pairs Joe Cornish’s London-based Attack the Block with Walter Hill’s nocturnal New York classic The Warriors.
Rounding out the festival, Paweł Pawlikowski’s tender black-and-white drama Cold War and Armando Iannucci’s satirical comedy The Death of Stalin take opposing approaches to the history of communism (Thu 15 Feb). Then “Fake Reality” invites audiences to consider the role of dreams within reality with showings of Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending Inception, and Satoshi Kon’s classic anime feature Paprika.
Finally, there’s an opportunity to catch a showcase of the films made as part of the BFI Film Hub North’s DIY Filmmaking Challenge: Sci Fi. Featuring work from filmmakers aged 16-25 from across the region, these no-budget, micro-shorts are in competition to win a £1,000 development fund — a prize that will be announced at the screening on Sunday 18 February.