Manchester Film Festival returns for its 10th edition this year with its most impressive slate of films yet. Set over nine days from Friday 15 – Thursday 18 March, the 2024 festival features titles from across the globe, with work from exciting new talent included alongside that of some of Hollywood’s top stars and cinema’s most acclaimed auteurs.
Opening the festival is the UK premiere of The Convert starring Guy Pearce. Set in 1830s New Zealand, the film from director Lee Tamahori tells the story of a preacher who must reckon with his faith and his violent past when he finds himself caught middle of a bloody war between Maori tribes. It’s the first event in a diverse, eclectic programme that includes 45 features and over 100 short films as it traverses the landscape of contemporary global cinema.
Other highlights this year include Alice Rohrwacher’s La Chimera starring Josh O’Connor as a British archeologist who becomes tangled in a network of stolen artifacts in the 1980s. There’s also a screening of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s knotty moral drama About Dry Grasses. Both directors can count themselves amongst the most celebrated on the current arthouse circuit, and the screenings at Manchester Film Festival mark local audiences’ first chance to catch their latest films following their debuts in the main competition at Cannes last year.
Also fresh from festival success, is Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s Venice Silver Lion-winner Evil Does Not Exist about the unrest that follows when a proposed glamping site threatens to disturb the well established rhythms of a small rural village outside of Tokyo. One of our top picks of the festival, the latest from acclaimed Japanese filmmaker is his first movie following his twin 2021 successes Drive My Car and Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy.
Among the stars appearing in the line-up, audiences can look forward to seeing Ewan McGregor and Rhys Ifans in comedy drama Mother, Couch, and the talented Franz Rogowski in Foreign Legion drama Disco Boy. Meanwhile Star Wars’ Daisy Ridley leads darkly surreal romance Sometimes I Think About Dying; and there’s a chance to see Cate Blanchett in Warwick Thornton’s The New Boy, a film about an Aboriginal Australian orphan (Aswan Reid) brought into a Christian monastery.
With docs, drama and a whole schedule of short films to dive into, this year’s festival is ripe for exploration
Part of the attraction of film festivals is the opportunity to get up close to the creative forces behind the work. For those who like to hear directly from the filmmakers, there are a number of films screening with Q&As across the Manchester Film Festival schedule. These include Chris Cronin’s haunting ghost story The Moor, Charles Craddock’s dark and dangerous rave drama Straight Through Crew, and Dan Pringle’s Die Before You Die, about an influencer-stunt gone wrong.
With docs, drama and a whole schedule of short films to dive into, this year’s festival is ripe for exploration — and film fans wanting to get the most out of the event can choose from a number of ticket and pass options. Whatever you decide to see, the 2024 closing night showing of Rose Glass’ Love Lies Bleeding should be high on your list of considerations.
A pulpy, romantic, lesbian thriller set in a noirish world of bodybuilding, the film stars Kristen Stewart as a reclusive gym manager and Katy O’Brian as the bodybuilding object of her affections in a plot full of Vegas and violence. Add supporting turns by Jena Malone, Ed Harris and Dave Franco, plus music from Clint Mansell, and Manchester Film Festival 2024 looks set to go out with a bang.