Widescreen Weekend is an annual event at Bradford’s Science and Media Museum. As the name suggests, it’s a festival featuring films in various widescreen formats, from 70mm to digital but with a focus on “films on film” along with various talks throughout the weekend. This year’s event starts on Thursday 11 October with the opening night screening of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (35mm) often considered one of the greatest Westerns ever made and arguably Leone’s best film. That’s a great way to kick off the weekend, with Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards and Claudia Cardinale starring.
On the Friday, early risers can catch the Marlon Brando version of Mutiny on the Bounty (70mm) directed by Carol Reed and Lewis Milestone. If you’re a fan of Uwe Boll, it’s the movie that made him want to be a filmmaker, according to his recent appearance on “The Films That Made Me” podcast. That’s followed by the Gene Kelly film, It’s Always Fair Weather (digital) his first collaboration with Stanley Domen after Singin’ in the Rain. It was a shocking flop as it wasn’t what anyone expected—it’s known for being that rarity, a cynical musical (and any film that Pauline Kael called “a delayed hangover’ is probably a good one!) Next up is Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence (4K DCP)—read my review of it here. And for fans of The Greatest Showman, there will be an IMAX showing on Friday afternoon as well.
To kick off the early evening there’s the excellent The Apartment (review here) and the final film of the day, a slightly forgotten John Frankenheimer film Grand Prix, made the same year as Seconds. Two films couldn’t be more different from each other! It stars James Mason, Yves Montand, Eva Marie-Saint, Toshiro Mifune and Françoise Hardy, amongst others. The format has not been confirmed yet, but it should be a 70mm print.
Early on Saturday, the festival will have a screening of How The West Was Won, with all the great Western actors: John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda, to name just a few, directed by John Ford, Henry Hathaway and George Marshall. That one will be in the famous three-strip Cinerama format, which is a pretty cool experience. Contact (35mm) follows, the Robert Zemeckis film based on a novel by the scientist Carl Sagan. It’s an alien-contact story with Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey, which will be introduced by Carrie Ann Stromeyer, the film’s VFX editor and a frequent Zemeckis collaborator. No Country For Old Men (35mm) is a great neo-Western set in the Texas/Mexico border region (which I assume anyone reading this has seen), and was an Oscar winner for the Coen Brothers. A drug deal goes wrong, and Javier Bardem plays a chilling psychopath with impressive hair. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (35mm) is another popular offering, a Qing Dynasty epic that changed the face of the martial arts film. The next film is Flatliners (70mm), which should be fun to see. It has a ridiculous last-gasp-of-the-Brat-Pack cast that includes Kiefer Sutherland in a late ‘80s sci-fi thriller about med students flirting with the afterlife.
Deaf-Mute Heroine (35mm), an obscure martial arts film from 1971, directed by Wu Ma. It’s introduced by my old Bradford University lecturer Mark Goodall. Year of the Dragon (70mm) is playing at the same time, Michael Cimino’s first film post-Heaven’s Gate and an attempt to salvage his career that didn’t go according to plan. It stars Mickey Rourke in his prime as grey-haired police captain Stanley White, a Vietnam vet assigned to clean up the Triad gangs in New York City. It features an Oliver Stone script, one of his very last work-for-hire scripts before becoming primarily a writer-director. It’s an under-rated, beautifully shot crime thriller that will look great in blown up in 70mm.
On Sunday the first one up is Jules and Jim (35mm), the fantastic Truffaut movie with Jeanne Moreau and Oskar Werner. It’s a landmark of French New Wave cinema. The one screening especially for kids is Lady and the Tramp (digital) at 1:30. The film I’m most excited about is Sam Fuller’s Forty Guns (4K DCP, and originally known as Woman With the Whip) which stars Barbara Stanwyck playing a noir-like femme fatale. It’s the most modern of Fuller’s Westerns, with a strong female lead. There’s even a scene that predates the whole through-the-gunbarrel shot later seen in James Bond movie intros. The final two films are Ridley Scott’s feminist road movie Thelma and Louise (35mm), and Barbara Streisand vehicle Funny Girl (4K DCP), directed by William Wyler.
More information and tickets are available here