Magazine article Screen International

On the Road with the Rain Man

Magazine article Screen International

On the Road with the Rain Man

Article excerpt

The welcomes might have been warm at the Karlovy Vary, St Petersburg and Sarajevo festivals, but the weather proved more inhospitable

I am fast coming to the conclusion that I've done something to upset the weather gods. I spend most of early summer at Eastern European film festivals renowned for their warm welcome (with the emphasis on 'warm') and sunny disposition (with the emphasis on 'sun'). But sadly my main contribution was to bring the wet weather with me.

So first of all, my profound apologies to Karlovy Vary, St Petersburg and Sarajevo... and now I'm gone may the sun shine once again on your splendid cities.

There is something reassuringly smart about Karlovy Vary. Everything is perfectly organised, screenings start on time and the wines at the receptions at the Grandhotel Pupp are always tasty.

Okay so it never actually poured down in Karlovy Vary -- just a run of gloomy and intermittently damp days and nights. And it didn't stop the ever-radiant Judi Dench from attending the opening night screening of Jane Eyre, and she didn't even object when I lumbered into her path at the glitzy opening night party.

And so to St Petersburg for the second annual Kinoforum event. Day one, all was well: sun beating down, elegant sidewalks full of tourists and a splendid social event organised every night. A day later and the heavens opened... amazingly the forecasts had lied and I hadn't brought an umbrella.

Blessedly it stayed dry for a fabulous Kinoforum reception at the Peterhof Palace, and was down to a drizzle when I toured the legendary Hermitage Museum, a beautiful building containing some striking works of art, though sadly packed with tourists including a group of Americans dressed as Father Christmas. Odd.

I'd been reassured the sun always shone on the Sarajevo Film Festival. And there was no denying it was pleasant for Aki Kaurismaki's delightful opening night film Le Havre and the outdoor reception.

After that it was umbrella time ­--­ at least I remembered to bring one -- and plenty of rushing between cinemas, screening rooms, hotels and restaurants. But despite that, the enthusiasm was infectious -- audiences were out in force and relishing the films. …

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