Author: Rebecca del Tufo (Programming Manager)

What strange times we are living in and what a dramatic change from just a week ago.

As a passionate film lover as well as Saffron Screen’s programming manager, I am delighted that we closed with Oscar-winner Parasite, though devastated that so many of you didn’t manage to see it before we had to shut. I am already thinking about our reopening weekend, whenever that may be, and hope to include Parasite. It was also set to be our most successful foreign language film ever, but it wasn’t to be, at least not in March. But I’m hopeful that we can bring it back with a fanfare, later this year.

For now, Saffron Screen isn’t going away. We are here to continue to share our love of film, and our love of our community, by setting up Film Clubs, film discussions, film chat and recommendations. We will be here to offer individual recommendations (just send us details of the sort of films you like and we will make suggestions) as well as filtering through what is on the streaming sites to help curate what you can see over the next few weeks. We all have more time on our hands now – let’s at least find the silver lining.

We have some offers on home streaming sites coming out to you, so we will hold fire on some of our recommendations on MUBI, BFI Player and Curzon at Home for a week or so but here are some recommendations for the coming week, available for free on BBC iplayer and More4.

Fun for all the (older) family
Katherine Bigelow’s Point Break (15) [iplayer] is a doozy – a fun thriller with Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze on youthful, gorgeous, sun-soaked form. Reeves plays an FBI agent, sent to investigate a group of Southern Californian surfers suspected of robbing banks. Pure escapism – which, let’s face it, is what we all need, from Kathryn Bigelow, the only woman ever to win the Best Director Oscar (for The Hurt Locker). This film is only on iplayer until 1.30am on Monday so make this your weekend viewing.

If you didn’t see it before, don’t miss Happy New Year, Colin Burstead (15) [iplayer], a sharply scripted family drama from British director Ben Wheatley. Colin hires a lavish country house to celebrate New Year with his parents, siblings and kids. Of course, recriminations and bitter truths emerge! With an excellent cast including Bill Paterson, Hayley Squires and Doon Mackichan, this will resonate as we all spend A LOT of time with our families!

At the end of the homeschool day….. see Mary and the Witch’s Flower (U) [More4] is a magical animation based on The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart and featuring the voices of Jim Broadbent, Kate Winslet and Ewen Bremner. It’s a delightful tale, beautifully animated, about a young lonely girl who discovers a magical flower in the forest and an old broomstick. Accompanied by a cat she meets, these lead her to incredible adventures. This will lead your young ones into some other Japanese animated adventures – which we will be talking about in future blogs.

Trolls (U) [iplayer] is bright, colourful, poppy fun to keep your little ones happy. I don’t know why I’m recommending it, as the distributor messed us around with our booking of Trolls World Tour and are now going to release it directly online, but these are strange times and you need to keep sane, so I’ll bite my tongue!

Left to right: Emily Blunt and Millicent Simmonds in A QUIET PLACE, from Paramount Pictures. Available on More4

Keeping the teenagers occupied – I spoke this week to a friend who watched A Quiet Place (15) [More4] with her teenage son. She admitted she would never have chosen to watch this, but he persuaded her, and she was glad she did. Emily Blunt is superb as the mother, with great performances from Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe as the kids, in this urgently scary (but in a manageable way, I assure you) film about a country overrun by monsters that can’t see but have acute hearing. The sequel is out soon (it was in our programme for April – we will keep you posted) and this is well worth a family watch.  

Don’t miss Force Majeure (15) [More 4], a fascinating and darkly funny film about a family on a skiing holiday in France. When threatened by an avalanche, the father’s first instinct is to save himself rather than protect his family – and the rest of the film plays out as they all feel the repercussions of this decision. A film in Swedish, French, English and Norwegian, this will use your resting grey cells and give you pause for thought about families. Oh, and it will save you from seeing the recent American remake, Downhill, with Will Ferrell – which, not sadly, has got lost in the virus vortex!

For the art-house audience We are going to be talking about Hirokazu Kore-eda quite a bit – he has a new film out this week, which we had hoped to show on the big screen but this may no longer happen, so we will be telling you where to see it online. Kore-eda (who recently brought us the wonderful Shoplifters) is the most magical of Japanese directors, with an elegant flair for directing children and making small, domestic situations feel very important. As we all live in our domestic situations right now, why not delve into the dynamics of the family. After the Storm (PG) [iplayer] follows a downbeat dad, trying to raise child support money and reconnect with his son and ex-wife. The father is really struggling, while his ex-wife and ageing mother (the luminous Kirin Kiki) seem to be moving on with their lives. But then a wild storm brings the family together. (Could have analogies right now!) As Peter Bradshaw said in The Guardian: “There is such intelligence and delicacy in Kore-eda’s film-making, such wit and understated humanity.”

And while you are on your Kore-eda exploration, you can see the delightful I Wish (PG) [More4], which tells the story of two young brothers, separated as one is living with their mother and one with their father, post divorce, in distant cities in Japan. When they hear that the new bullet trains will precipitate a wish-granting miracle when they pass each other, they hatch a plan. This is a lovely tale of youthful friendship, well worth sharing with youngsters, probably 10+ – a fun introduction to films with subtitles.

I might devote a future blog post just to the work of Kore-eda so get ahead of the curve with some early homework!! I have a box set which I got for my birthday last year – and might finally now have time to watch.

Memories of our Rainbow Film Festival
Now we finally have time, we are going to reflect on our Rainbow Film Festival last September, and will share some thoughts and memories. For now, you can see the gloriously colourful, thoughtful and joyous Rafiki (15) [More4], which tells of two young Kenyan women whose friendship blossoms into something more. They realise they have to choose between happiness and safety. Initially banned in Kenya as the ending was too positive for a same-sex story (?!), it was finally screened, after the director brought a court case against the Kenyan government – and was shown to sell-out crowds in Nairobi. Now, if that isn’t a story which deserves support, what is?

The Goob – Available on BBC iplayer

And memories of Q&As – Escape to Norfolk with The Goob (15) [iplayer], the coming-of-age story of a teenage boy during a long, hot summer. It’s a rough, tough story, as he deals with his mum’s rubbish boyfriend and falls for a foreign field worker. But it is beautifully acted and shot, and we were lucky to welcome writer-director Guy Myhill to Saffron Screen for a Q&A in 2014. Now we are looking forward to future Q&As (we have some possibles, that we were lining up for May and June – we will wait and see what happens).

Do keep in touch – via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or – tell us what you would like us to write about, what you want to hear, or just drop us a line with your thoughts. We all need to keep in touch and make our isolation as un-isolated as possible.

Oh, and finally a plea to you all – as you can see, there are numerous films you can view for free, and we will be highlighting reasonably priced, useful streaming services over the next few weeks. PLEASE PLEASE don’t download films illegally. The film industry at all levels – production, distribution, exhibition – is going to be in a precarious plight this year. Please support us. Thank you.