Leeds International Film Festival
Oct. 28 - Nov. 7

This year's program: 77 feature films, 65 documentaries, over 150 shorts, and 26 events, performances, and exhibitions.

In addition to the main program, more fun stuff, like genre cinema eyeball extravaganza Fanomenon, and The Fringe, for exo-cinema viewing in bars and clubs like The Wardrobe and The Hi-Fi. Waiting on the advent of film screenings in mobile ex-ambulances, but maybe that'd be taking it a bit far.

Although that would lend some pedal to the floor in getting folk to make screenings on time. If not - there you'd be, standing on the curb like a fool.

Right. Back to the actual facts. There'll be eight UK premieres in the first Golden Owl Competition; these include Austrian travelogue "Handbikemovie," Brazilian documentary "The Prisoner of the Iron Bars," and psychological drama "Days of Santiago."

The Official Selection also profiles acclaimed, established directors whose work has rarely surfaced in the UK: for 2004, the featured directors are Iciar Bollain, Spain's leading woman filmmaker, and Franco Piavoli, creator of the magical Italian film, "The Blue Planet."


"Koi No Mon/Otakus in Love"
A funny and ironic portrait of a subculture, "Koi No Mon" is a love story for manga fanatics. Aoki Mon is an artist so obsessed he draws on stones. He meets Koino, a girl with the same passion, they fall in love and start to work together. And then...competition looms as a testing ground for their feelings. Legendary Japanese directors Shinya Tsukamoto and Miike Takashi make guest appearances in two excellent cameos. Takashi's new film, "Izo," will also be screening at the festival.

Shown above: "Una de Zombis"
Aijon and Caspas are dying to make movies. Unfortunately, they're missing two vital elements: money and talent. But this is the least of their worries as they've stumbled into the middle of an undead gang war.

A villain known as The Spirit, and psychopathic Mafia gang The Antichrists, who, incidentally, are zombies, are bashing it out on the streets. Amidst all the distraction and flying body parts, will Aijon and Caspas finish their script? With death, chaos and general lunacy and run-amukishness all around them - they might even miss their deadline.

Shown above: "Tears of Kali"
The dark side of the New Age. A mysterious cult, The Taylor-Eriksson Group, encourages its members to achieve self-fulfilment through extreme physical and psychological experiments. The cult gradually disintegrates when members go missing, but the terrible secrets of the cult are revealed in three stories, each told with increasing horror. Director Andreas Marschall started his career as a comic book artist for "Heavy Metal." He also designed film posters, book illustrations and record covers. He shot his first music video in the early 90s. This is his first feature film.

Shown above: Director Zhang Yimou discusses a scene with Ziyi Zhang, Takeshi Kaneshiro, "House of Flying Daggers"

"Shi Mian Mai Fu/House of Flying Daggers"
"'Hero' was an experiment, 'House of Flying Daggers' is the real thing," director Yimou Zhang has said of his second martial arts epic. The year is 859AD and China's Tang Dynasty is in decline. Unrest rages everywhere and the forces of corrupt governors are locked in battle with rebel armies.

The largest of the rebel armies is the fearsome "House of Flying Daggers." Police captains Leo and Jin are ordered to capture its mysterious new leader. They hatch an elaborate plan involving a beautiful, blind dancer called Mei, who is suspected of having ties to the "House of Flying Daggers."

Then, of course, all hell busts loose. Love, jealousy, lots 'o swordplay, big drama, bigger blizzards and a tragic ending. Voila. Epic.

The literal translation of the title is actually "Ambush from Ten Directions," but presumably the "Daggers" bit sounded...sharper. The film hits U.S. screens in December.

Shown above: "Le Conseguenze Dell'Amore/Consequences of Love"
In a Swiss lakeside hotel, middle-aged Titta Di Girolamo has been a permanent resident for eight years. He seems to be a man without identity and with very little to do, apart from smoking and coolly observing the hotel's denizens. But what's the story behind the mysterious suitcases delivered to his door?

Shown/header image: "House of Flying Daggers"

Find it/Venues: Too many to list. The festival office (number below)
will answer all inquiries about venue locations and screening dates/times.
Get info: 011-3-247-8398 or 011-3-224-3801

Find other film festivals/screenings worldwide, in the OCT/NOV issue of "Arte Six".