First night review: Norwich Film Festival 2014

Norwich Film festival organisers Rob Drury, Kellen Playford, Katy Quigley, Emmaa-Louise Smith and Da

Norwich Film festival organisers Rob Drury, Kellen Playford, Katy Quigley, Emmaa-Louise Smith and Danielle King get ready for this weeks viewings.Photo by Simon Finlay. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

As an occasional cinema-goer, I was not sure what the evening held in store.

I feared I could be in for a display of technicality designed to impress other film-makers rather than joe public.

I was wrong.

The two-hour screening was rich in dark humour, from a lone bagpipe player chased up an icy mountain in The Last Piper, to a man casually removing his bodily organs to put them through the washing machine in Laundry.

Dozens of people huddled into one screen of the Riverside Odeon to see the 14 independent films that made up the first block of competition entries.

The offbeat efforts ranged from one to around 20-minutes in length, and the bar was set high.

In Woodwoo, filmed around Norfolk, a jaded tree surgeon is jolted into a newfound lust for life by a near-death experience involving a chainsaw.

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The beautifully edited Hunting For Hockney follows a journey to find acclaimed artist David Hockney's residence in east Yorkshire.

London film-maker Alice Dunseath uses Hockney's artistic quirks to frame landscapes, over a personal narrative that evokes life in the north east – all chip shops and open fields.

Festival co-organiser and Norwich film-maker Emmaa-Louise Smith explores a woman's state of mind in the experimental Haunted By The Present, She Looks To The Past, and further entries came from all corners of the globe.

From Brazil, the slickly-animated film Ed opens with the shotgun suicide of a rabbit wearing a suit before giving clues from his past life about why he did it – in the army, as a criminal and with a twist.

And the minute-long Paperwork from Sweden – a simple but well-executed concept - reveals what really happens to the fruits of a clerical worker's labours, and drew many laughs.

The two-week festival – now in its fourth year - has a global reputation but felt very much homegrown.

And with two more blocks of competition entries still to come, the judges will have a task on their hands to pick winners next week.

Sam Russell

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