A WIFF of success

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The Independent Online
"All petha ond gwella," opines Berwyn Rowlands in his introduction to the programme for the seventh Welsh International Film Festival. This translates as "things can only get better" - an unusually candid comment on the Welsh film industry, especially from the Festival's Director, but you can see his point. While Scotland throngs with stars in kilts and Ireland soaks up Hollywood dollars, Wales gets stuck with The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain. The festival, which starts in Aberystwyth today, should boost national confidence, with the best of recent Welsh productions showing alongside a fine selection of new international film. Over nine days audiences can pick and mix classics and curiosities: luxuriate in big-screen weepy Dr Zhivago (Sat 11, 2.30pm) or see how Eighties icons Adam Ant and Debbie Harry are bearing up in Dead Rock (Fri 17, 10.30pm). Other WIFF highlights include the UK premiere of Kenneth Branagh's theatrical comedy In the Bleak Midwinter, starring glamour warhorse Joan Collins (Sun 12, 8pm), and the abrasive realism of Karl Franklin's Streetlife, set in the valleys of South Wales. (Mon 13, 5.30pm). The Near Room, with Adrian Dunbar, left, (Tues 14, 8pm) is tipped as this year's Shallow Grave, and for Lottery-loving capitalists there is the horror film Watch the K Foundation Burn a Million Quid, with former KLF members Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond present after the screening to explain their expensive bonfire and argue their sanity. Aber is one of those towns that people describe as a "well-kept secret" and the fest has come in for some teasing about its seaside venue over the years. "If you look on the map it's very small," admits Rowlands, but points out that it is ideally positioned for a national festival "slap bang in the middle of Wales". As Rowlands says: "If you only ever go to Aberystwyth once it should undoubtedly be to experience the Welsh International Film Festival."


The Welsh International Film Festival runs from today until 19 Nov in Aberystwyth (01970 623232)