Oxford International Film Festival Review by Joel Pickard

Summer is just around the corner now, the sun has got his hat on, and I’ve got a pair of 3D glasses ready for the movie season to begin! What better way to get the show on the road than starting off with a trip downtown to catch a glimpse of the Oxford International Film festival, held at the Phoenix Picture House this weekend.

The Phoenix has got a jam packed line up of some incredible feature films, shorts, and music videos from across the globe, starting with one of the most prominent films to burst on to the indie circuit, an award winning feature, Two Down, directed by Matthew Butler and executively produced by Stephen Fry. The film follows the story of a suave Hitman (Alex Hassell), who after being injured during a hit, seeks protection from an unexpected ally.

The film delves into its incredible style right off the bat, showing reverence to its clear inspiration of the classic 70s espionage thriller genre. The writers, Mathew and Tori Hart have done an incredible job at blending slick dialogue with a well-crafted story.

The standouts of the movie include Conleth Hill as Harry Montague and Tori Hart, the co-writer, as the strong, yet fascinating Sophie Watson. The film has been praised all over the world after first premiering last summer.

Having only 12 days to shoot the film, the Director did an incredible job of capturing the obscure and clever screenplay with an unmistakable style and finesse. The film will be paired with a selection of short films premiering at the Phoenix, and will be followed by a Q&A session with the selected filmmakers.

The Paper Store, a U.S. feature film directed by Nicholas Gray, will also be shown during the festival. It’s a revenge tale about a former college student who forges essays for cash, the client who becomes her lover, and their professor. The film starts off as any other indie rom-com would, but quickly changes its direction towards a more serious and sinister tone. It’s intellectual subtext and unorthodox filming style makes the film truly an experience to watch, offering a fresh approach to the student-based film genre, realistically conveying pressures surrounding stress, finance, and mental health.

But the fun doesn’t end with features; the Phoenix has given a variety of international short films and music videos premiering at the festival their chance to shine. One of my favourites is a short titled ‘Domino’, an experimental film all the way from Chile that shows the moments we miss in the rush of athletic competition, displaying the body’s ability to adapt in order to keep up with the demanding conditions of athletics.

The very comically observational student film, ‘Film School Musical’, by U.S. directors Maan B and Talha B, will have its premiere at the Phoenix, allowing them to show off their comedy/musical full of winks and nods to the independent film industry. The Phoenix will also host the international premier of the music video ‘The Slow Show’, by UK director, Paul Booth.

The Oxford International Film Festival runs from May 27-29. With a huge selection of shorts, music videos, student films, and full blown features, the film festival has everything your average movie-goer could ever dream of and more, with a truly diverse showcase of movies from across the globe.

Tickets and festival passes are available from Phoenix Picturehouse and full details of all the films can be found at www.picturehouses.com/cinema/Phoenix_Picturehouse and www.oxiff.com