Here are details of Cheltenham Film Society’s 2020 programme. We were able to show films until the Covid situation once again caused us to shut up shop.
The titles of each film are linked to the Internet Movie Database, and there is a link to a trailer where available.
Originally shown Tuesday 22 September 2020.
Mark Jenkin | UK | 2019 | 15 | 89 mins | English
Bait tells a simple story of unwelcome incomers in a Cornish fishing village, but it is also an astonishing technical achievement. Using a clockwork camera and shot on short lengths of film, hand processed, it has a unique look that perfectly matches the gritty feel of the narrative. Trailer.
An appreciation score of 83.6 per cent. Some of your comments:
- Great cinematography and detail. Gripping !
- That was really different and well made. Was mesmerized throughout.
- An old story told in quite an unorthodox style. Sounds and images almost attack your senses as if trying to shock you grabbing your attention in the most compelling way.
- Brilliant casting, especially Hugo and Mr Leigh. It reminded me of Derek Jarman (Super 8, etc).
- At first I wasn’t sure I would enjoy this but after about two minutes I was gripped. The way the movie was shot made it feel timeless and yet such a contemporary theme.
- Could almost smell the sea.
- Excellent cinematography, but the plot could have been had more depth.
- Really interesting use of film and sound, the scratches to the surface and use of different exposures created a very textural feel while the often jarring sounds added to the sense of foreboding.
- One of the best films I’ve seen in years. A brilliant tragi-comedy, & loved the cinematography. Thank you!
- Having recently returned from a couple of weeks touring Cornwall and Devon, we loved this film! Shot in black and white on grainy film gives it a nostalgic kitchen sink drama effect and it took me a wee while to work out whether it was shot in the 60s or current day!
- Better than I thought it would be from the first 5 mins! Got quite into the weird angle shots etc.
- Good storyline, although sometimes confusing. Elements of that storyline were missing towards the end, but overall felt like an amateur entry in a local film club.
- Innovative cinematography and editing gave the film an unsettling feel more akin to the horror genre.
- Visually impressive, narrative could have been more absorbing and compelling. I look forward to seeing this again on TV or DVD with subtitles as I missed some of the dialogue.
- Altogether an extremely amateurish film. Cinematography especially poor – endless extreme close-ups. Sound was too loud. Very dirty print.
Originally shown Tuesday 13 October 2020 at 17:30 and 20:15.
Benedikt Erlingsson | Iceland | 2019 | 12 | 101 mins | Icelandic
Halla is a mild-mannered choir teacher who leads a double life as a ferocious eco-warrior. Then she receives a letter telling her that her adoption request has been approved, and everything changes. A drama with lighter moments and a powerful advertisement for its Icelandic setting. Trailer.
An appreciation score of 91.67 per cent. Some of your comments:
- “Another great Icelandic film.”
- “Quirky but with a message, great lead actress.”
- “Really interesting filming/music inclusion and fabulous scenery, an excellent story line and very unusual.”
- “Now I want to go to Iceland ! Beautiful scenery.”
- “Great female role model. Wonderful bizarre bits!”
- “A lovely film, quite a parable for our time.”
- “This was a little gem. More of the same please!”
- “Superb – loved the humour and the way the music was integrated into the film. Very beautifully filmed.”
- “A brilliant film. Its twists and turns to achieve her beliefs with such strength and endurance were frankly amazing.”
- “The film succeeded in being beautiful, poignant and funny all at the same time.”
- “I was totally gripped and found myself hiding under a lime tree on my way home as a plane flew overhead. A few minutes later I was reassured by the sound of a drummer practising in a nearby house.”
- “Entertaining but the arty inclusion of a three piece band was baffling, although the musical accompaniment was of high quality. Not surprising she was angry with that band following her around.”
- “Very much enjoyed the film, and I loved the accompanying on-screen musicians.”
- “The best movie since I became a member one year ago!! Just brilliant in every sense, incredibile!!!”
- “Mesmerising performance by lead actress, wonderful scenery, interesting story and I loved the musicians and singers popping up in unlikely places!”
- “Interesting but strange. Ends very suddenly.”
Originally shown Tuesday 27 October 2020 at 17:30 and 20:15. Wednesday 28 October 2020 at 20:15.
Penny Lane | USA | 2019 | 15 | 95 mins | English
The Satanic Temple started life as a prank designed to antagonise the religious right in America. Over time, it found itself turning into a real movement advocating the separation of church and state, and documentarist Lane was on hand to witness the transition. The result is thought provoking and often very funny. Trailer.
An appreciation score of 60 per cent. Some of your comments:
- Entertaining and thought provoking. Not a movement I had heard of and very relevant.
- An important documentary, funny, fascinating and eye-opening. Depressing as well, in highlighting the grip that Christianity (and bigotry) has on the American state.
- Timely and brilliantly touches on lots of contemporary issues. Also very funny.
- Thinking of becoming a member of the Satanic temple in the UK – having recently left the previous temple of Satan (Labour Party), I am looking for a new start. Will be enjoying the film again tonight on Netflix with more potential Satanists.
- For Satanists I thought they were a bit tame. Difficult to disagree with any of their 7 Tenets. Good luck to them in their battle against orthodox Christianity and their hypocrisy.
- Hail the film choice! A humorous, challenging and thought provoking documentary style film.
- Brilliant subject matter and a timely reminder of the danger of beliefs enshrined into institutions of authority and power.
- Surprisingly engaging! Glad I didn’t know too much about it beforehand.
- Not at all what I expected. Thought the premise was sustained well. And what a cast of characters! Larger than life.
- Really interesting! I’d never heard of TST before. I enjoyed watching a documentary film at CFS.
- Bit boring but must take rough with smooth as part of a varied genre offering.
- Not our favourite but still good and humorous. We felt like the content could have been condensed a little.
- At once interesting and exasperating. Is “Satanism” a well-considered platform from which to promote freedom of belief and expression?
- A very thought provoking film. As with all English-speaking films I would welcome subtitles to help with the mumbling.
- I didn’t enjoy it.
- Interesting subject matter but not a lot else for me I’m afraid.
- The joke wore out a bit after half an hour.
- Repetitive, unfocussed.
- Not worthy of CFS showing.
- I found it mildly interesting but really had got the message in the first half hour so I thought it was too long. Also I’m not really sure that’s the sort of film I come to film society to see. – Sorry!
- If it had been possible I would have walked out after 5 minutes. Poor choice.
- Not really a film at all, more a politicised documentary of the kind you’d stumble across on YouTube when you’re looking for something else. We are already inundated with bizarre ideas from the dysfunctional and divided USA. There’s no separating Evangelical Christians from politics, so I’m very surprised CFS should go down this road. Poor fare.
- Bizarre, weird, comical, shocking and awful! The worst film I’ve ever seen since being a member of CFS! How did this film ever get past the committee that sits and decides on the films to show. Guessing too much wine, couldn’t be bothered to review any other decent films and bored of being stuck at home during Covid was to blame! Please do not put another film like this in front of hard paying members or the film committee may have to go!
Originally shown Tuesday 10 November 2020 at 17:30 and 20:15. Wednesday 11 November 2020 at 20:15.
Gustav Möller | Denmark | 2018 | 15 | 85 mins | Danish
A compelling and potent film about a police officer in an emergency call centre who receives a call from a woman who has been kidnapped. The film doesn’t leave that single set, and its intensity builds, thanks to an excellent performance by Jakob Cedergren as the police officer. Trailer.
An appreciation score of 93.36 per cent. Some of your comments:
- A clever idea and a good twist. I found it excellent. Thank you.
- Great suspense and story line from such simple direction.
- To keep people’s attention on one room and with pretty much one actor on a phone would be challenge. I thought it was brilliantly acted and written, suspenseful and gripping. Best film I’ve seen in a while!
- Well written with excellent ‘reveals’ and wonderful central performance.
- Gripping, emotional, unexpected twist, made me think more about the challenging nature of the job of an emergency services person.
- Perhaps Asger and Iben marry and live happily together in the asylum with visits from Michael and Mathilde.
- Superb, superb, superb.
- Gripping film which was compelling from start to finish, with brilliant screenplay, sound and cinematography, with a mesmeric performance from Cerdegren.
- Amazing to achieve so much with one scene! Fantastic plot twists!
- Twists & turns in the film. He made assumptions all the time which proved to be wrong. Very well filmed.
- Very good indeed – one of the very best films CFS has ever shown. Demonstrates what can be achieved on what was probably a very small budget. Hollywood eat your heart out!
- Despite unpromising set-up, a superb central performance and a completely engrossing development. Unseen plot twists were just masterful.
- One of the best films I’ve ever seen!
- Excellent story, though hardly worth a film rather than an audio play.
- Rather a harrowing film quite claustrophobic too.
- A slow burning film featuring a brilliant solo performance by one actor.
- Great little tense thriller. Not particularly cinematic I think I could have enjoyed it just as much watching it at home. The writing was its strength rather than its directing. Would be a good play.
- Excellent performance by the lead actor but rather depressing film.
- An interesting idea, but somewhat tedious to watch all the way through.
- It did not work for me. The plot was completely implausible, and there were flaws in the direction. A junior maverick and impetuous policeman would not have been unsupervised. The office would have been a hive of activity. At the end of the shift few of the other officers (who had little to do) had changed.
Originally shown Tuesday 8 December 2020 at 17:30 and 20:15. Wednesday 9 December
Haifaa Al-Mansour | Saudi Arabia / Germany | 2019 | PG | 104 mins | Arabic/English
A young female doctor decides to run for office in her local elections after the male incumbent ignores her request that he fix the road leading to her clinic. She faces opposition from both family and community. Heartening, gently humorous and inspiring Saudi cinema. Trailer.
An appreciation score of 81.85 per cent. Some of your comments:
- Perfect choice for the pre-Xmas film – not ‘grim’ but equally not too light, giving great insights to some of the appallingly backward aspects of Saudi society.
- I really enjoyed this film, Lots of revealing stuff about Saudi life and repression.
- Such a sweet film!
- A winner for me – gentle but insistent.
- Very thought provoking. The women of that country are beginning to be, in a small way, shown recognition.
- Brilliant film, educational and inspiring – just what we want from CFS!
- A heart warming and good humoured film showing a lighter side to life in Saudi Arabia, Is is realistic however?
- A very interesting film. It was good to see how the people live there. Male dominated and very difficult for the women to achieve anything other than being a wife and mother! Lovely music & acting. We enjoyed it.
- Another interesting film about a determined young woman from the maker of ‘Wadjda’. Set and filmed in Saudi Arabia, it has been released in many different countries, but (unsurprisingly) not in Saudi Arabia itself. Well acted by the lead character and her sisters, it reminded me a little of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, with the father as a long-suffering Mr Bennett, who is so proud of his daughters. I also enjoyed the music.
- Interesting to learn more about gender discrimination in Saudi Arabia and interesting that a film like this can be made there.
- Enjoyed it. Nice that it wasn’t too traumatic/violent!
- A really great film for CFS to show. Such a fascinating subject giving us a window into a culture that remains so strange to us.
- More interesting than entertaining for its insights into Saudi society and a depressingly repressive regime. Very naive overall tenor including the pedestrian pace of it.
- I found it a little ‘stage managed’ and therefore predictable, to make a point. Nice father – daughter relationship interplay.
- Interesting viewing (mainly cultural) but a bit too slow.
- An interesting, albeit sanitised insight into Saudi life from a woman’s perspective. Unlikely to be controversial but the ending was a tad schmaltzy.
Originally shown Tuesday 25 May 2021 at 17:30 and 20:15. Wednesday 26 May 2021 at
Alejandro Landes | Colombia | 2019 | 15 | 102 mins | Spanish
Teenage commandos perform military training exercises by day and indulge in youthful hedonism by night, an unconventional family bound together under a shadowy force know only as The Organization. After an ambush drives the squadron into the jungle, both the mission and the intricate bonds between the group begin to disintegrate. Trailer.
An overall score of 56.1%, the lowest since The Lobster. Some of your comments:
- Great acting, compelling and no doubt true to life unfortunately.
- A cracking film. Atmospheric, tense and gorgeous landscapes. It’s great to get a chance to see films like this.
- Very different! Loved the ‘open’ ending, hypnotic soundtrack & amazing scenery. A modern day Lord of the Flies – with extras.
- It was hard to ‘enjoy’ this film but I have given it an A because it was a very powerful piece of film making, beautifully made and very gripping. Uncomfortable tense viewing.
- I was reminded of both Oliver Twist and Lord of the Flies. Slightly disturbing but, unfortunately, probably realistic.
- I found the film quite confusing. However, some of the photography was excellent.
- Fabulous scenery and film quality. Subject matter fascinating but uncomfortable at times. Enjoyed it more than expected.
- A very unusual storyline. Lots left to the imagination – particularly the ending. Stark brutal moments.
- It was heavy but a very good film! Could not see this kind of films around Cheltenham so thank you!
- Disturbing and upsetting.
- It was a bit strange but ultimately worth watching.
- Reminded me of ‘Lord of the Flies’ and was distressing as you know that juveniles are being forcibly recruited by terrorists. However, I thought the film was confusing and lacked direction but on balance, was probably worth watching to the end as the score was dramatic and the actors (or understudies) seemed to take amazing risks in the rapids!
- Bit too violent & the story took a long time to work out. Even then it was not clear how & why the hostage was there. Well-acted & the music was good.
- Disappointed in the first film show on CFS’s return to live screening at the Playhouse. Interesting, but bizarre and no idea as to what the context of the film was, apart from a hostage situation – but where did she come from, how did she get there, why was she kidnapped, what happened to her? A so-so, film that’s already forgotten – a bit like most of the awful streamed movies that were offered to the members during lock down!
- I saw that this film was well-reviewed when it came out. The film was well shot. But it was relentlessly depressing, and although much was made by some film critics of the soldiers being teenagers (and behaving as such), in actual fact with one or two exceptions they seemed older – and certainly not children even though they were depicted playing childish (and dangerous) games. Inevitably it invites comparison with Lord of the Flies. It was a difficult film to watch, and that would be fine if it had a point to make. But it seemed to be endless horror, and we didn’t enjoy it at all.
- Children playing war games to an eerie sound track. I thought I might go mad if I stayed any longer.
- Could have been excellent but spoilt by weak narrative and ill-defined characters.
- We left before the end, feeling a bad taste in our mouths.
- Utterly depressing about the state of the human race. Some beautiful photography.
- Utter incoherent rubbish. Perhaps a sadistic subnormal drug addicted boy scout could expand on the finer points. NIL POINTE. Glad to see that more people escaped from the Playhouse than escaped from the script.
- Absolutely awful.
Originally shown Tuesday 15 June 2021 at 17:30 and 20:15. Wednesday 16 June 2021 at
Levan Akin | Georgia | 2019 | 15 | 113 mins | Georgian
A remarkable film, filled with dance and music. Two young dancers, after clashing in rehearsal, discover their mutual attraction. The film led to violent protests in its conservative homeland for its sympathetic depiction of a gay love affair. Trailer.
An overall appreciation score of 82.3%. Some of the comments received from members:
- Absolutely beautiful – more films like this please.
- Musicians, singers, dancers and plot all wonderful.
- Beautifully filmed and with an amazing lead actor – we couldn’t take our eyes off him!
- An excellent opportunity to gain an insight into Georgian dance and culture.
- Really enjoyed the backdrop of dance as a metaphor for masculinity / self- expression
A real insight into another world and culture. Fabulous acting and dancing.
- Really enjoyed this film, while it was entertaining it was also a window into the gay scene in Georgia which isn’t somewhere you hear much about.
- Strong performances on a controversial issue in Georgia and other countries.
- Slightly too long, but a compelling story vividly showing the tensions of living in a culturally conservative country. Superb cinematography – great lighting and assured camera work in an unshowy way.
- A little too long – could have done with 30 minutes less. Interesting about the Georgian folk dancing and their attitudes to it as a cultural reference to their identity.
- Too long and rather predictable.
- A cliche storyline. More interested in the dance than the relationships which in some ways were not necessary. The comparison between masculine traditional dance and the development of progressive creative interpretation could have been much more powerful treated in a more subtle and sensitive way.
- The film reminded me of a really hopeless Eurovision song – nul points.
Originally shown Tuesday 29 June 2021 at 17:30 and 20:15. Wednesday 30 June 2021 at
Lulu Wang | USA-China | 2019 | PG | 100 mins | Mandarin/English
An elderly Chinese lady has cancer and her relatives rally round from all over the world to create one last reunion for her, without telling her she is dying. From this potentially tragic material, Wang has created an insightful and gently humorous film about China old and new. Trailer.
- Very enjoyable. An excellent choice for the last film of the season.
- An excellent choice of film to finish this extraordinary season. Just the right amount of pathos and humour – well done!
- Sensitive portrayal, beautiful sentiment, acting and highlighting the tensions of different cultural characteristics. Thank you, an excellent film.
- Really enjoyed this multi-layered film about family, migration and much more. Great cast. A few issues with audibility of English-spoken dialogue at beginning, but that improved.
- Perfect end to the season. Uplifting and thought provoking in many ways. The sound mix was also very well used.
- Superb acting and enjoyed the underlying humour and shifts in family dynamics.
- Really enjoyed this film. Humour doesn’t always translate especially when mixed with a tricky subject but this worked so well. Perfect film to end the season.
- Should have known it would have a happy ending. Thanks.
- Well balanced between moments of comedy and sadness – very moving and laugh out loud funny.
- Could have been morose and weepily emotional, but was saved by music and humour.
- Well, it wasn’t the greatest film I’ve ever seen but it offered a quite different view of China and I feel as though I’ve learned something. Interesting the discussion about life in USA v life in China. I didn’t think Chinese censorship could be so indulgent.
- Interesting exploration of different views on dying and life, culture and identity. Music was used atmospherically.
- Bit ‘sulky’ and slow in places but a great insight into the difference between attitudes within the two cultures.
- I couldn’t make a connection to any of the characters in the film & found it rather boring.