Rust never sleeps

If Ladies of Steel is anything to go by, Finnish songs are extraordinarily gloomy. Birthday songs, love songs, patriotic songs, songs of celebration: they are all as miserable as sin. And yet, the nation has a knack of producing strong comedies and Ladies of Steel…

Animal Magic

How many British children, inner-city children especially, have ever seen a circus? It’s different on the continent, where around 2,000 troupes travel around constantly. Nonetheless, this ancient art-form lives on in illustration, story-telling and idiom. Do people still say they are going to “run away…

Nurse, the screens

We all know there is a lot of bad behaviour in the online world. But does new technology simply allow bad people to behave badly more efficiently? Or is there is something inherently corrupting about the screen-based life – a subject dear to all our…

365 Mindful Days

Close your eyes. Turn your attention to your breath as it flows in and out. If your attention wanders, turn it gently back to your breath. Keep doing that. You are doing mindfulness. With practice, this simple technique (there are many variants) will quieten the…

On the weird side

Every film festival needs at least one bonkers film, and you’d go a long way to find a better example than Cook F**k Kill (Žáby bez jazyka).  Jaroslav K, a puzzled and slightly paranoid everyman, needs to open a gate to enter a property where his…

Country Focus: Italy

  The five Italian films we have selected for this year’s Country Focus illuminate the country’s proud record of innovation and passionate engagement. Lucania, which made its first appearance yesterday (8 June) but will continue to be available until Saturday at 8.30pm, is the story…

Mad about movies

We hear a lot about mental health these days. Countless television and radio campaigns and reassuring magazine and newspaper articles explain how to maintain your equilibrium by simple emotional and physical practices. Less is said about serious mental illness. No-one was ever cured of hearing…

So, farewell Christo

On Monday at 7.00pm, Cheltenham International Film Festival will be showing Walking on Water, a documentary about the artist Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, known simply as Christo, and his extraordinary project to build a floating walkway across an Italian lake. This is poignant, because Christo died…