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Ben Affleck’s new thriller Argo has been announced as the Opening Gala film of this year’s Leeds International Film Festival. Argo, based on the remarkable true story of a CIA expert posing as a fake film producer in order to infiltrate Iran at the time of the hostage crisis in 1979 and rescue a group of stranded Americans, will open the annual festival at Leeds Town Hall on Thursday November 1, 2012. 

The Official Selection will close with Michael Haneke’s second Palme d’Or winnerAmour, a drama about the bond of love between an elderly couple in their eighties, starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva.

Other new feature film highlights in the Official Selection include Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt, Carlos Reygadas’ Post Tenebras Lux, Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths, Tribeca award winners Lucy Mulloy’sUna Noche and Kim Nguyen’s War Witch, and Dominga Sotomayor’s Rotterdam Tiger Award winner From Thursday Till Sunday.


The Retrospectives section will include an appearance by leading Russian filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky, who will attend the festival as part of a focus on his early work. Best known for cult favorite Runaway Train, the focus will screen five of his early Soviet works from his directorial debut The First Teacher in 1965 to Asya’s Happiness, A Nest of Gentlefolk, Uncle Vanya, and his Cannes prize-winner Siberiade. The work of legendary Japanese actress and filmmaker Kinuyo Tanaka (1909-77) will also be honored at the festival with a selection of her finest performances in films by Yasujirô Ozu, Mikio Naruse, and Kenji Mizoguchi, and two rarely shown features she directed herself, The Eternal Breasts (1955) and Girls of Dark(1961). 

Fanomenon section, considered the home of cult films at Leeds International Film Festival,will include Ben Wheatley’s long-awaited Sightseers, a pitch-black story of a camping holiday killing spree across Yorkshire and the Lakes, together with some of the most anticipated genre films of the year: Antiviral (Dir. Brandon Cronenburg), Citadel (Dir. Ciaran Foy), John Dies at the End (Dir. Don Coscarelli),The Legend of Kaspar Hauser (Dir. Davide Manuli), and V/H/S (Dirs. Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg). Fanomenon 2012 also features a special focus on the growth of genre filmmaking in Yorkshire with screenings of Before Dawn (Dir. Dominic Brunt), When the Lights Went Out (Dir. Pat Holden), and the world premiere of new feature Heretic (Dir. Peter Handford).

Cinema Versa section is the home of documentaries inspired by the underground festival aesthetic with two major themes of human rights and music films. Highlights among the human rights films selection for 2012 include: Anand Patwardhan’s acclaimed epic Jai Bhim Comrade, one of the best documentaries of the year, about the culture of India’s Dalits, dehumanized in the traditional caste system as ‘untouchables’; the extraordinary 1/2 Revolution, featuring unmissable first person camcorder reportage from the streets of Cairo, smuggled out of the country in a pram after the filmmakers were arrested by the secret police; and the UK Premiere of Back to the Square, tracking the changes in the lives of five ordinary Egyptians after the overthrow of Mubarak. Music films in Cinema Versa 2012 range across every style and genre including: the UK Premiere of Charles Bradley: Soul of Americaabout the world-weary Brooklyn soul man, who made it big in his ‘60s after paying his dues over the decades as a James Brown impersonator; the wonderfully entertaining tale of the first tour of China by a UK punk band, dogged veterans Sham 69 in This Band is so Gorgeous; and Jobriath AD, profiling the fascinating career of the first openly gay pop star.


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