“Why isn’t there a Manchester Film Festival?” is a question some of us hear quite a bit, especially when we’re in our cups.

Part of the answer may well be that Manchester has been well-served by such niche film festivals as Viva!, Grimm Up North and the valiant ongoing efforts of Kino. Historically, a lot of films that might have ended up on the film festival circuit have been programmed by Cornerhouse. Incidentally, HOME looks like it’s picking up that baton and running with it under new artistic director of film Jason Wood, at least to judge by the number of talker screenings they’ve had so far had in the run-up to their official opening.

Sidewalk Traffic (1)But the last attempt at a nearly-mainstream film festival of the sort that runs successfully in a number of other locations such as Leeds was the ill-starred Commonwealth Film Festival, nearly a decade ago.

So let’s hear it for Alan Bailey and Neil Jeram-Croft who have just taken over the screening room at The Landing in Salford’s MediaCity to announce the first films selected for the Maniff 2015 Manchester Film Festival taking place July 10-12, 2015 at the AMC cinema in the Great Northern Warehouse.

An impressive bunch they looked too, at least if the trailers were anything to go by. The 12-drama features include 11 UK Premieres and one world premiere, an English-language film from Italy, The Imago, inspired by Charles Dodgson, the writer of the Alice in Wonderland books. Other likely-looking lads include a German comedy (surely that alone gives it curiosity value) called Not My Day; a Spanish film The Long Way Home that involves a half-dead dog (just what is it with Spanish film-makers and dogs?), and some seriously good-looking films from the US (Desert Cathedral and Sidewalk Traffic), Australia (Is This The Real World?, Love Is Now and the mystery-thriller Touch) and Thailand (The Last Executioner, based on the true story of the ex-rock ’n’ roller who was the last man in Thailand whose job it was to execute by gun at the notorious so-called ‘Bangkok Hilton’).

Two DownThere’s also a Brazilian adaptation of a Paulo Coelho story, a UK film about a hitman, produced by Stephen Fry and Derek Jacobi, and that’s before you even get to the equally impressive documentary line-up, including another world premiere and seven UK premieres. One of these, Erin Dunham’s Buskin’ Blues, might even see some associated live performances from some of the North Carolina street musicians who’ve inspired the film.

Bailey and Jeram-Croft, who’ve attended a few film festivals as film-makers in their time, obviously know what they’re looking to do and have cannily waited until they had something close to the actual line-up to announce before they broke cover. But there’s more to come at the official launch on May 28, including details of the partnership with the Montreal International Animation Film Festival, and some attractive Early Bird ticket options.

By Kevin Bourke

Main image: Touch