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FDA Autumn Preview Show 2012
The Hippodrome
22nd August 2012


Winning a quiz set by the Film Distributors Association was always going to be a challenge, particularly when our resident film critic was delayed at the last minute and couldn't attend. However, thanks to some lovely film buffs, including a man from Orange Wednesdays who had seemingly eaten all of IMDB for breakfast, my team placed a respectable 6th. With plenty of wine flowing, journos, bloggers and competition winners alike had a thoroughly entertaining night.

FDA Chief Executive Mark Batey introduced the evening with some facts and figures about UK cinema explaining how, despite the challenging economic climate, glorious summer and the Olympic Games, cinema goers were actually on the increase from last year. High-energy presenter Alex Zane then took over, moving away from statistics and introducing the expected top films of Autumn.

Taking third place in the FDA's recommendations for adventure films in Quarter 4 was John Hillcoat's gangster movie Lawless, set in the Prohibition era. Although I only saw a tiny clip on the night, having since seen the entire film, I can confirm that it's very much worth watching when it opens in the UK on 7th September. Plenty of violence and dark themes earn Lawless its 18 rating, but there are some lighter moments too, with Tom Hardy shining as the invincible bootlegger Forrest Bondurant.

Pegged as number two in the line-up of comedy was Hope Springs. Again, I saw very little of this film at the event, but have since caught it. Starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, Hope Springs is a charming film about an older couple trying to save their marriage. Hollywood heavyweights Streep and Jones play their characters well, but the writing is very middle of the road. This will appeal to older women, but the film is unlikely to have a strong male fanbase.

Being a London girl, I always like to see my city on the big screen, so I'm looking forward to latest Bond instalment Skyfall, Victorian romantic comedy Hysteria with Maggie Gyllenhaal and comedy caper film Gambit, with Hollywood veterans Colin Firth, Alan Rickman and Cameron Diaz. Also worth looking out for are Tim Burton's stop-motion flick Frankenweenie, based on his first short film, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first part in the new Peter Jackson trilogy. The Hobbit, unsurprisingly, was the FDA's predicted number one adventure film for the last quarter this year.

As well as hearing of the planned film releases to come, unsigned band The Acoustics, part of the Midnight Music collective, made up of Nicky Mac on vocals, Jake Rommer on guitar and Stephan Seiler on cajon, beautifully covered songs from recent films, including Crazy in Love, Mr Brightside, We Found Love and Sweet Home Alabama. Although they had been clearly booked to fill time and allow the audience to discreetly wander off for comfort breaks, they were well received by those who stuck around and certainly deserve to get picked up for a soundtrack of their own, much like Troubadour Rose, who provided the music for Francis Lea's Kent melodrama Strawberry Fields. Nicky Mac has a seductively powerful voice and a confident presence and remained at ease even when one committed heckler took to the stage for some impromptu dancing to accompany the group.

With 29 difficult questions on both past releases and those yet to come, together with one insanely tricky Lord of the Rings anagram, the four top place winners were well deserving of their overflowing bags of film merchandise and other goodies.

We will be covering as many as possible of the 150 films that are to hit UK cinemas this Autumn (starting with Lawless, Hope Springs and The Sweeney) so do keep an eye on our website and Twitter feed. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to the next FDA event, when hopefully our film expert will be able to make it and bag a trophy for us!

The FDA held a special preview evening on 22nd August 2012.

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