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Student blog: My top five festive films

BA (Hons) Film and Moving Image Production student Emily Gray has pulled together her top five festive films which are slightly off the beaten track. 

Christmas. That joyous time of the year filled with family, presents, mulled wine and – most importantly – festive films! Struggling to decide on what to watch? Fear not! Welcome to your guide to all things arthouse Christmas, broadening the horizon of the genre, looking beyond the classics, picking out a few festive favourites for you to watch during this winter season! 

1. Blast Of Silence (1961, Allen Baron)

This lean noir thriller follows the life of hitman Baron (both star and director) as he carries out his moral-lacking work on Christmas day.

This film highlights the power and beauty of juxtaposition, as Christmas cheer glistens its way through the streets of New York, but there is only one thing on Baron’s mind- there is a job to be done.

2. The Christmas Tale (2008, Arnaud Desplechin)

If you’re looking for an emotional Christmas film, this comedy/drama is definitely for you. Pulling on the heartstrings of its viewers, The Christmas Tale follows the life of Junon, a mother of four, who discovers she has leukaemia and turns to her family for bone marrow support.

A festive, yet emotional reminder of what family is, and how important it is to show those you love some festive love!

3. Carol (2015, Todd Haynes)

Therese Belivet loathes the Christmas period rush in her retail job, serving customer after customer on their festive purchases — every face the same. Until striking and unexpected Carol enters the store, not only taking Therese by surprise but completely stealing her heart.

This Christmas romance film blossoms beautifully as the film grows, following the new relationship of Carol and Therese, from love at first sight to marriage.

4. Comfort and Joy (1984, Bill Forsyth)

A very Scottish (dysfunctional) Christmas. The film follows the unusual life of a Scottish DJ who finds his life turned upside down when his girlfriend leaves him at Christmas, leaving him looking for answers.

At a loss and aimlessly driving around the city one day, he finds himself in a comedic, unpredictable bust-up with a series of rival Italian ice cream vendors (yep, you read that right) and spends the holidays searching for peace in the ice cream industry.

5. My Night with Maud (1969, Éric Rohmer)

The rigid principles of a devout Catholic man are challenged during a one-night stay with Maud, a divorced woman with an outsize personality.

Rohmer frames the film with a kind of reverence as the two argue and debate everything from Marxism to Catholicism. The film takes place on Christmas Eve, adding a sense of mystery and sensuality to the Christmas genre.

This concludes my top 5 indie, arthouse Christmas films! Happy watching, and – Merry Unconventional Christmas!

Feature image by Elliot Knott, MA Photography

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