Between 5 and 16 October, the BFI London Film Festival will screen a total of 193 fiction and 52 documentary features, including 18 world premieres, 8 international premieres, 39 European premieres. There will also be screenings of 144 short films, including documentary, live action and animated works.
The Festival opens with the European Premiere of Amma Asante’s A UNITED KINGDOM, starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike, the true story of Seretse Khama, King of Bechuanaland (modern Botswana), and Ruth Williams, the London office worker he married in 1947 in the face of fierce opposition from their families and the British and South African governments.
The European Premiere. FREE FIRE is Wheatley’s third film to be presented at the Festival, following High-Rise (2015) which screened as Festival Gala and Sightseers (2012) which screened as Laugh Gala. Sharp-witted Justine (Brie Larson) brokers a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two Irishmen (Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley) and a gang led by Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and Ord (Armie Hammer) who are selling them a stash of guns. But when shots are fired in the handover, a heart stopping game of survival ensues.
The American Express Gala is Garth Davis’ feature debut LION, starring BAFTA nominee Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham and Academy Award® winner Nicole Kidman. Adapted from Saroo Brierley’s engrossing memoir A Long Way Home, LION tells the true story of how a wrong train takes a five-year-old Indian boy hundreds of miles from home and family. Adopted as a child by an Australian couple, and twenty-five years later, haunted by memories of his childhood, he sets out to find his lost family.
Royal Bank of Canada presents director Denis Villeneuve’s ARRIVAL as their gala. This emotionally arresting, visually inventive science fiction movie, based on the award-winning Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker and Michael Stuhlbarg.
THE BIRTH OF A NATION, which won the Sundance Jury and Audience Awards, receives its European Premiere as a Headline Gala. This tour de force, directed by Nate Parker, is a gruelling account of the life of an enslaved African-American who led a slave revolt in Virginia in 1831, and stars Parker himself alongside Armie Hammer, Aunjanue Ellis, Aja Naomi King and Gabrielle Union.
Damien Chazelle returns to the Festival with LA LA LAND, the hotly anticipated bittersweet love letter to the city of Los Angeles, combining the charm of golden era of Hollywood musicals with the visual flair of French maestro Jacques Demy, and starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend and Academy Award® and BAFTA winner JK Simmons.
The European Premiere of MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is another Headline Gala, seeing Kenneth Lonergan return to the LFF with his third feature as director. The film starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler and Lucas Hedges is a visually eloquent and emotionally devastating exploration of grief and redemption.
The May Fair Hotel Gala is JA Bayona’s A MONSTER CALLS, a highly moving film based on the hugely popular book by Patrick Ness. A young boy’s vast imagination enables him to see wonder beyond his tough circumstances in this sublime fantasy with Lewis MacDougall in the lead role as 12-year-old Conor.
With NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, Tom Ford returns with a dark, sophisticated adaptation of Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan, with a stellar cast including Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher and Armie Hammer.
The Virgin Atlantic Gala is the European Premiere of QUEEN OF KATWE, Mira Nair’s vibrant, powerful true life tale of one girl’s determination to escape from poverty in Uganda by becoming a chess champion. The film stars newcomer Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o.
SNOWDEN is presented as a Headline Gala. Oliver Stone’s super-charged political thriller stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the titular intelligence operative alongside Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson and Scott Eastwood.
The Mayor of London’s Gala is the European Premiere of THEIR FINEST, directed by Lone Scherfig. Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin star in this delectable comedic drama, set in the world of filmmaking in London during the 1940s.
The Archive Gala is the World Premiere of the BFI National Archive restoration of Arthur Robison’s THE INFORMER (1929). This rare silent adaptation of Liam O’Flaherty’s famous novel is set among Dublin revolutionaries in the early days of the newly independent Irish Free State, formed in 1922.
The Festival Special Presentation, AMERICAN HONEY, Andrea Arnold’s sun-soaked and tune-filled epic about door-to-door teenage magazine sellers travelling America’s highways.
The Documentary Special Presentation, Ava DuVernay’s far-reaching and powerful THE 13TH, a searing look at a century of race relations in America.
The Experimenta Special Presentation, Fiona Tan’s dazzling ASCENT, exploring the beautiful and mysterious Mount Fuji using imagery from across the history of still photography.
The BFI Flare Special Presentation is Xavier Dolan’s IT’S ONLY THE END OF THE WORLD, which won the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Love Gala, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s MIRZYA
Debate Gala, Bertrand Bonello’s NOCTURAMA
Dare Gala, Park Chan-wook’s THE HANDMAIDEN
Laugh Gala, Maren Ade’s TONI ERDMANN
Thrill Gala, Ben Younger’s BLEED FOR THIS
Cult Gala, André Øvredal’s THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE
Journey Gala, Jim Jarmusch’s PATERSON
Sonic Gala, Spike Lee’s CHI-RAQ
Family Gala is Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn’s TROLLS
The BFI London Film Festival takes place from 5-16 October at venues including Vue West End, the Odeon Leicester Square, BFI Southbank, BFI IMAX, Picturehouse Central, the ICA, Curzon Mayfair, Curzon Soho, Haymarket, Prince Charles Cinema and Ciné Lumière and the Ritzy in Brixton, Hackney Picturehouse and Curzon Chelsea.