BFI London Film Festival 2018: 10-21 Octoberby Alexa Dalby
This year, the Festival will host 21 world premieres, nine international premieres and 29 European premieres and will welcome a stellar line up of cast and crew for many of the films.
The 225 feature programmes screening at the Festival include: 46 documentaries, four animations, 18 archive restorations and seven artists’ moving image features. The programme also includes 160 short films, and 77 countries are represented across short film and features.
A Headline Gala will be presented every night at Cineworld Leicester Square. Films in Official Competition are this year presented at Vue Leicester Square, with Strand Galas presented at the stunning 800-seat Embankment Garden Cinema.
Alongside the Galas, Special Presentations and films in Competition, the Festival will show a thrilling range of new world cinema in sections Love, Debate, Laugh, Dare, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Experimenta, Family and Create – which provide pathways for audiences to navigate the extensive programme.
Several key events will also be cinecast to cinema venues around the UK, including the world premiere of Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old, which will be simultaneously screened, in 2D and 3D to cinemas and special venues across the UK (see Special Presentations) and for the first time ever, an LFF premiere outside London – the LFF Special Presentation of Mike Leigh’s Peterloo will take place at HOME, Manchester.
Opening & Closing Night Galas
As previously announced, the Festival opens with the European Premiere of Academy Award- winner Steve McQueen’s WIDOWS, on Wednesday 10 October. Adapted from the ground-breaking UK television classic Widows by Lynda La Plante, WIDOWS is scintillatingly rich storytelling from a magnificent filmmaker, probing issues around race, class and gender, whilst delivering immense style and crackingly sharp thrills. This deeply satisfying, female-fuelled heist thriller boasts an all-star cast which includes Oscar-winner Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Daniel Kaluuya, Lukas Haas and Brian Tyree Henry.
The Festival closes with the World Premiere of STAN & OLLIE on Sunday 21 October. Starring delightfully bang-on-target performances from Steve Coogan and John C Reilly as the legendary movie comedy duo, STAN & OLLIE is a truly funny and touching film about a tender life-long friendship of Hollywood’s greatest comedy double act, Laurel and Hardy. The film also stars Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda in hilarious and touching turns as wives Lucille and Ida, as well as Danny Huston and Rufus Jones. Simultaneous preview screenings of STAN & OLLIE will bring all of the excitement from the Leicester Square premiere to cinemas across the UK.
The American Express Gala sees the return of Academy Award-nominee Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of A Sacred Deer LFF 2015 and LFF 2017) to the Festival with his third English-language film in four years; wickedly funny comedy THE FAVOURITE receives its UK Premiere and is gleeful and supremely intelligent filmmaking, powered by a trio of riotous performances from Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, along with a terrific supporting cast, including Nicholas Hoult and Mark Gatiss.
The Coen Brothers return to the Festival for the third time with the UK Premiere of THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS, which is this year’s American Airlines Gala. A wildly idiosyncratic, undeniably hilarious and often touchingly melancholic study of the American West, this anthology of a half-dozen Western tales is a six-shooting delight from the bottomless well that is the Coens’ imagination. Tim Blake Nelson will play the titular lead role, while Zoe Kazan, Liam Neeson and Tom Waits also star.
Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, Headline Gala BEAUTIFUL BOY receives its UK Premiere at the Festival and chronicles the heart-breaking, harrowing and ultimately inspiring experience of survival, relapse and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years. Making his English-language debut, Felix van Groeningen (The Broken Circle Breakdown) directs with soulful restraint. Academy Award nominee Steve Carell and Academy Award nominee Timothée Chalamet give blistering, visceral performances in this intelligent, tough and inspiring film.
Directed by Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl), Headline Gala CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? is the sharp, scintillating true crime story of best-selling celebrity biographer Lee Israel who turns her art form into a get-rich-quick deception. Melissa McCarthy is a revelation as Israel, giving a powerhouse performance as a ‘difficult woman’ whom she imbues with poignancy and a great line in alcohol-fueled barbs.
Starring Keira Knightley and Dominic West, the BFI Patrons’ Gala, COLETTE, is Wash Westmoreland’s (Still Alice) timely, exhilarating, gender-challenging Belle Époque-era biopic of literary couple Colette and Willy, whose relationship rewrote social and gender rules. In her extraordinary fight to reclaim her voice and gain recognition at the dawn of the modern age, Knightley is sensational as Colette, blooming from provincial maiden to a radical rule-defying feminist and iconoclast.
The May Fair Hotel Gala is the European Premiere of THE FRONT RUNNER, Jason Reitman’s (Tully, Labor Day LFF 2013) cracking, top-class political drama chronicling the rise of American Senator Gary Hart, 1988’s Democratic presidential candidate, and his subsequent fall from grace when he’s caught in a scandalous extramarital affair. An exceptional ensemble cast is led by Academy Award-nominated Hugh Jackman as Hart, with Vera Farmiga, Kaitlyn Dever, Sara Paxton, Molly Ephraim, and Oscar-winner J. K. Simmons.
Director Dan Fogelman’s (Crazy, Stupid, Love, This is Us) heart-wrenching, romantic drama, LIFE ITSELF, is the Royal Bank of Canada Gala. The complexities of life are embraced in this sweeping, multi-layered love story, led by Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde, LIFE ITSELF brings together an all-star ensemble cast in an ambitious meditation on the human condition and fundamental truths that connect us all.
Returning to the Festival with the European Premiere of his visceral, action-packed drama, Headline Gala OUTLAW KING, is director David Mackenzie’s (Hell or High Water, Starred Up LFF 2013) gutsy, historical drama bringing underdog Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) thrillingly to life as Scotland battles for its soul against England. Set amid the jaw-dropping beauty of the Scottish landscape, this hugely entertaining epic is supported by a cracking ensemble cast, including Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Florence Pugh.
A PRIVATE WAR features as the Mayor of London’s Gala. Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-Award-winning filmmaker Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land, City of Ghosts) makes a striking dramatic debut with this pulse-racing biopic of The Sunday Times war correspondent Marie Colvin (Rosamund Pike). A devastating portrait of a complex, brilliant woman, Rosamund Pike delivers a bewitching performance, fiercely inhabiting Colvin, who sacrificed her own safety and happiness to bear witness to the very human cost of armed conflict. Pike is brilliantly supported by co-stars Jamie Dornan, Stanley Tucci and Tom Hollander.
Luca Guadagnino follows up his triumphant Call Me By Your Name (LFF 2017) with Headline Gala SUSPIRIA, paying homage to Dario Argento’s horror classic with this delicious feminist update. A complex, supernatural horror exploring notions of corruption, innocence and female power, SUSPIRIA stars Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton, both of whom are incandescent at the heart of a fabulous, almost exclusively female cast.
Festival and Strand Galas
LFF alumni director Tom Harper (War Book, LFF 2014) makes a cracking return with this year’s Festival Gala, WILD ROSE, a delightful and infectiously joyous film written by rising screenwriting star Nicole Taylor which finds Glaswegian Rose-Lynn balancing her dreams of being a country music star with the responsibilities of motherhood. Starring a magnificent Julie Walters, along with a dazzling breakout performance from the irrepressible Jessie Buckley.
The Salem witch trials are given a digital overhaul in ferocious femme exploitationer, ASSASSINATION NATION, which is this year’s Cult Gala directed by Sam Levinson. Starring Odessa Young, Hari Nef, Suki Waterhouse and Bill Skarsgård.
Ali Abbasi’s BORDER features as the Dare Gala. Prepare for a love story like no other in this audacious Scandinavian fantasy, about a customs officer who develops a strange attraction to the suspect she’s investigating. An adaptation, based on a novel by the writer of Let the Right One In.
Lee Chang-dong’s critically acclaimed BURNING features as this year’s Thrill Gala in association with Sight & Sound. Having wowed Cannes, this spellbinding, richly complex thriller explores obsession, class conflict and suppressed male rage and is a masterfully crafted adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s short story Barn Burning.
Acclaimed Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki’s CAPERNAUM, winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival 2018, opens as this year’s Debate Gala, a heart-wrenching depiction of life in the shadows. A politically-charged fable, featuring mostly non-professional actors, about a child who launches a lawsuit against his parents.
THE GREAT VICTORIAN MOVING PICTURE SHOW features as the Archive Gala, projecting Britain’s earliest films at their grandest scale. At only a minute or so in duration, these films range in date from 1897-1901, serving up an eclectic array of subjects, from gorgeous panoramic vistas to dizzying ‘phantom rides’, music hall turns to the pomp of royal pageantry, and the bustle of the Victorian street to dramatic dispatches from the Boer War.
Academy Award-winner Barry Jenkins (Moonlight, LFF 2016) returns to the Festival with IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, an audacious, distinctive and assured adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel, which features as this year’s Love Gala, in association with Time Out. A tender and captivating story, touching upon love, injustice and racism in America.
The Laugh Gala in association with Empire Magazine sees Terry Gilliam return to the Festival (Jabberwocky LFF 2017) with the UK Premiere of THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE. Two decades in the making, the hotly anticipated adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes’ novel sees Toby, a disillusioned advertising executive, pulled into a world of time-jumping fantasy when a Spanish cobbler believes him to be Sancho Panza. The film stars Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce and Stellan Skarsgård.
This year’s Family Gala sees LFF favourite Mamoru Hosoda (The Boy and The Beast, Wolf Children, LFF 2015 and LFF 2012) return to the Festival with MIRAI, a rapturous and fantastical take on childhood.
A sumptuous black-and-white ode to the women who shaped his early life, this year’s Journey Gala is ROMA, Alfonso Cuarón’s (Gravity, LFF 2013) chronicle of a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s. The film stars Yalita Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, and Diego Cortina Autrey.
THE WHITE CROW, directed by Ralph Fiennes, features as the Create Gala. Dance perfection meets political defection in this intoxicating account of the young life of Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev’s defection to the West. The film stars Oleg Ivenko and Louis Hoffman.
Ten Special Presentations shine the spotlight on new work from major directors.
Having made an impact at LFF 2011 with her gritty low-budget debut Junkhearts, LFF Alumni Tinge Krishnan returns to the Festival with her ambitious second feature BEEN SO LONG, a brilliantly refreshing contemporary musical set on the streets of Camden Town.
Populist, provocative and piercingly captivating, FAHRENHEIT 11/9 finds one of North American culture’s most outspoken filmmakers, Michael Moore, turning his sights on one of the most controversial figures of our time: Donald Trump. With his trademark wit, Moore paints a fiery, startling portrait of life in Trump’s America.
THE HATE U GIVE, George Tillman Jr’s expansive and electrifying coming-of age social drama about finding your voice and standing up for what is right, offers a pertinent and powerful look at the contemporary black experience in America.
Presenting the first two episodes of sharp, sexy and wickedly intelligent spy thriller, THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL is given an impactful theatrical treatment as Park Chan-wook’s stylistic mastery meets John le Carré’s espionage twists in this action packed new series from the makers of 2016’s global hit The Night Manager.
Carol Morley returns to LFF (The Falling LFF 2014, Dreams of a Life LFF 2011) with OUT OF BLUE, a wonderfully stylised, offbeat noir thriller about a murder investigation and multiple realities. Adapted from Martin Amis’ Night Train, Morley has created a moody detective story with an almost Lynchian dry wit supported by a splendid ensemble cast.
Covering one of the most notorious episodes in British history, director Mike Leigh’s highly anticipated follow-up to Mr Turner (LFF 2014), PETERLOO, is a major work of cinema, featuring a superb ensemble cast in an epic portrayal of the events surrounding Manchester’s infamous 1819 Peterloo Massacre. In this rousing, working class tale, director Mike Leigh is working at the pinnacle of his powers. The screening in Manchester represents the first time the BFI London Film Festival has premiered a film outside of the capital, offering audiences in Manchester and nationwide the opportunity to preview a major release with Manchester’s history at its forefront.
Another Special Presentation marks the centenary of the First World War with the World Premiere of director Peter Jackson’s passion project THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD. Created exclusively with original, archive footage from the Imperial War Museum’s film archive and audio from BBC archives, Peter Jackson and his team, who have painstakingly hand-colourised each frame of the film, bring the First World War to life in a way never seen before. The film will be presented by Peter Jackson and simultaneously screened, in 2D and 3D to cinemas and special venues across the UK.
Guaranteed to astonish and impress, the Documentary Special Presentation is Viktor Kossakovsky’s AQUARELA, a stunning, sensory cinematic experience taking audiences on a mesmerising journey through the transformative beauty and raw power of water.
Celebrating a centenary of the women’s vote, the Experimenta Special Presentation is the richly imaginative, satirical feminist sci-fi MAKE ME UP, acclaimed Scottish artist Rachel Maclean’s daring follow-up to her Venice Biennale piece Spite Your Face (LFF 2017).
And finally the BFI Flare Special Presentation returns with the trailblazing RAFIKI, Wanuri Kahiu’s tender yet defiant tale of blossoming love between two teenage girls. Banned in its home country of Kenya, RAFIKI is a timely and necessary film and a testament to Kahiu’s unabashed courage, reminding us that there are still pressing LGBTQ+ stories to be told.
Key filmmaking talent due to attend the Festival’s Gala and Special Presentation screenings include:
Steve McQueen, Michelle Rodriguez, Viola Davis, Daniel Kaluuya, Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly, Jon S. Baird, Jeff Pope, Faye Ward, Yorgos Lanthimos, Emma Stone, Joe Alwyn, Nicholas Hoult, Mark Gatiss, Olivia Coleman, James Smith, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, Bill Heck, Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Felix van Groeningen, Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Anne Carey, Amy Nauiokas, Wash Westmoreland, Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Denise Gough, Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley, Hugh Jackman, Jason Reitman, Dan Fogelman, Olivia Cooke, David Mackenzie, Matthew Heineman, Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan, Stanley Tucci, Luca Guadagnino, Ali Abbasi, Lee Chang-Dong, Nadine Labaki, Alfonso Cuarón, Ralph Fiennes, George MacKay, George Tillman Jr, Amandla Stenberg, Angie Thomas, Carol Morley, Patricia Clarkson, Peter Jackson, Viktor Kossakovsky, Rachel Maclean, Wanuri Kahiu.
As previously announced, the Official Competition recognises inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking, and includes the following shortlisted titles:
- BIRDS OF PASSAGE, Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra’s sprawling exploration of family conflict and tribal warfare;
- DESTROYER, Karyn Kusama’s brooding thriller about a jaded police detective haunted by her past;
- HAPPY NEW YEAR, COLIN BURSTEAD., Ben Wheatley’s poignantly funny and razor-sharp observation of English family dysfunction;
- HAPPY AS LAZZARO, Alice Rohrwacher’s delightful genre-bending rumination on the fate of innocence;
- IN FABRIC, Peter Strickland’s haunting ghost story starring Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Gwendoline Christie, following the life of a cursed dress as it passes from person to person, with devastating consequences;
- JOY, Sudabeh Mortezai’s affecting drama that tackles the vicious cycle of sex trafficking in modern Europe;
- THE OLD MAN & THE GUN, a brilliantly entertaining crime caper directed by David Lowery, starring Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek and Casey Affleck;
- SHADOW, Zhang Yimou’s stylish martial arts thriller set during China’s Three Kingdom’s era (AD 220-280);
- SUNSET, Academy Award-winner László Nemes’ fugue-like meditation on the end of an empire;
- TOO LATE TO DIE YOUNG, Dominga Sotomayor’s woozily gorgeous evocation of life on the fringe of society in Chile, after Pinochet’s fall
First Feature Competition – Sutherland Award
Titles in consideration for the Sutherland Award in the First Feature Competition recognising an original and imaginative directorial debut are:
THE CHAMBERMAID, (dir. Lila Avilés). This hopeful drama sees Eve, a young chambermaid at a luxurious Mexico City hotel, confront the monotony of long workdays with quiet examinations of forgotten belongings and budding friendships that nourish her newfound and determined dream for a better life.
THE DAY I LOST MY SHADOW is the moving debut feature of Syrian director Soudade Kaadan. Sana is living with her eight year old son whilst her husband works in Saudi Arabia. A trip to Damascus sees Sana brutally confronted to the devastating effects of war, and the fate of her countrypeople.
DEAD PIGS, Cathy Yan’s freewheeling, multicultural comedy was a Special Jury Prize-winner at Sundance Film 2018 and sees a bumbling pig farmer, a feisty salon owner, a sensitive busboy, an expat architect and a disenchanted rich girl converge and collide as thousands of dead pigs float down the river towards a rapidly-modernizing Shanghai.
GIRL is Lukas Dhont’s award-winning feature debut, and bestowed with the coveted Queer Palm and Golden Camera Awards at the Cannes Film Festival this year. A richly empathetic and beautifully realised coming-of-age story about a transgender aspiring ballet dancer.
HOLIDAY, Isabella Eklöf’s arresting debut is a disturbing tale of power, exploitation and complicity in this modern, dark gangster tale set in the beautiful port city of Bodrum on the Turkish Riviera.
JOURNEY TO A MOTHER’S ROOM is Celia Rico Clavellino’s debut feature. An intimate and tender drama, exploring the sense of loss experienced by a mother and daughter when the daughter prepares to leave home for the first time.
ONLY YOU is the debut feature from British filmmaker Harry Wootliff. Josh O’Connor and Laia Costa play a couple who, after a one-night stand, fall madly in love only to then find daily life putting up barriers to their happiness.
RAY & LIZ is Turner-prize nominated and Deutsche Börse Prize-winning artist Richard Billingham’s first feature film. Recreating visceral family memories and desperate living in Thatcher’s Britain, this is a universal story of everyday conflicts, loneliness, love and loss.
SONI, Ivan Ayr’s class-conscious debut, depicts a fresh slice of feminist policing, Indian style in this drama exploring the solidarity between a fiery female officer and her superior.
WILDLIFE, the absorbing directorial debut from Paul Dano based on Richard Ford’s titular novel, sees Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal play a couple on the rocks following a move to suburban Montana, in this elegant 1950s-set, emotionally powerful melodrama;
Documentary Competition—Grierson Award
The Grierson Award in the Documentary Competition category recognises cinematic documentaries with integrity, originality, and social or cultural significance. This year the Festival is screening:
BISBEE ‘17, the arresting documentary from Robert Greene (Kate Plays Christine, LFF 2016), blends fiction and reality with startling effect. An old mining town on the Arizona-Mexico border finally reckons with its darkest day: the deportation of 1200 immigrant miners exactly 100 years ago. Locals collaborate to stage recreations of their controversial past.
DREAM AWAY, sees co-directors Marouan Omara and Johanna Domke document the surreal world of Sharm El Sheikh, three years after the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 as a group of hotel staff reflect on their life, hopes and dreams in a deserted Egyptian holiday resort.
EVELYN, Academy Award-nominated director Orlando von Einsiedel (Virunga) turns the camera on his own family as they attempt to cope with a devastating loss. On a walking odyssey across the United Kingdom, three siblings must confront a past they’ve been unable to talk about, whilst simultaneously repairing the fractures in their own
JOHN MCENROE: IN THE REALM OF PERFECTION , narrated by Mathieu Amalric and directed by Julien Farau (Un Regard Neuf sur Olympia 52), this entertaining and innovative archive documentary captures volatile tennis star John McEnroe at the height of his success, during the final of the 1984 French Open with Ivan Lendl.
THE PLAN THAT CAME FROM THE BOTTOM UP, from director Steve Sprung tells the inspiring story of the Lucas Plan, a plan to avoid job losses concocted by the ambitiously pioneering factory workers, that became the starting point for an incisive account of our current and future economic climate?—?including the wind turbine, hybrid car, heat pump and energy efficient housing.
PUTIN’S WITNESSES, from award-winning exiled Russian filmmaker Vitaly Mansky (Let Us Have Power) uses first-hand footage he shot of Boris Yeltsin, Mikhail Gorbachev and Vladimir Putin to deliver a damning indictment of the early stages of Putin’s presidency.
THE RAFT, (dir. Marcus Lindeen) tells the hidden story behind what has been described as ‘one of the strangest group experiments of all time’ on the salaciously dubbed ‘Sex Raft’ through extraordinary archive material and a reunion of the surviving members of the expedition
THEATRE OF WAR is Lola Arias’ innovative documentary revealing the personal stories of both British and Argentinean veterans whose lives were deeply affected by Falklands War, timed to mark the 35th anniversary
WHAT YOU GONNA DO WHEN THE WORLD’S ON FIRE? is award-winning filmmaker Robert Minervini’s thought-provoking and all-too-relevant documentary, following a Louisiana community during the summer of 2017 during the aftermath of a police shooting that sent shockwaves throughout the country.
YOUNG AND ALIVE by Matthieu Bareyre, documents a young community in Paris whose lives were changed irrevocably by the terror attacks of 2015. Led by new faces and unheard groups with pioneering values and ideals they open a new dialogue, challenge the state and get ready for a new kind of revolution.
Short Film Award
The Short Film Award recognises short form works with a unique cinematic voice and a confident handling of chosen theme and content. This year the festival is screening:
- ANOTHER DECADE, dir. Morgan Quaintance
- DE NATURA, dir. Lucile Hadžihalilovic
- THE FIELD (LE CHAMP DE MAIS) dir. Sandhya Suri
- HELLO, RAIN, dir. C J ‘Fiery’ Obasi
- LASTING MARKS, DIR Charlie Lyne
- LEASH, dir. Harry Lighton
- MONELLE, dir. Diego Marcon
- SALAM, DIR. Claire Fowler
- SOLAR WALK, dir Réka Bucsi
- VESLEMØY’S SONG, dir. Sofia Bohdanowicz
Additional filmmaking talent attending for films in competition include:
Ciro Guerra, Alice Rohrwacher, Ben Wheatley, Peter Strickland, Sudabeh Mortezai, David Lowery, Zhao Xiaoding, László Nemes, Dominga Sotomayor, Lila Avilés, Isabella Eklöf, Celia Rico Clavellin, Harry Wootliff, Richard Billingham, Ivan Ayr, Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Carey Mulligan, Doug Tirola, Marouan Omara, Orlando von Einsiedel, Julien Faraut, Steve Sprung, Vitaliy Mansky, Marcus Lindeen, Lola Arias, Matthieu Bareyre.
The Festival will announce its complete guest line-up for all sections in early October.
The Festival programme is organised in sections to encourage discovery and to open up the Festival to new audiences. The strands are: Love, Debate, Laugh, Dare, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Create, Family, Treasures and Experimenta.
Here are some of the highlights to be found in these strands.
Sweet, passionate, tough – Love is a complex and many-splendoured thing and this selection charts the highs and lows of many kinds of love from around the globe. The Love Gala, in association with Time Out, is the European Premiere of Barry Jenkins’ distinctive drama, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK.
For anyone who has ever loved a boyband, Jessica Leski’s funny, engaging documentary, I USED TO BE NORMAL: A BOYBAND FANGIRL STORY, is a glitter-covered, cross-generational love letter to boybands and the girls who love them, that will have you bopping along. Starring Golden Globe-winner Matt Bomer, John Butler’s PAPI CHULO is a tender yet sharp cross-cultural comedy drama about love and loneliness, in which a heartbroken Los Angeles weatherman tries to fill the void left by his Latino ex-boyfriend by ‘hiring’ a middle-aged migrant worker to be his friend. Ali Jaberansari’s TEHRAN: CITY OF LOVE follows three lonely characters looking for romance and connection in the city of Tehran; the film’s pitch-perfect deadpan humour helps paint a picture of the city as you’ve never seen it before. A critical and commercial success in the US, Morgan Neville’s WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? is a heartfelt and entrancing documentary focusing on Fred Rogers, the beloved children’s TV presenter who redefined entertainment for the young. Toni Erdmann star Sandra Hüller returns to the screen for Thomas Stuber’s poetic workplace romance IN THE AISLES, set in the seemingly banal universe of a wholesale supermarket; sometimes you just have to look differently at the everyday to discover something magical in its routine. Nijla Mumin’s JINN, telling the story of a black LA teenager torn between traditional Islam and notoriety for becoming the popular #HalalHottie, gives a powerful take on identity and sexuality, exploring a seldom-shown sector of youth. Writer-director Shin Dong-seok delivers a devastating debut with LAST CHILD, an emotionally wrenching family drama that heralds a serious new voice in Korean cinema.
Representing films that amplify, scrutinize, argue and surprise, Debate thrives on conversation, which is never more engaging than when the world outside the cinema is reflected back at us. This year’s Debate Gala is Nadine Labaki’s politically-charged fable, CAPERNAUM.
AN IMPOSSIBLE LOVE, Catherine Corsini’s powerful moving drama, explores the unconditional love between a mother and daughter in 1950’s France and how the torments of love are carried on from generation to generation. Radu Jude, celebrated director of Aferim!, Scarred Hearts and The Dead Nation, returns with I DO NOT CARE IF WE GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS BARBARIANS, another controversial and illuminating foray into the darker side of Romania’s history, exploring ethnic cleansing on the Eastern Front. Juliette Binoche and Guillaume Canet lead the cast in Olivier Assayas’ NON-FICTION, a wryly comic look at the quandaries of the publishing world. In Sara Colangelo’s THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER, Maggie Gyllenhaal gives a career-best performance as a kindergarten teacher who finds herself in an ethical quagmire after discovering the poetic talents of a precocious student. THE VICE OF HOPE is Edoardo De Angelis’ gritty, gripping and ultimately uplifting depiction of a woman desperately striving to escape a life of vice and criminality. FREEDOM FIELDS, Naziha Arebi’s social documentary set in post-revolution Libya, charts the six-year journey of Libya’s nascent women’s football team – a path never short of obstacles – as the country descends into civil war. Paddy Breathnach’s ROSIE, with screenplay by Roddy Doyle, is a moving and fiercely gripping response to Ireland’s current housing crisis, telling the story of a Dublin family searching for a roof for the night. TOUCH ME NOT, Romanian director Adina Pintilie’s Berlin Golden Bear winner, is a bold, provocative film about one woman struggling with her fear of intimacy.
From laugh-out-loud comedy, to dry and understated, Laugh celebrates humour in all its forms. This year’s Laugh Gala, in association with Empire magazine, sees Terry Gilliam return to the Festival with the UK Premiere of THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE.
The Festival will present the World Premiere of comedian Simon Amstell’s BENJAMIN, an affecting, bittersweet comedy about being weird and struggling for a connection, in which a rising young filmmaker is thrown into emotional turmoil by a burgeoning romance and the upcoming premiere of his second feature. In the funny, life-affirming documentary BILL MURRAY STORIES: LIFE LESSONS LEARNED FROM A MYTHICAL MAN, director Tommy Avalone gleefully explores various urban legends around Hollywood’s most elusive star: world-weary Ghostbuster, cynical Groundhog Day-tripper or enlightened life guru? From the makers of Hunt for the Wilderpeople comes the hilarious and unashamedly feminist comedy, THE BREAKER UPPERERS; packed full of awkward, dry Kiwi humour, the film stars writer/directors Madeline Sami and Jackie van Beek as two women who set up an agency to break couples up as a way to avoid moving on with their own lives. Bill Nighy, Sam Riley and Alice Lowe star in SOMETIMES ALWAYS NEVER, Carl Hunter’s stylish and heartfelt comedy-drama about a Scrabble-obsessed tailor searching for a lost son. Mahmoud Sabbagh’s delightful romcom Barakah Meets Barakah played in LFF 2016 to great success; his tougher follow-up, the radical black comedy AMRA AND THE SECOND MARRIAGE, exposes Saudi cultural hypocrisy with irony and wit, with a middle-aged housewife forced to take drastic measures when she learns her husband will take a second, younger spouse. Perfect for lovers of the absurd, Whitney Horn and Lev Kalman’s TWO PLAINS AND A FANCY is the world’s first psychedelic ‘Spa Western’, a witty, trippy and discursively delightful jaunt across Colorado, featuring a fabulous cast that includes Jeune Femme’s Laetitia Dosch; silly and sincerely mind-expanding, this is one journey where digressions are more important than the destination.
In your face, up-front and arresting films in Dare take you out of, and beyond, your comfort zone. The Dare Gala is Ali Abbasi’s audacious Scandinavian fantasy, BORDER.
Amander Kramer’s LADYWORLD, starring Annalise Basso and Maya Hawke, is a psychological portrait of eight teenage girls trapped in a shadowy dwelling where tensions run high and nothing is ever quite what it seems. Aaron Schimberg’s CHAINED FOR LIFE, a pulpy comedy challenging preconceptions of physical beauty, sees a Hollywood actress struggle to connect with her disfigured co-star on the set of a European auteur’s trashy B-movie. Stand by Me meets Kafka in SUBURBAN BIRDS, Qiu Shen’s dreamy debut, telling the parallel and intertwining stories of an engineer investigating subsidence, and a group of children on an impossible quest. THE FLOWER is Mariano Llinás’ bold and beguiling cinematic adventure on a truly epic scale, (808 minutes + intervals), about the nature of film itself, structured across three parts and six very different narrative episodes. In Darko Štante’s CONSEQUENCES, a provocative Slovenian coming-of-age tale, a teenage tearaway is forced to face up to his actions, and confront his burgeoning sexuality. In DOGMAN, Gomorrah director Matteo Garrone presents a masterful tale of twisted friendship, not-so-petty crime, and revenge, set in a seedy coastal town on the outskirts of Rome. THE IMAGE BOOK, legendary director Jean-Luc Godard’s latest offering, pushes his exploration of words, sounds and images to vivid new extremes in a complex, dizzying mix of film, essay and collage. Craig William MacNeil’s captivating drama LIZZIE sees Chloë Sevigny and Kristen Stewart retell the strange and fascinating case of Lizzie Borden.
Thrill features nerve-shredders that’ll get your adrenalin pumping and will keep you on the edge of your seat. This year’s Thrill Gala in association with Sight & Sound is Lee Chang-dong’s spellbinding, critically acclaimed thriller BURNING.
The Festival will present the European Premiere of Kim Nguyen’s THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT; Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgård are sensational as scheming cousins on a lucrative but ethically dubious mission in this fast, funny and topical technological caper. Award-winning Norwegian cinematographer John Andreas Andersen makes his directorial debut with THE QUAKE; could reports of subterranean tremors beneath the city of Oslo predict that catastrophe is imminent? With truly spectacular effects and exceptional performances, Andersen’s sequel to The Wave (LFF 2015) is another tension-filled, high-stakes geo-thriller. Gustav Möller’s Sundance Audience Award-winner THE GUILTY is a superb single-location nerve-shredder about a flawed cop that expertly ramps up the tension. Oldboy meets The Usual Suspects in Lee Hae-Yeong’s hall-of-mirrors thriller BELIEVER, as a dogged South Korean narcotics officer tries to smoke out a shadowy drug baron. Alonso Ruizpalacios’ MUSEUM, starring Gael García Bernal and Simon Russell Beale, is a dazzlingly enjoyable heist thriller about an ambitious plan to loot one of the World’s most famous museums. Confirming the promise he showed with his powerful Of Good Report (LFF 2013), in SEW THE WINTER TO MY SKIN, Jahmil XT Qubeka takes us into the heart of Pre-Apartheid South Africa with this superb thriller based on a true story; a visceral exploration of the colonial displacement that sowed the seeds for one of the most viciously racist, political regimes in history. Rave culture, lost love and brotherly bonds are seen through the prism of a narcotic haze in DUBLIN OLDSCHOOL, director Dave Tynan’s witty, adrenaline rush of an Irish drama, featuring rising star Emmet Kirwan. Sara Blecher (Ayanda, LFF 2015) returns with a markedly different film, MAYFAIR, a groundbreaking, multi-cultural African gangster thriller where an estranged son must break the rules to save his family and their criminal empire. The controversial exploits of baby-faced Argentine serial killer Carlos Robledo Puch are exhilaratingly reinterpreted in Luis Ortega’s stylish biopic EL ANGEL: a true story so eccentric, it could easily be mistaken for fiction.
From the mind-altering and unclassifiable to fantasy, sci-fi and horror, in the Cult strand, the dark side is welcomed. This year’s Cult Gala is Sam Levinson’s ferocious femme exploitationer, ASSASSINATION NATION.
Guto Parente’s THE CANNIBAL CLUB sees carnal desires met in a stylish satirical gore extravaganza; Otavio and Gilda are a very wealthy couple of the Brazilian elite who feed off their employees. Timo Tjahjanto’s much-anticipated new horror film, MAY THE DEVIL TAKE YOU, is a spine tingling journey to hell, about a family who find themselves at the mercy of a malevolent spirit. SCHOOL’S OUT is Sébastien Marnier’s high-school thriller, an elusive French enigma in which a precocious gang of unnervingly smart teens appears to be harbouring a dark and dangerous secret. Dennison Ramalho’s brutal and bloody THE NIGHTSHIFTER, about a morgue worker who breaks the unspoken code of the dead, with terrifying consequences, is an evocative and idiosyncratic Brazilian chiller. Fans of New French Extremity take note, Quarxx’s ALL THE GODS IN THE SKY is a mindbending slice of transgressive perversity, about a factory worker who lives a solitary existence devoting his time to caring for his severly disabled sister; this might just be the most outré horror film of the year. In Panos Cosmatos’ MANDY, Nicolas Cage gives his most unhinged performance yet as a lumberjack whose utopia is shattered when a band of Satanic cultists invade his cabin and claim his ‘true love’ Mandy as their own. KNIFE + HEART, Yann Gonzalez’s arthouse slasher movie set in the Parisian gay porn industry, stars Vanessa Paradis and Kate Moran.
This year’s Journey strand is presented in association with the Malta Tourism Authority
Whether it’s the journey or the destination, these films will transport you and shift your perspective. This year’s Journey Gala is Alfonso Cuarón’s luminous, heart-wrenching drama, ROMA.
Frederick Wiseman’s compelling documentary MONROVIA, INDIANA explores the importance of this small town in Indiana, a traditionally Republican state, known as the Crossroads of America. Nothing is quite what it seems in Pieter Dumoulin and Timeau De Keyser’s enigmatic mystery ETANGS NOIRS, which sees Jimi, a young man living in the Brussels neighbourhood Cité Modèle, attempt to pass on a wrongly-delivered parcel to a local woman; when Jimi can’t locate her, his desire to deliver the parcel turns into an obsession. Bi Gan’s LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT is a dazzling dive into a noir-like dreamscape, about a man who returns to his hometown after several years away, and traces the tracks of a mysterious woman he once knew. MAKI’LA, Machérie Ekwa Bahango’s directorial debut, is a compassionate and acutely observed portrait of the homelessness experienced by young people in Kinshasa. THE FIGHT is the feature debut of director Jessica Hynes, a life-affirming lesson in the importance of learning to stand up for yourself. In MAYA, Mia Hansen-Løve (Things to Come, Eden) crafts a beguiling, India-set road movie about a French journalist recovering from severe PTSD following his abduction in Syria. THE WILD PEAR TREE, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s follow-up to his Palme d’Or-winning Winter Sleep, is a persuasive portrait of a young writer at odds with his hometown and family. Morgan Neville’s scintillating documentary THEY’LL LOVE ME WHEN I’M DEAD tells the little-known story of Orson Welles’ unfinished film The Other Side of The Wind, featuring a wealth of archive footage and contemporary interviews.
The Create strand channels the electricity of the act of creation, celebrating artistic expression in all its forms.
Directed by Ralph Fiennes, this year’s Create Gala is the sumptuous Rudolf Nureyev biopic THE WHITE CROW.
Brosettes rejoice! The Festival will present the World Premiere of Joe Pearlman and David Soutar’s AFTER THE SCREAMING STOPS; Matt and Luke Goss take on the big screen – and each other – in this candid documentary charting the twin pop sensations’ stormy reunion. FIVE MEN AND A CARAVAGGIO sees acclaimed writer and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo deliver another deeply intelligent and idiosyncratic essay, located between contemporary China and post-Brexit referendum London. Ed Lilly’s VS. brings Southend’s battle-rap scene to the big screen; his debut feature is a sharp-tongued drama starring Connor Swindells as a troubled teenager trying to make rhyme pay. Sarah Lewis’ NO IFS OR BUTS, an ebullient documentary about trend-setting Soho hair salon Cuts, also serves as a reminder of how pre-gentrification London was fertile ground for multicultural DIY creativity. RUDEBOY: THE STORY OF TROJAN RECORDS, Nicolas Jack Davies’ stylish documentary about the iconic ska, reggae and rock-steady label, is a timely and wide-ranging celebration of British Jamaican working-class youth culture. BLAZE, directed by Ethan Hawke, is a gonzo biopic of wild-spirited folk singer Blaze Foley and a love letter to musicians everywhere, starring Ben Dickey and Alia Shawkat, and featuring Sam Rockwell, Steve Zahn and Richard Linklater. Jane Magnusson presents BERGMAN – A YEAR IN A LIFE, a fascinating study of the brilliance of Ingmar Bergman’s extraordinary career, crafted around one of his most prolific and creatively fruitful years. BE NATURAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ, directed by Pamela B. Green, narrated by Jodie Foster, sets out to shine a spotlight on the pioneering contributions of the first female filmmaker.
Showcasing films for the young, as well as the young at heart, this year’s Family section is, as always, an international affair. The Family Gala is Mamoru Hosoda’s rapturous and fantastical take on childhood MIRAI.
Shot over eight years, Mark Deeble and Victoria Stone’s THE ELEPHANT QUEEN is a stunning documentary, beautifully narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor, which tells the story of Athena, the Elephant Queen, who leads her family across Africa when drought hits their region. In Juan Antin’s authentic animated tale, PACHAMAMA, the latest from Ernest and Celestine producer Didier Brunner, a young boy living in a remote village in the Andes Mountains dreams of becoming a shaman. Ted Kjellsson’s exciting and thought-provoking Swedish sci-fi family drama, ALONE IN SPACE, unfolds on a huge spaceship that hosts just two human passengers… and an otherworldly lifeform. The great master of French animation, Michel Ocelot, returns to the Festival with DILILI IN PARIS, his exquisite tale set in Paris during the Belle Époque. Quirky, upbeat fantasy adventure JIM BUTTON AND LUKE THE ENGINE DRIVER is based on the bestseller by the author of The Neverending Story. Voiced by Stellan Skarsgård and Melinda Kinnaman, Linda Hamback’s GORDON &PADDY is the ultimate mash-up, as Nordic Noir meets family animation, when elderly toad Gordon and fearless young mouse Paddy join forces to solve the case of the missing nuts; this witty, heart-warming tale is a detective adventure for the whole family.
This section also includes a programme of animated shorts for younger audiences which bring together eclectic, exciting and colourful films from all around the globe.
This year sees our Treasures selection in its own strand, and once again bringing recently restored cinematic classics and discoveries from archives around the world to the Festival in London. Sweeping away the veil of time, Archive Gala THE GREAT VICTORIAN MOVING PICTURE SHOW will project Britain’s earliest films at their grandest scale.
Digitally restored in 4K resolution, Dennis Hopper’s personal, audaciously experimental follow-up to Easy Rider, THE LAST MOVIE (1971), is as wild, courageous and fascinating as its creator. A brand new 4K restoration from the original negative, and arguably John Carpenter’s most terrifying film, THE FOG (1980) is a masterclass in slow-burn suspense and creeping, insidious dread. Restored by the Swedish Film Institute in 2K for the centenary of Ingmar Bergman’s birth, comes one of a limited number of screenings permitted of long ‘missing’ thriller HIGH TENSION (1950), the espionage drama that Bergman requested to remain unshown during his lifetime. 60 years on, no other big-screen comedy comes quite as close to perfection as SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959); Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon have a riot in cinema’s great screwball comedy of errors and cross-dressing. A film of terrifying prescience, NONE SHALL ESCAPE (1944) is a major rediscovery: the only wartime Hollywood drama to depict the Holocaust. Though less well known than his comedies of the 1920s and early 1930s, René Clair’s first post-war film SILENCE IS GOLDEN (1947), restored in 4K, is a very funny cautionary tale and arguably his masterpiece. ENTR’ACTE (1924) is Clair’s Dadaist classic, shot for the interval in Picabia’s ballet, with music by Satie; look for Satie, Picabia, Duchamp and Man Ray amid the crazy playfulness. Restored by the BFI National Archive and The Film Foundation, in association with ITV and Park Circus, Alexander Korda’s biopic of England’s most infamous ruler, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF HENRY VIII (1933), is one of the most influential works in British film history. Euzhan Palcy’s coming-of-age story SUGAR CANE ALLEY (1983) garnered awards and was critically acclaimed on its release; restored in 4K, her debut remains a stunning and powerful directorial statement. In military drama TUNES OF GLORY (1960), Britain’s entry to the 1960 Venice Film Festival, British acting greats Alec Guinness and John Mills are outstanding as two officers engaged in a battle of wills. A new restoration by the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation, provides a welcome opportunity to revisit Philip Kaufman’s acclaimed adaptation of Milan Kundera’s novel, THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING (1988) – one of the most ambitious American films of the 1980s.
Experimenta, in association with Lux, features films and videos by artists who transform our experience of seeing moving images. Arts Council England are also generously supporting the Experimenta programme.
Bouchra Khalili’s TWENTY-TWO HOURS, a meditation on revolutionary histories, considers the poet Jean Genet’s secret 1970 visit to the United States at the invitation of the Black Panther Party. After rightfully scooping the Critics Week Grand Prize at Cannes, Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt return with DIAMANTINO, a candy floss farce that’s an absurdist delight. Using a rich variety of techniques, Richard Squires’ experimental documentary DOOZY delves deep into hidden Hollywood and the suppression of its queer stories, recreating the career of actor Paul Lynde, who played some of Hanna-Barbera’s greatest villains. JOUR DE FETE is director John Smith’s mischievous tribute to Jacques Tati, exposing some cultural contradictions of contemporary Europe. In Akosua Adoma Owusu’s MAHOGANY TOO, Nigerian actress Esosa E beautifully re-enacts Diana Ross’s role in Mahogany as nostalgic Afro-Futurism. Reconstructed through Super8 as if it was actual found footage, documents, newspapers and readings, BETWEEN MY FLESH AND THE WORLD’S FINGERS is director Talena Sanders’ fascinating story of lesbian poet, film pioneer and provocateur Mary MacLane, who in the early 1900s was dubbed the Wild Woman of Butte, Montana; she resisted the categorisation and prejudice of the day through the creation of multiple versions of herself. MARIA LASSNIG: NEW YORK FILMS 1970 – 1980 presents us with a rare chance to see the personal, intimate and newly restored films of the internationally celebrated Austrian portrait painter Maria Lassnig, who died in 2014. Dora Garcia’s SECOND TIME AROUND is a gripping experimental documentary that intertwines politics, psychoanalysis and performance through the contemporary recreation of the works of Argentinian avant-garde artist Oscar Masotta.
LFF Connects & Screen Talks
LFF Screen Talk: Alfonso Cuarón
We’re delighted to welcome director, screenwriter, producer and editor Alfonso Cuarón to the BFI London Film Festival to talk about his career and the making of Roma, his first film in 17 years set in his native Mexico. Cuarón initially worked in television before moving into film with his 1991 feature debut, the AIDS-era satire Love in the Time of Hysteria. After moving to the US he earned both critical acclaim and commercial success with cinematic adaptations of classic novels A Little Princess (1995) and Great Expectations (1998). The smart and sexy Mexican road movie Y Tu Mamá También followed in 2001, propelling him to the front rank of international filmmakers. Cuarón then added a darker tone to the hugely popular series of big screen JK Rowling adaptations with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, before transforming London into a futuristic dystopia for 2006’s searing Children of Men. His technically innovative, visually sumptuous space thriller Gravity was awarded seven Oscars in 2014. As well as earning a Best Film Editing award, Cuarón became the first Mexican filmmaker to receive an Academy Award for Best Director.
LFF Screen Talk: Keira Knightley?
Reinventing the costume drama with her dazzling turn in Belle Époque era biopic Colette, Keira Knightley is one of Britain’s most in-demand actors. First appearing on cinema screens at the age of nine in A Village Affair, she landed her first major role while still a teenager in 1999’s Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Her breakthrough performance as a tomboy soccer player in Gurinder Chadha’s 2002 comedy, Bend It Like Beckham, was followed by international blockbuster fame as part of the cast of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and its sequels. After showing her action movie range as warrior queen Guinevere in King Arthur, Knightley received a first Academy Award nomination by playing Elizabeth Bennett in Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. The star and director’s fruitful collaboration continued with Atonement and Anna Karenina, in 2007 and 2012 respectively. Knightley has also won acclaim for versatile work in The Duchess, A Dangerous Method and The Imitation Game, the latter bringing her a second Oscar nomination in 2015.
LFF Screen Talk: Lee Chang-dong?
Having established himself as a successful novelist and screenwriter before turning to direction, Lee Chang-dong quickly earned a reputation at home and abroad as one of South Korea’s most talented filmmakers. A master of intensely emotional human dramas, he attracted immediate acclaim with 1997’s feature debut Green Fish, an incisive critique of Korean society told from the perspective of a young man who is tragically ensnared by the criminal underworld. He followed it with the ingenious reverse chronology of Peppermint Candy (1999), offering a powerful socio-political allegory for key events in the nation’s history. After 2002’s refreshingly frank love story Oasis, Lee took a five-year break from filmmaking to become his country’s Minister of Culture. He made a stirring comeback with Secret Sunshine, an unpredictable work examining grief and deliverance, which was followed by 2010’s internationally successful Poetry, a profound meditation on the nature of life, death and memories. He joins us to talk about his career and the making of Burning, his keenly anticipated mystery thriller adaptation of a short story by Haruki Murakami.
LFF Connects: Sir David Hare
In a career spanning half a century and countless awards, playwright, screenwriter, theatre director and filmmaker Sir David Hare has written over 30 plays. These include such celebrated theatre productions as Plenty, Racing Demon, and Skylight. Hare has also provided the screenplays for a wide range of TV dramas and films, including Louis Malle’s Damage, the BAFTA-winning Licking Hitler and the BBC political thrillers known collectively as The Worricker Trilogy (which he also directed). His credits as cinema director include Wetherby (1985), Paris by Night (1988) and Strapless (1989). Hare has twice been Oscar nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, for The Hours and The Reader. In 2011, he was awarded the PEN Printer Prize, given to a British writer who casts an ‘unflinching, unswerving’ gaze upon the world. Sir David Hare joins us to discuss his work and talk about writing the screenplay for director Ralph Fiennes’ intoxicating historical drama The White Crow, which details Rudolf Nureyev’s first encounter with Parisian society in the early 1960s as star attraction of the Kirov Ballet, and the iconic principal dancer’s subsequent defection to the West.
LFF Connects: Simon Amstell
Simon Amstell, the award-winning comedian, TV presenter, author, actor, screen writer and feature film director joins us to discuss his journey from Popworld host and award winning stand-up to the making of his latest film Benjamin, a comedy about a rising star filmmaker, who is on the brink of premiering his difficult second film. Known for his left-field, ironic and surreal brand of comedy, Amstell began performing on the comedy circuit during his early teens and later became the youngest finalist to appear in the BBC New Comedy Awards. He won many comedy awards during his time presenting Never Mind the Buzzcocks including Best Entertainment Performance and Best Comedy Entertainment Personality. His critically acclaimed sitcom Grandma’s House, a fictionalised version of his own life and Jewish family background, which he co-wrote with Dan Swimer, ran for 12 episodes, with the first series broadcast in 2010 and the second in 2012. Amstell’s feature film debut, Carnage was broadcast on BBC iPlayer in 2017. Simon published his first book Help in 2017, which includes a collection of annotated stand-up scripts and comedic and tragic stories from his life as a budding stand- up comic to feature film writer and director.
Industry & Education
The Festival offers a full benefits package for Industry delegates. This year’s industry programme, supported by the Mayor of London, via Film London, includes the LFF CONNECTS strand which celebrates artists working at the intersection of film and other creative industries; the talent development programme NET.WORK@LFF; Screen International’s UK Stars of Tomorrow 2018 and a host of other panels, talks and networking events.
This year’s Festival marks the third year of the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI. At £50,000, the Bursary is the most significant of its kind in the UK film industry, supporting exceptional new or emerging talent. The bursary is eligible for emerging writers, directors and writer/directors resident in the UK, and premiering their first or second feature in the Festival. Last year’s winner was Daniel Kokotaljo (Apostasy) with Rungano Nyoni (I Am Not A Witch) and Michael Pearce (Beast) shortlisted nominees.
The Festival will again host Press and Industry screenings at Picturehouse Central, provide a Digital Viewing Library, a host of delegate hubs, discounts at partner venues and numerous networking opportunities with delegates and filmmakers. Visit the delegates sitefor further details. Details of the full industry programme will be announced in September.
The BFI London Film Festival Education programme is supported by funding contributors The Film Music Foundation, LaCie and The Sir John Cass’s Foundation and event partners Into Film, 14-18NOW, TES, London Music Masters, NFTS, London Film Academy, London Film School and SOUL. It includes a diverse range of morning screenings of films selected from the festival programme and special events for schools, students and young people, all featuring a wide range of film industry professionals, as well as the opportunity to apply to take part in our LFF Critics Mentorship Programme, and gain career insights from LFF guests at BFI Future Film events throughout the festival. 16-25 year olds can also apply for Future Film Accreditation and take advantage of our 25 and Under £5 rush ticket offers.
The BFI London Film Festival experience can be enjoyed UK-wide on BFI Player, the BFI’s VOD service, featuring Festival collections showcasing films from previous years. BFI London Film Festival content will be a key attraction in the range of services on BFI Player – at player.bfi.org.uk/
New films and talks added to BFI London Film Festival programme
The Sisters Brothers (2018)
John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix play sibling hired killers in Jacques Audiard’s (Rust and Bone, A Prophet) touching, darkly funny and free-wheeling western The Sisters Brothers.
Charlie (Joaquin Phoenix) and Eli (John C Reilly) are the Sisters brothers, assassins sent by the fearsome Commodore to kill chemist and prospector Hermann Warm (Riz Ahmed), but first to extract by any means his formula for a liquid that illuminates gold. Setting out ahead of the brothers to locate Warm, tracker John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal) ruminates on the dizzying pace of change.
Featuring a quartet of note-perfect performances, The Sisters Brothers sees each of the men also searching his own soul: Eli longs for some of life’s simpler pleasures; Charlie doesn’t see much point in struggling against a destiny bequeathed by his pitilessly violent past; Morris and Warm aspire to a life free of incessant greed and brutality. Adapting from a novel by Patrick DeWitt, Audiard and co-writer Thomas Bidegain deliver a piquantly humorous examination of the nature of violence, fraternity and male friendship. Exquisitely crafted throughout, Alexandre Desplat’s score is a particular delight.
Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Sorry to Bother You joins the Laugh Strand, receiving its UK premiere at the LFF. A mild-mannered call centre operator whizzes up the corporate ladder after he discovers a unique ability to adopt a “white voice” in writer-director Boots Riley’s breathlessly inventive satire.
With Cassius Green’s (Lakeith Stanfield) newly discovered talent, it’s not long before he rises through the ranks of his company, moving closer to the inner circle of coke-snorting entrepreneur Steve Lift (Armie Hammer). But as Cassius soon discovers, Steve has some disturbing ambitions for him and the cost of success could be more than just alienation from both his colleagues and activist girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson).
Bursting with ideas, visual panache and caustic wit, Riley acerbically lampoons office life and offers savage commentary on the young African-American experience. Joining a triumphant new wave of radical black cinema, Sorry to Bother You establishes Riley as a filmmaking force to be reckoned with.
Dragged Across Concrete (2018)
Dragged Across Concrete is as brutal and uncompromising as the title would suggest. The third feature from S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99) is another instant classic.
When disillusioned old-time cop Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and his cocky younger partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) are caught on camera forcefully strong-arming a suspect, their renegade approach to law enforcement gets them both suspended. With their egos bruised, and their finances depleted, the pair impulsively resort to a criminal plan which sees them cross paths with Henry Jones, a recently released ex-con desperate to rescue his family from poverty, by any means available.
Punctuated by moments of distressingly savage violence (and a dose of wickedly black humour), Zahler’s latest masterwork is an impeccably styled, daringly unconventional genre exercise, likely to enthral and appal in equal measures. Brace yourselves, crime thrillers are rarely boiled quite so hard.
Screen Talk: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Maggie Gyllenhaal discusses a dazzling career playing smart, complex female characters, most recently captivating as a teacher who becomes obsessed with a young gifted student in The Kindergarten Teacher.
Gyllenhaal gained international attention with her supporting performance in the 2001 cult classic Donnie Darko. She was launched to indie film stardom by her unforgettable lead performance in the following year’s Secretary, for which she received her first Golden Globe nomination. The rising star followed this up with supporting turns in 40 Days and 40 Nights, and in two Charlie Kaufman films: Adaptation and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.
Gyllenhaal received huge acclaim for playing a recovering heroin addict in Sherrybaby and in 2009 earned her first Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actress in Crazy Heart. She won her first Golden Globe Award and an Emmy nomination in 2015 for the TV mini-series The Honourable Woman, while this year has brought another Golden Globe nomination for her acting work on HBO’s acclaimed drama The Deuce. Gyllenhaal also serves as producer for both the TV series and The Kindergarten Teacher.
LFF Connects: Clint Mansell
Clint Mansell, composer of LFF Special Presentation Out of Blue and LFF Official Competition selection Happy New Year, Colin Burstead, joins us to reflect on a remarkable journey from cult indie rocker to successful film and TV music composer.
After notching up 11 Top 40 UK hits as the frontman of UK alt-rock grebo band Pop Will Eat Itself, Mansell headed to New York where a chance introduction to independent auteur Darren Aronofsky led to his film score debut, for 1998’s cult classic Pi. This director-composer union has gone from strength to strength, the pair having worked together on Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler, the Grammy-nominated Black Swan and Noah.
Known for his darkly alluring sonic signature, Mansell’s work has been heard on Duncan Jones’ award-winning Moon, Park Chan-wook’s Stoker, and Ben Wheatley’s dystopian drama High Rise, as well as the widely adored Black Mirror episode ‘San Junipero’ and Oscar-nominated animated feature Loving Vincent.
At LFF with both Out of Blue and Happy New Year, Colin Burstead, Mansell joins us to discuss his innovative approach to making music for film, the collaborative and creative process of writing a score, and the power and importance of a film’s soundtrack.
LFF Connects: Boots Riley
Multi-hyphenate rapper, director, activist, author, poet, producer and screenwriter Boots Riley joins us to examine his work as socially conscious artist and activist.
Until recently, best known as the lead vocalist of political hip hop groups The Coup and Street Sweeper Social Club, Boots Riley is fervently dedicated to the struggle for political change through culture.
His interest in politics began at a young age, inspiring him to join the Progressive Labor Party and the International Committee Against Racism as a young teenager, and latterly the Occupy Oakland movement and activist group The Young Comrades.
But he’s also recently turned to filmmaking with explosive success. His directorial debut Sorry to Bother You, is a biting, brilliantly funny critique of capitalism, greed and institutional racism, with its huge commercial success in the US suggesting he’s tapped into the pulse of a politically engaged generation. Riley joins us to share thoughts on the role of art in politics and discuss a career that shows how popular art and political engagement can co-exist.