This year’s BFI London Film Festival kicks off in three weeks’ time and, as usual, there’s a staggering lineup of films and special events to choose from, including over 200 features and 110 shorts, 13 world premieres, 18 international premieres and 22 European premieres, plus special events and guests galore.
From the opening night gala screening on Wednesday 12th September of 360, Fernando Meirelles’ globe-trotting roundelay of 21st-century love, to the closing gala of Terence Davies’ eagerly awaited adaptation of Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea on Thursday 27th October, the array of films can leave you reeling.
So here’s a short sampler of ten of the films I’m most looking forward to, ranging from gala screenings to a treasure from the archives. Click on the titles for the screening details of each film.
City of God director Fernando Meirelles and Frost/Nixon writer Peter Morgan team up with a stellar cast including Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz for a modern take on Arthur Schnitzler’s classic play La Ronde.
A cat and a cat burglar prowl the rooftops of Paris in this charming French animated comedy thriller.
Shot in black and white, this hilarious, heartfelt homage to silent Hollywood cinema was the film that bowled everyone over at this year’s Cannes film festival.
Ralph Fiennes stunning 2000 stage performance as Shakespeare’s tragic hero remains one of my all-time theatrical highs. Now he’s made his directorial debut with an impressive screen version of the play.
Revolving around the fallout from a Columbine-style crime, Lionel Shriver’s brilliant 2003 novel becomes an equally shattering film in the hands of Morvern Callar director Lynne Ramsay and a cast headed by Tilda Swinton. The screening and on-stage interview on Monday 17th October will be screened simultaneously in cinemas up and down the country.
With the frontrunners for the next US presidential race already jockeying for position, George Clooney casts his eye on a fictional campaign with this suspenseful political drama co-starring Ryan Gosling.
Described by Variety as ‘a blistering firecracker,’ this gripping Mexican thriller sees a young aspiring beauty queen (played by model-turned-actress Stepahnie Sigman) getting inadvertently caught up with her country’s drug gangs.
Co-written by Alfred Hitchcock’s wife, Alma Reville, and co-starring future 39 Steps star Madeleine Carroll, this lovingly restored British melodrama from 1928 is this year’s Archive Gala. ‘Not unlike a lost episode of Downtown Abbey,’ reckon the BFI restoration team.
Sean Penn plays an oddball retired rock star (‘think of Robert Smith from The Cure, crossed with Michael Jackson’, advises Film London supreme Adrian Wootton) in this offbeat road movie, which features music (and a cameo) by David Byrne.
British director Terence Davies makes his first fiction film for more than a decade with this adaptation of Terence Ratigan’s classic play. Rachel Weisz (again), Tom Hiddleston and Simon Russell Beale star in this year’s closing night film.
Public booking for the festival opens on Monday 26th September. If the films you want to see are sold out, check back from 7th October when more tickets will become available. You can also subscribe to the LFF’s email bulletin service to find out when last minute tickets are released. Or call the box office on 020 7928 3232 for the latest availability. New tickets are released on a daily basis so keep trying!