The 59th BFI London Film Festival kicks off tonight with the European premiere of British period drama Suffragette, a stirring account of the struggle to achieve votes for women from director Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane) and screenwriter Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady).
Set in pre-First World War London in 1912 and 1913, the film is a compelling tribute to one of the unsung footsoldiers in the fight for female suffrage, rather than its upper-class leaders, and focuses on the fictional figure of East End laundry worker Maud Watts, played by Carey Mulligan, as she goes on a journey from resigned acceptance of the status quo to radical militancy.
Mulligan’s nuanced performance anchors the film, vividly conveying the physical and emotional toll upon Maud as she progresses from passive bystander to zealous activist. She gets strong support from Ben Whishaw as Maud’s husband and Helena Bonham Carter as a well-educated pharmacist passionately committed to the suffrage cause, while Meryl Streep delivers a brief but attention-grabbing cameo as Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst.
The Odeon Leicester Square hosts tonight’s Opening Night Gala at 7pm, with chance to see red carpet footage and interviews with the film’s creators via a live satellite link to cinemas around the UK. See bfi.org.uk/lff for more details.
Suffragette also screens at the Vue Leicester Square at 7.45pm tonight, and at the Odeon Leicester Square on Thursday 8th October at 11am, and goes on general release from Monday 12th October.