My favourite time of year, a time when it is perfectly acceptable to cocoon ourselves in dark rooms with the company of strangers and brand new films ranging from Oscar-ready winners, new cult classics and never-see-the-light-of-day-ers. But we love them all. It is of course the BFI London Film Festival.
In its 58th year, this year’s LFF comes at us with 248 films and – because an LFF preview wouldn’t be the same without the stat – we’ll have 17 world premieres, 38 European premieres, 19 archive films plus 148 shorts.
Opening this year’s festival will be the European premiere of the much anticipated The Imitation Game, directed by Morten Tyldum, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, documenting the life of one of our greatest innovators, Alan Turing. Bookended with another all-star cast, David Ayer’s Second World War epic Fury with Brad Pitt.
Having won over critics at Cannes and earned Bennett Miller the Best Director Award, Foxcatcher with Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum, tells the dark, true story of Olympic Wrestling champion, Mark Schultz, as this year’s American Express Gala. A gifted young drummer is pushed to breaking point in audacious thriller, Whiplash, with JK Simmons and Miles Teller. Jason Reitman takes on the troubles of social media in today’s society in Men, Women and Children – listen out for the racy voiceover from Emma Thompson. Hitting the road solo, Reese Witherspoon stars in Wild in Nick Hornby’s adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s incredible tale of her one-woman mission 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trails. In the centenary year of the First World War, Vera Britten’s epic war memoir, Testament of Youth receives its world premiere while Timothy Spall stars as the great British artist, J.M.W Turner in Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner.
Moving beyond the glitzy galas and cast lists, we’ve spotted some equally glittering selections in the staple festival strands, allowing you to curate your programme to your mood. Outdoing itself in the Sonic strand, LFF premieres Bjork’s incandescent and ethereal performance at Alexandra Palace in Biophilia, One9 documents one of the most influential records in hip hop in Nas: Time is Illmatic, Copehagen’s hip hop scene is captured in Fenar Ahmad’s Flow. Closer to home, a BUG special in Full Time Hobby, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the independent London record label and even further from home, Michael Obert’s Song from the Forest explores a man’s quest to record the music and sound of the remote African jungle.
Journey on the big screen to remote Cappadocia in Palme D’Or winner, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep, to North Africa in existential western Far From Men with Viggo Mortensen, to Paris with Maggie Smith in My Old Lady and from New York to Chelsea with artist Marc Quinn in the world premiere of documentary, Making Waves.
Something more challenging? Celebrate the world of exploitation films with Electric Boogaloo: The Film, Untold Story of Cannon Films or a classic wuxia epic as Liang Yusheng is adapted for the big screen in the international premiere of Jacob Cheung’s The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom. Simon Pegg continues his horror comedy expertise in the European premiere of Kill Me Three Times while Gareth Edwards’ Monsters is given its sequel in the world premiere of Tom Green’s Monsters: Dark Continent.
Set in London town, Honeytrap sees a 15-year old girl take part in a tragic act of violence in Brixton; Night Bus presents an all-too familiar vision of the encounters that take place on a London night bus and a petty East End criminal finds support in an unlikely source in Snow in Paradise.
Giving us the warm fuzzies – with a side serving of arsenic – the Love strand delivers a new adaptation of Madame Bovary starring Mia Wasikowska; Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper share the screen once again in Serena; Alan Rickman directs and stars as King Louis XIV at Versailles with Kate Winslet as his landscape gardener in A Little Chaos.
Stay tuned as we feature our highlights throughout the festival – what are you looking forward to seeing from this year’s programme?
Watch the trailer for this year’s festival:
BFI 58th London Film Festival runs from 8 October – 19 October at various venues around London.
View the full programme online: www.bfi.org.uk/lff