Only one week to go until the gargantuan line-up for 2015's London Film Festival is unleashed, taking place in venues across London between 7-18 October. 238 films playing across 15 cinemas. It is going to be a long road getting through it all, let alone choosing what films to see from all the multiple strands the festival is broken down into. Nevertheless, below are 15 films/events that might interest the curious, drawn from across the programme.
It is worth pointing out that since revealing the programme earlier in September, the BFI have announced more events and screenings. In particular the LFF Connects and LFF Screentalks series (the talent sits down for a chat or gives an in-depth study of their field) have been expanded. For one thing, LFF Connects TV now includes an event with intrepid TV broadcaster Louis Theroux in conversation with renowned producer Simon Chinn on Mon 12 October, 16:00 at Picturehouse Central. Theroux's new feature doc, My Scientology Film, is playing at the festival this year. Those interested in the intersection of video games and feature films might also want to check out the event with globally-renowned games designer Alistair Hope, whose work as Creative Lead on the modern classic Alien Isolation has made him one of the most respected names in the gaming world.
Also, despite tickets having been on sale for several weeks, the BFI will release extra tickets for some of the Festival’s top films on the morning of 1 October at 10:00.
More tickets will be released for screenings across the festival including Opening Night Gala Suffragette, Closing Night Gala Steve Jobs, Black Mass starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Depp, and Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, as well as events including Geena Davis Screen Talk and LFF Connects Film: Christopher Nolan and Tacita Dean.
There will also be an additional screening of this year’s Closing Night Gala, Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs. The screening will take place at 21:00 at Vue West End on Sunday 18 October. Tickets for Steve Jobs will go on sale to BFI Champions at 10:00 and Members 11:00 on Thursday 1 October, before going on general sale at 10:00 on Friday 2 October.
Sarah Gavron's Suffragette gets its European premiere at LFF, billed as the first feature film to tell the story of the ordinary British women at the turn of the last century who fought for equality and the right to vote, and with a hard-to-top cast too.
The film will receive its European premiere on Wednesday 7 October at the Odeon Leicester Square, attended by the filmmakers and cast (including Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep), with a live cinecast from the red carpet and simultaneous screenings taking place at cinemas across the UK. For this film, Gavron reteamed with her Brick Lane screenwriter Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady).
Danny Boyle’s (Slumdog Millionaire) directing, Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) on screenplay duties, and Michael Fassbender playing Apple's creative legend Steve Jobs. The film draws from Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography of the man who gave us the iPad, iPod pretty much everything else prefaced with "i" that we carry in our pockets. What more do you need to know?
Having won acting awards at Cannes and received rave reviews, Todd Haynes' (Far from Heaven and I'm Not There) new 1950's-era drama couldn't be more anticipated. The film will receive its UK Premiere at the LFF on Wednesday 14 October at the Odeon Leicester Square, attended by director Todd Haynes and stars Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett and Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara.
The story focuses on a young woman in her 20s, Therese Belivet (Mara) who is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store whilst dreaming of a more fulfilling life. Then she meets Carol (Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. As an immediate connection sparks between them, and a journey of self-discovery begins. The film is based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Price of Salt, adapted by Emmy nominated screenwriter Phyllis Nagy. Joining Blanchett and Mara are Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy and Sarah Paulson.
The LFF always has an archive strand, where old and lost gems get a digital polish and are re-re-released, often with new scores and extra material. Newly restored by the BFI National Archive, Anthony Asquith’s debut film from 1928 will be presented with a new live score by John Altman, a BAFTA and Emmy award-winning composer whose work includes Titanic and GoldenEye .
A new strand in LFF, LFF Connects events will focus on film and the wider creative industries, and the series kicks off with artist Tacita Dean (the grand-scale Tate Modern exhibition FILM ) and filmmaker Christopher Nolan (that guy who made a few films like The Dark Knight). BFI Creative Director Heather Stewart and Austrian Film Museum Director Alexander Horwath will join Nolan and Dean to discuss the implications facing film preservation for future generations. Christopher Nolan and Tacita Dean are both passionate advocates within their fields for physical film – not simply as a technology – but as a medium needed by artists and filmmakers, as well as loved by audiences.
Hou Hsiao-Hsien won the Best Director award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and has now decided to dip into martial arts. See the results at this year's LFF (he also has a season running of his work at the BFI Southbank in September). The Assassin is set in 9th-century China towards the end of the Tang dynasty. Lethal assassin Nie Yinniang (Shu Qi, star of Hou’s Three Times and Millennium Mambo) fails an important assignment and is sent back to her homeland on the orders of the nun who abducted her as a child and trained her in the deadly arts. Her new orders are to kill the man to whom she was once betrothed – her cousin, the governor of Weibo (Chang Chen, Three Times, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). This time however, Yinniang’s chooses to defy her Mistress.
Kill List and Sightseers director Ben Wheatley makes his return with a prime gala slot at LFF with his long-awaited adaptation of J.G Ballard's 1960s satire High Rise. Tom Hiddleston (Thor, Avengers, Archipelago) takes the lead. We are promised sex, drugs, alcohol, and a Clint Mansell score.
It doesn't always have to be about the stately arthouse at LFF. The cult strand is alive and well, and this year's lead film has Kurt Russell leading an all-star cast in a fusion of horror and western. Directed by S. Craig Zahler, the film sees a vigilante posse and the Sheriff of the Wild West town of Bright Hope headed towards an encounter with a savage force like no other.
Director Davis Guggenheim has a truly inspirational subject here for his new documentary. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize at 17 and probably one of the most famous teenagers in the world, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for championing girls’ education in Pakistan. The film observes her as she adapts to a new life in Britain.
Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) is back with a cast to die for (Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson, Matthias Schoenaerts, Tilda Swinton) for a poolside drama set in the Sicilian island of Pantelleria, promising "deliciously overheated drama with a dangerous edge". It is a remake of Jacques Deray and Jean-Claude Carrière’s La Piscine (1969) which draws its title from David Hockney’s painting of the same era.
With filmmakers like Alex Gibney having kicked down the doors of the secretive Church of Scientology, you have to be curious about what Louis Theroux has found.
Given it could be the last Studio Ghibli film for a time, you can't miss Hiromasa Yonebayashi's latest animated film. In this latest tale from the revered Japanese animation house, Anna, a sickly girl, is sent to live with relatives on the coast in order to get some fresh air. Walking near a marsh one day she befriends Marnie, who claims to live in an old mansion. At times, the house appears clean, lived in and full of guests, but it can also look empty and dilapidated. When she starts to dream about her new friend and the strange house, the line between the real and imagined becomes blurred.
With a new Star Wars film about to land and crush the box office, now is the perfect time go back to the English film studio that hosted the original franchise. Ten actors landed themselves small roles in Star Wars back in 1976, and this doc from director Jon Spira tells their stories.
With superb films like Frank and What Richard Did to his name, director Lenny Abrahamson is on a roll. Now he is back at LFF with the inriguing-sounding Room, in which a boy who has been trapped in an 11-square-foot room since his birth suddenly is faced with a chance for escape. Actor Brie Larson , who plays the boy's mother, has impressed in films like Short Term 12, so expectations are high.
Since it played at the Sundance Film Festival, this feature debut by Robert Eggers (that bills itself as a “New England Fairy Tale”) has been garnering rave reviews. The story concerns the misfortune that befalls a rural family, one of who’s number is accused of witchcraft, decades before the infamous Salem witch trials of the 1690s.
LFF tickets booking dates:
Champions: Wednesday 9 September
Members: Thursday 10 September
Public booking: Thursday 17 September