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Museyon’s Guide to…BFI London Film Festival

LynchThe program for the 54th BFI London Film Festival, launched today by Artistic Director Sandra Hebron, showcases an array of highly anticipated films by both established and emerging talent from around the world. Held over 16 days, the festival will screen a total of 197 features and 112 shorts, including 11 World, 23 International and 33 European premieres, many presented by cast members and filmmakers. The 54th BFI London Film Festival will run from October 13th – 28th.
Galas & Special Screenings:
Opening the festival is Mark Romanek’s NEVER LET ME GO, starring Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield, whilst Danny Boyle’s 127 HOURS, starring James Franco will close the festival. In between are THE KING’S SPEECH, with Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter; Darren Aronofsky’s BLACK SWAN, with Natalie Portman; Mike Leigh’s ANOTHER YEAR; NEDS, directed by Peter Mullan; THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT starring Julianne Moore and Annette Bening; and Cannes Palme D’Or winner, UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES. Other highlights include CONVICTION, starring Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell; Alejandro González Iñárritu’s BIUTIFUL starring Javier Bardem; WEST IS WEST, the follow up to East is East; Xavier Beauvois’ OF GODS AND MEN; and Julian Schnabel’s MIRAL with Freida Pinto. In THE FIRST GRADER an 84 year old Kenyan finally starts school, and AFRICA UNITED features a group of youngsters who trek across Africa to reach the World Cup. THE GREAT WHITE SILENCE, a BFI Archive restoration, is this year’s Archive Gala, featuring a live performance of a new score by Simon Fisher Turner.

Film On The Square:
London’s West End will see a selection of some of the strongest films of the year. Anton Corbijn (Control) presents THE AMERICAN, starring George Clooney; CARLOS is Olivier Assayas’s epic biopic of the infamous Venezuelan terrorist; Jean-Luc Godard continues to challenge cinemagoers with FILM SOCIALISME; ROBINSON IN RUINS marks Patrick Keiller’s long awaited return, and is narrated by Vanessa Redgrave. Other highlights include Diego Luna’s directorial debut ABEL; Kelly Reichardt’s MEEK’S CUTOFF with Michelle Williams and Paul Dano; LE QUATTRO VOLTE, an intriguing quasi-documentary set in an Italian village; LOOSE CANNONS, an Italian coming-out comedy; and RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE a Finnish fantasy thriller… about Father Christmas. Two of the festival’s features set in Africa are A SCREAMING MAN from Chad and BENDA BILILI, a documentary about the meteoric rise of a band of street musicians from Congo. The UK is represented by Ken Loach (ROUTE IRISH), Joanna Hogg (ARCHIPELAGO), Richard Ayoade (SUBMARINE) and Lucy Walker (WASTE LAND). Amongst the many international filmmakers included are Jan Švankmajer (SURVIVING LIFE), Takashi Miike (13 ASSASSINS) and John Sayles (AMIGO).
New British Cinema:
Amongst the finest new films from the UK are several which deal with real life subjects. In THE ARBOR, Clio Barnard explores the legacy of writer Andrea Dunbar (whose works include Rita, Sue and Bob Too); Hannah Rothschild shadowed her subject for a crucial year in MANDELSON: THE REAL PM?; and FIRE IN BABYLON celebrates the golden age of West Indian cricket. Festival alumni Kim Longinotto focuses on India in PINK SARIS, whilst Turner Prize winner Gillian Wearing makes her feature debut with SELF MADE. Both add to the strong representation of women filmmakers this year. Carol Morley offers a resonant and involving character study with EDGE; IN OUR NAME is an urgent and provocative feature depicting the issues one soldier faces when she returns from war in Iraq; and Marc Evans’ striking PATAGONIA features singer Duffy in her first acting role.
French Revolutions:
The French cinema scene is represented by a range of filmmakers, new and established. Amongst those whose films are screening are new discoveries such as Katell Quillévéré (LOVE LIKE POISON), up and coming talents including award winning director Antony Cordier (HAPPY FEW),Guillaume Canet, who brings his second feature after Tell No One, LITTLE WHITE LIES (featuring Marion Cotillard) and the established force that is Catherine Breillat (THE SLEEPING BEAUTY). Screen icons featured in this year’s line-up include Isabelle Huppert (SPECIAL TREATMENT and COPACABANA), Gerard Depardieu and Isabelle Adjani (MAMMUTH) and Kristin Scott Thomas in Lola Doillon’s IN YOUR HANDS. Isabelle Czajka returns to the festival with LIVING ON LOVE ALONE, the follow up to her debut The Year After.
Cinema Europa:
Celebrating the best in new cinema from mainland Europe, highlights include MYSTERIES OF LISBON, a four and a half hour epic from Raúl Ruiz; WOMB, an unusual love story starring Eva Green and Matt Smith; MY JOY, a beautifully shot, dark parable; the surreal and hypnotic THE TEMPTATION OF ST TONY; and SILENT SOULS, an almost mystical road movie. Here, the spotlight also falls on women directors including Pernille Fischer Christensen, whose film A FAMILY picks up on a recurrent theme of families; EVEN THE RAIN, directed by Icíar Bollaín, written by long term Ken Loach collaborator Paul Laverty, and starring Gael Garcia Bernal; DRAQUILA – ITALY TREMBLES by Sabina Guzzanti, a provocative exposé of Silvio Berlusconi; and returning filmmaker Isabelle Stever (BLESSED EVENTS). More debate is provoked in PICCO, the German film exploring the extreme violence experienced in a youth prison.
World Cinema:
From around the globe, a diverse selection of fiction features and documentaries are presented. Amongst a host of US indies are SPORK, a wonderfully unexpected take on the high school movie; Geoff Marslett’s unique animated film, MARS, an inventive slice of slacker sci-fi; COLD WEATHER, a new spin on the crime genre; and THE TAQWACORES, about Muslim punks in Upstate New York. SMASH HIS CAMERA turns the camera on one of the original paparazzi, Ron Galella. CATFISH raises unsettling issues around social media, whilst LEMMY is the definitive portrait of the legendary Motorhead singer and ultimate rock god. Another revered musical subject features in STRANGE POWERS: STEPHIN MERRITT AND THE MAGNETIC FIELDS. THE TILLMAN STORY examines the controversy surrounding the death of the NFL player turned US soldier in Afghanistan. Other highlights from the rest of the world include MICROPHONE, set in the exuberant underground music scene of the Egyptian capital; AUTUMN, about the conflict in Indian Kashmir; and LEAP YEAR, the Mexico City set feature which won director Michael Rowe the Camera D’Or at Cannes. Amongst the many strong East Asian titles are DEAR DOCTOR, the third feature from Japan’s Miwa Nishikawa and Chang Tso-Chi’s beautifully observed family piece, WHEN LOVE COMES.
Treasures From The Archive:
Showcasing the best recent examples of conservation work, and provoking debate in equal measure, titles include digital restorations of Renoir’s BOUDU SAVED FROM DROWNING and David Lean’s epic THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI and the latest project from Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation, Edward Yang’s A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY. Missing scenes, incorrect focus problems and technical difficulties have been overcome to bring back to the screen PANDORA’S BOX, starring the iconic Louise Brooks and Mauritz Stiller’s GUNNAR HEDES SAGA. Gritty pre-code films THE MATCH KING and THE MAYOR OF HELL with James Cagney are rediscovered, with light relief provided by screwball comedy TURNABOUT and endearing musical SUNNY SIDE UP. Life in post-war London is captured in three short films restored by the BFI in BOW BELLS AND WATERLOO SUNSETS. Other welcome new restorations include the seminal MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA and Manoel de Oliveira’s RITE OF SPRING, as well as the first feature-length gay documentary WORD IS OUT.
Highlights include feature length works by Sharon Lockhart (DOUBLE TIDE), John Akomfrah (THE NINE MUSES) and Li Hongqi, whose film WINTER VACATION won the Golden Leopard in Locarno. An important aspect of Experimenta is the weekend of artists’ film and video on 23-24 October. Eight curated programmes offer the opportunity to experience a range of international work by prominent and emerging moving image artists. This year’s survey includes Prolix Satori, a new series of collage animations by Lewis Klahr, making his first UK appearance, and three films by Festival regular Nathaniel Dorsky. Every Time I See Your Picture I Cry is a unique live performance piece by Daniel Barrow. There will be installations by Emily Richardson and Martin Arnold, and David Gatten will present a film shot in the Galapagos Islands at the Natural History Museum.
Short Cuts and Animation:
This year, ten programmes celebrate the short film and animation formats, appealing to a wide ranging audience. New filmmakers from the capital are represented in London Calling whilst animation from all corners of the globe are featured, including those in a delightful programme aimed at children. This section doesn’t shy away from controversy with hard-edged stories including THE GOOD NORTH and BURN MY BODY. The spotlight once again focuses on women in the Pretty Girls Make Graves selection. As well as being a place for talent spotting, the section features established names including actors-turned-directors, Sir David Jason and Rupert Friend.
To complement the film screenings, there will be a full program of events. This year’s Screen Talks feature directors Darren Aronofsky and Mark Romanek. Peter Mullan and Olivier Assayas will lead Masterclasses. Other highlights include music supervisor Randall Poster’s Film School of Rock; a forum about adapting books for the screen; and a special screening of Christy Turlington Burns’ directorial debut about maternal health, NO WOMAN, NO CRY. The Festival has partnered with Time Out to bring a series of free events based around panel discussions with filmmakers.
Following last year’s inaugural ceremony, the BFI London Film Festival Awards return for a second year to celebrate the finest films within the Festival and to recognise the achievements of filmmakers, both new and established. This year’s Awards will take place on October 27th at Jerwood Hall, LSO St Luke’s, before a panel of judges composed of figures from across the international film community.
Film Guests:
The stars anticipated to appear at the festival are Julianne Moore, Colin Firth, Hilary Swank, Natalie Portman, Helena Bonham Carter, Naomie Harris, Julian Schnabel, Lisa Cholodenko, Pablo Trapero, Gillian Wearing, Kim Longinotto, Joanna Hogg, Ferzan Ozpetek, Richard Ayoade, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Christy Turlington Burns.
Tickets to the public go on sale September 27th and can be ordered online, by phone (call 020 7928 3232 from 11:30 – 8:30pm daily), or in person at the BFI Southbank Box Office, open daily from 11:00 – 8:30pm. I addition, tickets will be sold at box offices 30 minutes before each screening.

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