55th BFI London Film Festival Programme Highlights

Yesterday the full programme of films was announced for the 55th BFI London Film Festival which takes place between the 12th and 27th October. With a total of 204 features and 110 shorts from 55 countires, the festival will also include interviews, masterclasses and educational events.

The festival will open with Fernando Meirelle’s 360 (starring Anthony Hopkins, Rachel Weisz and Jude Law), close with Terence Davies’ The Deep Blue Sea (an adaptation of the Terence Rattigan play and also staring Rachel Weisz) and feature the surprise film on the 23rd October.

There are many films that I’m looking forward to, but here I’m cutting straight to the geek and have listed the films that appear to be remotely sci-fi/fantasy/horror/or just a little bit quirky (and two action films for good measure).

Click on the film titles for more info. BFI Members can book festival tickets online from 19 September. Public booking opens 26 September.
The official press release can be found at the very end.


First off the Geeky Must-See Documentary (as chosen by me)

Superheroes (USA, 2011)

Director: Michael Barnett

Ordinary folk by day, caped crusaders by night…the lives of actual superheroes.

In San Diego, Mr Extreme lounges in his ‘extreme den’ watching old episodes of Power Rangers by day and dons a mask and body armour at night, offering assistance to bemused police. On the mean streets of Brooklyn, Zimmer runs atop high buildings. He is part of The New York Initiative, a group with little compunction about baiting traps to lure out evildoers. In cape and large-brimmed black hat, Thanatos wages ‘a war for good against evil’ in Vancouver. Meanwhile, on a bar stool in Orlando, steel-plated Master Legend takes time out from crime-fighting to sink a cold beer and hit on a girl. These are just some of the characters in Michael Barnett’s feature documentary, a compelling portrait of costumed vigilantes from across North America. While their motivations may differ (revenge, disgust, delusion, God and booze are cited here) and their powers are less than super, they all share a geekish love of comics and a complete conviction that their contributions are for the greater good. Insightful comments on this growing community are provided by psychologists, police representatives and Marvel Comics supremo Stan Lee, and while Superheroes is hugely entertaining, it’s never condescending about its subjects, smartly addressing a number of serious issues around an individual’s responsibility – Michael Hayden (BFI)

A talk with the director:

Galas and Special Screenings

Tales of The Night/Les Contes de la nuit (France, 2011)

Director/Screenplay: Michel Ocelot; Voices: Julien Béramis, Marine Griset, Michel Elias

Enchanting, magical tales told using silhouette animation and screened in 3D.

 In an old rundown cinema, a small group gather each night to tell and act out stories and create some magic. We experience six different tales beginning with The Werewolf, where being betrothed to the wrong princess could end in extreme danger for a young man with a terrible curse, then Ti-Jean and Beauty Not Known, a Caribbean story about a man who arrives in the Land of the Dead and is set seemingly impossible tasks. In The Chosen One of the Golden City, a stranger sets about trying to free a city from the chains of its brutal past and The Tom-Tom Boy tells of a magic tom-tom that when played, makes everyone dance. The Boy Who Never Lied has two kings wagering on whether a truthful boy will live up to his reputation and, finally. The Girl Doe and the Architect’s Son tells of a terrible sorcerer holding a girl against her will and a suitor who believes he will be able to save her. Michel Ocelot is the master of French contemporary animated cinema and previous films such as Kirikou and the Sorceress and Azur and Asmar: The Prince’s Quest have thrilled audiences around the world. Tales of the Night promises to do the same by juxtaposing classic silhouette animation with new 3D techniques. It has an intoxicating, magical combination of sharp dialogue, a dry sense of humour and an enchanting sense of pleasure that will bewitch you from the start – Justin Johnson (BFI)
David Cronenberg fans may also wish to check out A Dangerous Method Starring Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley and Michael Fassbender.
Films on the Square
The Awakening (UK, 2011)
Director: Nick Murphy; Screenplay: Stephen Volk, Nick Murphy; Cast: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Isaac Hempstead Wright

A classy haunted house yarn that boasts a great cast, as deceptively moving as it is chilling.

 London, 1921, and in a country recovering from the emotional and physical demands of the First World War, some are turning to séances and spiritualism for solace. Academic and writer Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) is a determined realist with an unwavering confidence in logic and science, who revels in exposing the supernatural as a lie. Schoolmaster Robert Mallory (Dominic West) tracks Florence down to tell her of incidents at Rockwood, a boys’ boarding school in the country, where a child has recently died. This has caused panic amongst parents, while the pupils are driven to distraction by tales of a ghostly presence roaming the hallways. Though naturally cynical, Florence feels compelled to travel to Rockwood, determined to find a reasoned explanation for the troubling events. Yet in an environment populated by characters who are often curious or furtive, Florence starts to uncover more secrets than she bargained for. Referencing classics of the genre from The Innocents to The Others, Nick Murphy’s debut feature is a classy haunted-house yarn that boasts a reliably great cast, plenty of surprises and is as deceptively moving as it is chilling. – Michael Hayden (BFI)

Take Shelter (USA, 2011)

Director/Screenplay: Jeff Nichols; Cast: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, Kathy Baker

An extraordinary tale of ordinary madness.

 Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) is a working stiff in a small Ohio town, a crew chief for a sand-mining company. Money is tight, though Curtis finds solace in his supportive family, and devotion to his loving wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) and their young daughter Hannah (Tova Stewart), who is deaf. There seems little remarkable about the man, yet he is in the shadow of a dark cloud and becomes increasingly plagued by apocalyptic apparitions. Haunted by his fears, his behaviour becomes erratic, and Curtis risks alienating the local community and stretching relationships with those closest to him beyond breaking point. Following Shotgun Stories from 2007, Jeff Nichols returns to the Festival with an extraordinary tale of ordinary madness that took two awards at Cannes this year, a deeply resonant vision that audaciously probes the psyche of modern America. Michael Shannon is emerging as one of the most significant screen actors working today, and his already considerable reputation is enhanced in this latest collaboration with Nichols. While his actions are often strange or questionable, Shannon’s Curtis is a touching and vulnerable character, a thoroughly convincing everyman for our times – Michael Hayden (BFI)

You may also be interested in Chicken with Plums/Poulet Aux Prunesan adaptation of Persepolis author Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel and Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai/Ichimei a re-imagining of the Masaki Kobayashi film Harakiri (1962) by controversial Japanese film-maker Takashi Miike.

French Revolutions

Last Screening/Derniere Seance (France, 2011)

Director: Laurent Achard; Screenplay: Laurent Achard, Frédérique Moreau; Cast: Pascal Cervo, Charlotte Van Kemmel, Karole Rocher, Austin Morel, Brigitte Sy

Laurent Achard’s stylishly nasty horror set in a small town cinema that’s seen better days.

Mild-mannered Sylvain (Cervo) is the manager and projectionist of a small-town cinema that’s facing its final days – although Sylvain carries on as normal, greeting his regulars as they come to watch Renoir’s French Cancan. After hours, however, Sylvain reveals his other self – a dangerous marauder with a grisly fetish. Starting out resembling a French Cinema Paradiso as Truffaut might have made it, Last Screening soon veers into darker territory, suggesting a spare, poised take on Brian de Palma material (with a streak of black mischief that Claude Chabrol would surely have approved of). In part a lament for the twilight of celluloid culture, this distinctive, quietly unsettling film by Laurent Achard (Demented, LFF 2006) nevertheless reminds us that a cinephile upbringing doesn’t necessarily make for a well-balanced citizen. The unnervingly presentable Sylvain is a dutiful son gone bad, cut from the same cloth as Mark Lewis in Peeping Tom (a key reference, for sure) and, of course, Norman Bates. Crisp, concise and stylishly nasty, Last Screening marks Achard as a director of consummate skill and dark wit – Jonathan Romney (BFI)

A Cat in Paris/Une Vie de Chat (France, 2011)

Directors: Alain Gagnol, Jean-Loup Felicioli; Screenplay: Jacques-Rémy Girerd; Cast: Dominique Blanc, Bruno Salomone, Jean Benguigui

A cat with a double life becomes embroiled in a tale of animated adventure on the rooftops of Paris.

 Dino is a cat with a double life. By day, he is an adoring pet to young Zoe and her busy mother, the head of the police force; by night he accompanies Nico, a professional cat burglar as he scours the rooftops of Paris for jewellery and other items. Despite his profession, Nico is a good-natured soul with a strong sense of humanity. As her mother works so hard, Zoe spends much of her time with her kindly childminder, Claudine. While her mother tries to track down the criminals of Paris, Dino brings Zoe a beautiful bracelet and unwittingly sets into motion a chain of events involving kidnapping, a night-time chase and the discovery of a terrible betrayal. Produced and scripted by the hugely talented Jacques-Rémy Girerd (Director of Raining Cats and Frogs (LFF 2004) and Mia and the Migoo (LFF 2008), A Cat in Paris follows the conventions of a classic thriller and intertwines them with a strong sense of tension and enough comedy to keep it upbeat. It is a smart, charming animated film that will appeal to all ages and species – human and feline alike – Justin Johnson (BFI)

You may also be interested in The Fairy/La Fee  ‘An anarchic yet sophisticated comedy involving a fairy and a receptionist at a seaside hotel’ (Jonathan Romney, BFI).

Cinema Europa

Target/Mishen (Russia, 2011)

Director: Alexander Zeldovich; Screenplay: Alexander Zeldovich, Vladimir Sorokin; Cast: Maxim Sukhanov, Justine Waddell, Vitaly Kischenko, Danila Koslovsky, Daniela Stoyanovich

A boldly conceived dystopian epic set in Russia 2020.

 A boldly conceived dystopian epic, Target is set in Russia in 2020 – a nation now massively influenced by China, but still divided between the poor and the outrageously wealthy. Viktor (Sukhanov) and Zoya (Waddell) are members of the gilded elite, and seekers after eternal youth – available at a price at an abandoned astrophysics facility bombarded with cosmic rays. Vast in conception, Target is at once an audacious exercise in futurology, a philosophical contemplation of the human condition, and a satirical vision of the oligarchs’ Russia of today. All this is wrapped up in stylishly conceived and often spectacular imagery, with some bold motorway action thrown into the mix. Co-written by cult novelist Vladimir Sorokin (The Ice Trilogy), Target belongs in the great Russian philosophical science-fiction tradition of writers like Zamyatin and the Strugatsky brothers – not to mention of Tarkovsky. But its confidence and elegant production values also carry echoes of Minority Report, The Matrix and even Fellini. Right up to its apocalyptic finale, Target has to be seen to be believed – visionary cinema at its most playful and provocative – Jonathan Romney (BFI)

The Magicians/Het Geheim (Netherlands, 2010)

Director: Joram Lursen; Screenplay: Frank Ketelaar; Cast: Daan Schuurmans, Thor Braun, Theo Maassen, Java Siegertsz

Ben’s magical act is brought under question when his vanishing act results in the disappearance of his friend, Sylvie.

 Ben Stikker and his father are huge fans of magic and spend their time trying to perfect and perform the tricks for their act Stikker and Son. Their hero is well-known magician Hans Smid, who Ben longs to be like. At a public performance, Ben and his friend/assistant Sylvie attempt a new disappearing act that seems to work too well, as Sylvie promptly vanishes and can’t be found. Soon reality and illusion begin to blur as Ben is forced to confront whether he truly has magical powers or if something is at work that has yet to reveal itself. With his family falling apart and the media and Sylvie’s family scrutinising his every move, he is confident that the great Hans Smid will come to his rescue. Joram Lürsen is no stranger to directing quality films for younger audiences, having been at the helm of the successful and enjoyable In Orange (LFF 2005). The Magicians is also accomplished and exciting, with great performances by its young leads and an exciting mystery at its heart that will keep the audience guessing throughout – Justin Johnson (BFI)

In addition to The Magicians other family-friendly films form Europe include Fuchsia, The Mini-Witch/Foeksia de Miniheks and The Great Bear/Den kaempestore Bjorn

World Cinema

Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below (Japan, 2011)

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Makoto Shinkai’s anime will appeal to Ghibli fans as young Asuna gains entry to the underground land of Agartha.

 Young Asuna spends much of her time outdoors accompanied by Mimi, her cat. An encounter with a large, sharp-toothed bear-creature also brings her into contact with a brave young man who appears to have superhuman powers. He introduces himself as Shun, a warrior from Agartha, an underground land where the beasts (or Quetzalcoatl) guard the entrance to prevent ‘topsiders’ like Asuna from entering. There are people who believe that this world has properties that will bring people back from the dead, and this puts Shun and his people in danger from a ruthless group of soldiers intent on gaining access to Agartha at any cost. This thought-provoking and beautifully made animated picture tenderly deals with the part in all of us that wishes we could have had that last opportunity to say goodbye to someone we’ve lost. Although breathtakingly original, the film has elements of the best of both Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. Existing fans of Makoto Shinkai’s work are going to be delighted, and its universal appeal is going to win him a whole new audience in the process – Justin Johnson (BFI)

You may also be interested in Dendera, Let the Bullets Fly  (‘Jiang Wen’s rumbustious comedy-adventure, set in the 1920s, is an Eastern Western’) Hard Labour (‘Horror meets social observation in this understated debut feature from Brazilian filmakers Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra’), and Silver Bullets.  And as part of a trio of short films in New African Cinema you might want to see both Umkungo –  ‘A disillusioned Johannesburg street thug rescues an orphaned child with uncontrollable supernatural powers. On the run, he must help the sickly boy master his gift’ and Mwansa the Great – ‘The story of an eight-year-old boy who aspires to be a hero and embarks upon a journey to prove his greatness – with unexpected consequences. The film gives a moving insight into childhood where fantasy jostles with reality as a young boy’s imagination transforms everyday life’.*

*quotes taken from BFI London Film Festival site.

Treasures from the Archives
The Machine that Kills Bad People/La Macchina Ammazzacattivi (Italy, 1952)

Director: Roberto Rossellini; Screenplay: Sergio Amidei, Giancarlo Vigorelli, Franco Brusati, Liana Ferri, Roberto Rossellini

Cast: Gennaro Pisano, Marilyn Buferd, William Tubbs, Helen Tubbs, Giovanni Amato

Rossellini’s rarely-seen satirical fantasy, now restored, about a photographer whose magic camera has the power to kill the greedy and the corrupt.

This new digital restoration from Bologna’s L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory and Cinecittá Luce offers an overdue opportunity to reassess ‘the strangest of all of Rossellini’s films’ (Peter von Bagh) and probably the least seen – so little, in fact, that it was once mythologised as a lost work, hidden amongst the director’s canonical masterpieces. The film is a satirical fantasy, set in a small seaport south of Naples, and is about a photographer who discovers that his camera has magic powers: as he develops snapshots in his studio, their subjects expire in another part of the town, inspiring the cameraman to devise a scheme to kill the wicked, the greedy and the corrupt. An accompanying theme explores the post-WW2 Marshall Aid period in Italian history and ‘the unholy alliance’ between the liberating Americans and the Italians, ‘whose familiar village farce,’ as von Bagh describes it, ‘is full of good stock characters: half-saints and half-wits, characters full of hate against the bureaucrats.’ Rossellini called the film ‘an isolated experiment’, a showcase for his personal philosophy and humour. Does it work? This is a rare chance to find out – Clyde Jeavons (BFI)

Don’t forget to check out the many fantastical films to be found in the Short Cuts & Animation programme.

Official Press Release

London, Wednesday 7 September:  The programme for the 55th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express launched today by Artistic Director Sandra Hebron, celebrates the imagination and excellence of international filmmaking from both established and emerging talent.  Over 16 days the Festival will screen a total of 204 fiction and documentary features, including 13 World Premieres, 18 International Premieres and 22 European Premieres[1]. There will also be screenings of 110 live action and animated shorts. Many of the films will be presented by their directors, cast members and crew, some of whom will also take part in career interviews, masterclasses, and other special events. The 55th BFI London Film Festival will run from 12-27 October.



Opening the festival is Fernando Meirelles’ 360, written by Peter Morgan, and starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz. Weisz is also the star of Terence Davies’ closing night film, THE DEEP BLUE SEA, alongside a cast which includes Simon Russell Beale and Tom Hiddleston. Key talent will be in attendance for both films.  George Clooney features in two Gala presentations – the political thriller THE IDES OF MARCH which he directs and stars in alongside Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti, and THE DESCENDANTS, Alexander Payne’s latest feature. Among several literary adaptations are Lynne Ramsay’s WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN with Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly and Ezra Miller; TRISHNA, Michael Winterbottom’s reworking of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, with Freida Pinto and Riz Ahmed; and CORIOLANUS with Ralph Fiennes directing as well as taking the lead role alongside Gerard Butler and Vanessa Redgrave.  Redgrave is also cast in Roland Emmerich’s ANONYMOUS with Rhys Ifans, Joely Richardson and David Thewlis.  Madonna directs romantic drama W.E. which stars Abbie Cornish, Andrea Riseborough and James D’Arcy whilst Steve McQueen’s second feature SHAME has a cast that includes Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender. Fassbender can also be seen alongside Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley in David Cronenberg’s A DANGEROUS METHOD. Foreign language cinema is represented by THE KID WITH A BIKE, the Cannes Grand Prix winner from the Dardenne brothers; Nanni Moretti’s WE HAVE A POPE; and Michel Ocelot’s enchanting animation TALES OF THE NIGHT. Hollywood’s silent era is celebrated in Michel Hazanavicius’ THE ARTIST whilst this year’s Archive Gala is the BFI National Archive’s restoration of Miles Mander’s THE FIRST BORN with a new score by Stephen Horne.



Showcasing some of this year’s most anticipated and acclaimed films, the selection includes work from renowned directors such as Roman Polanski (CARNAGE), Gus Van Sant (RESTLESS), Werner Herzog (INTO THE ABYSS: A TALE OF DEATH, A TALE OF LIFE), Todd Solondz (DARK HORSE), Jonathan Demme (I’M CAROLYN PARKER) and Jonas Mekas (SLEEPLESS NIGHTS STORIES).  Star power is provided by Jack Black in Richard Linklater’s BERNIE; Sean Penn in Paolo Sorrentino’s THIS MUST BE THE PLACE; Joseph Gordon-Levitt  teams with Seth Rogen in Jonathan Levine’s 50/50, whilst Woody Harrelson stars in Oren Moverman’s RAMPART, developed from a screenplay by James Ellroy.   British films include Andrea Arnold’s bold retelling of WUTHERING HEIGHTS, Marc  Evans’ HUNKY DORY, a celebration of pre-punk 70s pop culture, and Nick Broomfield’s SARAH PALIN – YOU BETCHA!  International cinema takes centre stage in the West End with a powerful selection of premieres including Norway’s Joachim Trier’s stunning OSLO, AUGUST 31st;  Bruno Dumont’s provocative HORS SATAN;  and Cannes Grand Prix winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s audacious ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA.  Mexico’s Gerardo Naranjo delivers a thrilling action film with MISS BALA, whist divided family life in Japan is the focus of Hirokazu Kore-eda’s engaging I WISH,  and Australia’s most infamous serial murder case inspires Justin Kurzel’s first feature SNOWTOWN. Other feature debuts include Dee Rees’s emotionally powerful PARIAH; Sean Durkin’s beautifully disturbing MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE and Nick Murphy’s 1920s set supernatural tale THE AWAKENING.



Original cinematic voices from across the UK making their debuts this year include  D.R. Hood with the haunting WRECKERS starring Claire Foy and Benedict Cumberbatch, and Tinge Krishnan with the social drama JUNKHEARTS in which Eddie Marsan heads a cast which includes Tom Sturridge and Romola Garai.  London is the setting for Dexter Fletcher’s drama WILD BILL, starring Charlie Creed-Miles; and Andrew Haigh’s second feature, WEEKEND, is an original and affecting romance. Nirpal Bhogal’s fresh young cast enliven urban drama SKET, and LOTUS EATERS finds director Alexandra McGuinness introducing us to the city’s indulgent, affluent youth. Frances Lea’s STRAWBERRY FIELDS provides an escape to the country with a story of lust, rivalry and liberation. A strong selection of British work include films which imaginatively blur the boundaries between documentary and drama such as Richard Jobson’s response to the Iraq war, THE SOMNAMBULISTS,  Simon Pummell’s SHOCK HEAD SOUL and DREAMS OF A LIFE by Carol Morley.  Paul Kelly’s portrait of cult hero, LAWRENCE OF BELGRAVIA and Daniel Edelsyn’s HOW TO RE-ESTABLISH A VODKA EMPIRE round out the documentary selection.




The focus on French cinema brings a wide range of new and established filmmakers including Dominik Moll, with THE MONK starring Vincent Cassel and Geraldine Chaplin. Chaplin also appears with Salma Hayek in AMERICANO, the feature debut of actor Mathieu Demy. From the directorial team of Nicolas Klotz and Elisabeth Perceval, LOW LIFE is a study of the trials facing French youth that has universal resonance whilst Laurent Achard provides a macabre touch in LAST SCREENING and popular comedian Emmanuel Mouret brings wry comedy to THE ART OF LOVE.  Among a number of French directors returning  to the Festival are Mathieu Amalric with a modern adaptation of Corneille’s classic play, THE SCREEN ILLUSION, Jean-Marc Moutout examining executive culture in EARLY ONE MORNING and Mathieu Kassovitz directing himself in the provocative military drama, REBELLION.



A diverse selection of filmmakers bring Europe into focus with films from countries including Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland, Sweden, Austria, Romania, Poland, Slovakia, The Czech Republic, Denmark, The Netherlands, Russia and Iceland, as well as Italy, Spain and Germany.  Highlights include Benito Zambrano’s post-Spanish Civil War drama THE SLEEPING VOICE;  Iceland’s Rúnar Rúnarsson’s VOLCANO; Angelina Nikonova’s TWILIGHT PORTRAIT, a study in Russian institutional corruption, Andrea Molaioli’s Italian conspiratorial drama THE JEWEL , Ulrich Köhler’s SLEEPING SICKNESS and the World Premiere of Hans Weingartner’s HUT IN THE WOODS.  There are a number of outstanding directorial debuts which include Jonathan Cenzual Burley’s absurdist road movie, THE SOUL OF FLIES; Andrea Segre’s LI AND THE POET and Marie Kreutzer’s THE FATHERLESS.  From Germany, the unique DREILEBEN project brings together Christian Petzold, Dominik Graf and Christoph Hochhäusler with three very different features that share an incidental starting point. Documentary features include Andrey Paounov’s THE BOY WHO WAS A KING and WHORES’ GLORY from Michael Glawogger, who will be one of the four Austrian filmmakers with work in the Festival who will be participating in a special panel discussion on the current state of Austrian cinema.



An extensive selection of the finest features and documentaries from across the globe includes new films from well known filmmakers and emerging voices.  Highlights from the US include NATURAL SELECTION, the brilliant debut from Robbie Pickering that swept the board at this year’s SXSW Film Festival awards; Ken Kesey and The Merry Band of Pranksters’ trek across America is revisited in MAGIC TRIP from directors Alison Ellwood and Alex Gibney; whilst a journey of a different kind features in Braden King’s HERE, part road-movie, part love-story and part investigation of cinema itself. Tristan Patterson’s skateboarding documentary DRAGONSLAYER  and  Michael Barnett’s hugely entertaining SUPERHEROES about real life crimefighters offer fascinating glimpses of American life.  Latin American cinema is well represented with HARD LABOUR, a blistering dissection of the class structure of Brazilian society from directors Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra; KAREN CRIES ON THE BUS, the debut feature from Colombia’s Gabriel Rojas Vera;  Laura Citarella’s OSTENDE and Santiago Mitre’s THE STUDENT, both from Argentina.   The notable rise of ethnically Tibetan filmmaking is evidenced in Pema Tseden’s OLD DOG and Sonthar Gyal’s THE SUN-BEATEN PATH whilst other East Asian highlights include Hong Sangsoo’s THE DAY HE ARRIVES and Kim Kyung-Mook’s STATELESS THINGS, both from South Korea; Jiang Wen’s LET THE BULLETS FLY, China’s highest-grossing film; Ann Hui’s A SIMPLE LIFE, and Yuya Ishii’s MITSUKO DELIVERS. Indian cinema is represented this year by titles including Salim Ahamed’s ABU, SON OF ADAM, a rare and poignant tale of Muslim community life in Kerala; Gurvinder Singh’s ALMS OF THE BLIND HORSE  and Kaushik Mukherjee’s cult film in the making ASSHOLE.



This year’s programme features an innovative and cutting edge selection of films to inspire.  Highlights include TWO YEARS AT SEA, the new work from Jarman Prize nominee and Rotterdam Tiger Award winner Ben Rivers; CORRESPONDENCE: JONAS MEKAS – JL GUERÍN, a series of five cinematic letters presented in Spanish and English; and FREE RADICALS: A HISTORY OF EXPERIMENTAL FILM from Pip Chodorov. Lewis Klahr returns to the Festival with THE PETTIFOGGER and other featured filmmakers include Phil Solomon, Chick Strand, Gabriel Abrantes, Robert Fenz and Nathaniel Dorsky. Altered States is a selection of shorts from filmmakers including Ben Russell, Neil Beloufa, Mary Helena Clark and Deborah Stratman.



Highlighting invaluable restoration work, these cinematic treasures will entertain and capture the imagination in equal measure.  Titles include a digital restoration of George Sidney’s exuberant, good-natured satire on rock’n’roll BYE BYE BIRDIE with Janet Leigh; Humphrey Bogart stars in Edward Dmytrik’s epic THE CAINE MUTINY; Elia Kazan’s Oscar-winning AMERICA, AMERICA and Marcel Carné’s timeless masterpiece, LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS.  The latest restoration by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation, LAW OF THE BORDER will also feature alongside the little seen Roberto Rossellini film, THE MACHINE THAT KILLS BAD PEOPLE. One of two colour features from the prolific Japanese master Kenji Mizoguchi, SHIN-HEIKE MONOGATARI, will play in the section along with WE CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN by Nicholas Ray, a film which anticipated experiments by Jean Luc Godard, Mike Figgis et al.  And from close to home comes WONDERFUL LONDON programme, restored by the BFI National Archive, in which directors Harry B. Parkinson and Frank Miller capture some of the most evocative images of the capital in the mid-1920s.



A strong line-up of short films and animation that will captivate audiences young and old make up this year’s programme.  Animation from around the globe is covered including a dedicated collection aimed at the younger audience, Animated Shorts for Younger Audiences, which include FUNNY ALPHABET and PICKELS IN A PICKLE.  Exciting new filmmakers from the capital are showcased in London Calling, experiences of modern urban living are the focus of The Suburbs, and LONG DISTANCE INFORMATION and HOLD ON ME feature in The School of Life, a series dealing with issues such as family duty and conscience.  Talent spotters will be able to see established names including Nicholas Hoult, Michael Fassbender and Luke Treadaway, along with new shorts from director Terry Gilliam and comedian Matthew Holness.



To accompany the screenings, the festival will present an extensive programme of public events featuring panel discussions, on-stage interviews and masterclasses.  There will also be a number of free events.  This year’s Screen Talks, presented in partnership with American Express, feature directors Michael Winterbottom and Alexander Payne.  The Masterclasses, presented in partnership with Swarovski, feature celebrated writer Abi Morgan, writer-director Miranda July, award-winning composer Alexandre Desplat and cinematographer Barry Ackroyd.  Other highlights include an in-depth look at the making of WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN with key members of the cast and crew, one of three free to access events presented in collaboration with Time Out.



The BFI London Film Festival Awards recognise creative excellence from both new and established filmmaking talent.  Taking place on 26 October at LSO St Luke’s, awards presented include: Best Film, The Grierson Award for Best Documentary, The Sutherland Award for most imaginative and original first feature in the festival, Best British Newcomer Award and the BFI Fellowship.  This year’s jurors and full awards shortlists will be announced on 4 Oct – full details will be available at bfi.org.uk/lff.



In addition to many  of the names already highlighted, we expect to welcome guests including Alexander Payne, Andrea Arnold, Azazel Jacobs, Ben Rivers, Braden King, Bruno Dumont, Carol Morley, David Cronenberg, Dexter Fletcher, Elisabeth Olsen, Fernando Meirelles, Freida Pinto, George Clooney, Hans Weingartner, Harry Belafonte, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Joe Swanberg, Jonas Mekas, Jonathan Demme,  Lynne Ramsay, Marina Goldovskaya, Michael Fassbender, Michael Shannon, Michael Winterbottom, Miranda July, Nanni Moretti, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Phil Solomon, Ralph Fiennes, Roland Emmerich, Sean Durkin, Shailene Woodley, Terence Davies and Yorgos Lanthimos.

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