Sci-fi at the BFI London Film Festival

The BFI London Film Festival, one of the greatest of such events in the world, is in full swing. Beginning on the 8th October (opening with The Imitation Game –the biopic of Alan Turing) and continuing on until 19th October.

There are a total of 248 films being shown across London’s venues and many are bang on the money for Geeks. The BFI describe some of these films as ‘Cult’ but I think that’s a hard one to define. What we do have are a number of science fiction, fantasy and horror films that will satisfy any discerning viewer.

The one I’m most excited about is Tom Green’s Monsters: Dark Continent. This is the follow up to Gareth Edwards’ 2010 debut Monsters. Edwards went on to direct this year’s spectacular Godzilla. I was particularly drawn to the Lovecraftian design of the creatures, but it was the story of the journalist and his boss’s daughter that really engaged. This time, Edwards is executive producer and it is Green – best known for directing Misfits that takes the helm. The story takes us to the Middle East, seven years after the events of the first film, with the US army struggling to contain the aliens. Monsters: Dark Continent is showing on October 18 at 8.45pm in the Odeon Covent Garden and on October 19 at 8.30pm in the Odeon West End.

Jamie Marks Is Dead is a particularly intriguing entrant. This horror is directed by Carter Smith, who made his name with 2008’s The Ruins – which I really enjoyed – and stars Liv Tyler. It’s a tale of a boy who nobody really knew or interacted with (except occasionally to bully). His body is found by the river. Those who found his body begin to see his ghost… The blurb makes it more interesting still: “Achingly sad and visually ravishing, Smith’s subtle chiller deftly utilises genre tropes to address issues around traumatic loss and sexual identity with hauntingly elegiac effect.” Jamie Marks Is Dead premiers to positive reviews at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. See it in Hackney on 17 October or the Ritzy on 19 October.

If Asian fantasy is your thing, and why wouldn’t it be, check out The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom. The BFI website says that this is another retelling of Liang Yusheng’s classic novel ‘Baifa Monü Zhuan’. This “epic unfolds in the final years of the Ming Dynasty, where corruption is rife throughout the Imperial Court and the land is ruled by ruthless tyrants.” Featuring sorceresses, evil and classic Hong Kong action sequences, this one is a must see.  The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom is on at Odeon West End on 18 October and Vue West End Cinema on 19 October.

A couple of werewolf films also pique the interest: Cub features a 12-year old scout seeking out the truth about a young werewolf while When Animals Dream mixes Nordic noir, coming of age and lycanthropy.

Other films to seek out include British sci-fi adventure Robot Overlords (starring Gillian Anderson, Sir Ben Kingsley, no less), old-school slasher Kristy, Spanish civil-war horror Shrew’s Nest, genre-defying Spring and a showing of Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Yep, the original one. Keep up to date with all the Film Festival’s goings on over on their blog: http://www.bfi.org.uk/lff-live-blog-2014. All the film trailers, details, show times and locations can be found here: https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/lff/Online/

The BFI is a strong supporter of intelligent independent film, which science fiction, fantasy and horror does well out of. Check out the BFI’s Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder celebration too, especially if you can’t get to London. And so as fans, we should support them back. Enjoy these films, and let us know what you think once you’ve seen them.

Source: BFI London Film Festival
GS Blogger: Ian J Simpson

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