With 197 features and 112 shorts, the 2010 BFI London Film Festival looks set to be a bumper year. Bookended by British films, with Mark Romanek’s Kazuo Ishiguro-adaptation Never Let Me Go opening and Danny Boyle’s real-life mountain-climbing drama 127 Hours closing, as always, the emphasis is on world cinema, with a total of 67 countries represented. New films from stalwarts such as Mike Leigh (Another Year), Ken Loach (Route Irish) and Jean-Luc Godard (Film Socialisme) sit alongside offerings from newer directors including Anton Corbjn (The American) and artist turned filmmaker Gillian Wearing (Self Made). Galas include Neds, a welcome return to directing for Peter Mullan, Sight & Sound’s special screening of Cannes winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and psychological ballet-set thriller Black Swan, from Darren Aronofsky, fresh from Venice and Toronto.
Treasures from the Archive include Renoir’s Boudu Saved From Drowning, David Lean’s The Bridge on the River Kwai and the latest from Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation, Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer’s Day, and there are screen talks promised with Javier Bardem, Darren Aronofsky and Mark Romanek, as well as masterclasses from Alejandro González Iñárritu and Peter Mullan. And for industry insiders and anyone who needs to know anything about the future of filmmaking and storytelling in the digital world, the fourth incarnation of Power to the Pixel, the cross-media forum, is a must. (12-15th Oct).
A few to watch for:
Archipelago: Joanna Hogg’s follow up to her excellent, often painful study of middle-class angst, Unrelated, this time trading Tuscany for the Scilly Isles’ Tresco.
The Kids Are Alright: A modern take on the contemporary family, with Annette Bening and Julianne Moore playing a gay couple whose children seek out their sperm-donor father. Mia Wasikowska (so good in In Treatment) also stars, and director Lisa Cholodenko has already proved how great she is at mining the minutiae of relationships (High Art, Laurel Canyon).
Meek’s Cut-off: 1840s set Western from Kelly Reichardt, the director who brought us Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy, starring the intriguing combination of Michelle Williams and Paul Dano.
Amigo: A new John Sayles film is always worth a look. He may not be the most cinematic of auteurs but you’re assured a mix of fine acting, great writing and an absorbing, illuminating topic. In this historical drama, Sayles turns his attention to the 1900 Philippine-American War.
In Your Hands: If you’ve been enjoying Kristin Scott Thomas’ recent work in French films, this intense thriller promises to push her even further to display her acting skills.
Pink Saris: The latest offering from one of Britain’s and the world’s very best non-fiction filmmakers Kim Longinotto, once again shining a spotlight on women straining against the restrictions of their society, this time in India.
Boxing Gym: Veteran documentary-maker Fred Wiseman turns his observational camera on a Texas boxing gym and the range of professional and amateur fighters who train there, revealing a microcosm of American society.
Carlos: It runs at 325 minutes but Oliver Assayas’s biopic of Venezualan-born terrorist and revolutionary Carlos the Jackal had great advance word at Cannes.
The Great White Silence: A restoration from the BFI archive of Herbert Ponting’s film about Captain Scott’s ill-fated British Antartic Expedition, with live performance of a new scrore by Simon Fisher Turner.
Surprise Film: Terrence Malick anyone? Sadly, probably not. Potter then? Meet the Parents: Little Fockers? Or The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest? Well last year saw Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story, and the year before, The Wrestler, with Mickey Rourke and Aronofsky in attendance, so it’s always worth a punt.
Running 13-28 October.