Running for two weeks, screening over 200 features, and 100 shorts, this year’s BFI London Film Festival offers a wealth of world cinema for the most discerning viewers. Opening is Fernando Meirelles’ 360, starring Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz, a contemporary take on La Ronde, Arthur Schnitzler’s interweaving tale of love across divides, with writer Peter Morgan widening the drama across countries throughout the world. Pushing the topic of love up front and centre is Terence Davies’ melodramatic closing night adaptation of Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea, again starring Rachel Weisz, this time as the passionate Hester, caught in a tragic love triangle with the husband who adores her (Simon Russell Beale) and the object of her desire, a slippery RAF pilot (Tom Hiddleston).
Running throughout are much-anticipated offerings from directors such as Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Roman Polanski (Carnage), Michael Winterbottom (Trishna), The Dardenne brothers (The Kid With a Bike), Hirokazu Kore-eda (I Wish), Andrea Arnold (Wuthering Heights), Jonathan Demme (I’m Carolyn Parker) and Richard Linklater (Bernie), a host of interviews and masterclasses with the likes of Winterbottom, Alexander Payne, Miranda July, Barry Ackroyd, Abi Morgan, Woody Harrelson and the brilliant composer Alexandre Desplat, and the fifth incarnation of industry insider event Power to the Pixel, the cross-media forum, offering insights into the future of storytelling in the digital age.
10 Films to watch out for:
The First Born: A major restoration of this late British silent cinema classic, co-scripted by Alma Reville (aka Lady Hitchcock), which dramatises the clash of tradition and modernity when a young bride (Madeleine Carroll) fails to produce an heir.
The Artist: For any fans of films about filmmaking – think Sunset Boulevard and Singin’ in the Rain – this Cannes favourite, set in the 1920s, about a silent movie star under threat from the talkies, promises sly self-referentialism and plenty of period entertainment.
The Ides of March/The Descendants: A Clooney double. The first, directed by and starring the actor, is firmly rooted in the world of politics, and set during a presidential primary race, with Ryan Gosling playing the talented press spokesman to Clooney’s candidate. The second is a tragi-comic slice of life from director Alexander Payne, about a man who’s forced to rethink his life when his wife falls into a coma, leaving him to cope alone with two daughters.
Shame: Steve McQueen’s follow up to his superbly controlled, compelling drama Hunger, once again stars Michael Fassbender, this time as a New Yorker with a sex addiction, and promises the kind of visual acuity and attention to detail one has come to expect from this crossover artist.
Sarah Palin – You Betcha! She may have declared she’s not going for the presidential race but it certainly doesn’t feel like she’ll be going away anytime soon. And Nick Broomfield, with his customary blend of laconic British wit and steely determination must surely be her perfect foil.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia: Expect Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s measured storytelling, mysterious characters, intriguing set-ups and astonishing visuals in his latest film about an investigation into the whereabouts of a body.
Miss Bala: A thrilling action film, set on the border of Mexico, starring excellent model-turned-actress Stephanie Sigman, as a wannabe beauty queen unwittingly caught up in a gang underworld, featuring plenty of socio-politcal commentary on the country’s drug wars.
This Must Be The Place: The first English-language film from Italian director Paolo Sorrentino (The Consequences of Love, Il Divo), stars Sean Penn in a mesmeric performance as a retired, reclusive rock star living in Ireland forced on a road trip in the US by his father’s illness.
Crazy Horse: Frederick Wiseman’s latest fly on the wall doc takes us inside Paris’s legendary cabaret club, where he captures the personalities behind the institution, the gruelling day to day of backstage work and effect of the shows themselves.
The festival runs from the 12th to the 27th October. For more information and to book tickets go to the website.