With a new Artistic Director at the helm, this year’s London Film Festival sees several intriguing changes to its program structure. There’s the introduction of competitive sections to increase the films’ prominence, so an Official Competition, First Feature Competition and Best Documentary Competition, alongside a prize for Best British Newcomer, to highlight new British talent and presented to an emerging writer, actor, producer or director; also the introduction of new focused categories – love, debate, dare, laugh, thrill, cult, journeys, sonic, family. And with the opening night screening of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie showing simultaneously across cinemas in the UK, plus four new London venues added, it certainly feels as if it’s broadening its scope.
Over the 11 days before the festival closes with Mike Newell’s Great Expectations (starring a perfectly-cast Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham and Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch) are a host of shorts, features and restorations, screentalks with Salman Rushdie, Viggo Mortensen and Alex Gibney, free platform discussions focusing on British cinema and the regular industry conference for all things digital film, Power to the Pixel .
10 Films to Watch Out For:
Song for Marion – Paul Andrew Williams, director of London to Brighton, changes tone to focus on a family coming to terms with terminal illness. Starring Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave.
Sightseers – Another tone change from Kill List director Ben Wheatley, with this dark comedy set in the Midlands about a couple on an inadvertent murder spree.
Argo – Ben Affleck has already proved himself as one of Hollywood’s more interesting directors today with Gone Baby Gone and The Town. His third feature, based on the true story of CIA agent Tony Mendez’ plan to extract six Americans from Iran after revolutionaries stormed the embassy in 1979, and starring himself, promises a perfect balance of comedy and drama.
Amour – The kind of bold, emotive, unflinching filmmaking we’ve come to expect from Michael Haneke, this Palme d’Or winner focuses on a couple living in Paris trying to cope with the effects of the wife’s stroke, and stars Isabelle Huppert as their daughter.
Everyday – Shot over 5 years, Michael Winterbottom’s latest film stars one of Britain’s most consistently compelling actresses, Shirley Henderson, as a woman whose husband is in prison, coping with four children.
Beasts of the Southern Wild – Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Caméra d’Or at Cannes, this Louisiana-set drama about a six year old living on her wits amidst family neglect and rising waters has drawn comparisons with Terrence Malick’s work.
My Brother the Devil – Sally El Hosaini’s debut feature successfully avoids ‘housing estate’ cliché in its exploration of the relationship between two brothers trying to carve out their identities amidst the expectations of fellow gang members and family.
The Hunt – Unsettling subject-matter from Festen’s Thomas Vinterberg, starring a perfectly-pitched Mads Mikkelson as a kindergarten teacher falsely accused of child abuse.
Rust and Bone – Jacques Audiard’s follow up to A Prophet, looks at the unlikely relationship that develops between a woman who suffers a tragic accident, and the man she meets working as a bouncer in a local nightclub. A winning mix of realism and poetry, and a beautifully judged performance from Marion Cotillard.
Lawrence of Arabia – The chance to see a brand-new digital restoration of David Lean’s desert epic on the big screen, exactly where it should be seen, with Peter O’Toole as the eponymous hero.
The festival is running from the 10th to the 21st October. For more information and to book tickets go to the festival website.