Magazine article Screen International

Festival Focus: BFI London Film Festival - Cultural Capital

Magazine article Screen International

Festival Focus: BFI London Film Festival - Cultural Capital

Article excerpt

With 240 features and 182 shorts from 71 countries, the 2015 BFI London Film Festival will bring a packed 10-day programme of screenings and events to the capital. Bookended by the European premieres of Sarah

Gavron's Suffragette and Danny Boyle's Steve Jobs, the festival, which runs from October 7 to 18, will have a particular focus on the issues of gender diversity, emerging talent and the future of film, explored through screenings, talks and public and industry-facing events.

In competition

Thirteen features have been selected to play in official competition, among them UK director Terence Davies' Sunset Song starring Agyness Deyn as a Scottish farmer's daughter coming of age in the 1900s. Europe is well-represented, with veteran Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski's multi-stranded thriller 11 Minutes joining Greek film-maker Athina Rachel Tsangari's Aegean Sea drama Chevalier, French director Lucile Had-ihalilovic's foreboding Evolution and Hungarian helmer Laszlo Nemes' Auschwitz-set Son Of Saul.

From across the pond comes Sean Baker's working-girl drama Tangerine, Cary Fukanaga's adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala's novel Beasts Of No Nation and Lenny Abrahamson's adaptation of Emma Donoghue's best-seller Room, which arrives with its Toronto Audience Award prize in tow. Representing Latin America is Mexican director Jonas Cuaron, whose Gael Garcia Bernal-starring border drama Desierto will receive its European premiere.

Other European premieres playing in competition are Hong Kong film-maker Johnnie To's musical Office and Lebanese director Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya's drug-smuggling comedy Very Big Shot. Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul returns to the LFF with the hallucinatory Cemetery Of Splendour and Australian actor-turned-film-maker Simon Stone makes his feature debut with family drama The Daughter.

All will be scrutinised by a multi-national jury headed by Bafta and Oscar-winning Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski, whose Ida won LFF Best Film in 2013. Fellow jury members include Christine Vachon, producer of this year's American Express Gala Carol, actors Chiwetel Ejiofor and Kristin Scott Thomas and film-maker Maggie Cheung, whose Tale Of Three Cities is receiving its European premiere at the festival.

Elsewhere, 12 documentaries will compete for the coveted Grierson Award, including Fear Of 13, UK film-maker David Sington's portrait of death row inmate Nick Yarris. Twelve first-time film-makers will be considered for the Sutherland Award for best debut feature (see box, right), and this year also sees the inaugural Short Film competition. All winning films will be honoured at the official awards ceremony on Saturday October 17.

The programme

As it has been since 2012, the out-of-competition programme is split into 10 distinct strands designed to help audiences navigate the line-up of new films, restorations and classics.

Included in the Love strand are Kent Jones' documentary Hitchcock/Truffaut, which looks at the iconic 1966 book by the latter on the former, and Guillaume Nicloux's Valley Of Love, which reunites French icons Isabelle Huppert and Gerard Depardieu.

One of the hottest prospects of the Debate strand is John Dower's My Scientology Movie, in which Louis Theroux travels to Los Angeles to explore the controversial religion; also screening in this category is a compilation of 21 short films under the banner 'Make More Noise! Suffragettes in Film'.

The features of the Dare strand have all been chosen for their ability to push boundaries - and buttons - and include the digital restoration of Ken Russell's 1970 classic Women In Love alongside new films such as Lukas Valenta Rinner's Parabellum, in which strangers commune at an apocalypse training camp. Also included in this strand are three restored 35mm shorts by puppetry pioneers Stephen and

Timothy Quay, alongside a new short by Christopher Nolan that reveals the inner workings of their studio. …

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