This is a good time to be a film fan. You can’t throw a now obsolete film projector without hitting a film festival of some sort and October has the daddy of them all: the BFI London Film Festival, returning for outing number 58.
As it approaches the big 6-0 the festival shows no signs of slowing, attracting an astonishing 248 feature films and 148 shorts for its twelve day run beginning Wednesday 8th October.
The Imitation Game begins the festival in suitably British style. Recounting the life of math genius Alan Turing, who helped crack the Nazi’s Enigma machine in WW2 and was later convicted of indecency when homosexuality was still criminalised, advance word-of-mouth is glowing, with Oscar talk for Benedict Cumberbatch’s lead performance as the tortured Turing.
The Imitation Game is showing in the Gala section. Other Gala screenings include Jason Reitman’s relationship drama Men, Women & Children, Reese Witherspoon’s long walk odyssey Wild, the political thriller Rosewater, Mike Leigh’s Turner biopic Mr Turner and the Cannes Festival Palme D’Or winner Winter Sleep.
Our must-sees from the Gala screenings are The Imitation Game, the Oscar buzzing Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum wrestling psychodrama Foxcatcher, the irresistible sounding Mads Mikkelsen & Eva Green Western Salvation, and the Chinese wuxia pien (old-school martial arts heroics) epic The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom.
And last, but not least, Festival closer Fury – the David Ayer WW2 Brad Pitt starring thriller that has Electric Shadows tingling with excitement.
More big hitters come in the Competitions section. Movies whetting our filmic appetite here include Peter Strickland’s eagerly anticipated Berberian Sound Studio follow-up The Duke of Burgundy, the post-WW2 set German drama Phoenix, Francois Ozon’s latest bitter comedy The New Girlfriend and Aussie heist thriller Son of a Gun.
Head over to the London Film Festival website and you’ll see the programme has been broken down into 13 useful to navigate sections.
And what becomes evident is that in those 13 sections, including Love, Thrill, Cult, Family and Treasures & Shorts, there is something for everyone. The London Film Festival is a celebration of the world’s best movies, but it ain’t snobby.
The above movies will eat up the lion’s share of press, but there is gold to be found beyond the Gala screenings.
Willem Dafoe and Abel Ferrara have received rave reviews for offbeat biopic Pasolini. Michael Winterbottom, one of Britain’s best directors, is bound to spark debate with his Amanda Knox inspired murder mystery The Face of An Angel. Eastern animation looks to be alive and kicking with The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow and Giovanni’s Island.
Fans of horror and fantasy cinema will be frightfully entertained by eagerly awaited titles such as It Follows, In Darkness We Fall, The Man in the Orange Jacket, The World of Kanako, When Animals Dream and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.
And Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films. This documentary won’t get a sniff of Oscar consideration, but could be one of the year’s best non-fiction films.
Add to this the often overlooked, but crucial restored Treasures section – this year including essential watches Only Angels Have Wings, Dragon Inn and the hitherto unseen German Concentration Camps Factual Survey – and you have manna from movie heaven.
And Brad Pitt. In a tank. Make tracks to check out the festival now.
The BFI London Film Festival runs from Wednesday 8th October – Sunday 19th October.
For more information on films playing check out the official website here.