The programme for the 60th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® launched today, with Festival Director Clare Stewart presenting this year’s diverse selection of films and events.
The BFI London Film Festival is Britain’s leading film event and one of the world’s best and most established film festivals. In its 60th year the programme sees Headline Galas presented at the Odeon Leicester Square on each evening of the 12 day festival. Festival visitors will be able to enjoy a brand new cinema experience with Competition and Strand Galas presented at the new Embankment Garden Cinema, in the beautiful Victoria Embankment Gardens. With 780 cinema-style seats, Dolby 7.1 surround sound and 4k digital projection, this temporary venue brings the festival to even more people and connects screenings in the West End with the BFI’s home cinema at BFI Southbank. This, combined with the Festival’s Special Presentations, a rich, diverse programme of international films, insightful events and talks with leading lights of the international film and creative industries, reaffirms London’s position as the world’s leading creative city.
This year’s festival includes an agenda-setting Symposium event that heralds the BFI’s BLACK STAR project, the UK’s biggest ever season of film and television dedicated to celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors coming in late October. Films within the Festival programme will amplify the season, while the Symposium will ask searching questions about the continued under-representation of black actors on screen, probing why opportunities for black actors in the US and the UK remain limited and aiming to drive forward a progressive agenda by spotlighting and exploring key issues for the film industry.
The Festival will screen a total of 193 fiction and 52 documentary features, including 18 World Premieres, 8 International Premieres, 39 European Premieres. There will also be screenings of 144 short films, including documentary, live action and animated works. A stellar line-up of directors, cast and crew are expected to take part in career interviews, Screen Talks, Q&As and Industry Talks: LFF Connects during the 60th BFI London Film Festival which runs Wednesday 5 – Sunday 16 October 2016.
Taking place over 12 days, the Festival’s screenings are at venues across the capital, from the West End cinemas – Vue West End and the iconic Odeon Leicester Square; central London venues – BFI Southbank, BFI IMAX, Picturehouse Central, the ICA, Curzon Mayfair, Curzon Soho, Haymarket, Prince Charles Cinema and Ciné Lumière; and local cinemas – the Ritzy in Brixton, Hackney Picturehouse and Curzon Chelsea.
Opening & Closing Night Galas
The Festival opens with the European Premiere of Amma Asante’s A UNITED KINGDOM, starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike. Director Asante, a previous winner of the Festival’s UK Film Talent Award, returns to the Festival for a second time with a film that tells the true story of Seretse Khama, King of Bechuanaland (modern Botswana), and Ruth Williams, the London office worker he married in 1947 in the face of fierce opposition from their families and the British and South African governments.
There will be a live cinecast from the London event and simultaneous screenings taking place at cinemas across the UK.
The European Premiere of Ben Wheatley’s high octane FREE FIRE will close the Festival on Sunday 16 October. FREE FIRE is Wheatley’s third film to be presented at the Festival, following High-Rise (2015) which screened as Festival Gala and Sightseers (2012) which screened as Laugh Gala. Sharp-witted Justine (Brie Larson) brokers a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two Irishmen (Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley) and a gang led by Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and Ord (Armie Hammer) who are selling them a stash of guns. But when shots are fired in the handover, a heart stopping game of survival ensues.
The previously announced American Express Gala is Garth Davis’ feature debut LION, starring BAFTA nominee Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham and Academy Award® winner Nicole Kidman. Adapted from Saroo Brierley’s engrossing memoir A Long Way Home, LION tells the true story of how a wrong train takes a five-year-old Indian boy hundreds of miles from home and family. Adopted as a child by an Australian couple, and twenty-five years later, haunted by memories of his childhood, he sets out to find his lost family.
We are delighted to welcome Royal Bank of Canada to the LFF family, who will present Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s ARRIVAL as their gala. This emotionally arresting, visually inventive science fiction movie, based on the award-winning Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker and Michael Stuhlbarg.
THE BIRTH OF A NATION, which won the Sundance Jury and Audience Awards, receives its European Premiere as a Headline Gala. This tour de force, directed by Nate Parker, is a gruelling account of the life of an enslaved African-American who led a slave revolt in Virginia in 1831, and stars Parker himself alongside Armie Hammer, Aunjanue Ellis, Aja Naomi King and Gabrielle Union.
Damien Chazelle returns to the Festival following the gala presentation of the award winning Whiplash (LFF2014), with LA LA LAND, the hotly anticipated bittersweet love letter to the city of Los Angeles, combining the charm of golden era of Hollywood musicals with the visual flair of French maestro Jacques Demy, and starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend and Academy Award® and BAFTA winner JK Simmons.
The European Premiere of MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is another Headline Gala, seeing Kenneth Lonergan return to the LFF with his third feature as director. The film starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler and Lucas Hedges is a visually eloquent and emotionally devastating exploration of grief and redemption.
The May Fair Hotel Gala is J.A. Bayona’s A MONSTER CALLS, a highly moving film based on the hugely popular book by Patrick Ness. A young boy’s vast imagination enables him to see wonder beyond his tough circumstances in this sublime fantasy with Lewis MacDougall in the lead role as 12-year-old Conor. The film also stars Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, and the melodic and imposing voice of Liam Neeson.
With NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, Tom Ford returns with a dark, sophisticated adaptation of Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan. With a stellar cast including Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher and Armie Hammer, the film reunites many of the creative team behind A Single Man (LFF2009).
The Virgin Atlantic Gala is the European Premiere of QUEEN OF KATWE, Mira Nair’s vibrant, powerful true life tale of one girl’s determination to escape from poverty in Uganda by becoming a chess champion. The film stars newcomer Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o.
SNOWDEN is presented as a Headline Gala. Oliver Stone’s super-charged political thriller stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the titular intelligence operative alongside Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson and Scott Eastwood.
The Mayor of London’s Gala is the European Premiere of THEIR FINEST, which sees director Lone Scherfig return to the Festival following An Education (LFF2009) Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin star in this delectable comedic drama, set in the world of filmmaking in London during the 1940s.
The Archive Gala is the World Premiere of the BFI National Archive restoration of Arthur Robison’s THE INFORMER (1929). This rare silent adaptation of Liam O’Flaherty’s famous novel is set among Dublin revolutionaries in the early days of the newly independent Irish Free State, formed in 1922. The screening will be accompanied by a specially commissioned score by Irish composer Garth Knox performed live by a six-piece ensemble.
Four films take the spotlight in this section: the Festival Special Presentation, AMERICAN HONEY, Andrea Arnold’s sun-soaked and tune-filled epic about door-to-door teenage magazine sellers travelling America’s highways; the Documentary Special Presentation, Ava DuVernay’s far-reaching and powerful THE 13TH, a searing look at a century of race relations in America; the Experimenta Special Presentation, Fiona Tan’s dazzling ASCENT, exploring the beautiful and mysterious Mount Fuji using imagery from across the history of still photography; and the BFI Flare Special Presentation, Xavier Dolan’s IT’S ONLY THE END OF THE WORLD, which won the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. 2016 marks the introduction of this Special Presentation for BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival, which takes place every March at BFI Southbank, and showcases the best in contemporary queer cinema from around the world.
The nine programme strands are each headlined with a gala, they are: the Love Gala, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s MIRZYA; the Debate Gala, Bertrand Bonello’s NOCTURAMA; the Dare Gala, Park Chan-wook’s THE HANDMAIDEN; the Laugh Gala, Maren Ade’s TONI ERDMANN; the Thrill Gala, Ben Younger’s BLEED FOR THIS; the Cult Gala, André Øvredal’s THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE; the Journey Gala, Jim Jarmusch’s PATERSON; the Sonic Gala, Spike Lee’s CHI-RAQ and the Family Gala is Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn’s TROLLS. More about the Strand Galas can be found in the section summaries below.
Awards and Competitions
One of the twelve films screening in the Festival’s Official Competition will again be given the Best Film Award; while the winners of the First Feature and Documentary Competitions will respectively receive the Sutherland and Grierson Awards. 2016 marks the second year of the Festival’s Short Film Award, again open to all short films across the contemporary short film selections, from narrative to documentary and experimental works. In a first for the Festival, each competitive section also features an animated film, a testament to the extraordinary animation work the programme team have seen this year. These are: Makoto Shinkai’s YOUR NAME in Official Competition; Claude Barras’ MY LIFE AS A COURGETTE in the First Feature Competition; Keith Maitland’s TOWER in the Documentary Competition; and Réka Bucsi’s LOVE will be considered for the Short Film Award.
The Official Competition line-up, recognising inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking, includes the following:
- Martin Koolhoven, BRIMSTONE
- Kelly Reichardt, CERTAIN WOMEN
- Mohamed Diab, CLASH
- Paul Verhoeven, ELLE
- François Ozon, FRANTZ
- Ivan Sen, GOLDSTONE (European Premiere)
- Mijke de Jong, LAYLA M. (European Premiere)
- Barry Jenkins, MOONLIGHT (European Premiere)
- Pablo Larraín, NERUDA
- Terence Davies, A QUIET PASSION
- Benedict Andrews, UNA (European Premiere)
- Makoto Shinkai, YOUR NAME
First Feature Competition
Titles in consideration for the Sutherland Award in the First Feature Competition recognising an original and imaginative directorial debut are:
- Jorge Riquelme Serrano, CHAMELEON (International Premiere)
- Darren Thornton, A DATE FOR MAD MARY
- Houda Benyamina, DIVINES
- Johannes Nyholm, THE GIANT
- Mohamed Ben Attia, HEDI
- William Oldroyd, LADY MACBETH
- Hope Dickson Leach, THE LEVELLING (European Premiere)
- Claude Barras, MY LIFE AS A COURGETTE
- Bartosz M. Kowalski, PLAYGROUND
- Gabe Klinger, PORTO
- Julia Ducournau, RAW
- Wang Yichun, WHAT’S IN THE DARKNESS
- Daouda Coulibaly, WÙLU
The Grierson Award in the Documentary Competition category recognises cinematic documentaries with integrity, originality, and social or cultural significance. This year the Festival is screening:
- Jenny Gage, ALL THIS PANIC (European Premiere)
- Eva Orner, CHASING ASYLUM (European Premiere)
- Jon Nguyen, Olivia Neergaard-Holm, DAVID LYNCH: THE ART LIFE
- Claire Simon, THE GRADUATION
- Khushboo Ranka, Vinay Shukla, AN INSIGNIFICANT MAN (European Premiere)
- Alma Har’el, LOVETRUE
- Alice Diop, ON CALL
- Ulrich Seidl, SAFARI
- Marco Del Fiol, THE SPACE IN BETWEEN – MARINA ABRAMOVIC AND BRAZIL
- Mehrdad Oskouei, STARLESS DREAMS
- Keith Maitland, TOWER
- Andreas Dalsgaard, Obaidah Zytoon, THE WAR SHOW
Short Film Award
The Short Film Award recognises short form works with a unique cinematic voice and a confident handling of chosen theme and content. This year the Festival is screening:
- Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan, THE SEND OFF
- Réka Bucsi, LOVE
- João Paulo Miranda Maria, THE GIRL WHO DANCED WITH THE DEVIL
- Issa Touma, Thomas Vroe§ge, Floor van der Meulen, 9 DAYS – FROM MY WINDOW IN ALEPPO
- Patrick Tarrant, THE TREMBLING GIANT
- Anna Maguire, YOUR MOTHER AND I
- Kevin Jerome Everson, EARS, NOSE AND THROAT
- Ena Sendijarevic, IMPORT
- Amy Nicholson, PICKLE
- Ali Asgari, Farnoosh Samadi, THE SILENCE
- Jed Hart, CANDY FLOSS
- Ana Vaz, THERE IS LAND!
Key filmmaking talent due to attend the Festival’s gala and special presentation screenings include: Galas and Special Presentations: Amma Asante, David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Laura Carmichael, Jack Davenport, Ben Wheatley, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor, Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Nate Parker, Damien Chazelle, Kenneth Lonergan, J.A. Bayona, Lewis MacDougall, Tom Ford, Mira Nair, Lupita Nyong’o, Oliver Stone, Joely Richardson, Lone Scherfig, Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Harshvardhan Kapoor, Saiyami Kher, Park Chan-wook, Bertrand Bonello, Maren Ade, Sandra Hüller, Ben Younger, Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn, Andrea Arnold, Fiona Tan, Xavier Dolan.
Additional filmmaking talent attending for films in competition include: Official Competition: Martin Koolhoven, Mohamed Diab, Paul Verhoeven, François Ozon, Ivan Sen, Mijke de Jong, Barry Jenkins, Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes, Terence Davies, Benedict Andrews, Makoto Shinkai. First Feature Competition: Jorge Riquelme Serrano, Gastón Salgado, Darren Thornton, Seána Kerslake, Houda Benyamina, Johannes Nyholm, Mohamed Ben Attia, William Oldroyd, Naomi Ackie, Hope Dickson Leach, Bartosz M. Kowalski, Gabe Klinger, Lucie Lucas, Julia Ducournau, Wang Yichun, Daouda Coulibaly. Documentary Competition: Jenny Gage, Eva Orner, Jon Nguyen, Claire Simon, Khushboo Ranka, Vinay Shukla, Alma Har’el, Alice Diop, Marco Del Fiol.
The Festival will announce its complete guest line-up for all sections in early October.
The Festival programme is organised in sections to help Festival-goers find the films which are most appealing to them, and to open up the Festival for new audiences. The strands are: Love, Debate, Dare, Laugh, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Sonic, Family and Experimenta.
Sweet, passionate, tough – Love is a complex and many splendoured thing and this selection charts the highs and lows of many kinds of love from around the globe. The Love Gala is the European Premiere of Bollywood director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s glorious epic, MIRZYA, a richly-coloured and breathtaking drama that moves between the story of mythical couple Mirza and Sahiban and the modern world where two real-life lovers grapple with similar forces that seek to keep them apart.
Other highlights of this section include: AFTER LOVE Joachim Lafosse’s insightful, emotionally affecting look at the final weeks in a marriage, starring Bérénice Bejo and Cédric Kahn; Kleber Mendonça Filho’s richly absorbing and boldly realized new film AQUARIUS, featuring an electrifying performance by Sonia Braga; the European Premiere of Roger Mainwood’s lovely animated feature ETHEL & ERNEST, based on Raymond Briggs’ autobiographical book, told in a series of captivating vignettes about a couple living with their son in 1940’s London, voiced by Brenda Blethyn and Jim Broadbent; GLEASON, Clay Tweel’s inspiring portrait of Steve Gleason, the American football star who was 34 when he was diagnosed with ALS; Kasper Collins’ meticulous and deeply resonant documentary I CALLED HIM MORGAN, part thriller, part love story about legendary jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan and his wife Helen; Edoardo De Angelis’ INDIVISIBLE, an entrancing neo-gothic fairy-tale about conjoined twins; LOVESONG, So Yong Kim’s subtle, compelling drama charting a complex relationship between two women with extraordinary central performances by Jena Malone and Riley Keough; the European Premiere of Jim Sheridan’s first Irish-set film since 1997, THE SECRET SCRIPTURE features a fine cast that includes Vanessa Redgrave, Rooney Mara, Jack Reynor and Eric Bana, and the European Premiere of THE WEDDING RING, a rare film from Niger, by female director Rahmatou Keita, about a privileged young woman who comes back to her village after studying in Paris to discover the truth of the relationships between women and men in her society.
In your face, up-front and arresting, films in the Dare strand take you out of and beyond your comfort zone. The Dare Gala is Park Chan-wook’s THE HANDMAIDEN, which channels UK novelist Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith, to create a sumptuous, twisting psychological thriller, full of erotic intrigue.
Other highlights in the strand include: the European Premiere of CHRISTINE, Antonio Campos’ probing drama about television journalist Christine Chubbuck, featuring an astonishing, career-best performance by Rebecca Hall; THE DEATH OF LOUIS XIV, Albert Serra’s mesmerising account of the last days of the Sun King, with legendary Nouvelle Vague star Jean-Pierre Léaud in the lead; the International Premiere of KING COBRA, Justin Kelly’s scandalous true crime story set in the LA gay porn scene with James Franco, Christian Slater and Garrett Clayton; Emir Kusturica’s eagerly awaited, ON THE MILKY ROAD, an epic folkloric tale of doomed love set in the aftermath of a civil war with Kusturica starring opposite Monica Bellucci; Rebecca Zlotowski’s stylistically bold, decadent 1930s Parisian-set drama PLANETARIUM starring Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp playing two sisters who can communicate with the dead; the European Premiere of THE REHEARSAL, directed and adapted by Alison Maclean (Jesus’ Son, Crush) from an Eleanor Catton novel, sees students struggle to meet first year expectations at a competitive New Zealand drama school, with an excellent Kerry Fox as a hard-driving Head Teacher; Radu Jude’s (Aferim!) SCARRED HEARTS, which won the Special Jury Prize at the Locarno Film Festival, a portrait of a young writer confined to a Romanian sanatorium in the late 1930s; the European Premiere of SPACESHIP, British director Alex Taylor’s British teen film with hallucinogenic imagination, about a cyber-goth girl seemingly abducted by aliens; Amat Escalante’s astonishing follow up to his Cannes winner Heli, THE UNTAMED is an arresting social drama cum sci-fi enigma that defies categorisation, and the World Premiere of Ali F. Mostafa’s THE WORTHY, an audacious, dystopian tale set in the Arab world.
Representing films that amplify, scrutinize, argue and surprise, Debate thrives on conversation, which is never more engaging than when the world outside the cinema is reflected back at us. This year’s Debate Gala is Bertrand Bonello’s cool, stylized thriller NOCTURAMA, an audacious film that tackles the subjects of terrorism, violence, consumerism and the decay of European idealism head-on.
Debate also includes: the European Premiere of A BILLION COLOUR STORY, N. Padmakumar’s daring and moving debut about an inspirational schoolboy who aims to restore his parents’ belief in themselves and in the Indian nation; the World Premiere of A DAY FOR WOMEN from Egyptian director Kamla Abouzekri (One-Zero) sees worlds collide when Sunday is decreed a day for women at the local swimming pool; GRADUATION, Cristian Mungiu’s richly crafted, satisfying family drama for which he deservedly shared the Best Director prize in Cannes; the European Premiere of A MOVING IMAGE, Shola Amoo’s gently probing mash-up of fiction, documentary and performance art, offering a stylistically unconventional approach to the divisive issue of gentrification and community relations in Brixton; THE SALESMAN, another elegant drama from Asghar Farhadi centering on a couple who in dealing with a trauma, find that a hunger for justice creates its own fissures, and Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s dramatically compelling and THE UNKNOWN GIRL, a carefully constructed realist drama complemented by a script with ethically and psychologically astute insights into questions of personal and social responsibility.
A Festival’s screening of LO AND BEHOLD, REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD, Werner Herzog’s uniquely idiosyncratic and brilliant 10-chapter examination of the digital age will be satellite broadcast across the UK and Ireland to over 60 participating cinemas. Tickets will be available to purchase to watch the screening and Q&A LIVE online from anywhere within the UK and Ireland for a simultaneous virtual festival premiere of the film.
From laugh-out-loud through romantic comedy to dry and understated – humour in all its forms. This year’s Laugh strand is crowned by Laugh Gala, Maren Ade’s Cannes’ breakout hit TONI ERDMANN, a bizarre, hilarious and touching tragi-comedy which probes the disconnect between estranged family members and the demands of corporate work life.
Other titles in a diverse strand include: Mahmoud Sabbagh’s warm-hearted, slyly subversive romantic comedy BARAKAH MEETS BARAKAH, about a humble government official and rebellious vlog star who develop a tentative romance amid strict Saudi Arabian cultural taboos; DON’T THINK TWICE, Mike Birbiglia’s ensemble comedy, fresh off its hit US release, about a New York improv comedy troupe whose hopes of success and fears of failure are tested when one of their number gets his big TV break; DOWN UNDER, the International Premiere of Abe Forsythe’s dark comedy about a group of white racists and Lebanese immigrants who gear up for a beachside showdown after the Sydney Race Riots; the European Premiere of comedy legend Christopher Guest’s MASCOTS, brings his improv-infused, mockumentary style to the world of competitive mascots with an all-star cast including Jane Lynch, Chris O’Dowd and Parker Posey; the World Premiere of hilarious UK comedy MINDHORN, Sean Foley is a loving spoof of vintage home-grown detective shows, featuring The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby, Andrea Riseborough and Steve Coogan; Brit comedy from Sightseers co-writer and star Alice Lowe, here delivering her riotous black-humoured directorial debut PREVENGE, about a pregnant serial killer hellbent on revenge, and Peter Foott’s feature debut THE YOUNG OFFENDERS, destined to be a break-out hit, a slapstick comedy inspired by the true story of Ireland’s biggest cocaine seizure in 2007.
Thrill features nerve-shredders that’ll get your adrenalin pumping and will keep you on the edge of your seat. This year’s Thrill Gala is the European Premiere of Ben Younger’s BLEED FOR THIS, featuring a physical and emotional powerhouse of a performance by Miles Teller in a film based on the extraordinary true story of Vinny Pazienza, a world championship boxer left with a broken neck after a devastating accident.
The Thrill strand also features: the European Premiere of Izu Ojukwu’s 76, a tense political drama from Nigeria about the ramifications of the assassination in 1976 of General Murtala Mohammed; the European Premiere of Pete Travis’ (Dredd) CITY OF TINY LIGHTS, a taut, hardboiled crime thriller set in contemporary multicultural London starring Riz Ahmed; DANCER, an entrancing doc portrait of Ukrainian ballet prodigy Sergei Polunin from Oscar-nominee Steven Cantor (loudQUIETloud: A Film About Pixies); DOG EAT DOG starring Nicolas Cage and Willem Dafoe in Paul Schrader’s darkly comic tale of faded felons hoping to pull off one last pay day; the World Premiere of THE GHOUL from British actor-turned-director Gareth Tunley which follows a detective, played by Tom Meeten, who goes undercover as a psychotherapy patient; KILLS ON WHEELS, Attila Till’s infectious and original buddy movie about two disabled boys who find fact and fantasy blurring as they collaborate on a comic book about a paraplegic ex-fire-fighter with a secret life as a hitman; Alberto Rodriguez’s atmospheric conspiracy thriller SMOKE & MIRRORS, based on the true story of the elusive Spanish secret service agent Francisco “Paco” Paesa; the European Premiere of Adam Smith’s TRESPASS AGAINST US starring Michael Fassbender as an outlaw trying to forge his own path away from his criminal family and THE WAILING, Na Hong Jin’s spine-chilling horror fantasy that transforms from a rustic noir into an occult free-for-all.
From the mind-altering and unclassifiable to fantasy, sci-fi and horror, in the Cult strand, the dark side is welcomed. The Cult Gala is the European Premiere of THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE, Norwegian director André Øvreda’s (Trollhunter) wickedly humorous and devilish thrill ride starring Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch as father-son coroners who discover dark secrets when the body of an unidentified female victim of homicide arrives on their doorstep.
Other titles in the strand include: the World Premiere of BLUE VELVET REVISITED, Peter Braatz’s mostly unseen archival treasure trove of footage, photographs and interviews from his months on the set of David Lynch’s cult classic Blue Velvet; acclaimed director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s return to the horror genre with the atmospheric CREEPY, aptly titled for a film about a strange neighbour who moves next door to an ex-detective investigating a missing person’s case; Liam Gavin’s feature film debut A DARK SONG, an affecting exploration of grief as a mother attempts to reach the spirit of her deceased child with the help of an occultist played by Sightseers’ Steve Oram; THE EYES OF MY MOTHER, Nicolas Pesce’s darkly beautiful tale of a young woman’s transformation following a traumatic childhood experience; I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, Irish filmmaker Billy O’Brien’s chilling and darkly humorous study of adolescent alienation; INTO THE FOREST, Gilles Marchand’s supernaturally-tinged expedition through the woods, blending dark familial psychodrama with the lurking threat of the uncanny and Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski’s brand new slice of retro terror, THE VOID, a truly nightmarish mythology with arresting visuals and a plot as twisted as the horror-obsessed minds from which it came.
Whether it’s the Journey or the destination, these films will transport you and shift your perspective. This year’s Journey Gala is Jim Jarmusch’s PATERSON, with Adam Driver in the lead role as a bus driver who writes poetry in his spare time and spends his evenings with his artistic, baker, homemaker wife. This quiet exploration of married life depicts how lovers can co-exist and support each other’s creativity.
Other Journey titles include: the World Premiere of GEORGE BEST: ALL BY HIMSELF, Daniel Gordon’s incisive portrait of one of the world’s truly great sporting talents, whose extraordinary gift was decimated by addiction; Oscar-winning Michael Dudok de Wit’s THE RED TURTLE, a beautiful animated tale which won Cannes’ Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize this year; THE ORNITHOLOGIST, Joao Pedro Rodrigues’ sublime queer curio about one scientist in Portugal’s Douro region who embarks on an unexpected transcendental journey; RICHARD LINKLATER – dream is destiny, Louis Black and Karen Bernstein’s unusual and unconventional documentary exploration of the life and work of the independent filmmaker; Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald’s latest documentary, SKY LADDER: THE ART OF CAI GUOI-QIANG about the superstar Chinese artist; the World Premiere of Mark Cousin’s STOCKHOLM MY LOVE in which he collaborates with Neneh Cherry and cinematographer Chris Doyle to create an inventive docu-style fictional love song to the Swedish city; Terrence Malick’s highly anticipated documentary VOYAGE OF TIME: LIFE’S JOURNEY, a philosophical and cinematic meditation on life with stunning visual effects, narrated by Cate Blanchett and the World Premiere of Joseph A. Adesunloye’s striking debut WHITE COLOUR BLACK, focusing on a mixed heritage Black Londoner who must confront his family roots when a message from Senegal calls him home.
The Sonic strand features music inspired films and events that will leave you dancing in the aisles. This year’s Sonic Gala, in association with MOBO Film, is CHI-RAQ, Spike Lee’s dazzling, rage-fuelled, in-your-face hip-hop musical that re-purposes Aristophanes’ Lysistrata – a comedy about a Greek heroine who leads a sex-strike to prevent war – setting it in Chicago’s South Side.
Other highlights in this strand include: FONKO, Lamin Daniel Jadama, Lars Lovén, Göran Hugo Olsson’s (Black Power Mixtape) musical journey through the exuberant, culturally diverse continent of Africa, from Dakar, Accra and Lagos to Luanda and Johannesburg; JEWEL’S CATCH ONE, C. Fitz’s portrait of Catch One nightclub founder Jewel Thais-Williams, who with her last $500 opened ‘the Studio 54 of the West Coast’ and a sanctuary for L.A.’s black LGBT community; the European Premiere of LONDON TOWN, Derrick Borte’s uplifting and bittersweet coming-of-age film set in 1979 London amongst the explosive emergence of Punk and with a stellar turn by Jonathan Rhys Meyers as The Clash’s Joe Strummer; a documentary almost ten years in the making, the European Premiere of debut director Matthew Jones’ THE MAN FROM MO’WAX tells the remarkable story of James Lavelle, founder of independent record label Mo’Wax and co-creator of super band Unkle with DJ Shadow; the World Premiere of MINUTE BODIES: THE INTIMATE LIFE OF F. PERCY SMITH, a hypnotic, meditative film which stands as a tribute to the achievements of naturalist, pioneering filmmaker Frank Percy Smith and combines the Tindersticks’ Stuart A. Staples’ contemporary music score with Smith’s work exploring nature; Barnaby Clay’s directorial debut SHOT! THE PSYCHO-SPIRITUAL MANTRA OF ROCK, a documentary chronicling the legend rock’n’roll photographer Mick Rock whose iconic images of Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and David Bowie defined the 1970s generation, and the European Premiere of WE ARE X, from filmmaker Stephen Kijak (Stones in Exile), who chronicles the rise and fall of Japanese heavy metal rock group X Japan, who created an intoxicating sound and developed a unique look of sci-fi manga-esque outfits, sculpted hair and heavy make-up.
Showcasing films for the young, as well as the young at heart, this year’s Family section is, as always, an international affair. The selection kicks off with the Family Gala presented in partnership with Sky Cinema, which will be the European Premiere of DreamWorks’ vivid, joyously choreographed musical animation, TROLLS, featuring an all-star voice cast led by Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake. The film is co-directed by Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn.
Other highlights include THE EAGLE HUNTRESS, Otto Bell’s documentary following a remarkable 13-year-old girl from the Altai Mountains in Northwest Mongolia who refuses to conform to gender norms and is determined to follow in her father’s footsteps as an Eagle Hunter, narrated and executive produced by Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Daisy Ridley; PHANTOM BOY, the latest animation from A Cat in Paris Oscar-nominated directors Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol which focuses on a sick boy who discovers he has a superpower; the European Premiere of ROCK DOG from Oscar-nominated animation director Ash Brannon, with Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard and J.K. Simmons lending their voices to the original tale of a charismatic hound whose heart lies in music, and Victor Vu’s coming-of-age story YELLOW FLOWERS ON THE GREEN GRASS about the relationship between two young brothers in 1980s Vietnam.
This section also includes a programme of animated shorts for younger audiences which bring together eclectic, exciting and colourful films from all around the globe. Amongst the highlights is Disney’s INNER WORKINGS, directed by Leo Matsuda, which looks at the internal struggle between your head and your heart.
Experimenta, the LFF showcase of experimental cinema and artists’ moving image is programmed in partnership with LUX and focuses on films and videos by artists that transform our experience of seeing moving images. The Experimenta Special Presentation is Fiona Tan’s sublime ASCENT, which uses still photos to explore the beautiful and mysterious Mount Fuji, the site for an adventure of the imagination for a western female artist and her soulful male Japanese correspondent.
An extensive selection of work is presented including several World Premieres, such as UK artist Sarah Pucill’s CONFESSIONS TO THE MIRROR, re-imagination of the life and work of the surrealist Claude Cahun, based on her personal memoir from childhood to imprisonment by the Nazis; the World Premiere of EGLANTINE, the first feature film by artist Margaret Salmon, a lyrical homage to classic children’s films, telling the story of a young girl’s real and fantastical adventure in a remote Scottish forest over the course of one night; the World Premiere of Paul Anton-Smith’s HAVE YOU SEEN MY MOVIE?, a feast for cinema-lovers which captures the cinema-going experience by seamlessly blending magical moments from iconic Golden Age Hollywood films, Italian Neorealism, British cinema and other genres to offer a closer look into how the industry works. Other highlights include: FURTHER BEYOND, the extraordinary story of Ambrosio O’Higgins, First Marquis of Osorno, from co-directors Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor (aka Desperate Optimists) present a discursive essay on how to tell a tale by undermining the very nature of the biopic genre; artist Douglas Gordon’s unique sensory retelling of filmmaker Jonas Mekas’ exile from his native Lithuania to escape Nazi persecution in I HAD NOWHERE TO GO, and Bill Morrison’s DAWSON CITY: FROZEN TIME, in which the American Gold Rush history comes alive through rediscovered silent movies, reconstructed to reveal lost stars in the layers of decaying nitrate stock.
The eclectic range of shorts this year will make audiences experience a range of emotions from euphoria to sadness as they cover all the different strands in the programme.
Love in a Void explores the various forms which love can take such as in Danny DeVito’s comedy CURMUDGEONS about a pair of senior citizens who shock their families with their relationship. A World at War delves into timely, global themes with #YA, focusing on two activists who meet during turbulent events and IMPORT, revolving around a Bosnian refugee family who end up in a small village in the Netherlands. Only Wanna Laugh offers shorts to make you laugh out loud including THAT DOG starring Michael Cera, Tim Heidecker and Andrea Riseborough in a dark comedy of errors.
Teen Creeps explores coming-of-age tales with CRYSTAL LAKE, depicting a group of young girls who thrive when they take over a skate park and NELSON, in which two friends decide to go to the local brothel. The New Kind of Kick programme features protagonists who walk the line between right and wrong such as with the Cannes Palme D’Or winning TIMECODE, about two car park security guards. Tales of Mystery and Imagination showcase surrealism and beauty including LOVE, an animation set in space and FUCKKKYOUUU, where a girl finds comfort by connecting with her past self. To My Mother and Father is a look at the relationships between parents and children featuring YOUR MOTHER AND I, based on a short story by Dave Eggers and starring Don McKellar.
London Calling highlights shorts from the capital’s upcoming filmmakers including Alice Seabright’s PREGNANT PAUSE about a woman contemplating a possible pregnancy and Bunny Schendler’s MEN TALK ABOUT MOTHER, an animated documentary about three men recalling memories of their mothers. Sound and Vision focuses on stories inspired by music including PEAR CIDER AND CIGARETTES, acclaimed graphic novelist Robert Valley’s first animated short.
Treasures bring recently restored cinematic classics from archives around the world to the Festival in London. The Archive Gala is the World Premiere of the BFI National Archive restoration of the silent film THE INFORMER (1929), based on Liam O’Flaherty’s novel about betrayal amidst the revolutionary environment of the newly independent Ireland in 1922. Directed by Arthur Robison and starring leading international stars Lars Hanson and Lya de Putti, the film will be presented with a new score by cutting edge Irish composer and violist Garth Knox.
Other highlights include the World Premieres of restorations of: Shyam Benegal’s 1979 JUNOON in which Shashi Kapoor stars as a man obsessed with a young Anglo-Indian woman during the Indian Mutiny; the BFI’s own restoration of HELL DRIVERS (1957), Cy Endfield’s low budget thriller about the macho world of haulage, starring Peggy Cummins, Patrick McGoohan, Sid James and a pre-Bond Sean Connery, and William A. Seiter’s classic Hollywood musical, YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER (1942), starring celebrated actors Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth.
Other highlights include PHANTASM: REMASTERED (1979), writer/director Don Coscarelli’s singular horror masterpiece, considered a cult classic for its inventive and fresh take on the genre, which was painstakingly restored by JJ Abrams’ company Bad Robot; writer/director Julie Dash’s DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST (1991), the first film directed by an African American woman to be distributed in the US, and a powerful story of three generations of Black South Carolinian women which beautifully fuses traditions of African oral storytelling, image, sound and dialect and inspired Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Similarly, Lizzie Borden’s BORN IN FLAMES (1983), continues the theme of female empowerment in her futuristic tale of a US socialist society where a Women’s Army is set up to defend the rights of women who are still not considered equal by men. Audiences will also be able to relive Woody Allen’s classic black and white romance MANHATTAN (1979), starring the writer/director alongside Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep and Mariel Hemingway, in his joyous hymn to the city as he explores the dynamics of love, desire and relationships.
Following its successful pilot in 2015, the LFF Connects series returns for another series of groundbreaking and thought-provoking talks and events, showcasing talent and stimulating new collaborations and ideas between filmmakers and creative leaders working in film, television, music, art, games and creative technologies. As previously announced, events will include:
LFF Connects: Television – Black Mirror
Co-creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones discuss the latest series of the seriously smart BLACK MIRROR alongside Joe Wright, who directed one of the new episodes, Nosedive which screens prior to the discussion. Followed by an exclusive double-bill of two more episodes San Junipero and Shut Up and Dance all of which screen as a European premieres at LFF. (Thursday 6 October, Chelsea Cinema)
LFF Connects: Creative Technologies – Behind The Magic of Film
Eight-time Oscar® winner and VFX master Dennis Muren will discuss his work on films including Star Wars: Episode – A New Hope alongside David Vickery and Kevin Jenkins from the two-year-old ILM London studio about working with filmmakers including most recently Scott Derrickson on Doctor Strange and Gareth Edwards on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. (Friday 7 October, BFI Southbank)
LFF Connects: Games – David Cage
Presenter and BFI governor Jonathan Ross will join games writer, director and founder of the Paris-based studio Quantic Dream, David Cage (Nomad Soul, Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy) to talk about the visual and narrative artistry of games design. (Tuesday 11 October, Picturehouse Central 1)
LFF Connects: Art/Immersive Film – Lynette Walworth
A trailblazer in the field of immersive film, Lynette Walworth will share her most recent work, the dazzling, devastating COLLISIONS which marks her first foray into VT and re-enacts Aboriginal elder Nyarri Nyarri Morgan’s witnessing of an atomic test in the Australian bush in the 1950s. (Thursday 13 October, ICA)
LFF Connects: Music/Performance – Live, Large, Loud: Adventures in Cinema
This year LFF hosts an evening of unique events at BFI IMAX. Speculative architect Liam Young and acclaimed electronic music producer Forest Swords will present the World Premiere of their audio-visual tour, IN THE ROBOT SKIES. Japanese director Takashi Makino and award winning UK composer Simon Fisher Turner will showcase their collaboration THE PICTURE FROM DARKNESS. (Saturday 8 October, BFI IMAX)
Working with GamerDisco, DJ Yoda will present the World Premiere of his latest journey into popular culture: DJ YODA GOES TO THE ARCADES: A HISTORY OF GAMING, that charts some of the best loved and most fondly remembered games from the early 1980s to the present. London-born Reeps One whose Reeps One presents – Organic Electronics show takes the scientific principal of Cymatics and translates it into the artistic realm of live audio-visual performance. (Saturday 8 October, BFI IMAX)
We are delighted to announce the first in this year’s programme of events designed to give audiences access to contemporary cinema’s leading filmmakers:
Werner Herzog has made over 60 films since his debut as a 19 year old in 1961, demonstrating an astonishing range of interests from Arctic life in Encounters at the End of the World to prehistoric cave paintings in Cave of Forgotten Dreams. In his latest feature, LO AND BEHOLD screening at LFF in the Debate Strand, he explores the internet, cyber security and the future of technology. Expect the unexpected when he comes to talk about his remarkable, wide-ranging career. (Friday 14 October, Picturehouse Central)
Paul Verhoeven is a great master of subversion. One of Europe’s rebel filmmakers in the 1970s thanks to Turkish Delight and Spetters, and continued to court controversy with his move to Hollywood in the 1980s with the brilliantly divisive classics Robocop, Total Recall, Starship Troopers and Basic Instinct. Having returned to Europe, this Dutch master, at the height of his powers, has directed ELLE, starring Isabelle Huppert, showing in the Festival’s Official Competition, he will discuss this feature, and how he continues to deliver controversial classics well into his sixth decade of filmmaking. (Sunday 9 October, BFI Southbank)
Ben Wheatley the director of the pulse-raising thrill-fest FREE FIRE, the Festival’s Closing Night Film joins us to talk about an extraordinary emergence onto the international filmmaking stage. As one of the most dynamic and original voices in contemporary British cinema, Wheatley has directed six feature films in just seven years. His is a distinctively gritty and darkly comic style that offers an exhilaratingly visceral approach to filmmaking: off-kilter horror masterpiece Kill List, pitch black comedy Sightseers (LFF2012) and stylish JG Ballard adaptation High-Rise (LFF2015). (Saturday 15 October)
Further Screen Talks will be announced in the coming weeks.
Industry & Education
The Festival offers a full benefits package for Industry delegates supported by The Mayor’s Office and Film London. This year’s industry programme includes the LFF Connects strand launched in 2015; a Symposium event bringing together leading international filmmakers and industry professionals from both sides of the Atlantic to question why opportunities for black actors to shine on screen in the US and the UK remain limited and ask what more can be done to effect positive change; the talent development programme NET.WORK@LFF, which will be focused on supporting BAME filmmakers for its 2016 edition, and the Screen International’s UK Stars of Tomorrow 2016. as well as a host of other panels, talks and networking events.
The Festival also sees the launch, with the BFI and LFF’s Official Time Partner IWC Schaffhausen, of a significant new Bursary Award to support exceptional new and emerging UK filmmakers. The IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI is a £50,000 award to benefit an outstanding British writer, director, or writer/director whose first or second fiction feature film premieres at the BFI London Film Festival.
The Festival again hosts Press and Industry screenings at Picturehouse Central, the Digital Viewing Library, new delegate hubs, discounts at new partner venues and numerous networking opportunities with delegates and filmmakers. Visit www.bfi.org.uk/lff/professional-delegates for further details.
The BFI London Film Festival Education programme is supported by funding contributors The Film Music Foundation and BFI Film Academy, and event partners Into Film, London Music Masters and no.w.here. It includes a diverse range of morning screenings of films selected from the festival programme and special events for schools, students and young people, all featuring a wide range of film industry professionals, as well as the opportunity to take part in one of our three Young Juries for students, secondary and primary schools. For students in Higher Education, the Festival also offers a Student Accreditation scheme and the Film School Programme presented in partnership with the National Film & Television School, London Film Academy, London Film School and Birkbeck College.
The BFI London Film Festival experience can be enjoyed UK-wide on BFI Player, the BFI’s VOD service, featuring a Festival digital channel showing regular red carpet action and film maker interviews. BFI London Film Festival content will be a key attraction in the range of services on BFI Player.
The 60th BFI London Film Festival Sponsors and Funders
Following a successful six year collaboration, the BFI announced in May this year, a continuation of the partnership between the BFI London Film Festival (LFF) and American Express®, which will see them remain as Principal Sponsor and Preferred Payment Partner.
For the first time this year we are thrilled to welcome Royal Bank of Canada as a Main Sponsor of the Festival. Virgin Atlantic join us also as Main Sponsor and Official Airline for the third year and IWC Schaffhausen return as our Official Time Partner.
We give heartfelt thanks to The May Fair Hotel, who return as the Festival’s Official Hotel and Renault our Official Car Partner. We are also delighted to welcome Sky Cinema to the Festival as our partner for the Family Gala.
We thank DCMS and are delighted to be supported directly by the Mayor of London through Film London as a funding contributor.
The restoration of the BFI Archive Gala film The Informer has been generously supported by Matt Spick and the commission and live performance of the new score is supported by public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. We are grateful to The Film Music Foundation for their support of the LFF’s education programme. We would also like to thank Simon W. Hessel for his support of the BFI’s remastering of Cy Endfield’s Hell Drivers, along with all the BFI’s individual donors.
A huge thank you goes to the Festival’s generous in-kind Sponsors: returning photography sponsor Getty Images; cinema advertising partner Digital Cinema Media; Official Make Up brand MAC Cosmetics. Additionally, we would like to welcome back Premier and, as well as thanking Exterion Media, Green & Black’s Organic chocolate, The Hospital Club, The House of St Barnabas, Impact Marketing, TV5 Monde and The Union for their continued support. We would also like to thank new sponsors Flying Tiger Copenhagen, Harkness Screens and Pink Pepper Gin.
Cinema partners returning this year are Odeon, Vue, Curzon, Picturehouse, ICA, Haymarket and Ciné Lumière and we are pleased to welcome the Prince Charles Cinema as a venue partner this year.
We are delighted to welcome back returning Media Partners Evening Standard, Time Out, Empire, Sight & Sound, Screen International, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Little White Lies as well as valued Broadcast Partners BBC London and Magic FM for continuing to provide invaluable media support.
The Festival would also like to give a huge thanks to returning sponsors Christie digital projectors, Dolby sound technologies and Newman Displays.
Finally, the Festival would like to thank the many embassies and cultural institutes who support the Festival by helping to bring in filmmakers to present their work.