66th BFI London Film Festival announces lineup of world premieres

The festival will host 22 feature film world premieres, including new films from Guillermo del Toro, Asif Kapadia, Edward Lovelace, Neil Maskell, and Nora Twomey and Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022)Courtesy of Netflix

The 66th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express is delighted to announce the lineup of world premieres in this year’s festival. In addition to the previously announced opening night gala – the rousing big screen adaptation of the smash-hit, Olivier-winning stage musical Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical – the festival will also launch dazzling stop-motion animation Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, as well as Creature, a new collaboration between acclaimed choreographer Akram Khan and Oscar-winner Asif Kapadia; and My Father’s Dragon, family animation from award-winning Nora Twomey (The Breadwinner) and Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon (Wolfwalkers, Song of the Sea).

The series and episodic selection, now in its second year, has a thrilling range of stories for audiences to see on the big screen. LFF’s Series Special Presentation in 2022 will be the world premiere of The English, starring Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer, a sweeping tale of romance and revenge from award-winning television auteur Hugo Blick (An Honourable Woman, Black Earth Rising).

Also premiering in the episodic selection is comedy-drama Mammals, a clever dissection of monogamy written by Olivier and Tony Award-winning playwright and screenwriter Jez Butterworth and starring James Corden and Sally Hawkins; and A Spy Among Friends, which explores MI6 agent Kim Philby’s defection to the Soviet Union and stars Guy Pearce and Damian Lewis, the latter reuniting with showrunner Alexander Cary following their previous collaboration on Homeland.

The festival shines a spotlight on the impressive range of creative talent within the UK, and is thrilled to help launch a rich and varied selection of homegrown world premieres. In addition to the three UK productions world premiering as part of the episodic strand, the festival will present the claustrophobic whistleblower comedy Klokkenluider, the directorial debut of actor Neil Maskell (Kill List), starring Amit Shah, Tom Burke and Jenna Coleman; and Welsh filmmaker Jamie Adams’ bittersweet part-improvised love story She Is Love, starring Sam Riley (Control) and Haley Bennett (Cyrano). Award-winning short filmmaker Dionne Edwards delivers on the promise of early work with her heart-swelling debut, Pretty Red Dress, which investigates Black masculinity and family dynamics.

Other UK debuts launching at the festival include: Andrew Cumming’s wildly inventive Palaeolithic low budget horror, The Origin; Fridjof Ryder’s dark thriller Inland, starring Mark Rylance; and acclaimed British-Kenyan artist Grace Ndiritu’s long-form debut, Becoming Plant.

UK documentary cinema is also well represented, with world premieres including the rapturous Name Me Lawand by Edward Lovelace (The Possibilities Are Endless), which explores the experience of a deaf Kurdish boy; If the Streets Were on Fire, an exhilarating portrait of London’s BikeStormz community, which was featured in LFF’s works-in-progress showcase as part of UK New Talent Days 2021; and two new films – Kanaval: A People’s History of Haiti in Six Chapters and Blue Bag Life – produced by Natasha Dack-Ojumu, co-founder of Tigerlily Films. Yemi Bamiro also returns to LFF with his follow-up to Michael Jordan portrait One Man and His Shoes, Super Eagles ’96, about the Nigerian football team.

The total number of world premieres screening in LFF has increased slightly year on year since 2019, from 11% to 15% of the feature programme.

Galas, competitive features, short films - across all sections of the programme, this is perhaps the richest overall selection of world premieres we have had the privilege of hosting at BFI London Film Festival, and we want to give these artists a moment in the sun before the full programme launch. Securing world premieres for their own sake is never an aim of our audience-facing festival, but it is an honour that these filmmakers and artists entrust us to help them to launch their beautiful work. And this is, at least in part, down to the passion and commitment of our audiences!Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival director

The 66th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express takes place from Wednesday 5 October to Sunday 16 October 2022. The BFI LFF programme launch will take place on Thursday 1 September 2022.

Feature films 

  • Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (dirs. Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson, USA) – Carlo Collodi’s dark fable about a naive wooden puppet is presented in dazzling stop-motion animation by Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro and award-winning director Mark Gustafson.
  • Creature (dir. Asif Kapadia, UK) – Acclaimed choreographer Akram Khan’s new creation is captured by Academy Award winner Asif Kapadia in the immersive and visceral Creature.
  • The Estate (dir/scr. Dean Craig, USA) – Anna Faris and Toni Collette’s sisters plot to win the inheritance of Kathleen Turner’s cantankerous, terminally ill aunt, but find other relatives have equally devious designs on the family fortune. The crack ensemble also features Rosemarie DeWitt, Ron Livingston and David Duchovny.
  • Becoming Plant (dir. Grace Ndiritu, UK-Denmark-Norway) – The debut feature-length from artist Grace Ndiritu presents an inquisitive choreographic and therapeutic group experiment, with psychedelics augmented by the soundtrack from multi-talented artist and musician Gaika.
  • Blue Bag Life (dir. Lisa Selby, Rebecca Hirsch Lloyd-Evans, Alex Fry) – Artist Lisa Selby’s audacious and deeply personal odyssey through love, artistry and selfhood illuminates this uncompromising and powerful documentary portrait of a life touched by addiction.
  • If the Streets Were on Fire (dir. Alice Russell, UK) – Russell shows London from an exhilarating, rarely seen perspective. While knife violence rises, BikeStormz is a space of liberation for young people across the city to be free and express themselves
  • Inland (dir/scr. Fridjof Ryder, UK) – Ryder makes a striking, boldly cinematic debut with this intense puzzle piece, an intense thriller recalling Roeg and Lynch. Mark Rylance stars in the story of a young man returning to his hometown in the wake of his mother’s disappearance.
  • Klokkenluider (dir/scr. Neil Maskell) – Combining pitch-black gallows humour, sharply amusing dialogue and perceptive characterisation, Maskell’s debut is an edgy and claustrophobic comic thriller in which a hapless government whistleblower and his partner hide out in a remote Belgian cottage, accompanied by two eccentric bodyguards.
  • Name Me Lawand (dir. Edward Lovelace) – Lovelace returns to LFF following 2014’s The Possibilities Are Endless, here exploring the power of communication and community with a rapturous coming-of-age story about a young deaf Kurdish boy living in Derby. 
  • Pretty Red Dress (dir/scr. Dionne Edwards, UK) – One dress changes everything for a family in Edwards’ spirited, heart-warming debut, starring Brit Award-nominated singer and West End stage star Alexandra Burke.
  • She Is Love (dir/scr. Jamie Adams, UK) – Sam Riley and Haley Bennett shine as estranged lovers meeting a decade after their split in this intense and involving drama from prolific Welsh filmmaker Jamie Adams (Black Mountain Poets, Wild Honey Pie!). 
  • Super Eagles ’96 (dir. Yemi Bamiro, UK-Nigeria) – Bamiro follows up 2020’s One Man and His Shoes with this engrossing history of the Nigerian national football team and its importance in the country’s political and cultural landscape..
  • The Origin (dir. Andrew Cumming, UK) – Bringing a whole new meaning to the term ‘period film’, Cumming’s Palaeolithic low-budget horror is a true original. Shot in the Scottish Highlands during the pandemic, this visionary survival horror is a masterclass in expansive world-building.
  • The Blue Rose of Forgetfulness (dir. Lewis Klahr, USA) – An exquisite collage film that manipulates fragments of comics, creating a narrative of unfulfilled romantic longing.
  • The Girl from Tomorrow (dir/scr. Marta Savina, Italy-France) – Savina’s impressive debut is based on the true story of a young woman violently forced into marriage fighting for justice in 1960s Sicily. 
  • The Blaze (dir. Quentin Raynaud, France) – A man and his father flee from a wildfire in this French eco-thriller, which could have been ripped from this year’s headlines.
  • Kanaval: A People’s History of Haiti in Six Chapters (dirs. Leah Gordon, Eddie Hutton Mills, Haiti-UK) – Haitian history is presented through an explosion of colour, dance and music, as the country prepares for its legendary carnival.
  • My Father’s Dragon (dir. Nora Twomey, Ireland) – An irresistible animated fable from the award-winning director Nora Twomey and acclaimed Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon, about a boy and a young dragon stranded on an island full of untamed beasts. 
  • Xalé (dir. Moussa Sene Absa, Senegal-Ivory Coast) – Artist, musician and filmmaker, Absa (Yoole, The Sacrifice) delivers a powerful female-centred revenge drama, which unfolds across two time frames and details the fallout of a devastating incident.
  • The Store (dir/scr. Ami-ro Sköld, Sweden-Italy) – This inventive and provocative social realist drama boldly uses live-action and stop-motion animation to explore what living in our zero-hours-contract, consumer society might look like in the very near future. 
  • Shttl (dir/scr. Ady Walter, Ukraine-France) – In a Jewish village prior to the Nazi invasion of Ukraine in 1941, a filmmaker returns from Kyiv in search of his intended bride. Crafted as a stunning black and white ‘single-shot’ drama, Walter’s striking debut is in Yiddish and stars Saul Rubinek, Moshe Lobel and Antoine Millet.


  • The English (dir/scr/series creator, Hugo Blick, UK-Spain) – Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer lead an all-star ensemble in this sweeping tale of romance and revenge, a sharply crafted western series from award-winning television auteur Blick, made for BBC Two and Amazon Studios. 
  • A Spy Among Friends (scr/series creator Alexander Cary and dir. Nick Murphy, UK) – This stylish new series from ITVX explores the events in 1963 following MI6 agent Kim Philby’s (Guy Pearce) exposure as a KGB spy in one of the most humiliating chapters of Britain’s involvement in the Cold War. Pearce stars alongside Damian Lewis (reunited with Cary after Homeland) and Anna Maxwell Martin.
  • Mammals (scr. Jez Butterworth and dir. Stephanie Laing, UK) – James Corden and Sally Hawkins star in this clever dissection of monogamy and marriage, written by Olivier and Tony award-winning playwright and screenwriter Jez Butterworth, and made for Amazon Studios.


  • Haunted Hotel: A Melodrama in Augmented Reality (Lead artist: Guy Maddin) 
  • Apparatus Ludens (Lead artists: Untold Garden)
  • Walzer (Lead artists: Frieda Gustavs, Leo Erken)
  • Line of Contact (Lead artist: Dani Ploeger)
  • Pan + Tilt (Lead artists: Ruth Gibson, Bruno Martelli)
  • Intravene (Lead artists: Darkfield, Crackdown, Brenda Longfellow)


  • Bucket in the Forest (dir. Blaise Borrer)
  • Vision of Paradise (dir. Leonardo Pirondi)
  • Jill, Uncredited (dir. Anthony Ing)
  • “U Scantu”: A Disorderly Tale (dir. Elisa Giardina Papa)
  • As If No Misfortune Had Occurred in the Night (dirs. Larissa Sansour, Soren Lind)
  • Back to School (dir. Tyro Heath)
  • Blind Yellow Sunshine (dir. Adonia Boucherhri)
  • Downstream (dir. Adam Kossoff) 
  • For Heidi (dir. Lucy Campbell)
  • Mars (dir. Abel Rubinstein)
  • My Eyes Are Up Here (dir. Nathan Morris)
  • Nant (dir. Tom Chetwode-Barton)
  • Pram Snatcher (dir. Theo James Krekis)
  • Roary (dir. David Leister)
  • Silence (dir. Arnas Pigulevicius)
  • Spinning (dir. Sam Spruell)
  • Sticks of Fury (dir. Yuan Hu)
  • Surpri-! (dir. Rory D. Bentley)
  • The Riley Sisters (dir. Julia Jackman)
  • Transparent (dir. Siobhan Davies)
  • Mono No Aware (dir. Quinton Kienow Dominguez)
  • Rosemary A.D. (After Dad) (dir. Ethan Barrett)

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