The 65th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express is delighted to announce that this year’s opening night gala will be Netflix’s The Harder They Fall, directed by Londoner Jeymes Samuel. The film will receive its world premiere on Wednesday 6 October at LFF gala venue the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, with Samuel expected to attend along with key cast including Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, Regina King and Idris Elba.
The BFI London Film Festival is also pleased to announce that there will be simultaneous preview screenings of The Harder They Fall taking place at cinemas across the UK. The film will debut on Netflix on 3 November following a theatrical release in UK cinemas.
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Written by Jeymes Samuel and Boaz Yakin, produced by Shawn Carter, James Lassiter, Lawrence Bender and Samuel, the film features an original soundtrack album produced by Samuel and executive produced by Carter, and a stunning all-star cast, including Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, R.J. Cyler, Damon Wayans Jr and Deon Cole with Regina King and Idris Elba.
When outlaw Nat Love (Majors) discovers that his enemy Rufus Buck (Elba) is being released from prison, he rounds up his gang to track Rufus down and seek revenge. Those riding with him in this assured, righteously new school western includes his former love Stagecoach Mary, his right- and left-hand men – hot-tempered Bill Pickett and fast drawing Jim Beckwourth – and a surprising adversary-turned-ally. Rufus Buck has his own fearsome crew, including “Treacherous” Trudy Smith and Cherokee Bill, and they are not a group that knows how to lose.
“It’s a great honour that The Harder They Fall will have its world premiere opening the 65th BFI London Film Festival,” said Samuel. “Growing up in the UK, the festival has always been the highlight of my year and I couldn’t have imagined anything better than to have my debut film included in this year’s line-up.”
“Jeymes Samuel has come out with both guns blazing with his lightning-paced, witty and phenomenally entertaining new western,” says Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival Director. ”This is brutal and funny genre filmmaking, sometimes making you chuckle and gasp in the same breath, while each of its mega stars absolutely burns up the screen, working to a cleverly written script from Samuel and Boaz Yakin that reveals the tenderness even in the darkest villainous heart. It’s rare for a debut filmmaker to pull off something this ambitious and accomplished in their first feature and Samuel knowingly tips his hat to cinematic forbearers, but also delivers a film which is inventive and uniquely his own. It’s a total joy for us to open the festival with the work of a filmmaker from London, and we’re so grateful to Jeymes, the producers and Netflix for trusting us with their world premiere. We can’t wait to share The Harder They Fall.”
The BFI London Film Festival has previously announced that, alongside flagship venue BFI Southbank, a new partnership with the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall will make London’s South Bank the heart of the film festival experience, with this iconic cultural neighbour hosting red carpet gala premieres. Audiences can book tickets from £10 (£5 for 25 & Under) for all LFF gala screenings at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. Other London venue partners will return, with the West End remaining a key hub for the festival’s film programme.
This year’s LFF will bring back some of the most popular elements of 2020’s hugely successful hybrid edition that made it the most accessible festival ever, with a selected programme available at UK-wide cinema partners and a broad range of films from the programme screening on BFI Player, alongside the in-cinema premieres.
The 65th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express takes place from Wednesday 6 October to Sunday 17 October 2021. The LFF programme launch will take place on Tuesday 7 September 2021.