The BFI's September-October program (combined in their catalog as the BFI London Film Festival cuts into this time span) gets super cool with the beginning of their Jim Jarmuch retrospective. There is the continuation of the epic, multi-month Chinese cinema season with the works of Wong Kar-Wai and Tsai Ming-Lai now entering the picture. American Actor Peter Lorre, famed for his work in classics such as Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon, and Fritz Lang's thriller classic M, gets the honour of a full season devoted to his work. Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney (who's work has been reviewed by myself before, and I have interviewed the director too ) has his new doc Finding Fela! playing, as does another documentary stalwart, Ken Burns, with his The Roosevelt's series getting a look. As if that wasn't enough documentary programming, Frederick Wiseman's At Berkeley will also be showing. Also playing is Andre Singer's Night Will Fall, a study of the use of film during the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps and the attempt to resurrect a lost documentary on the crimes of Nazi Germany.
Below are essential links to the key strands playing this month, and the top five highlights from the September-October catalog.
BFI SEP/OCT 2014 MAIN SEASONS:
The BFI's epic five-month China season now moves towards the 21st Century, which means the works of Wong Kar-Wai and Tsai Mind-Lai and other more individualistic and cosmopolitan directors, and highly-stylised mood pieces with more focus on urban globalised living, are up in the program. Wong's acclaimed In the Mood for Love is the obvious highlight.
The king of indie cool, who was there are the birth of what is now known as modern US independent cinema and who's Stranger than Paradise is widely regarded as a milestone in that wave. Jarmusch's Down by Law is getting a re-release for the season. His recent Only Lovers Left Alive is reviewed here and is just one of the highlights.
This season will honour the classics, but also attempt to go beyond his villains roles - for which he is rightly famed. Included is The Lost One, his only directing effort.
The BFI celebrates The Wednesday Play, the strand that transformed British TV drama with a varied selection of rarely-seen plays. This season marks 50 years since that the BBC launched The Wednesday Play TV project.
SEP-OCT EVENTS AND SCREENINGS HIGHLIGHTS:
Finding Fela Preview
Alex Gibney's new documentary looks at Fela Kuti's vibrant career and life.
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.
A Two Hour preview of the full 14-hour season of director Ken Burns' new series, looking at one of her most powerful political dynasties in US history.
Ken Burns at the BFI
The American filmmaker, who is famed for his landmark series The Civil War, is in conversation with Lord Puttnam at the BFI accompanying the preview of his series on the Roosevelt's.
TV Preview: Filmed in Supermarionation + Q&A
This new documentary tells the history of animation duo Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, creators of the beloved Thunderbirds marionette sci fi series as well as Captain Scarlett. Director and producer will be on hand for a Q&A after.
2014 BFI And BAFTA Screenwriter Lecture series.
Includes talks from James Schamus, Emma Thompson, and Steven Knight (who's film Locke is reviewed here).
In the Mood for Love
Playing as part of the China season, this is a lush, evocative study of frustrated love that is widely held up as one of the most important film's to come out of China in the last few decades.
Permanent Vacation and Stranger than Paradise
Two films that showcase early Jim Jarmusch work. In the case of Permanent Vacation- the burned out lower East Side of New York City that forms the backdrop to this study of alienation is worth seeing - this part of NYC is long gentrified. Strangers in Paradise demonstrates Jarmusch's formal precision and wit, along with an atmosphere of wry, laconic hipster cool that has forever been associated with him.
Night Will Fall
In the wake of WWII, the British Ministry of Information's Sidney Bernstein aimed to create a documentary that would stand as a testament to the crimes of the Nazi's, crimes which Allied cameramen were able to record following the collapse of the Hitler regime and the occupation of Germany. Yet despite support from the US and UK governments, the project languished. Now it has been restored and completed by the Imperial War Museum, and Andre Singer's documentary Night Will Fall explores the death and rebirth of this project.
Fritz Lang's M
Playing as part of Peter Lorre season, M is a widely-celebrated psychologic thriller with striking cinematography and sound design married to a surprisingly complicated portrayal, as played by Lorre, of a killer.
Includes a re-release of Jarmusch's Down by Law, and Satyajit Ray's personal favorite of his own films: Charulata