WWI in colour, Victorian films in IMAX, and kick-ass women pulling a heist are just some of the BFI London Film Festival 2018 highlights...

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London Film Festival runs 10-21 October across London.

Member priority booking opens at 10:00 on Thu 06 Sep. Public: 13 September 10am.

Printed guide are available at the BFI and online as a guide pdf (28MB).

The Opening and Closing Night Galas at Embankment Garden Cinemas are subject to ballot. Enter online before midnight on Wed 12 Sep, book online here for other tickets.


The Smoke Screen has taken the weekend to digest, or try to digest, the hefty 2018 London Film Festival programme, which dropped on Thursday 30 August. The 62nd edition of the festival is as jam-packed as can be expected; 225 features, 46 documentaries, four animations, 18 archive restorations and seven artists’ moving image features. The programme also includes 160 short films, and 77 countries are represented across short film and features. A Headline Gala will be presented every night at Cineworld Leicester Square. Films in Official Competition are this year presented at Vue Leicester Square, with Strand Galas presented at the 800-seat Embankment Garden Cinema, with the BFI Southbank venue and other satellte venues around London taking part as usual, including venues in north London. If you are committed, you'll need to be prepared to do some travelling to catch screenings that aren't sold out at quieter venues.

Alongside the Galas, Special Presentations and films in Competition, the Festival will again split own the programming into sections; Love, Debate, Laugh, Dare, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Experimenta, Family and Create – which provide pathways for audiences to navigate the extensive programme. Whats new this year is that the winners in each competition strand- Official, First Feature, Short and Documentary- will be selected by hand-picked juries, and the winners will be revealed in front of a public audience on the evening of Saturday 20 October. Each winning film will be presented as a surprise screening in each category at Vue Leicester Square, preceded on stage by the presentation of the Festival’s official award, the bronze Star of London, in the presence of Artistic Director Tricia Tuttle, the President of the jury and the winning filmmaker. 

Highlights:

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Widows

We couldn't leave out the opening film, could we? Not least when it conjures the aura of one of the Smoke Screen's favourite thrillers; Heat. This time, however, the women are planning the take-down. Directed and co-written by Steve McQueen and best-selling novelist and screenwriter Gillian Flynn, Widows is a thriller about a group of women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities. Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya and Jacki Weaver star with Robert Duvall and Liam Neeson. 

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The Great Victorian Moving Picture Show in IMAX

Truly one of the most unique-sounding items playing this year, this Archive Gala will project some of Britain's earliest films, preserved by the BFI National Archive, on the nation's biggest screen; the BFI IMAX. These are 68mm original nitrate prints (the kind of prints that can catch fire) we are are talking about here, all treated under the meticulous and painstaking supervision of the BFI’s Conservation Centre so as to be presented digitally in their fully fleshed, large format, high-definition glory for the first time in over 120 years. You can read more about the project here.

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They Shall Not Grow Old: WWI in Colour 3D screenings presented by director Peter Jackson

This long-gestating projects gets its world premiere at LFF 2018 in time to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War Armistice. Commissioned by 14-18 NOW and Imperial War Museums, Peter Jackson’s First World War film, newly titled They Shall Not Grow Old, will be the Documentary Special Presentation at the BFI London Film Festival on 16 October at BFI Southbank. They Shall Not Grow Old uses the voices of the war's veterans combined with original archival footage, newly colorised and converted to 3D, to bring to life the reality of war on the front line for a whole new generation. Footage comes from the IWM, with the BBC contributing audio. The film will be simultaneously screened, in 2D and 3D to cinemas and special venues across the UK. Attended by the director Peter Jackson, the simulcast will include a special post screening Q&A with Jackson, hosted by film critic Mark Kermode.  Read more about it here.

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

LFF wouldn't taste half as sweet without an entry from the Coen brothers. This time they are bringing an anthology of a half-dozen Western tales, told in their own very Coen-esque way.

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Destroyer

Nicole Kidman has been getting seriously strong reviews for a near-unrecognisable turn as a jaded police detective haunted by her past in Karyn Kusama’s brooding thriller. Just look at the still if you are in doubt.

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If Beale Street Could Talk

Barry Jenkins's delicate and moving Moonlight was a star item of the 2016 London Film Festival, now the Oscar-winning filmmaker returns with an audacious, distinctive and assured adaptation of James Baldwin’s account of love, injustice and racism in America.

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Roma

Years ago the Smoke Screen squeezed into a sold out IMAX screening of Alfonso Cuarón's space thriller Gravity. It remains one of the most visceral experiences I've ever had at a festival. Now  Cuaron offers a different, but hopefully equally evocative ride, with this glorious reminiscence of a momentous year in Mexico City shot in sumptuous black-and-white.

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The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

He FINALLY finished it. Given this film was two decades in the making, mercurial director Terry Gilliam’s very particular Cervantes adaptation, with a killer cast featuring Adam Driver and Johnathan Pryce, should surely be a festival must-see.

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Capernaum

Nadine Labaki has been making quite a name for herself over the last decade, emerging as a substantial Arab female voice in 2007 with her debut film Caramel. Her new drama Capernaum has been gathering accolades across the festival circuit worldwide (selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize). It tells the story of Zain, a young boy from an impoverished family, who sues his parents for having brought him into a world of such suffering and despair. Along the way, he forges an unlikely bond with a toddler, the child of an Ethiopian maid working illegally in Lebanon. Filming on location in Beirut, where people exist below the poverty line and often lack any legal recognition. 

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Burning

Korean director Lee Chang-dong (Poetry) stormed this year's Cannes with this thriller about obsession, class conflict and suppressed male rage, based on a Haruki Murakami short story, about a missing girl, a mysterious cat, an arsonist and a possible murder.

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The Favourite

With films like Dogtooth, The Kiling of a Sacred Deer and The Lobster in his resume, Yorgos Lanthimos remains firmly on the Smoke Screen MVP list. Now he is back with The Favourite, another offbeat drama, but this time set in an 18th century world where England is at war with the France, and duck racing is thriving at Court. A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to both Sarah and the Queen, and Abigail sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots. Festival buzz on this has been great so far.


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Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.

UK film premieres at Film4 Somerset House Summer Screen include THE WIFE and AMERICAN ANIMALS

 Glenn Close drama THE WIFE opens this year's Film4 Somerset House Summer season

Glenn Close drama THE WIFE opens this year's Film4 Somerset House Summer season

Though the cobblestones of the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court can kill your backside, there is no doubt that Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House is one of the capital's premiere outdoor film events. 

The season returns this August for 14 nights of the expected classic, cult and contemporary cinema mix, with extras provided by Bryn Williams' picnic hampers  plus a range of food to buy on site from vendors, and there's a fully-licensed bar and coffee point. There are  back-rests and blankets and even a very limited number of seated tickets for those who can't rough it.

What spices up the film programme though are the double-bill nights and red carpet premieres. In particular the Smoke Screen can recommend THE WIFE, the opening night premiere, for its superb Glenn Close central performance as a wife who has to confront her internalised submission to her husband's desire for a famous literary career which has in fact been built on her support and sacrifice. If you want to see acting greats like Close and co-star Jonathan Pryce tear chunks off each other in a timely story about wives and the patriarchy, this is for you. Closing the season is heist thriller AMERICAN ANIMALS, based on the true story of four students who mistake their lives for a movie and attempt to pull of one of the most audacious art-thefts in recent US history. It hails from the BAFTA-winning director Bart Layton, who will introduce the premiere.

The Somerset House E-newsletter Subscribers Pre-Sale is open from 10.00 today Wed 16 May. Tickets go on general sale on Friday 18 May at 10.00.

Comment

Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.

Secret Cinema to launch Romeo + Juliet event tickets 18 May, promising to bring you to Verona Beach this summer

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Seemingly not content with letting Backyard Cinema play Baz Luhrmann's Romeo+Juliet in an immersive event cinema setting (they book a church and an entire choir), Secret Cinema are getting in on the action too with this just-announced limited run. Promised is an outdoor, summer festival-type experience taking place (once more) in a secret location, transformed for a limited time into the colourful world of Verona Beach from the movie. Will this deliver? Or will yet a barrage of yet more articles criticising the hefty ticket prices vs the actual experience be Secret Cinema's fate this summer? Its certainly a safe, crowd-pleasing choice of film, so high sales are no doubt ensured. Get thee to their mailing list to get early access to ticket sales from Tuesday 15th May at 12pm (BST), 72 hours before everyone else.

Tickets start from £49 (+ booking fees).

Comment

Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.

Women to be championed by the BFI throughout June

 Agnes Varda is one of several female filmmakers celebrated by the BFI in June

Agnes Varda is one of several female filmmakers celebrated by the BFI in June

The BFI always have a lot going on, but June promises to be something extra special. Tying in with the Vote100 campaign, June will see the BFI celebrate work by and about women in a dizzying number of ways, through screenings, panels, Q&As, and more.

There will be a major season devoted to legendary french auteur AGNÈS VARDA, as well as the pioneering figure of IDA LUPINO, who carved out her own space in the male-dominated Hollywood of the 1940s as one of the few female directors and producers. The BFI’s new CLOSE UP series focuses on 13th and A Wrinkle In Time director AVA DUVERNAY, while women animators get their due as part of the BFI’s year-long ANIMATION 2018 programme. The WOMAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA SUMMIT will honour trailblazers of the past, explore the power and pitfalls of grassroots feminist cinephile activism, champion new voices in criticism and programming, and explore movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp. The summit will take place on Saturday 16 June, with events including The Guilty Feminist podcast and a screening of Working Girl (Mike Nichols, 1988)Also in June the BFI will mark the 70th anniversary of Windrush with a programme celebrating WINDRUSH WOMEN.

Gaylene Gould, BFI Head of Cinema and Events said: “One hundred years ago British women marched to the voting booths for the first time. One hundred years later, Frances McDormand brandished a little gold man and instructed the women at the Oscars® ceremony to stand up. A continuum of action has brought about seismic change and, just like those women and men a century ago, we are witnessing a shift. This month, in honour of the Vote 100 campaign, we pay tribute to the women who transcended their worlds to expand ours, and present a programme bursting with female stories.”

Find out more and book tickets on the BFI site here.

Comment

Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.

Catch the London Kinovan this christmas

The Film London and London Screen Archives Kinovan (think a cinema-in-a-van) will be out and about this christmas, offering Londoners the chance to see -for free- archive footage from across decades of London history.

The van will be at the following locations:

Xmas Lights Switch On, Sutton
Sat 19 Nov 2016, 16:00 – 19:00
Sutton – KinoVan
Trinity Square, London EC3N

Winter Wonderland, Wimbledon
Sun 27 Nov 2016, 12:00 – 18:00
Merton – KinoVan
Wimbledon Station, Wimbledon Hill Road, SW19 7NL

Raynes Park Xmas, Merton
Fri 2 Dec 2016, 15:30 – 19:00
Merton – KinoVan
Raynes Park, London SW20

Christmas Winter Festival, Haringey
Sat 3 Dec 2016, times TBC
Haringey – KinoVan
Tottenham Green, London N15

Bruce Castle – WinterFest, Haringey
Sun 11 Dec 2016, times TBC
Haringey – KinoVan

Click here to find out where the KinoVan will be pitching up next.

The KinoVan can also come to you! Email to book a screening at screenheritage@filmlondon.org.uk

Comment

Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.