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.


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.

Sundance London 2018 is nearly here... and women dominate the lineup

The cream of this year's American Sundance Film Festival crop comes to London again, once more in its Picturehouse Central home. The Smoke Screen's appetite is truly whetted by the line-up, having kept an eye on many of the titles since their original festival debut. Some have since gone on to theatrical release and to drown in evenmore acclaim. Two films stand out in particular. The Miseducation of Cameron Post, a wry and empathetic look at an American girl struggling in a gay conversation therapy genre, comes from the mind of Appropriate Behaviour director/writer Desiree Akhavan, and Smoke Screen remains a huge fan of that debut and thus eager for this follow-up, which has garnered great reviews since its original Sundance US appearance. Then there is Ari Aster's Hereditary, a horror film starring Toni Collete that has been lavished with the kind of praise that puts it in The Babadook and Get Out zone of greatness. Collete is expected to attend a Q&A after the screening of the film, for those who haven't passed out in shock from the terror.

The festival will open with the international premiere of Jennifer Fox’s The Tale, starring Laura Dern and Ellen Burstyn, and close four days later with the UK premiere of Leave No Trace, Debra Granik’s highly anticipated follow-up to the Academy Award-nominated Winter’s Bone. Both these films have garnered great reviews stateside.

Sundance has made a point of curating a line-up dominated by female filmmakers this year (7 out of 12 films are female-directed), as well as sprinkling panels and talks into the programme that reflect the current conversations about sex and gender in the American film industry. #Metoo and #Timesup are here to stay. Major UK film funders will join Half the Picture director Amy Adrion for The Big Culture Shift panel to examine what is next for the film industry and the steps needed to create a fairer and more inclusive film future. Triple Threat: Three major filmmakers in conversation will see three of this year's female Sundance filmmakers come together to discuss their careers and approach to their craft.

Sundance Film Festival: London returns to Picturehouse Central from 31 May to 3 June. You can view the programme and book tickets at the Picturehouse Central website.

 The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

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.

From A United Kingdom to Free Fire, Smoke Screen picks ten highlights of London Film Festival 2016

Has it really been a year since the last one? Yes, the London Film Festival is almost upon our fair city again, running across multiple venues from 5-16 October. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online as well as in person at the cinema box offices, and if some events are sold out, remember there are returns/rush queues and multiple screenings of most things at different venues. If you still haven't made your mind up, the Smoke Screen has ten to try...

A United Kingdom

It would be remiss not to mention the festival opening gala film A United Kingdom from director Ama Asante, not least due to the fact its release coincides with the BFI ramping up its Black Star season, which aims to foreground black actors, stories and filmmakers. The film tells the story of Seretse Khama, King of Bechuanaland (modern Botswana) and Ruth Williams, the London office worker he married in 1948 in the face of fierce opposition from their families and the government of the time to interracial marriage. Director Amma Asante comes to this drama following strong reviews for her film Belle. So hot right now star David Oyelowo takes the lead role, with Rosamund Pike playing opposite him.
Audiences around the UK will have the exclusive chance to see Opening Night red carpet footage and interviews with the film’s creators, beamed by satellite into their local cinema and followed by a special preview screening of A United Kingdom.

Tickets will be available via Show Film First from 10am Thursday 29 September on a first come first served basis, and subject to availability.

Free Fire

Cult director Ben Wheatley's Free Fire closes out this year's LFF, and after the uneven High-Rise, he seems to have retreated to a more out-and-out fun project. Tongue is firmly in cheek in this outrageous homage to tough guy movies of the 70s, as two groups of criminals spend 90s minutes trapped in the same warehouse location trying to blow each other to bits. The film went down well at Toronto Film Festival where it recently played, being programmed to run in exactly the strand it was made for: "Midnight Madness".

La La Land

Destined to be a major Oscar contender, director Damian Chazelle's follow up to his acclaimed thriller Whiplash recently grabbed the prestigious audience award at Toronto, its winning combination of having impossibly beautiful stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone attempt amateur song-and-dance shenanigans, against a backdrop laced with tangible nostalgia for films and music styles of old, proving too strong to resist.

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World 

The mercurial adventurer Werner Herzog is back in documentary mode, and what better subject for him to tackle than...the internet. Beyond the more obvious examinations of the degree to which our lives are lived online and governed by advanced technology we don't really understand, expect plenty of left field musings about such pressing questions as: could humans one day marry their intelligent fridges? The legendary Teuton will also be gracing the LFF for a live talk - Herzog will attend the screening on the 13 October at Picturehouse Central in London and the film will be followed by a Q&A going out via satellite broadcast across the UK and Ireland to over 60 participating cinemas. Additionally, tickets will be available to purchase from anywhere within the UK and Ireland for a simultaneous virtual festival premiere of the film. Tickets for UK-wide screenings via individual box offices, and for the Virtual Premiere via loandbeholdfilm.co.uk/watch.

Moonlight

Barry Jenkins' study of masculinity struggling under the constraints of being poor, black and gay has already been reviewed by Smoke Screen, and it deserves all the buzz it has earned already on the festival circuit. A film you will be hearing about for sure throughout the year, and undoubtedly a LFF festival prize contender.

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Zoology

Everyone should try to experience something new and surprising at a film festival, and the Smoke Screen enjoyed taking a chance on this weird-sounding absurdist fable from director Ivan Tverdovsky, which tells the story of a browbeaten middle-aged Russian woman who comes alive for the first time after inexplicably growing a tail. A great central performance from actor Natalia Pavlenkova, and some striking cinematography make this universal tale of exclusion work.

The Wailing

If you are hungering for a fix of Asian genre cinema this LFF, you might want to check out The Wailing from Korean filmmaker Na Hong Jin. A policeman investigating a string of mysterious deaths in a sleepy Korean village finds himself facing an ancient, unimaginable evil. This is the director behind the gritty and well-received thrillers The Chaser and The Yellow Sea, so just imagine what he can do when the supernatural gets added into the mix.

Sieranevada

The Smoke Screen was hugely impressed with Romanian director Cristi Puiu’s magisterial, darkly funny and technically accomplished chamber-work, which throws a dysfunctional family together into a cramped apartment at a wake and tracks the resulting chaos. Read the four-star review here.

Your Name

If you are looking to catch some animation at LFF, you might want to check out this Japanese submission, who's inclusion in the festival competition marks the first time an animated film gets to run for the LFF top prize. Your Name is the work of acclaimed Japanese director Makoto Shinkai, often hailed as a true competitor to the dominant (but now retired) figure of Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki. Two teenagers’ lives are changed forever when the first visible comet for a thousand years approaches Japan. Mitsuha lives in a rural area and longs to leave, whilst Taki waits tables in Tokyo when he’s not studying. Despite never having met, they both begin to dream about each other, imagining that somehow they have exchanged bodies and are existing in parallel lives. As this phenomenon continues, they start communicating with each other via messages left on smartphones and resolve to meet to make sense of what is happening to them. 

LFF Connects Presents: Dennis Muren in conversation.

LFF offers so much more than just films: the relatively new "Connects" strand sees major filmmaking talent sit down for extended discussions live in front of audiences. A whole range of prominent guests are down to attend this year, but surely first among equals is visual effects maestro Dennis Muren, one of the founding members of George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic effects house, who went on craft the visuals of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), to name just a few films. Muren is joined in conversation by David Vickery and Kevin Jenkins from ILM London.

Festival Information & Ticket Booking about LFF 2016

BFI Members’ priority booking opens 10.00am, 8 September - join at www.bfi.org.uk/join 

Public booking opens 10.00am, 15 September

Telephone Bookings: 020 7928 3232 between 10:00 – 20:30

Online: www.bfi.org.uk/lff 

In person: BFI Southbank Office: 11:00 – 20:30

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.

This year's bigger-than-ever London Korean Film Festival will showcase the work of women in Korean cinema

The London Korean Film Festival (LKFF) has unveiled the line-up for its 11th edition, and notably this festival will not only be its longest to date (3 – 27 November) but will be opened by a woman-directed picture for the first time, marking the inclusion of a strand devoted specifically to a comprehensive exploration of women filmmakers throughout Korea's cinematic history.

Opening the festival will be the UK premiere of director Lee Kyoung-mi’s The Truth Beneath on the evening of 3 November at Picturehouse Central, a genre-fusing family drama-come thriller about the missing child of a top Korean politician, from a director who earned her spurs as a scripter and assistant director under Park Chan-wook on his cult hit Lady Vengeance. Yourself and Yours, the 18th film from celebrated director Hong Sang-soo will make its UK premiere at the Closing Gala of the 2016 LKFF at Regent Street Cinema, having just played at the renowned Toronto International Film Festival. In a typically languid, reality-blurring and soju-soaked affair Kim Ju-hyuk, who also features in the opening film The Truth Beneath, plays a painter who wanders the city after a fight with his girlfriend (Lee Yoo-young, Late Spring) and yet can’t escape a likeness of her that appears to be meeting men across the city.  

Special Focus: The Lives of Korean of Korean Women Through the Eyes of Women Directors will feature 11 key works, moving from 1955 with the first ever women-directed film, to Korea's New Wave and new features from this year.

Some of the biggest Korea blockbuster movies of the past year will also get their European and UK premieres in the Hits 2015-2016 strand, including Inside Men, A Violent Prosecutor, Asura: City of Madness and Seoul Station. 

 For more information see the press release here

To download the programme lineup click 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.

September is Scalarama month! Top picks to see in the monthly celebration of cinema going...

 Psychomania, one of the many special screenings showing at this year's Scalarama season

Psychomania, one of the many special screenings showing at this year's Scalarama season

 

Scalarama is an annual DIY Celebration of Cinema, where across London and the wider UK repertory cinemas, film clubs and societies screen a huge variety of films for everyone, by everyone, everywhere, every September. The idea is to celebrate cinemas and cinema-going, whilst encouraging wannabe film programmers and film club regulars to set up their own screenings. Many screenings will be of cult gems, provocative one-offs and unearthed forgotten classics.

You can track the 2016 events in London (and elsewhere) on Screening Film...

Check the Scalarama map here...

What to see at the year's Scalarama:

Video Nightmare VHStival- 9 September, 3pm, Genesis Cinema

A special VIDEO NIGHTMARE all-dayer in the Genesis's Bar Paragon from midday on Friday 9th September, a day to mark the general awesomeness of the videotape.

The Final Girls present Carrie's Bloody Prom Party + Panel talk - 24 September 4pm, ICA

The Final Girls programming duo explore the intersection of horror and feminism, showcasing films which offer up interesting perspectives on women's roles in the horror genre. Appropriately, the Girls will be showing Brian de Palma's cult classic horror flick Carrie on 24 September at the ICA London. Expect an informative panel discussion after.  Also you can read the Smoke Screen's reviews of the Final Girls previous screening of the great, off-kilter slasher Office Killer.

Rochester Kino Presents: Re-Animator = Intro+ Salon Discussion- 15 September, 7pm Genesis Cinema

Rochester Kino screens classic and cult films at various venues including cultural institutes and pop-up settings in London. The events are always introduced by Nick Walker with a brief talk followed by an informal group discussion over refreshments. Rochester Kino’s instalment at Genesis this time is a rare screening of Re-Animator (1985).

A dedicated student at a medical college and his girlfriend become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue when an odd new student arrives on campus.

Reel Good Film Club Presents: Losing Ground - 18 September, 6pm, Genesis Cinema

Reel Good Film Club present a special screening of Losing Ground, followed by a panel discussion. Losing Ground is the first feature-length drama directed by a black American woman. The film follows a philosophy professor (Seret Scott), who prides herself on being liberal but is jealous of her artist husband’s (Bill Gunn) gorgeous model (Maritza Rivera).

Psychomania screening - 25 September at Genesis Cinema, 9pm.

Ahead of its re-release on bluray from BFI Flipside, this little seen black comedy will screen at Scalarama, and is billed as the “greatest, weirdest, post-psychedelic undead-biker zombie-horror movie ever made, and the only one to star Witchfinder General’s Nicky Henson accompanied by screen legends George Sadners, Beryl Reid and Bill Pertwee (aka Hodges from Dad’s Army). Directed by Hammer horror veteran Don Sharp. The film’s score has become something of a must-have item in certain circles.

Out of Print -  6 September, Genesis Cinema, 9pm

A documentary exploring the importance of revival cinema and 35mm exhibition - seen through the lens of the patrons of the New Beverly Cinema - a unique and independent revival cinema in Los Angeles.

Interview with a Vampire screening at the Phoenix Cinema, September 16 at The Phoenix, 9pm

A chance to see Neil Jordan’s hit vampire flick in the glorious Phoenix Cinema in North London, which was actually used as a shooting location in the film.

Chaplin's South London walk and The Immigrant- Cinema Musuem, 24 September 9.45pm

Starting at the Cinema Museum, Oval from 9:45pm on Saturday 24th September, The Beekeepers will retrace the steps of local boy Charles Chaplin, ending up at his boyhood home in Kennington. A projected screening of his acclaimed film The Immigrant will follow.

Want to get involved? With loads of support out there, it has never been a better time to get screening and start dreaming what you would show. For more information or to find local support, email hello@scalarama.com.

On the site, you can...

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.