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

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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.

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.

zoology-01.jpg

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

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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.

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...

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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.

London Film Festival 2016 programme revealed

 Free Fire

Free Fire

Has it come around again already? London's premiere film festival - the BFI London Film Festival - unveiled its 2016 edition this morning. The Smoke Screen is already devouring it and will be publishing a 'top ten to see' later this month before the festival proper. But you can read the entire programme here.

Already revealed were the opening and closing films. The festival opens with Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom, the true story of Seretse Khama, King of Bechuanaland (modern Botswana), and Ruth Williams, the London office worker he married in 1947 in the face of fierce opposition from their families and the British and South African governments. The European premiere of the film, which stars David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike, will be on Wednesday 5 October at the Odeon Leicester Square, attended by cast and filmmakers with Asante, David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike expected on the red carpet. There will be a live cinecast from the London event and simultaneous screenings taking place at cinemas across the UK.A UNITED KINGDOM is directed by Asante (Belle) from a screenplay by Guy Hibbert (Eye in the Sky), based on the book Colour Bar by Susan Williams.  

 A United Kingdom

A United Kingdom

Closing the festival is a gala screening of Free Fire - Ben Wheatley (High-Rise, Sightseers) returns with this all-guns-blazing bullet opera, starring Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy and Armie Hammer.

Interestingly, the festival's competition line up will include a Japanese animated film for the first time, as Makoto Shinkai's (The Garden of Words, Journey to Agartha, 5 Centimeters per Second and The Place Promised in Our Early Days) animated body-swapping drama Your Name is booked to play, having had big box office success in its home country.

This LFF will also continue with the LFF Connects series of talks and interviews, bringing in talent from various media industries to discuss their work in front of audiences. The Dark Knight and Inception director Christopher Nolan was the premiere guest at last year's LFF talks. This year sees eight-time Oscar® winner Dennis Muren, the effects master responsible for so many iconic effects in the history of cinema including the original Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, joining the LFF Connects line up. Joining Muren will be David Vickery and Kevin Jenkins from the two-year-old Industrial Light and Magic VFX London studio. Also booked are Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones, co-creators of the hit dystopian sci-fi TV series, Black Mirror.

The 60th BFI London Film Festival takes place from Wednesday 5 October-Sunday 16 October 2016. The full Festival programme will be announced on Thursday 1 September 2016.

 

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.