The 51st Times BFI London Film Festival kicks of next week and here is a preview piece of some of the films which will be playing from October 17th to November 1st.
Eastern Promises is the tale of a London midwife (Naomi Watts) who gets drawn into the world of a Russian criminal gang. Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassell and Armin Mueller-Stahl co-star and David Cronenberg directs from a script by Steven Knight. Engrossing, well acted and shocking in places, it ranks alongside the best of Cronenberg’s considerable body of work.
The Gala screenings are the prestige films that are usually in the mix for the upcoming awards season:
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is not only the film with the longest title in the festival, but it is the hotly anticipated return of Aussie director Andrew Dominik. He directed Chopper in 2000 (which featured a career making performance from Eric Bana) and is now back with what looks like a very interesting western with Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck.
Lust, Caution is the latest from director Ang Lee who continues to shift from genre to genre. After reinventing the Western with Brokeback Mountain, adapting a Marvel comic in Hulk and bringing Mandarin to the masses with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon he is back with this period drama set in Shanghai during World War II. It recently won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival, so it should be intriguing.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was a film that made a lot of waves in Cannes earlier this year. Directed by Julian Schnabel, it is based on the French memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby. It portrays his life after a massive stroke that meant his only way of communicating was through blinking through his left eyelid.
Lions for Lambs has the remarkable acting trio of Robert Redford, Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise in a drama about the current Afghanistan conflict. Redford directs and the film is the first one produced by Cruise since the actor/producer left Paramount and set up shop at MGM to run the new United Artists studio. This screening will be the world premiere.
Silent Light is the new film from Mexican director Carlos Reygadas. It is the story of a forbidden love in the Mennonite community in Northern Mexico. I almost saw this in Cannes back in May, but someone I spoke to who saw it said it was slow and hypnotic. I ended up seeing an unfinished film about vampire Nazis that day, but that story can be told another time.
Sicko is another Cannes favourite and sees the return of Michael Moore to cinema screens after his record breaking 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. This one is a little different in tone as it deals with the financial and human cost of the health care system in the US.
Into the Wild is Sean Penn’s fourth feature film as director and is about the life and death of Christopher McCandless. Played in the film by Emile Hirsch, he dropped out of society in the early 90s in order to live in the Alaskan wilderness.
Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro star in the drama Things We Lost in the Fire, which is directed by Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier. It deals with a widow who invites her husband’s troubled best friend to live with her and her two children after the loss they have suffered.
Gone Baby Gone is a crime drama set in Boston from the Dennis Lehane novel. Adapted and directed by Ben Affleck, it stars Ed Harris, John Ashton and Morgan Freeman. It’s UK theatrical release has been delayed indefinitely because the plot has close echoes of the Madeleine McCann case.
I’m Not There is the latest film from Todd Haynes and sees Cate Blanchett in the unlikely role of Bob Dylan. In fact the film sees 6 different actors play the iconic singer at different stages of his life. Marcus Carl Franklin, Ben Whishaw, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Richard Gere also play him. Haynes and producer Christine Vachon will be in town to present the film.
Juno is the second film from Jason Reitman who made his directorial debut in 2006 with Thank You For Smoking. This sees Ellen Page as a young teenager who has to deal with an unplanned pregnancy by her classmate (Michael Cera). It caused a lot of buzz at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals.
The Darjeeling Limited ends the festival on Thursday 1 November, with director Wes Anderson, actor/screenwriter Jason Schwartzman, producer/screenwriter Roman Coppola and actors Amara Karan and Camilla Rutherford attending. Anderson’s latest is the tale of three brothers (played by Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman) who go on a train ride through India after their father dies.
FILMS ON THE SQUARE
A lot of other notable films will be screening at cinemas in Leicester Square:
John Cusack will join director James C Strouse for Grace is Gone, while the cast of Enchanted: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden will join director Kevin Lima for the UK premiere of this family film.
Tamara Jenkins will introduce The Savages with Laura Linney, who will also be the subject of an onstage Screen Talk, as will Wes Anderson.
Masterclass guest Steve Buscemi will also present the premiere of Interview with Sienna Miller, while Mister Lonely cast Anita Pallenberg, James Fox and Samantha Morton will introduce the film with Harmony Korine, who is also a Masterclass participant.
Paul Greengrass will be the subject of an onstage interview and the recipient of the Variety UK Achievement in Film Award, while the intriguing pairing of David Lynch and Donovan will see the director and singer host a unique evening discussing “meditation, consciousness and creativity”.
Trafalgar Square will play host to a celebration of London as captured on archive films, ablaze on the big screen with live piano accompaniments. Free to all from 18:30 on Thursday 18 October and Friday 19 October, Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail will be screened with Blue Bottles on the first night, whilst Capital Tales on the second evening will offer a whistle-stop tour across more than 100 years of London on film from 1896 onwards.
The high-profile roll call of international directors set to attend the Festival include: Julio Medem (Chaotic Ana), Jan Svĕrák (Empties), Brian de Palma (Redacted), Marjane Satrapi (Persopolis), Michael Moore (Sicko), Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Carlos Reygadas (Silent Light), Rituparno Ghosh (The Last Lear), Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), Salvatore Maira (Valzer) and Brooklyn artist David Gatten (Film for Invisible Ink, Case No:7 Base-Plus-Fog) will present a workshop as well as his latest film works.
There will be other films and events so, so keep checking back here for regular updates.