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Saturday, 3 September 2016

60th BFI London Film Festival Launch


60 years of the LFF! They say diamonds are a girls best friend and, whoever they may be, when it comes to the line up for this years London Film Festival it isn't just the ladies that are being treated..
BFI Southbank and Clare Stewart is an exhausted but happy lady and she has every right to be. As Festival Director she is tasked with putting a London Film Festival program together that celebrates the best that cinema has to offer. Its a task that I do not envy her and yet at the same time I do! She is responsible for putting together what I believe will come to be regarded as one of, if not the, best Festival Line up since the festival was birthed. It's a monstrous cliche but there really is something for everyone and with nearly 300 films being shown at multiple screens around the Capital you will need to pick your films with surgical precision.

I am not one to get particularly excited by a film trailer as I have found so often that disappointment can be so easily experienced when you buy into those tantalising images. A trailer is the films sales pitch, its opening gambit, in a courtship that can last for months. Neither do I hold much store by what the critics love or hate, they are not me and what I consider makes a good film is very much down to me. It's a very personal thing! I love Film Festivals because in a very short space of time you can always find something that you would never have normally seen or heard of that will totally capture your heart. When you add to the heady brew the opportunity of catching a Q and A with talented Directors and cast after the film and you can see why LFF is the most anticipated Festival in my calendar. The BFI are deeply engaged in the support and promotion of awesome cinema and, whether you are working in the film industry or a rabid film lover, waiting for them to announce the Festival line up is just tantalising.


Anyway, enough with the gushy and emotional rhetoric, I wanted to highlight a few of the films that I will be booking to see. Amma Asante is an outstanding British Director and Screen Writer so it is entirely fitting that her latest film is given the Opening Night Gala honours. A United Kingdom is a stunning film which surely will mark career highs for both David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike. Based on a true story, it is a love story that plays out against the backdrop of a world torn apart by racial hatred and apartheid. How strong does love have to be when nations and government's range themselves against it? Ben Wheatley's Free Fire stands as an equally breathtaking but polar opposite cinematic offering and ends the Festival at its closing gala.Wheatley enjoyed huge acclaim last year with the premier of High Rise and will no doubt hope to repeat that achievement this year. Free Fire stars Cillian Murphy and Brie Larson in a high octane thriller with the trade mark dark Wheatley sense of humour that I absolutely love.

Arrival is a visually stunning science fiction film which will lift its star, Amy Adams, to even high career peaks. Carrying at its centre the theme of communication and celebrates humanity in all its complexity and beauty. Rarely have I experienced a trailer that literally leaves me gasping for breath but I found myself unable to form words after seeing Arrival. See for yourself here but Arrival is Festival sponsors, Royal Bank of Canada, chosen Gala film and I shall be booking tickets as soon as booking opens. A Monster Calls is the latest film from Director JA Bayona (The Impossible, The Orphanage) and seems likely to develop Bayona's reputation for visually beautiful cinema but at the same retaining a deep, emotional connection. I really enjoy films that bring together elements of fantasy with reality and A Monster Calls seems a safe choice to deliver.


The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a occultic horror film with a vicious twist and when a film with that premise stars Brian Cox it demands to be seen. When it is delivered by Andre Ovredal (Troll Hunter) you can be guaranteed an experience from a director that understands the horror genre but it also not afraid to deviate from well worn paths. Alice Lowe's first feature, Pre Venge will be worth seeing and the premise of a murderous mother who is driven by her unborn child, intrigues me. JJ Abrahams fan motivated 4k uplift of the 80's cult horror classic Phantasm will not be missed either, you cant beat The Tall Man! It serves as a wonderful tribute to Angus Scrimm who sadly died earlier this year. Finally, my love of classic horror will be indulged with the loving tribute to monster horror and retro terror. The Void looks promising as it is helmed by Jeremy Gillespie who will be known as a contributing element of Astron- 6 (Manborg and Father's Day)

With films fitting into the festival strands of Love, Debate, Laugh, Dare, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Sonic, Family, Treasures and Experimenta, LFF have provided film lovers with an embarrassement of riches. With the addition of talks and Q and A from industry experts that span all the disciplines it has never been easier to get behind what makes the film making world such an exciting and fulfulling place to inhabit. The London Film Festival team have worked tirelessly in producing a line up that manages to demonstrate their deep and immeasurable love of cinema. In a time when there is so much uncertainty about Brexit and funding streams, London Film Festival provides a welcome breath of fresh creative air and a powerful antidote to the destructive cyncism that walks abroad.

The 60th BFI London Film Festival runs from 5th October to 16th October. You can check out the full program here


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