London Film Festival

Daniel Battsek talk added to Film4’s four at BFI London Film Festival

05 Oct, 2016 Posted in: London Film Festival, Uncategorized

Four Film4 titles have been selected to screen at this year’s BFI London Film Festival, including Closing Night Gala Free Fire, a high octane action thriller from director Ben Wheatley, who will also give a LFF Screen Talk.

Head of Film4 Daniel Battsek will host an onstage conversation with Lady Macbeth director William Oldroyd as part of the LFF industry programme’s ‘Greenlighters’ strand, in which leading film executives discuss a film they love from the Festival programme with its director.

Channel 4’s On Screen Diversity Executive Ramy El-Bergamy will take part in a panel discussion at the LFF Black Star Symposium about the opportunities available to, and the obstacles faced by, black actors in the US and the UK.

Full details of Film4’s slate at the BFI London Film Festival:

Sasha Lane as in American Honey

AMERICAN HONEY (dir. Andrea Arnold)

European Premiere – Special Presentation

Star (Sasha Lane), a teenage girl from a troubled home runs away with a travelling sales crew that drives across the American mid-west selling magazine subscriptions door to door. Finding her feet in this gang of teenagers, one of whom is Jake (Shia LaBeouf), she soon gets into the group’s lifestyle of hard partying, law-bending and young love.


UNA (dir. Benedict Andrews)

European Premiere – Official Competition

When a young woman unexpectedly arrives at an older man’s workplace, looking for answers, the secrets of the past threaten to unravel his new life. Their confrontation will uncover buried memories and unspeakable desires. It will shake them both to the core.



European Premiere – Thrill strand

Three generations of the Cutler family live as notorious outlaws in Britain’s richest countryside. They spend their time hunting, looting and tormenting the police. In the midst of it all, Chad (Michael Fassbender) finds himself torn between respect for his father (Brendan Gleeson) and a desire for a better life for his children. With the law cracking down on his clan, the decision might not be his to make… Music for the film is an original score from The Chemical Brothers.

Ben Wheatley's Free Fire

FREE FIRE (dir. Ben Wheatley)

European Premiere – Closing Night Gala

Massachusetts, late ‘70s. Justine (Brie Larson) has brokered a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two Irishmen (Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley) and a gang led by Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and Ord (Armie Hammer) who are selling them a stash of guns. But when shots are fired in the handover, a heart stopping game of survival ensues. Wheatley’s first US-set action picture is executive produced by Martin Scorsese. 

Kill List by Ben Wheatley

BFI LFF Screen Talk – Ben Wheatley

One of the most dynamic and original voices in contemporary British cinema, Ben Wheatley will give a Festival Screen Talk to discuss his career to date of six films (five of which were backed by Film4), encompassing off-kilter horror masterpiece Kill List, pitch black comedy Sightseers, medieval acid western A Field in England, 2015’s stylish JG Ballard adaptation High-Rise, and this year’s LFF Closing Night Gala Free Fire.


BFI LFF industry event – The Greenlighters: Daniel Battsek & William Oldroyd

As part of a series of conversations at Picturehouse Central in which leading film executives discuss a film at the Festival that they love (but have no connection with) with its director, Head of Film4 Daniel Battsek will discuss Lady Macbeth with William Oldroyd. The talks give a unique insight into the kinds of stories exciting the people with the greenlight power, while giving us a glimpse into the creative processes of some of the world’s most remarkable new filmmakers.


BFI LFF Black Star Symposium – Discussion Panel

Channel 4’s On Screen Diversity Executive Ramy El-Bergamy will take part in a panel discussion at the LFF Black Star Symposium with David Oyelowo, Noel Clarke and Julie Dash about the opportunities available to, and the obstacles faced by, black actors in the US and the UK; the types of roles and the kinds of stories being told; the politics vs the reality of ‘colour-blind casting; and the differences between the film and TV sectors in the respective territories.


Michael Leader’s picks for the London Film Festival 2016

05 Sep, 2016 Posted in: London Film Festival

Free Fire

First, some score settling. My colleague Catherine and I fought over a few of our picks, so let me add my voice to the close harmony of recommendation for Gareth Tunley’s impressive debut psychological drama The Ghoul, as well as express my anticipation for the likes of Prevenge, Raw, Manchester By The Sea, Elle and Toni Erdmann. Now, with that out of the way…

The LFF is so packed with gems this year that, frankly, you could blind-buy a ticket and odds are you’ll hit upon a hotly-tipped festival favourite, cult classic in the making, or delightful deep cut from one of the festival’s expertly curated strands and selections. There’s much to see and enjoy, but to get you started here is an alphabetical handful of my suggestions…

After The Storm, dir. Hirokazu Koreeda

If you ask me, Hirokazu Koreeda is the most consistent filmmaker working today, and After The Storm – which reunites Kirin Kiki and Hiroshi Abe, who previously played mother and son in his 2008 masterpiece Still Walking – continues the director’s winning streak of winsome domestic dramas, joining I Wish, Like Father, Like Son and Our Little Sister.

Certain Women, dir Kelly Reichardt

Movie maths time: Kelly Reichardt + Michelle Williams = something very special indeed. A reunion of the director and star of both Meek’s Cutoff and Wendy & Lucy would be inviting enough, but throw in both Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart, and we have Reichardt’s most formidable ensemble to date, gathered to tell perhaps her most ambitious story, which interweaves the lives of three women in smalltown Montana, taking inspiration from the short stories of American writer Maile Meloy.

City Of Tiny Lights, dir. Pete Travis

After offering strong support alongside Jake Gyllenhaal in 2014’s Nightcrawler, Riz Ahmed is making 2016 count. Star Wars spin-off Rogue One will no doubt catapult him to a new level of stardom, but for now he’s appearing in two films at the LFF: Benedict Andrews’ Film4-backed drama Una and this London-set neo-noir, directed by Dredd’s Pete Travis. Riz fans, rejoice!

David Lynch: The Art Life, dir. John Nguyen / Blue Velvet Revisited, dir. Peter Braatz

It’s not long until David Lynch is back on our (small) screens with the long-awaited third season of Twin Peaks, so LFF are whetting our appetites with a double-dose of documentaries about this one-of-a-kind filmmaker. Blue Velvet Revisited is an archive feature of behind-the-scenes footage from his 1986 masterpiece, while The Art Life is a reflective, intimate bio-doc narrated by the man himself. Don’t make me choose. See both.

Ethel and Ernest, dir. Roger Mainwood

The most personal work of illustrator and bona fide national treasure Raymond Briggs (The Snowman, When The Wind Blows), Ethel And Ernest is a social history of 20th century working class Britain disguised as a gently moving biography of his mother and father. This long-gestating adaptation finally makes it to the big screen, with Brenda Blethyn and Jim Broadbent giving voice to the title characters. A recently-released trailer suggests that it has been worth the wait.

Free Fire, dir. Ben Wheatley

After High-Rise’s skyscraping ambition, Free Fire is a single-location thriller with laser-sharp focus on recreating the shoot-em-up cinema of Sam Peckinpah – with a gun-toting ensemble of glittering contemporary stars, including Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy and Wheatley regular Michael Smiley. Don’t miss Wheatley’s Screen Talk the day before Free Fire’s premiere for a chance to hear directly from the straight-shooting, and refreshingly candid, filmmaker himself.

Further Beyond, dirs. Justine Molloy & Joe Lawlor

This curious essay film, screening in the Experimenta strand, stars Aidan Gillen as an actor recreating the journey of an Irish-born Spanish colonialist from Ireland to Chile. Mister John, the last collaboration between Gillen directors Justine Molloy and Joe Lawlor, was something of a cult gem on release in 2013 – Further Beyond seems destined for similar status.

Lake Bodom, dir. Taneli Mustonen

Fans of extreme Finnish metal band Children of Bodom will already be familiar with the enduring urban legend surrounding the grisly, unsolved murders of a group of teenagers at Lake Bodom in 1960. Taneli Mustonen’s film takes inspiration from this cultural touchstone, as a gang of modern-day teens visit the infamous lake to get to the bottom of the mystery. What sounds like a great riff on 80s slashers, though, might in fact be more surprising; BFI Cult strand programmer Michael Blyth writes that Lake Bodom ‘delights in slaying expectations and slicing up conventions’.

Mifune: The Last Samurai, dir. Steven Okazaki

Possibly the most recognisable Japanese actor in the world, thanks to his ongoing collaboration with director Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune is the sort of cinematic titan who surely should have had a career-spanning bio-doc by now. So, in steps director Steven Okazaki – a filmmaker with a certain heft, better known for documentaries grappling with Japanese and Japanese American experiences in the Second World War – to tell the story of this unique and formidable talent. I suspect this will be a little more nourishing than your standard talking-head fare.

A Monster Calls, dir J.A. Bayona

J.A. Bayona may now be ‘the director who brought you The Impossible’, but I’ll always remember him for the Guillermo Del Toro-produced Spanish gothic horror The Orphanage. Before he goes off to direct the next Jurassic Park movie, Bayona might have just made his Pan’s Labyrinth – an adaptation of Patrick Ness’s best-selling fantasy novel about a young boy who befriends a monstrous yew tree, voiced by Liam Neeson.

My Life As A Courgette, dir. Claude Barras

A serious contender for my film of the year, this French-Swiss stop-motion animation, adapted from a children’s novel about an orphan adjusting to life in a group home, is guaranteed to melt the coldest of hearts. If you see one film at the LFF this year, I’d recommend this one.

The Red Turtle, dir. Michaël Dudok de Wit

If you’re still in mourning over Studio Ghibli’s production hiatus following Hayao Miyazaki & Isao Takahata’s retirement from feature filmmaking, here’s the perfect tonic. The Red Turtle, the feature debut from Oscar-winning Belgian animator Michaël Dudok de Wit, not only shares some of Studio Ghibli’s pet themes (chiefly, man vs nature), it also features the names of co-producer Toshio Suzuki and ‘artistic producer’ Isao Takahata in its credit block.

Trespass Against Us, dir. Adam Smith

An assured and accomplished feature debut from Adam Smith, Trespass Against Us is by turns a thrilling crime caper and a melancholic portrait of a waning way of life, as a generation gap forms between father and son in a brood of outsider outlaws. The starry cast – Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Sean Harris – may be the draw, but this is a showcase for Smith, who skilfully balances volatile family drama and hair-raising car-chase set-pieces.

The Wailing, dir. Na Hong-Jin

Part crime procedural, part supernatural nightmare, this genre-bending thrill-ride from director Na Hong-Jin (The Yellow Sea) is an exhilarating and exhausting exercise in cinematic gaslighting. Nothing in the LFF lineup is like this: prepare yourself for 156 minutes jam-packed with creepy goings-on, cacophonic shaman rituals and bizarre narrative twists. Oh, and wailing. So much wailing.

We Are X, dir. Stephen Kijak

I bang on about the LFF’s superlative selection of music documentaries every year, and 2016′s most eye-catching offering in the Sonic strand is Stephen Kijak’s intimate dive into the extravagant and tumultuous history of glam rockers – and visual kei pioneers – X Japan. Expect this to sit perfectly in a double bill with Sacha Gervasi’s Anvil! The Story of Anvil in years to come.

Your Name, dir. Makoto Shinkai

Japanese animation is often given short shrift by the UK theatrical scene, but you can always trust the LFF to give anime a much-deserved big screen showcase. Director Makoto Shinkai now joins the likes of Studio Ghibli and Mamoru Hosoda in the LFF anime canon, but with a welcome and remarkable twist: this emotionally-charged tale of boy-bodyswaps-with-girl is the first animated film, period, to appear in the festival’s Official Competition selection.

Catherine Bray’s picks for the London Film Festival 2016

Sacha Lane stars in Andrea Arnold's American Honey

Sacha Lane stars in Andrea Arnold’s American Honey

This year, narrowing down my list of picks from the London Film Festival’s stellar line up has proven even more difficult than usual – there’s such a wealth of potential riches in the 2016 line-up. My colleague Michael has also contributed his picks, so for more top choices, click here – as usual, we’ve had to fight it out over some titles. Here are the 19 I managed to bag – in alphabetical order…

All This Panic, dir. Jenny Gage

I’m a sucker for an intimate coming-of-age movie, and All This Panic, which arrives in London with great buzz out of Tribeca, is exactly that in observational documentary form, filmed over three years in Brooklyn and focusing on two sisters, Ginger and Dusty, as they navigate the perils of high school politics and teen angst.

American Honey, dir. Andrea Arnold

When Andrea Arnold’s freewheeling road movie (which embeds us within a motley crew of young drifters as they travel the US scratching a living) premiered at Cannes, I was expecting many things, but not a show-stopping scene in a supermarket set to Rihanna’s We Found Love. For that – and other reasons – I can’t wait to revisit.

Divines, dir. Houda Benyamina

Divines snuck up on me. To begin with, it felt like a fairly unremarkable girls-in-the-hood yarn, but as the characters bedded in, I found myself swept up in the energy and emotion of the piece. I’m keen to see if a second viewing can replicate that rush.

Elle, dir. Paul Verhoeven

Of all the films on my list, this is the one. This is the one that I have an urgent need to re-watch which amounts to an almost physical itch. Tough, dangerous, funny, graceful, horrifying, mischievous, mortifying, it flies along on one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from Isabelle Huppert – or indeed anyone else. (Bonus content: there’s also a Paul Verhoeven ScreenTalk scheduled – expect provocations.)

La La Land, dir. Damien Chazelle

The raves greeting the world premiere of La La Land at the Venice Film Festival suggest that Damien Chazelle has not only equalled his breakout hit Whiplash, but may actually have surpassed it. Throw an appealing cast into the mix in the form of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone and this could be one of the LFF’s most satisfying offerings.

Lady Macbeth, dir. William Oldroyd

Word has it that Lady Macbeth is the film that will elevate the likeable Florence Pugh to the status of bona fide star, in what is reportedly a thrillingly effective period drama driven by passion and infidelity.

LFF Connects: Television – Black Mirror
Black Mirror is one of the most exciting small screen shows of the past five years, so I’m raring to see creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones, plus Joe Wright (who directs the first episode of the new series), discuss the dystopian series live.

Manchester by the Sea, dir. Kenneth Lonergan

Starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler, Manchester By The Sea is only Kenneth Lonergan’s third film as a director. Following on from the lush epic that was Margaret, if it’s even half as good as that film, it will be well worth your time.

Mindhorn, dir. Sean Foley

Julian Barratt is MI5 Special Operative Bruce Mindhorn, who has a super-advanced optical lie detector in place of his left eye, enabling him to literally “see the truth.” Sold.

Nocturnal Animals, dir. Tom Ford

Whether you loved or loathed director Tom Ford’s glossy high-end commercial aesthetic in A Single Man, Nocturnal Animals will be worth a watch. An adaptation of Tony & Susan, a strange and compelling art house page-turner of a novel, the book’s meta-textual thriller structure should provide Ford’s visual flourishes with a more robust underlying skeleton.

Planetarium, dir. Rebecca Zlotowski

Rebecca Zlotowski’s Grand Central was a memorable Un Certain Regard entry for me in 2013, with scorching hot chemistry between leads Tahar Rahim and Léa Seydoux. Her follow-up, Planetarium, was anticipated as a likely Cannes entry this year and didn’t make an appearance, so I’m now extra curious to see what a combination of Natalie Portman, Lily-Rose Depp and supernatural shenanigans in pre-war France can offer up.

Prevenge, dir. Alice Lowe

Dating back to Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, Alice Lowe has always been a talent to watch, but the electrifying response from those who’ve already seen her directorial debut about a pregnant serial killer in which she also stars suggests she’s about to take it to a whole new level…

Raw, dir. Julia Durcournau

This is one I’ve already seen, but am chomping at the bit to see again. Grisly cannibal horror meets campus hijinks in a Suspiria-esque hermetically-sealed universe, where logic bends and warps as a freshman student finds herself acquiring a taste for human flesh. A must-see.

Safari, dir. Ulrich Seidl

After training an unflinching lens on the frequently bizarre goings on in Austrian basements in off-beat doc In The Basement, Ulrich Seidl brings his darkly humorous formality and impeccable composition to the world of big game trophy hunting, in what is likely to be one of the most upsetting watches of the festival.

The 13th, dir. Ava DuVernay

Tracing the history of racial prejudice in the US justice system, Ava DuVernay’s The 13th couldn’t be tackling a more timely subject. The title refers to the 13th amendment, which supposedly outlaws slavery, but contains the notable get out clause: “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”

The Autopsy of Jane Doe, dir. André Øvredal

A corpse is perfectly preserved on the outside – but inside, is dissected and burned in a possibly ritualistic mutilation. It’s a grisly, gripping set-up that evokes small screen procedurals like Hannibal, a show I’ve still yet to find an effective replacement for in my TV viewing. Perhaps this will do the trick.

The Ghoul, dir. Gareth Tunley

A splendidly twisty low-budget head-scratcher from actor-turned-writer-director Gareth Tunley, The Ghoul is an auspicious debut that announces a new voice in British filmmaking. Get in on the ground floor and catch his debut now.

Toni Erdmann, dir. Maren Ade

This three hour German comedy came completely out of the left field for me when I saw it in May. There’s very little about it on paper that hints at quite how glorious, moving and funny it is – it’s a real one-off, with everything from broad comic set-pieces to heart-wrenching father-daughter bonding. Essential.

Una, dir. Benedict Andrews

After her performance in Carol last year, I will watch literally anything with Rooney Mara in, but it doesn’t hurt that the Film4-backed Una also stars the ever-brilliant Ben Mendelsohn and is based on the acclaimed play Blackbird.


Michael Leader’s 20 LFF 2015 recommendations

Site Editor Michael Leader rounds out our team’s picks for this year’s London Film Festival…

This time last year, I picked a mixture of already-seen and the dying-to-see from the LFF’s 2014 line-up. This time around, I’ve seen far fewer festival favourites – but therein lies the excitement of perusing the LFF’s all-you-can-eat buffet of 2015’s buzziest films. I’ll be gorging on many more come October, but for now here are 20 that I wouldn’t dare miss.


35mm: The Quays Meet Christopher Nolan

Stephen & Timothy Quay are hugely influential and widely respected in animation circles but, unlike their stop-motion contemporaries (think Jan Švankmajer, Nick Park and Henry Selick), they still sit outside of mainstream appreciation of the artform. These restored prints of their shorts In Absentia, The Comb and Street Of Crocodiles, screening alongside a short, eight-minute documentary about the brothers’ methods directed by Christopher Nolan, will be a sure-fire delight whether or not you’re familiar with the Quays’ distinctive work. [Buy tickets]

Elephant Days

The Maccabees’ behind-the-record film Elephant Days isn’t so much up my street as literally shot down my street, reportedly serving as a documentary portrait of the much maligned Elephant & Castle area of South London, which I’ve called home since 2009. The Elephant’s appeared on screen in the past as a forbidding backdrop for inner-city terror (at best, Attack The Block; at worst, Harry Brown); a more personal take on the neighbourhood is long overdue. [Buy tickets]


Elstree 1976

I love Star Wars, but not as much as I love documentaries about people who haven’t so much had a brush with fame, as stood in proximity to it (such as music docs Anvil and Mistaken For Strangers). Jon Spira’s film combines the two to introduce us to ten performers who played bit parts in George Lucas’s blockbusting sci-fi adventure, which should offer a much-needed respite from the relentless hype-train for Episode VII. [Buy tickets]


Francois Truffaut’s landmark series of candid interviews with Alfred Hitchcock, published as Le Cinéma selon Alfred Hitchcock in 1967 (afterwards translated into English as Hitchcock/Truffaut), is one of my go-to film books, and it sounds like Kent Jones’ documentary – which features filmmakers including Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, David Fincher and Martin Scorsese – serves as both a fitting companion to the book, and an effective illustration of Hitchcock’s enduring influence. [Buy tickets]

I Am Belfast

No doubt one for fans of Chris Petit, Andrew Kotting and Patrick Keiller, the latest from Story Of Film director/critic Mark Cousins is a ‘metaphorical essay’ about his hometown, which recasts Belfast as a 10,000 year old lady with a rich and complex history, complete with archive footage, a soundtrack by composer David Holmes (Hunger, ‘71), and cinematography from Christopher Doyle (In The Mood For Love, Hero). [Buy tickets]

In Jackson Heights

After last year’s National Gallery, seasoned documentarian Frederick Wiseman returns with a look at one of New York’s most diverse neighbourhoods, observing the everyday life of a population that speaks 167 languages. Wiseman’s patient filmmaking style isn’t for everyone – his films are rarely under three hours long, and In Jackson Heights is no exception – but the texture and detail found in his work are second to none. [Buy tickets]

The Invitation

I’m expecting to spend most of my time at the LFF gleefully devouring the dark genre delights in the Cult selection (check out the full line-up here), but I’m most excited to see The Invitation, directed by Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body) – a slowburn chamber piece that wrests tension, paranoia and anxiety out of the most simple of social engagements: the dinner party. [Buy tickets]

Janis, Little Girl Blue

Every year, the LFF’s Sonic strand delivers a strong selection of music documentaries, and 2015’s line-up is no different, judging by the inclusion of Danny Says, a portrait of Ramones manager and ‘pop culture Zelig’ Danny Fields; Sacha Jenkins’ hip-hop fashion doc Fresh Dressed and, most notably, this comprehensive look at the life and music of Janis Joplin, directed by Oscar nominee Amy Berg (West Of Memphis). [Buy tickets]

Listen To Me Marlon

Continuing the trend set by the likes of Amy and Cobain: Montage Of Heck, this bio-doc from director Stevan Riley (Fire In Babylon, Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story Of 007) sets its sights on another inscrutable icon, the legendary Marlon Brando, offering an intimate portrait through the actor’s personal archive of audio recordings, encompassing everything from press interviews and business meetings to hypnosis and therapy sessions. [Buy tickets]

The Lobster

Yorgos Lanthimos’ deft, deliciously twisted, yet ultimately moving satire on the culture of coupledom bagged the Jury Prize at Cannes in May, and finally makes it way to the UK as the LFF’s Dare Gala. This deadpan, dystopian drama, featuring a stellar cast including Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman, is like no other film in the selection: an oddball treat for romantics with a perverse sense of humour. [Buy tickets]



Johnnie To, the king of stylish Hong Kong cinema, gathers an all-star cast (headed by Chow Yun Fat) for this lavish adaptation of co-writer and cast member Sylvia Chang’s play Design For Living. Whether they are gangster movies (Drug War), romantic thrillers (Blind Detective) or, in this case, white-collar workplace musicals, To’s films always dazzle with eye-popping costumes and production design that beg to be seen on the big screen. [Buy tickets]

Our Little Sister

I’m a fully paid-up member of the Hirokazu Kore-eda fan club (interviewing the man himself at the LFF two years ago was a festival highlight), so I’m already on board with this adaptation of a manga series about three sisters taking in a younger half-sister after their father dies. Expect the gentlest of gentle dramas, light on incident yet full of heart. [Buy tickets]


Park Lanes

Part of the fun of festivals is seeing films you almost certainly won’t find elsewhere. This year’s “Least likely to show up in your local Cineworld” prize goes to Kevin Jerome Everson’s Park Lanes, an eight hour long recreation (take that, Wiseman) of one day in the life of a factory that manufactures bowling alley equipment, which promises to offer an epic, intimate insight into the drudgery and social interactions at the heart of the American workplace. [Buy tickets]


Public House

Another South London story, Sarah Turner’s documentary reportedly bends genre conventions to tell the tale of the Ivy House in Nunhead, which was earmarked for redevelopment until the locals rallied around this pillar of the community, eventually turning it into ‘London’s first co-operatively-owned pub’. [Buy tickets]

Queen Of Earth

Frankly, I haven’t yet come to terms with the end of Mad Men. The only consolation is seeing Elisabeth Moss flourish on the big screen (see 2014’s sci-fi-tinged relationship drama The One I Love). This psychological drama, her second collaboration with writer-director Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip), opened recently in the States and was greeted with uniformly positive reviews, praising in particular Moss’s performance as a woman on the verge of an emotional breakdown after a series of life-changing events. [Buy tickets]

The Room--(None)


I’m intrigued to see how Emma Donoghue’s award-winning novel, told from the juvenile perspective of a boy brought up in captivity, will translate from page to screen, but what a dream team to handle the transition: director Lenny Abrahamson (Frank, What Richard Did), Donoghue herself writing the screenplay, and Brie Larson in the lead role of a young woman striving to create a semblance of family life in the midst of a Fritzl-like confinement. [Buy tickets]

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Todd Haynes: Screen Talk

It’s hard to believe that Todd Haynes has only directed six feature films in his near 30-year career, most recently ending an eight-year break from the big screen with the instant-classic Carol. It will be a rare pleasure to hear him look back his small, perfectly-formed body of work, as well as his award-winning shorts and television work, in the LFF’s ever-fascinating Screen Talk strand. [Buy tickets]

When Marnie Was There

Studio Ghibli alert! The legendary Japanese animation house’s first appearance in the LFF line-up since The Cat Returns in 2003 comes with a bittersweet aftertaste, since this gentle gem from Arrietty director Hiromasa Yonebayashi is, for now, Ghibli’s final release – so treasure it while you still can. [Buy tickets]

The Witch

Robert Eggers’ Sundance prize-winning Puritan-era horror became a must-see for me after David Ehrlich, in his fevered Time Out rave, called it “A jaw-droppingly bold gift from God… A major horror event on par with recent festival sensations like Kill List and The Babadook”. A creepy-as-hell trailer, released last month, cemented the deal. [Buy tickets]

Yakuza Apocalypse

I could easily pick out any of the LFF Cult strand’s Japanese Contingent (boasting new films from directors Hideo Nakata and Sion Sono) but I’ll plump for the latest from professionally-prolific powerhouse Takashi Miike: a vampire/mobster mash-up that’s sure to fit comfortably alongside his craziest work. [Buy tickets]

LFF 2013 Shorts Highlights

21 Oct, 2013 Posted in: Festivals, London Film Festival, Short films

As the London Film Festival wraps for another year, Anthony Ing rounds up five highlights from the extensive short film programme on offer across different programming strands. Also screened at the LFF was Peep Show writer Jesse Armstrong’s Film4-backed short No Kaddish In Carmarthen, but rather than include that here, we’ve interviewed Jesse about his move into the world of directing – click here to read the Q&A.



Daybreak (Éclat Du Jour) – Dir Ian Lagarde

In an affluent Montreal suburb, a group of kids on the edge of adolescence ride around on bicycles, unsure of what to do with themselves. Disguised as a pre-teen love story for the first few minutes, Daybreak quickly spirals into something far less wholesome, as the pack are invited into their friend’s house and collectively tear it apart from the inside. As our lead boy and girl lock eyes across the carnage, they make their move to escape. There might be some romance in it somewhere, but it’s buried under some seriously disturbing child-violence.


Getting On

Getting On – Dir Ewan Stewart

Shot in black and white, and narrated with a gorgeous Glaswegian accent, a fictional housewife recounts her day’s routine. No detail is left unspoken as she recalls every word she exchanged with her husband and kids before they left the house, and precisely what she cooked them for breakfast. Faces are mostly hidden, as the camera devotes most of its attention to the little things: door knobs, sausages and cups of tea. It’s a strangely captivating experience, and one that it pays to stick with, as an unexpected visitor arrives and turns the narrative on its head. To say any more would be spoiling things.


More Than Two Hours

More Than Two Hours (Bishtar Az Do Saat) – Dir Ali Asgari

While shorts are often used as calling cards designed to showcase the talents of their creators, many have resonance in their own right. This is particularly true of More Than Two Hours, which follows the grueling plight of an unmarried Iranian woman unable to receive medical attention for her internal bleeding. Nurses repeatedly deny her surgery and even threaten to call the police because her state indicates a recent act of fornication (a criminal offence in Iran). Filmed in an appropriately matter-of-fact way, this powerful Palme d’Or nominated short could feasibly accompany a campaign for women’s rights in the Middle East, or, at the very least, promote awareness.




Mystery (Misterio) – Dir Chema García Ibarra

Echoing the style of Giorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth, Mystery is amusing and disconcerting in equal measure. Set in an unspecified part of rural Spain, a group of women gossip about an unusual occurrence affecting their community: communication from the Virgin Mary via the back of a man’s neck. Devoted wife and mother Trini queues up to experience this phenomenon firsthand, and is consequently prompted to abandon her family. Winner of the Prix UIP at Berlin International Film Festival, director Chema García Ibarra blends otherworldly notions with the banality of everyday living, to devastating effect. He should be shooting feature-length films in no time.


The Phone Call

The Phone Call – Dir Mat Kirkby

Re-invoking the warmth of her character in Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky, Sally Hawkins stars in The Phone Call as Heather, a Crisis Centre phone operator desperately trying to talk a caller out of suicide. In a suspenseful, emotional showdown, lonely pensioner ‘Stanley’ (voiced by Jim Broadbent) calmly expresses the reasons for his decision, but threatens to hang up the phone every time Heather tries to change his mind. Heartfelt performances and a convincing script make up for a somewhat sentimental ending – which may or may not involve the ghost of Stanley’s dead wife…