The 63rd BFI London Film Festival takes place in cinemas across the capital between 2-13 October. It’s the UK’s premier showcase of the most exciting new cinema from around the world. This year sees a firm focus on innovative directors, with a competition boasting extraordinary visions. Featuring 229 feature films, including numerous premieres, and 116 shorts, there’s something for everyone.
With a dizzying variety of films on offer, choosing can be a little overwhelming. We’ve picked a few recommendations out which will hopefully tickle your fancy:
From Robert Eggers, the visionary filmmaker behind modern horror masterpiece The Witch, comes this hypnotic and hallucinatory tale of two lighthouse keepers on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.
The Peanut Butter Falcon
The Peanut Butter Falcon is a modern Mark Twain-esque adventure starring Shia LaBeouf as a small-time outlaw turned unlikely coach who joins forces with Zak, a young man with Down Syndrome on the run from the nursing home with the dream of becoming a professional wrestler. Dakota Johnson stars as Zak’s loving, but stubborn, carer.
The Lodge follows twos siblings who are snowed in with Grace, the younger woman that their separated father plans to marry. Just as the kids begin to warm to their stepmother-to-be, events intercede and threaten to dig up psychological demons from Grace’s childhood as a member of a religious cult.
On a faraway Colombian mountaintop, what at first glance looks like a hedonistic summer camp, is actually the setting of a mission: child soldiers with war names must make sure that Doctor, a kidnapped American woman, stays alive. But when a battle approaches and a borrowed milk cow is killed by accident, playtime is over.
On the border of ethnology and fantasy, Bertrand Bonello recounts the destiny of the Haitian Clairvius Narcisse, victim of a voodoo spell that turned him into a zombie. Mixing stories and epochs between Haiti in 1962 and Paris today, between Narcisse, and her aunt, a voodoo priestess.
And Then We Danced
Merab has been training since a young age at the National Georgian Ensemble with his dance partner Mary. His world is suddenly turned upside down when the charismatic and
carefree Irakli arrives and becomes both his strongest rival and desire. In this conservative setting Merab finds himself having to break free and risk it all.
Morfydd Clark plays Maud, a young religious private carer who becomes dangerously fixated with saving the soul of her glamorous patient Amanda.
Teresa comes home to her matriarchal village in a near-future Brazil to find that its citizens have been sold as prey to bloodthirsty foreign hunters.
The Other Lamb
A haunting and nightmarish tale that tells the story of Selah, a young girl born into an alternative religion known as the Flock. The members of the Flock – all women and female are led by one man, known only as Shepherd.
With the words “If you cry, I’ll kill you” ringing in their ears, Alma and her sons are murdered in Guatemala’s armed conflict. Thirty years later, a criminal case is brought against Enrique, a retired general who oversaw the genocide. But he’s acquitted through a mistrial and the spirit of La Llorona is unleashed to wander the world like a lost soul amongst the living.
At night, Enrique starts to hear her wailing. His wife and daughter believe he’s having bouts of Alzheimer’s-related dementia. Little could they suspect that their new housekeeper, Alma, is there to mete out the vengeance the trial did not.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
The latest from French filmmaker Céline Sciamma tells the story of a female painter who, after being sent to an isolated island in Bretagne at the end of the eighteenth century, is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.
Pablo is a 40-year-old married father of 2 wonderful children. A role model and a practicing evangelical Christian, his perfect traditional life begins to crack when he falls in love with a man. Pablo finds his feelings in conflict with beliefs. And his life becomes a hell of repressive intolerance when his family and his church decide to do whatever it takes to “cure him”, forcing Pablo to suppress his urges through therapy.
When seriously ill teenager Milla falls madly in love with small-time drug dealer Moses, it’s her parents’ worst nightmare. But as Milla’s first brush with love brings her a new lust for life, things get messy and traditional morals go out the window. Milla soon shows everyone in her orbit – her parents, Moses, a sensitive music teacher, a budding child violinist, and a disarmingly honest pregnant neighbour – how to live like you have nothing to lose.
The House of Hummingbird
Set against the backdrop of a rapidly expanding Seoul in 1994, a lonely 14-year-old Eun-hee moves through life like a hummingbird searching for a taste of sweetness wherever she may find it. Deprived of attention from her family, she roams the neighborhood with her best friend, attempts romantic relationships with both girls and boys alike and is sent to the hospital with an unclear diagnosis. When Young-ji, a new teacher, arrives, she becomes the first adult Eun-hee feels really understands her.
Only the Animals
Following the disappearance of a woman during a snowstorm, five strangers in a remote mountain town are caught up in a mystery that spans continents and which none of them expected.
A two-year-old girl from Bangkok — nicknamed “Einz” — becomes the youngest person in the world to undergo cryo-preservation. After her death from brain cancer, her family sends the girl’s body to an American lab. Her head and brain now rest in a cryonic tank in Arizona.
Hope Frozen follows the family who made this life-changing decision. The girl’s father, a Ph.D.-holding laser scientist, convinces his family that, who are Buddhist, they should invest their hopes in this controversial technology.
1945, Leningrad. World War II has devastated the city, demolishing its buildings and leaving its citizens in tatters, physically and mentally. Two young women, Iya and Masha, search for meaning and hope in the struggle to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins.
Set in the self-proclaimed state of Transnistria – a country founded on an old Soviet legacy – a group of teenagers plays hide and seek in an abandoned construction site. In stark contrast to their seemingly carefree existence, there is the shadow of the old communist society reminding them of the limits of their possibilities.
Public tickets go on sale on 12 September. To find out more, and book tickets, visit the BFI website.