The BFI London Film Festival 2020 is, for obvious reasons, looking a bit different this year. The stars of the film world will not be descending on London in their droves this time round. However, whilst some festivals may have hunkered down for better times, not at the BFI. Whilst this year’s offering is online for the first time ever, the current crisis hasn’t stopped them from branching out as well.
For the first time ever a selection of films will be available to the public in a number of cinemas around the UK. The participating cinemas are:
Barbican Centre, London
BFI Southbank, London
Broadway Cinema, Nottingham
Ciné Lumière, London
Curzon Soho, London
Curzon Mayfair, London
Glasgow Film Theatre, Glasgow
Prince Charles Cinema, London
Queens Film Theatre, Belfast
There is the usual high-quality mix of varied new and exciting cinema from around the world, along with some re-discovered classics; available across the UK on the little and big screens.
We’ve sifted through the programme to identify some of the highlights out for you:
180 Degree Rule
A school teacher from Tehran is preparing to attend a wedding in northern Iran. When her husband suddenly forbids her to go, she makes a choice that will place her on a painful path to atonement.
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
In the shadows of the bright lights of Las Vegas, it’s last call for a beloved dive bar known as the Roaring 20s. Its regulars, a cross section of American life, form a community—tight-knit yet forged in happenstance, teetering between dignity and debauchery, reckoning with the past as they face an uncertain future.
A young man is forced to face past traumas when he embarks on a new relationship, in this remarkable feature debut.
Eyimofe (This Is My Desire)
Tragedy and fate intervene as two Nigerians try to better the lives of their families. It’s a film about two people’s quest for what they believe will be a better life on foreign shores. After Mofe loses his family and Rosa fails to deliver on a promise, their travel plans collapse forcing them to reconsider living abroad. As time passes and wounds heal, they learn the future they desperately seek can be built at home.
Reunited after a 17-year separation, Walter, an Angolan immigrant, is joined in the U.S. by his wife and teenage daughter. Now absolute strangers sharing a one-bedroom apartment, they discover a shared love of dance that may help overcome the emotional distance between them.
Herself follows the story of Sandra, who on the surface of it, is a young Mum struggling to provide her two young daughters with a warm, safe, happy home to grow up in. Beneath the surface, Sandra has a steely determination to change their lives for the better and when it becomes clear that there are no other options left to her, she decides to build it herself from scratch, drawing together a community of friends to support her.
Magdalena sets out on a journey in search of her son, who disappeared en route to the US border. Travelling through the desolate towns and landscapes of today’s Mexico she meets Miguel, a young man recently deported from the United States who is making his way home. The two accompany one another: Magdalena looking for her son, and Miguel eager to see his mother again in a territory where victims and aggressors ramble together.
If It Were Love
Fifteen young dancers of different origins and horizons are on tour with ‘Crowd’, Gisèle Vienne’s epic dance piece exploring the 90’s rave scene. From theatre to theatre, the work mutates into strange, intimate relationships. Is the stage contaminating real life – or the opposite? A disturbing journey exploring our nights, our parties, our loves.
Limbo is an offbeat observation of refugees waiting to be granted asylum on a fictional remote Scottish island. It focuses on Omar, a young Syrian musician who is burdened by the weight of his grandfather’s oud, which he has carried all the way from his homeland.
One Man and His Shoes
One Man and His Shoes tells the story of the phenomenon of Air Jordan sneakers showing their social, cultural, and racial significance and how ground-breaking marketing strategies created a multi-billion-dollar business. But it is also a story with a dark side — manufacturer Nike’s high price tag and genius marketing strategy have fuelled a demand so high that since 1989, young people have killed and been killed for a pair. Nike has turned a blind eye. This film is a parable of America’s dark love affair with consumer capitalism and celebrity culture.
Rose: A Love Story
Rose: A Love Story is the story of a young couple living alone in the woods, who must contend with a life-altering illness that manifests itself in a violent and terrifying way. Rose’s disease is a vampiric, parasitic thirst for blood. As her hunger grows, all humanity seems to give way to a feral violence that harms both her and those around her. Their loving relationship strains under the burden of Rose’s illness, and it is only a matter of time until the secluded life that they have built is upended entirely.
The Shadow Country tells a story of people in a small town of Schwarzwald, dragged by history through the events of 30’s and 40’s of the last century. How to reconcile with killings committed by your own neighbours? How to face growing evil that nobody stands against? What can human will overcome and what is the value of humility and hope?
Striding in the Wind
Kun seems to be messing up pretty much everything: his senior year at Film school, the job on his friend’s graduation’s film and the relationship with his girlfriend. But Kun just got his driving license and with it, the cheapest second-hand car he could find: an old wreck of a Jeep Cherokee that might turn out to be the key to his wildest dreams.
The Painter and The Thief
An artist befriends the thief who stole her paintings. She becomes his closest ally when he is severely hurt in a car crash and needs full time care, even if her paintings are not found. But then the tables turn.
Undine works as a historian lecturing on Berlin’s urban development. But when the man she loves leaves her, the ancient myth catches up with her. Undine has to kill the man who betrays her and return to the water.
These wonderful features, and many more, are joined by a free programme of shorts, talks, panels and events. As well as LFF Expanded, a virtual reality exhibition. To book tickets and discover more, head over to the BFI website.