There are many things to love about the BFI London Film Festival, but perhaps its most laudable merit is that, at its heart, it is a celebration of the wonderful world of cinema for all devoted film lovers, rather than a showcase of promising titles for film distributors.
It is fitting then that the films chosen to open and close this year’s festival have the sweeping nature of love as their main theme. 360, a modern take on Arthur Schnitzler’s classic play La Ronda from director Fernando Meirelles(City of God) and writer Peter Morgan (The Queen) and with an all-star cast that includes Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz will undoubtedly be a glamorous start to the festival. While The Deep Blue Sea, an adaptation of the celebrated play by Terence Rattigan, will offer the nuanced performances and aspiring musical choices that characterise the work of acclaimed British filmmaker Terence Davies , bringing the festival to an elegant finale.
The other galas and special screenings in this year’s festival cover a diverse range of films. Special mention should be given to two very dissimilar films that may well turn out to be the best features of the year. Michel Hazanvicius’ The Artist is a love letter to silent cinema that has captured the hearts of both filmgoers and critics while Shame marks the second collaboration of director Steve McQueen and actor Michael Fassbinder after the wonderful Hunger in a characteristically unconventional depiction of loneliness and desire.
As welcome as these anticipated films are though, the real joy of attending a festival lies in the discovery of little known cinematic treasures. The name of the director is always a good starting point. This year there will be new films by veteran filmmakers like Aleksandr Sokurov (Faust) and Werner Herzog (Into the Abyss) as well as emerging talents like Paolo Sorrentino (This Must be the Place). Alternatively, you could have a quick look at the plot summary of the film. For horror fanatics there is the French film Last Screening (which promises to be a combination of Cinema Paradiso and Psycho), musical lovers will surely enjoy Hunky Dory ( with versions of songs made famous by Bowie and Nick Drake) while the controversial Asshole that offers a hardcore vision of teenage life in India will be ideal for those for looking for a cutting-edge cinematic experience.
So there it is – a deeply personal, hopefully indicative and surely not definite guide to the upcoming highlights of the 55TH LFF. (Words: Apostolos Kostoulas)
[stextbox id=”custom”]The 55th BFI London Film Festival takes place from October 12 to 27th. For more info about the programme www.bfi.org.uk/lff[/stextbox]