The BFI London Film Festival returns to its prior pomp for its 65th edition

– A total of 159 features will play at the annual October gathering in the UK’s capital, with 21 of them world premieres

True Things by Harry Wootliff

After a number of global film festivals were able to return to fully-fledged physical editions this year, it is now finally the BFI London Film Festival’s turn. The annual event, this year running October 6-17, is aiming to recover the atmosphere of its pre-pandemic outings, after 2020’s hybrid edition. Select virtual premieres will be hosted on the BFI Player platform, but the majority of public premieres, in-person industry events and press screenings will return (to nab the syntax of James Bond). The festival’s main physical hub is also moving from Leicester Square to London’s Southbank, where gala premieres will instead take place at its 2,000 capacity Royal Festival Hall. Concurrent screenings will beam across the UK at 10 LFF partner venues.

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Of the 21 world premieres, one of the most notable is Sarah Smith and Jean-Philippe Vine’s Ron’s Gone Wrong, a debut feature from the UK-based Locksmith Animation. The opening night film is The Harder They Fall, an American production from Netflix, but directed by the Brit Jeymes samuel; hopes are high for the American Western, featuring a predominantly Black cast that includes Idris Elba | and Regina King. The Closing Night film could be claimed as homegrown, with one William Shakespeare providing the text for The Tragedy of Macbeth, Joel coen’s first solo-directed film, starring multi-Oscar winners Frances McDormand and Denzel Washington.

Other notable galas include European co-productions such as Kenneth Branagh’s awards-tipped Belfast [+see also:
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, Pablo Larrain’s Diana biopic Spencer [+see also:
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, Benedetta [+see also:
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by arch provocateur Paul Verhoeven, and the aforementioned Ron’s Gone Wrong. Competitive strands, chock full of European titles, are the festival’s Official Competition, First Feature Competition and Documentary Competition.

“In early 2020, we set out how we would build on the vibrant established film programme at LFF to expand the festival,” said BFI London Film Festival director Tricia Tuttle. “While we had to adapt those ambitions for the pandemic, we are back in full force this year and you’ll really see that vision played out in the model for the Festival this year.” The festival is planning for all screenings to be 100% capacity by the end of the event, although the partner venue exhibitors will have the final say for their venues. Around 80% of the filmmakers selected are planning to attend: “It’s going to be a busy, buzzy festival, with filmmakers here,” Tuttle further said.

Film London’s two-day Production Finance Market will return to the event, and further international industry executives are confirmed to attend in-person. All further information can be found here.

The selected competition titles are as follows:

Official Competition
BelleMamoru Hosoda (Japan)
The hole [+see also:
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interview: Michelangelo Frammartino
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Michelangelo Frammartino (Italy/Germany/France)
The Hand of God [+see also:
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Paolo Sorrentino (Italy)
NitramJustin Kurzel (Australia)
Hit the RoadPanah Panahi (Iran)
Sundown [+see also:
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Michel Franco (Mexico/France/Sweden)
Lingui, The Sacred Bonds [+see also:
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interview: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Achou…
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Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (France/Chad/Germany/Belgium)
True Things [+see also:
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interview: Harry Wootliff
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Harry Wootliff (UK)

First Feature Competition
The AlleysBassel Ghandour (Jordan/Egypt/Saudi Arabia/Qatar)
Azor [+see also:
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interview: Andreas Fontana
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Andreas Fontana (Switzerland/France/Argentina)
Costa Brava, Lebanon [+see also:
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Mounia Akl (Lebanon/France/Spain/Sweden/Denmark/Norway/Qatar)
Prayers for the Stolen [+see also:
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Tatiana Huezo (Mexico/Germany/Brazil/Switzerland/United States)
The Feast [+see also:
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Lee Haven Jones (UK)
Small Body [+see also:
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interview: Laura Samani
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Laura Samani (Italy/France/Slovenia)
Playground [+see also:
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interview: Laura Wandel
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Laura Wandel (Belgium)
White Building [+see also:
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Kavich Neang (Cambodia/France/China/Qatar)

Documentary Competition
All About My SistersWang Qiong (USA)
Chapter Yar. Context [+see also:
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interview: Sergei Loznitsa
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Sergei Loznitsa (Netherlands/Ukraine)
Becoming CousteauLiz Garbus (USA)
The DancePat Collins (Ireland)
A Cop MovieAlonso Ruizpalacios (Mexico)
Faya DayiJessica Beshir (Ethiopia)
Cow [+see also:
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Andrea Arnold (UK)
Hide and seekVictoria Fiore (UK/Italy)

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