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BFI 59th London Film Festival

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Opening Night Gala

Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane, Village at the End of the World) returns to the festival with an intense drama that traces the story of the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement.
Director Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane, Village at the End of the World) returns to the Festival with an intense drama that traces the story of the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement as they fought for the right to vote. Maud (Carey Mulligan) has worked hard and exploitative hours in the same factory job since she was a girl; her only respite is the affection of her husband (Ben Whishaw) and their sweet young son. When her deepening friendships with fellow worker Violet (Anne-Marie Duff) and activist Edith Ellyn (Helena Bonham Carter) fuel her sense of injustice, she commits to the suffrage cause. Maud joins at the same time that the movement becomes more radical and violent, spurred on by the rousing leadership of Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep) and in reaction to the increasingly hostile interventions of the state. In joining the fight for equality, she unites with women who risk their jobs, their homes, their children and their lives. Gavron and award-winning writer Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady, Shame) make strong and decisive dramatic choices by giving presence to the women that history remembers – Pankhurst and Emily Davison (Natalie Press) – while pivoting the story on an everywoman whose experience stands in for the many activists whose names have been lost, but whose actions have prevailed. Mulligan is transfixing in the central role, bringing vulnerability and strength to a character whose story is both heartbreaking and inspirational. Universal in its themes, yet London-specific in setting, this is the first British film for which the Houses of Parliament opened its doors as a location. With the centennial of women garnering the vote in the UK approaching, the time to remember suffrage is definitely now.

Clare Stewart
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Closing Night Gala

With Danny Boyle’s exhilarating direction, Aaron Sorkin’s incisive screenplay, and Michael Fassbender’s scorching performance, Steve Jobs is virtuosic filmmaking.
With Danny Boyle’s exhilarating direction, Aaron Sorkin’s incisive screenplay, and Michael Fassbender’s scorching performance, Steve Jobs is virtuosic filmmaking – cinema at its most dynamic and transportive. Working from Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography and employing a wholly innovative narrative structure built around three seminal product launches – the Macintosh in 1984, the NeXT Cube in 1988, and the iMac in 1998 – Boyle’s film is the enthralling story of the iconoclast at the epicentre of the digital revolution. Sorkin (The Social Network, Moneyball) has delivered both a portrait of a heretofore unknowable protagonist, and a penetrating look at what it takes to create change – in Jobs’ case, change so ground-breaking it would revolutionise how we communicate with one another. These product launches are the high-stakes settings that illuminate Jobs’ world – through rapid-fire dialogue and spur-of-the-moment decision-making, with his perfect foil: marketing chief of Macintosh, Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet). The furious pace, switching between public and personal spheres, also works as a constant reminder of the competing demands on Jobs’ world, and the impact these have on his interactions with fellow Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), and Jobs’ ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston). Fassbender’s intelligence and kinetic energy magnify the brilliance of the man and highlight his foibles and insecurities, while Winslet is riveting as Hoffman, the woman who not only matches Jobs’ pace but challenges him in the ways no one else will or can. Boyle returns to close the Festival for the third time – following Slumdog Millionaire (2008) and 127 Hours (2010) – with a film that is as breathtaking and daring in its form as it is brilliant and thrilling in its portrayal of one of the most transformative figures of our times.

Clare Stewart
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Galas



Join us on the red carpet for our Gala screenings and special presentations.
People who added this item 436 Average listal rating (303 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.2
American Express® Gala

Todd Haynes presents an intoxicating and immaculate adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s beloved novel.

Cinema at its most intoxicating and immaculate, Todd Haynes’ Carol is a deeply romantic, emotionally honest love story about two women who courageously defy the suffocating conformities of mid-century America. Therese (Rooney Mara) is an aspiring photographer, working in a Manhattan department store where she first encounters Carol (Cate Blanchett), an alluring older woman whose marriage is breaking down. Ambushed by their sudden attraction, the two women gravitate toward each other despite the threat their connection poses to both Therese’s relationship with her steady beau and Carol’s custody of her beloved young daughter. Blanchett is magnificent as Carol, whose elegant poise thinly veils her crumbling interior world, whilst Mara is mesmerising as the ingénue whose capacity for love awakens a newfound fearlessness. Phyllis Nagy’s (Mrs. Harris) adaptation deftly retains the rich interiors and exquisite tension of Patricia Highsmith’s groundbreaking novel The Price of Salt, written and published in 1952 at a time when its subject was considered scandalous. Haynes has created a shimmering companion work to both his lush Technicolor melodrama Far From Heaven and the shadowy domestic noir Mildred Pierce, adopting a starkly different, more naturalistic prism through which to examine the contradictory optimism and paranoia of post-war America and its oppressive social mores. Whilst never abandoning its characters and their story, the film also consistently reveals the power of the image itself – Therese’s interest in photography, a glimpse of Sunset Boulevard, and Haynes’ brilliant use of the gaze in the film’s final moments. It also knowingly plays with the image of perfect femininity – the dolls at the counter where Therese works, the Christmas department store trappings reminiscent of Sirk’s Imitation of Life. Haynes’ filmmaking eloquence is sublimely enhanced by the cinematography of frequent collaborator Ed Lachman (who filmed with Super 16mm to produce the muted hues of glamour magazines of the era), the precision of Judy Becker’s production design and the expressive palette of Sandy Powell’s gorgeous costumes.

Clare Stewart
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People who added this item 208 Average listal rating (128 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.5
Accenture Gala

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Argo) gives a cracking performance as Dalton Trumbo, the Hollywood screenwriter who was blacklisted after refusing to testify in the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1947.

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Argo) gives a cracking performance as Dalton Trumbo, the Hollywood screenwriter who was blacklisted after refusing to testify in the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1947. The ‘Hollywood Ten’ remains one of the most sensational stories of the McCarthy era and Trumbo is one of its most enduring names, a bitter irony given that he was not initially credited for his Academy Award winning screenplays – Roman Holiday and The Brave One – both of which were penned whilst the blacklist was in effect. This absurdity is not lost on director Jay Roach (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents) or writer John McNamara, whose engrossing script takes plenty of dramatic (and comedic) licence with the potent historical subject matter. Together they have created a thoroughly entertaining biopic that ripples with a palpable love of Hollywood in its heyday, whilst revealing the hypocrisies and moral turpitude of the time. Diane Lane is superb as Trumbo’s loyal wife Cleo, with Elle Fanning equally captivating as the feisty elder daughter who inherits her father’s political conviction. Amongst the film’s many pleasures are truly memorable performances from Helen Mirren as the infamous gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, John Goodman as an unscrupulous B-movie producer and Louis C.K. as the film’s most poignant and affecting character, a friend and fellow writer who refuses to compromise his principles.

Clare Stewart
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People who added this item 329 Average listal rating (209 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.9
Virgin Atlantic Gala

Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch and Joel Edgerton ramp up the thrills in Scott Cooper’s (Crazy Heart) chilling crime drama.

With its gritty and absorbing depiction of vice and corruption in Boston, Scott Cooper’s (Crazy Heart) chilling crime drama joins the esteemed ranks of The Departed and legendary TV series The Wire. Adapted from Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill’s acclaimed book, it charts the rise of one of America’s most notorious mobsters. FBI Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) persuades his superiors to let him approach Irish gangster Jimmy ‘Whitey’ Bulger (Johnny Depp) to become an informant for the FBI. Connolly reaches Jimmy via his brother, Billy Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch), a political rising star on the fast track to becoming State Senator. The goal is to eliminate their common enemy – the Italian mob. However Connolly, who draws on a misguided sense of South Boston loyalty, holds none of the power. Initially oblivious to the fact that the alliance he builds is protecting Whitey and allowing him to consolidate his powerbase, Connolly soon realises that if he exposes him, he will cast suspicion on his own actions. Cooper, who has already proved himself a superb director of actors, extracts gripping performances from the stellar ensemble cast, with Depp almost unrecognisable as the brutal, ruthless gangster and Edgerton unnerving as the FBI agent who gets in too deep.

Clare Stewart
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People who added this item 344 Average listal rating (236 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.5
The May Fair Hotel Gala

Saoirse Ronan shines as a woman who journeys from post-war small-town Ireland to New York, in Nick Hornby’s adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s best-selling novel.

The exquisite pain of choosing – between an Irish homeland and the new promise of America; between the dapper certainty of one suitor and the infectious dreams of another – this is the dilemma that faces Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) and is at the heart of both Colm Tóibín’s best-selling novel and Nick Hornby’s stirring adaptation. Opportunities are scarce for young women in post-war, small-town Ireland and spurred on by the efforts of her elder sister Rose and the help of Father Flood (Jim Broadbent), Eilis emigrates to New York. Overcoming waves of homesickness, she sets about establishing her new life and soon falls in love with the handsome and doting Italian-American, Tony (Emory Cohen). Following an unexpected family tragedy, she returns to Ireland where her freshly acquired sophistication attracts the attention of Jim (Domhnall Gleeson) and the prospect of a permanent return home. Director John Crowley (Boy A, Intermission), adroitly balances tone and mood, combining the pristine romance of Pride and Prejudice with the nostalgic trappings of 1950s Americana and the poetic melancholy of Colm Tóibín’s novel. Ronan (Atonement, Hanna) is captivating as a mature young woman with a zest for life, while the inimitable Julie Walters stands out amongst the uniformly excellent cast, offering a delicious turn as Eilis’s Brooklyn landlady.

Clare Stewart
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People who added this item 79 Average listal rating (56 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.7
Centrepiece Gala Supported by the Mayor of London

Award-festooned collaborators Nicholas Hytner and Alan Bennett (The Madness of King George, The History Boys), return for this witty and insightful adaptation of Bennett’s play.

Director Nicholas Hytner and writer Alan Bennett, whose award-winning collaborations have included both the theatrical staging and the screen adaptations of The Madness of King George and The History Boys, return for this witty and insightful adaptation of Bennett’s play. It’s the late 1960s and Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) has just moved to leafy Gloucester Crescent in Camden. No sooner has he arrived than he encounters Miss Shepherd (Maggie Smith), a destitute and irascible lady of an indeterminate age who resides in her van up the street. When she outstays her welcome with the neighbours, Bennett takes pity on her and allows her to park the van in his driveway, not realising that she will remain there until her death 15 years later. Bennett uses this rich, real-life story to expand on the themes of community spirit and loneliness, as well as the ways in which dependency builds between writer and subject. The brilliant Maggie Smith reprises the role of Miss Shepherd, having first performed it in Hytner and Bennett’s original 1999 stage production and subsequently for radio in 2009. Her depth of experience with the role is tangible, portraying Miss Shepherd with a frailty, madness and steely reserve that is both amusing and quietly devastating.

Clare Stewart
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People who added this item 182 Average listal rating (91 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 5.6
Festival Gala in Association with Empire

Ben Wheatley meets JG Ballard head-on, in this savage and utterly brilliant satire.

A savage and utterly brilliant satire of both 1960s social idealism and the Thatcherite values that undermined it, High-Rise opens with a dishevelled man (the ever-sublime Tom Hiddleston) eating barbecued dog on the balcony of his trashed apartment, some 25 floors up. Director Ben Wheatley (Sightseers, Kill List) and regular collaborator and screenwriter Amy Jump tear into JG Ballard’s classic source novel with brutal gusto, reeling back from this end-game of filthy detritus to a period just months before, when the building was state-of-the-art, a pioneering beacon of modernism. Hiddleston’s character, Dr Robert Laing, has just taken ownership of his luxurious apartment whose lofty location places him amongst the upper echelons. He is immediately drawn into and seduced by the louche culture of nightly cocktail parties, where conversation always comes back to Royal (Jeremy Irons in a pitch perfect performance that screams ‘empire in decline’), the enigmatic architect who designed the building. However, as power outages become more frequent and building flaws emerge, particularly on the lower floors, the regimented social strata begins to crumble. Nihilism, drugs and alcohol feed into wanton sex and destruction, all underscored by Clint Mansell’s wicked music and Mark Tildesley’s designs – revelling in decadent 1970s chic. A long-time passion project for producer Jeremy Thomas, his faith in Wheatley has resulted in a glorious cacophony of excess.

Tricia Tuttle
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People who added this item 7 Average listal rating (4 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 7.2
Archive Gala

A fabulous silent film from Anthony Asquith (A Cottage on Dartmoor, Underground), set in a British movie studio in the 1920s.

Shooting Stars opens in a British movie studio in the 1920s, where a western and a slapstick comedy are being filmed back to back. It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse and a searing comment on the shallowness of the star system. Despite the director credit going to veteran filmmaker AV Bramble, this is demonstrably the original work of rising talent Anthony Asquith – his dynamic cinematographic style and professional approach to the design and lighting was a step change in the quality of British features. And there’s a killer ending too! Restored from material held at the BFI National Archive by our specialist team. It completes the BFI’s revival of Asquith’s silent film work, following on from A Cottage on Dartmoor and Underground. The new BFI-commissioned score for a hand-picked 12-piece ensemble (from the Live Film Orchestra) is by composer, conductor, arranger and saxophonist John Altman. Among his notable film scores are Little Voice and Funny Bones. He produced all the period music for Titanic and was, appropriately, a recipient of the Anthony Asquith Award for Hear My Song.

Bryony Dixon

Film restoration and new score supported by AIR Studios, Arts Council England, the British Board of Film Classification, LUMINOUS donors, the Michael Marks Charitable Trust, John & Jennifer McLellan, PRS for Music Foundation, and Betsy & Jack Ryan.
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Love Gala

In the Sicilian sunshine, a rock star, her lover, a producer and his daughter meet in this sizzling drama from Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love).

Marianne (Tilda Swinton) is a glittering rock star on a hiatus with her filmmaker lover Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts). Recovering from an operation on her throat, she has retreated from both the public gaze and her performance persona (an androgynous cross between Mick Jagger and David Bowie). Poolside, stripped naked in the scorching Italian sun and seemingly at ease, the lovers are completely unprepared for the sudden arrival of cocky music producer Harry (Ralph Fiennes) and his recently discovered daughter, the petulant and sexy Penelope (Dakota Johnson). Some clothes get ripped off, while others get put back on in this deliciously overheated drama with a dangerous edge. A remake of Jacques Deray and Jean-Claude Carrière’s La Piscine (1969) which draws its title from David Hockney’s painting of the same era, A Bigger Splash transposes the original story from the French Riviera to Pantelleria, a volcanic, windswept Sicilian island that heaves with the same violence as the character’s emotions. Luca Guadagnino sharply contrasts the cocooned oasis of these privileged tourists with the everyday lives of the local islanders and the illegal African immigrants looking for shelter. As with Guadagnino and Swinton’s previous collaboration I am Love, the film cleaves the surfaces of a rarefied lifestyle. Here though, emotions are luxuriously untethered and celebrity wins out over morality and the law.

Clare Stewart
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People who added this item 474 Average listal rating (359 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.1
Dare Gala in Association with Time Out

Following Dogtooth and Alps, Yorgos Lanthimos turns his strange lens on an all-star cast in this bleakly hilarious dystopian drama.

In a near-future dystopia, singledom is outlawed. Anyone not successfully paired up must report to The Hotel, where they have forty-five days to find a mate; otherwise they’re transformed into an animal of their choosing. In desperation, paunchy divorcee David (Colin Farrell) – who selects the eponymous crustacean for its lengthy lifespan and fertility – flees, prepared to take his chances with The Loners, forest-dwelling fugitives with their own strict individualistic creed. His international breakthroughs Dogtooth and Alps displayed Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’s brilliantly inventive dissections of conditioned identity and social oppression, delivered with a distinctive, absurdist comic sensibility. This all-star follow-up (with superb, atypical turns by Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, Léa Seydoux and John C Reilly) widens the scope while keeping Lanthimos’s ruthless clarity and daring tonal blend of deadpan, surreal humour and quiet horror. Amid dead-on production design and verdant Irish locations, The Lobster is both a bleakly hilarious skewering of fundamentalist diktats and rituals, and a tender plea for genuine intimacy amid society’s self-imposed absurdities. In short, beneath its tough carapace lies the pulsing, tender heart of a fiercely modern love story. Albeit with claws.

Leigh Singer

The screening on 13 October will have an audio-description soundtrack for customers who are blind or partially sighted.

The screening on 15 October will have an audio-description soundtrack for customers who are blind or partially sighted and English subtitles, including descriptions of non-dialogue audio, for customers who are deaf or hard of hearing. The introduction/Q&A will be BSL interpreted.
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People who added this item 52 Average listal rating (34 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.5
Debate Gala

Stephen Frears delivers a kinetic tale of cyclist Lance Armstrong’s inexorable rise to near canonisation and his subsequent vertiginous fall from grace.

Director Stephen Frears makes a hugely welcome return to LFF after Philomena in 2013. Joining forces with screenwriter John Hodge (Trainspotting), Frears delivers a kinetic tale of cyclist Lance Armstrong’s inexorable rise to near canonisation and his subsequent vertiginous fall from grace. Starting in the 90s with Armstrong – played here with a zealot-like intensity by a mesmerising Ben Foster – a little-known young cyclist on his first Tour de France being interviewed by sports journalist David Walsh (Chris O’Dowd), and showing ego and ambition to burn. As we scroll through the years with dazzling, pacy style, the furiously driven Armstrong soon comes up against the ultimate foe: his own body, both in his lack of killer physical potential on a gruelling mountain race, but also his own mortality when diagnosed with Stage Three testicular cancer. Through sheer force of will he recovers from cancer and goes on to found one of road racings most successful ever teams, US Postal. Too good to be true? You bet it was. Frears and his team deliver tour-de-force cinema with The Program. In particular, Danny Cohen’s (The King’s Speech, Room) race cinematography takes your breah away. Jesse Plemons is excellent as deeply conflicted fellow cyclist Floyd Landis and O’Dowd perfectly captures the conflict of a man who risked his own career to prove Armstrong was a doping cheat. Raw ambition fuels the film, and it’s a seriously thrilling ride.

Tricia Tuttle

The screening on 10 October will have an audio-description soundtrack for customers who are blind or partially sighted.

The screening on 15 October will have an audio-description soundtrack for customers who are blind or partially sighted and English subtitles, including descriptions of non-dialogue audio, for customers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
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People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 5.8
Laugh Gala

Russell Brand ponders Jesus, Gandhi, Malcolm X and his own political awakening in this lively doc that doesn’t forget to be funny.

Comedy can be a weapon and it is the deadliest one in Russell Brand’s arsenal, as he battles social ills, personal demons and a sluggish news media in this energetic, complex, and frequently hilarious documentary. Channelling his frenetic energy into an exploration of historical leaders (including Ghandi and Malcolm X) for a stand-up tour, Brand unsurprisingly finds much that he identifies with. But of the several threads followed in the film, possibly the most compelling is the arc of Brand’s changing political engagement, charting his bumpy ride from agitator to spokesperson-in-the-spotlight to a celebrity with an inspiring propensity for ground-level activism. Having twice scooped the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, for Dig! and We Live in Public, director Ondi Timoner is adept at capturing wayward subjects and probing the dynamics of ego. Her sharp mind proves a fine match for Brand’s own ever-questioning manner, with occasional flashes of antagonism between the two adding further spark to this sophisticated portrait of a man who thrives on being impossible to pin down. Ultimately, it is Brand’s unshakable and infectious faith in the power of humour that shines through.

Kate Taylor
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People who added this item 2 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 4 IMDB Rating 4.9
Beeba Boys (2015)
Thrill Gala

A highly stylish drama about immigrant Sikh gangs fighting for supremacy on the streets of downtown Vancouver.

Acclaimed director Deepa Mehta (Fire, Earth, Water, Midnight’s Children) kicks down new doors with this energetic gangster movie that also explores South Asian family values. Set in Vancouver’s Sikh immigrant badlands, it finds young kingpin Jeet Johar (Randeep Hooda) and his sharp-suited gang the Beeba Boys on the rise. So far, they’ve left a trail of blood in their attempt to take over the local drugs market. However, when Jeet isn’t managing his cadre of dapper toughs, he’s doing his best to be a respectful son to his mother, to follow his religion with as much diligence as his profession will allow, and to hold his crumbling family together. When the Beeba Boys try to muscle in on the turf of a rival gang, led by local Don Robbie Grewal (Gulshan Grover), the resulting conflict threatens to tear apart all the families involved. Jeet’s boys will learn the true meaning of betrayal on their way towards this film’s dazzling showdown. Peppered with razor-sharp comedy in the post-Tarantino vein and bolstered by a high-energy Bhangra hip-hop score, Beeba Boys is a rumination on how a gangster can also be a man of both faith and the family – explored with the social resonance we’ve come to expect from Mehta.

Cary Rajinder Sawhney
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Cult Gala

Kurt Russell heads an all-star cast in this unpredictable and sometimes shocking fusion of horror and western.

Late one night in the Wild West town of Bright Hope, Arthur O’Dwyer’s life is turned upside down when his wife is kidnapped. A disparate vigilante posse is quickly assembled, headed up by the town’s sheriff Franklin Hunt, and together they venture off in pursuit of Arthur’s wife and her abductors. Unfortunately for our intrepid heroes, they have no idea just who or, more to the point, what is waiting for them when they reach their fateful destination. Equal parts The Searchers and The Hills Have Eyes, this gloriously imaginative genre hybrid is an original, unpredictable beast, filled with enough surprises to satisfy even the most jaded of horror hounds and western fans. An impressively assured directorial debut of writer/musician S Craig Zahler, Bone Tomahawk is a visual feast and boasts some great performances from its all-star cast which includes Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox and Richard Jenkins, not to mention a host of enjoyable cameos including the likes of Sid Haig and Sean Young. But take caution, as one might expect from an unpredictable horror/western exploitationer, the threat of violence is never far away. And when I say violence, I mean violence. With a capital V. Don’t say you weren’t warned...

Michael Blyth
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People who added this item 122 Average listal rating (66 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 6.3
Journey Gala

Hou Hsiao-Hsien, winner of the Best Director award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, presents his mesmerising first foray into martial arts.

The Best Director winner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Hou Hsiao-Hsien is the subject of a major retrospective – Also Like Life – at BFI Southbank this September, ahead of LFF’s UK premiere of his mesmerising first foray into wuxia (martial arts). Breathtakingly elegant and ravishing in its composition, The Assassin is set in 9th-century China towards the end of the Tang dynasty. Lethal assassin Nie Yinniang (the incandescent Shu Qi, star of Hou’s Three Times and Millennium Mambo) fails an important assignment and is sent back to her homeland on the orders of the nun who abducted her as a child and trained her in the deadly arts. Her new orders, designed to both punish her and eliminate the last vestiges of feeling in her being, are to kill the man to whom she was once betrothed – her cousin, the powerful governor of Weibo, played by Chang Chen (Three Times, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). However, Yinniang’s emotions lead her to defy her Mistress and discover a new, unexpected source of strength. Her journey is mirrored by the film’s transition from crisp, high-contrast black-and-white Academy ratio in the prelude, to glorious, expressive colour and 1.85:1 ratio when she arrives in Weibo. In a quietly audacious move for a genre that often uses brisk editing to match the action, Hou’s regular cinematographer Mark Lee Ping Bing holds exquisitely framed wide shots, with kinetic flashes used sparingly in the brilliant action sequences.

Clare Stewart
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People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 6.7
Sonic Gala in Association with MOBO Film

Twice Oscar-nominated Abu-Assad tells the incredible story of Mohammad Assaf – Gazan winner of Arab Idol who won the hearts of millions with his voice.

Two-time Oscar-nominated Palestinian director Hany Abu Assad’s (Paradise Now, Omar) new film is based on the incredible true story of Mohammad Assaf, winner of ‘Arab Idol’. Growing up in the Gaza Strip, Mohammad formed bands with his tomboy sister and motley crew of friends from a very young age, even performing as an underage wedding singer. But the prospects of singing professionally seemed an impossible dream. Taking part in the live singing competition ‘Arab Idol’ in Egypt was a long shot – with the hurdles of owning no passport, passing through closed borders and not even an audition invitation. For those who know of Mohammad’s incredible story, Abu-Assad’s biopic is a chance to relive the incredible ascent of a major new star. For those who don’t, this is a treat that resembles We Are The Best! crossed with Wadjda. It features a host of stars, such as Nadine Labaki (Caramel, Where Do We Go Now?) and footage of Mohammad’s extraordinary performances, including his rendition of the popular Ali Al-keffiyeh. (‘Raise your Keffieye’ – considered an unofficial Palestinian national anthem, which calls for the traditional Palestinian scarf to be raised as a sign of unity.)

Elhum Shakerifar
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People who added this item 223 Average listal rating (176 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.3
Goosebumps (2015)
Family Gala in Partnership with Plusnet

When Zack accidentally unleashes a deluge of monsters on a small town, mayhem ensues.

It’s here. After many years and millions of books, the moment that fans of R L Stein’s hugely popular Goosebumps stories have been waiting for... Jack’s mother is appointed Vice-Principal of a school in Madison, Delaware and against his wishes they start a new life in the quiet, unassuming neighbourhood. He has a crush on Hannah, who lives next door, but her father, harbouring a huge secret, keeps her locked away and out of school. After a misguided attempt to help her leave home, Zack unwittingly releases an enormous collection of monsters, ghouls, spooks and spirits, and Hannah’s father is forced to reveal his true identity. With a sinister ventriloquist doll, treacherous garden gnomes and a giant clematis on the loose and causing mayhem in the town, only our hero and his friends can hope to reverse the terror that has been unleashed. Rob Letterman (Monsters Vs Aliens, Gulliver’s Travels) has made a thrilling and heart-stoppingly entertaining film that remains faithful to the Goosebumps stories and is likely to create a new legion of fans for the series. While it doesn’t shy away from the thrills, the scares stay on the right side of family friendly.

Justin Johnson

Suitable for ages 6+
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People who added this item 32 Average listal rating (15 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.2
Experimenta Special Presentation in Association with Sight & Sound

Gleeful, hypnotic and totally deranged, Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg, The Saddest Music in the World) and co-director Evan Johnson’s phantasmagoric opus... in the IMAX!

Gleeful, hypnotic and totally deranged, Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg, The Saddest Music in the World) and co-director Evan Johnson’s phantasmagoric opus screens supersize (a world first!) as our Experimenta Special Presentation at BFI IMAX. Opening with an absurd 1960s-era instructional from a pot-bellied letch on how to take a bath; rapidly segueing to a Canadian lumberjack on a mission to rescue a damsel with amnesia being held captive by cave dwelling wolf-men; and at some later point cutting to Udo Kier being lobotomised to curb his penchant for pinching derrieres; this whacked-out medley of weird tableaus travels deep under the ocean, high into the sky and far into the darkest regions of the psyche. The Forbidden Room evolved from the interactive Seances project, with Maddin as the director/medium channeling the spirits of silent films, lost to the archives, through improvised live ‘happenings’. They took place in temporary sets at Montreal’s Phi Center and The Pompidou Centre in Paris, and featured participants such as Geraldine Chaplin, Mathieu Amalric, Charlotte Rampling and Ariane Labed. Taking ‘really hideous, raw video’ and reworking all the palettes and colour-timing on over 4,000 hours of rushes, then experimenting with super-imposition and adding luridly entertaining inter-titles, The Forbidden Room is epic both as a formal filmmaking feat and a deliriously heightened cinephilic pleasure.

Clare Stewart
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People who added this item 28 Average listal rating (16 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 6.9
Documentary Special Presentation

In this inspirational documentary, we follow extraordinary teenager Malala Yousafzai as she embarks on life in Britain.

Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize at 17 and probably one of the most famous teenagers in the world, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for championing girls’ education in Pakistan. The extraordinary subject of this compelling documentary by director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, 2006; Waiting for Superman, 2010), Malala was prophetically named after a famous Afghan poetess and warrior. Born into a family of teachers and activists in a small town of the Swat Valley in north-west Pakistan, she learned about the power of education from a young age, penning an anonymous blog for the BBC about life under Taliban when she was just twelve. Combining narration of her remarkable story with beautifully animated sequences, Guggenheim films Malala in the British city she was forced to move to following the attack. He records intimate moments with her family and in her new school. Behind the image of the activist and campaigner we discover a warm and playful individual. He Named Me Malala is an inspiring portrait of an incredibly brave and resilient young woman who carries a message of hope for all women in the world.

Laure Bonville
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People who added this item 52 Average listal rating (36 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.8
Fellowship Special Presentation

Gripping docudrama about journalistic ethics starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford as the team behind the 60 Minutes investigation into whether George W. Bush avoided the Vietnam draft.

Cate Blanchett delivers another virtuoso performance in Truth as the fiercely bright Mary Mapes, the producer of Dan Rather’s 60 Minutes, who came under fire after a broadcast questioned whether George W Bush received preferential treatment to avoid the Vietnam draft. Nearing retirement, Dan Rather (an uncannily accurate portrayal by Robert Redford) and Mary have a symbiotic relationship; he is a father figure to her and they have a mutual trust built on the shared desire to uncover facts and present the truth. When their research team (a compelling ensemble including Elisabeth Moss, Topher Grace and Dennis Quaid) uncover inconsistencies in Bush’s military records, they go live with the explosive story; but it’s an election year for Bush, and his conservative supporters cry foul. Powerful allies of the President force CBS to suspend Mapes and investigate her team’s research, accusing her of political bias. James Vanderbilt, whose previous screenplays include Zodiac and The Amazing Spider-Man, makes a hugely impressive directorial debut, adapting Mapes’ book Truth and Duty. Working alongside veteran editor Richard Francis-Bruce (Shawshank Redemption, Se7en), he has constructed a tense political drama with real momentum, but which also explores the more philosophical nature of ‘truth’ as it intersects with ideology and personal experience.

Tricia Tuttle
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Official Competition



The Best Film Award recognises inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking.
People who added this item 12 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 5.7
11 minut (2015)
Jerzy Skolimowski’s ‘catastrophic thriller’ interweaves the lives of multiple characters during a fateful eleven minutes with unexpected consequences.

Jerzy Skolimowski’s ‘catastrophic thriller’ focuses on 11 scintillating minutes in the lives of a variety of characters, each of whom is following a different path – some routine, many of them life-changing, all pulse-pounding. A sexually predatory film director auditions an actress. An ambulance rushes a pregnant woman to hospital. And a motorcycle courier shifts into high gear in order to escape detection by a suspicious husband. Meanwhile, an old man sketches a bridge over a river, a street vendor sells hot dogs to nuns, and a dog does what dogs do, although this time we are watching the world from the pooch’s POV. The stories overlap, but not in the way you might expect. The iconoclastic Skolimowski (Moonlighting, Four Nights with Anna, Essential Killing) has always been one to push boundaries, and in 11 Minutes he focuses his adventurous spirit on the issue of film chronology, wringing as much excitement, intrigue, motion and emotion as he can from of the film’s brief but constantly re-visited timeframe. Ably assisted by striking sound design and Mikolaj Lebkowski’s inventive cinematography, Skolimowski racks up the suspense offering the odd clue as to how it all turns out. You’ll be holding on tight as you follow the race towards the end.

Peter Hames
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A chilling portrait of the plight of child soldiers, told from the perspective of one young boy.

Cary Fukunaga’s (True Detective, Jane Eyre, Sin Nombre) unflinching adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala’s 2005 novel of the same name (itself borrowed from Fela Kuti’s 1989 album) is at once enthralling cinema and a gut-wrenching indictment of child exploitation. In an unnamed African country, civil conflict rips through the village where Agu, a sparky young boy, lives with his family. Witnessing unspeakable atrocities, including the brutal execution of his father and older brother, Agu is forced to run for his life. He is discovered, dazed and traumatised, by a group of rebel soldiers and is swiftly incorporated into their ranks by a fierce mercenary. The Commandant (Idris Elba), who receives his own orders from afar and for an unknown purpose keeps his militia fuelled with a heady mix of intoxicating bravado and hard drugs, maintains control through psychological and physical abuse. Rapidly adapting in order to survive, Agu is pushed to unthinkable limits. Idris Elba is charismatic and terrifying as the unhinged Commandant and newcomer Abraham Attah is a revelation as Agu, delivering a performance that (like his character) carries a weight beyond his years. Whilst deeply true to its African subject, the film resonates darkly beyond its situation, serving as a harsh reminder of childhoods destroyed in war zones and deprived urban areas everywhere.

Clare Stewart
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Acclaimed Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul returns with a typically sublime, lyrical and visually ravishing tale of a unit of soldiers afflicted by a strange malady.

The hypnotic filmmaking of Apichatpong Weerasethakul – whose Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives won the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival in 2010 – is infused with a dreamy tropical heat that frequently plays havoc with narrative, reality and his characters. In his latest beguiling creation, a group of soldiers have succumbed to a mysterious sleeping sickness. They are transferred to a temporary clinic in a former school (not unlike the regional hospital setting of Syndromes and a Century), where friendly local volunteer Jenjira (Jenjira Pongpas Widner) tends to Itt (Banlop Lomnoi), a handsome soldier who receives no visitors. Hovering by the bedside of the other men is a young medium Keng (Jarinpattra Rueangram), who uses her considerable psychic power to help visiting family and friends communicate with their comatose loved ones (though she cannot guarantee they will always hear what they want). As events quietly unfold, Jenjira begins to suspect that the soldiers’ enigmatic syndrome links them to an ancient burial ground that lies beneath the clinic. Rippling with sly humour and emanating a profound sense of magic, the film conjures – rather than implies – the political uncertainty of contemporary Thailand. Weerasethakul’s coded lament for his homeland is as joyful as it is melancholy.

Clare Stewart
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People who added this item 28 Average listal rating (18 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.3
Chevalier (2015)
Athina Rachel Tsangari follows Attenberg with a biting and strange dissection of the male ego, featuring six men on a boat.

Six men on a boat. A late-night game turns sour as the winner gloats. A bitter loser chides him, ‘You may be the best at that one thing, but that doesn’t mean you’re the best in general.’ So who is the best in general? This is the question the men set themselves to answering, developing a series of tests to judge each other and applying the random criteria as they see fit. Who has the best posture while sleeping? The largest erection in the morning? The coolest jet-ski style? The competition becomes addictive, pushing the men further in conforming to chimeric ideals of taste, sexuality, class and personal achievement. Yet in these cries for external validation, each man’s flaws are writ large and the interpersonal relationships within the group warp into strange formations. For her highly-anticipated follow-up to Attenberg, Athina Rachel Tsangari conducts a thorough dissection of the male ego. Shot in a palette of greys, the film has an absurd style that gets under your skin even as you’re laughing. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself suddenly thinking about Chevalier at random moments over the hours, days and years to come.

Kate Taylor
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Ibsen’s ‘The Wild Duck’ is relocated to contemporary rural Australia, but in theatre director Simon Stone’s feature debut it still retains the Norwegian playwright’s powerful bite.

Leading Australian theatre director Simon Stone’s radical adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck was championed as a ‘searing modern-day tragedy’ when it opened at the Barbican last year. At the same time, he was working on reimagining it for the screen. Retaining all the devastating power of the original play and the imploding dramatic thrust of his stage production, Stone’s strikingly cinematic feature debut transposes the story into a rural Australian setting. Henry (Geoffrey Rush) is closing down the mill that has been the logging township’s life-blood for generations, whilst planning a lavish wedding with his much younger fiancé. His estranged son Christian (Paul Schneider) returns home after an absence of many years to find his father distant and preoccupied, and his old best friend Oliver (Ewen Leslie) newly unemployed due to the factory closure. As Christian and Oliver rekindle their friendship, Christian uncovers a painful secret, the careless revelation of which reverberates like a gunshot in the crisp mountain air and threatens to shatter the lives of Oliver, his wife Charlotte (Miranda Otto) and their effervescent teenage daughter Hedvig (Odessa Young, a revelation). Canny, intuitive performances from the stellar cast, which includes Sam Neill as Oliver’s father, are illuminated by Andrew Commis’ cinematography, which also captures the isolation and beauty of the suitably foreboding landscape.

Clare Stewart
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People who added this item 21 Average listal rating (18 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6
Desierto (2015)
The sophomore feature from Jonás Cuarón is an edge-of-the-seat thriller set on the Mexican/American border.

Whilst attempting to cross the border from Mexico into the United States, a group of illegal immigrants find themselves stranded when their truck breaks down, leaving them no choice but to make the rest of the journey by foot. But upon entering US territory, the gang become the unsuspecting target of a gun toting racist who has taken the concept of border control into his own hands, and is determined to pick them off one by one. To describe Jonás Cuarón’s stunning sophomore feature as tense would be something of an understatement. This is a work of such nail-biting suspense as to be almost unbearable at times, with Cuarón (son of Gravity director Alfonso Cuarón and that film’s co-writer) demonstrating a masterful understanding of rhythm and pacing. But while Desierto is a wild and relentlessly enjoyable ride, a political conscience also lies beneath the shoot-outs and chase sequences, lending proceedings a genuine sense of sadness and hopeless tragedy. The ever compelling Gael García Bernal gives an impressively physical performance as the resourceful hero, while Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a truly chilling villain, driven by racism and a misplaced idea of patriotism – perhaps the most terrifyingly single-minded killer since Javier Bardem’s hitman took to the Texan deserts in No Country For Old Men.

Michael Blyth
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People who added this item 30 Average listal rating (20 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6
Evolution (2015)
A young islander confronts the enigmas of boyhood and the sea in this poetic horror story, the long-awaited second feature by French visionary Lucile Hadžihalilović.

In the long-awaited second feature by Lucile Hadžihalilović, 10-year-old Nicolas lives on a remote island, inhabited solely by women and young boys. He spends his days exploring the sea and the rocky shore, and playing with the other lads from the island. But after making an eerie discovery that no-one else will believe, Nicolas is due to keep an appointment at the island’s hospital, where he will confront the mysteries of his origins and his destiny. In her remarkable 2004 debut Innocence, set in a girls’ school, Hadžihalilović told a female coming-of-age story; Evolution offers a male variant, but it also sees this visionary writer-director exploring some unsettling new areas. Beyond easy categorisation, Evolution is at once a boy’s own detective story; an elegantly eerie horror movie with undertones of Cronenberg and H P Lovecraft; and a deeply poetic essay in modern neo-surrealism, with leitmotifs of landscape, the sea and subaquatic life. With Manu Dacosse’s photography cloaking the enigmatic events in intense, discomforting atmosphere, Evolution is one of those rare films that create an entire world following only its own logic. The result is a crafted work of dark beauty, from one of contemporary cinema’s most inspired dreamers.

Jonathan Romney
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People who added this item 6 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 5.4 IMDB Rating 6.1
Office (2015)
Hong Kong crime director par excellence Johnnie To offers up an equally exuberant, financial-world set musical that has to be seen to be believed.

There is nothing that is not wonderful about this stylish Hong Kong musical that charts corporate culture’s inner workings with dazzling élan. Forget The Devil Wears Prada. There’s a new iconic boss in town: CEO Chang (Sylvia Chang, also the film’s co-writer), who runs a tight ship at the billion-dollar company Jones & Sunn. As the mistress of Chairman Ho (Chow Yun-Fat), she’s been promised a big stake when the company goes public, but auditors are in the building and something doesn’t add up. All the intrigue is seen through the eyes of two interns who, eager to climb the ladder while remembering everyone’s coffee order, soon learn the office is a hotbed of gossip, love affairs and shameless backstabbing. There’s a touch of Jacques Tati to the inventive, bright, angular production design, and Johnnie To is in his element ramping up the tension as greed takes grasp and the economic crash looms on the horizon. And, of course, there are the songs, which are witty and satirical. And those costumes! Snazzy monochrome by day, liquid lingerie in the boudoir and sharply tailored formal gowns for client entertainment. Office is a film to fill your daydreams as you stand by the photocopier.

Kate Taylor
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People who added this item 547 Average listal rating (406 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.2
Jack and Ma live in Room. Now Jack is five-years-old he discovers there may be more to the world.

Bed, Lamp, Skylight, Rug... These are the things that five-year-old Jack’s physical world is comprised of. He may have been trapped in an 11-square-foot room since his birth, but he doesn’t see it that way, as the world outside the room doesn’t exist for him. Ma, for whom their captivity is a very real concept, is absolutely determined to raise him properly, employing all the care and imagination she can muster to keep Jack educated, healthy and happy. But when a window of escape suddenly presents itself, Jack is thrust into an entirely new understanding of the world. Adapted by Emma Donoghue from her own 2010 bestseller, Room remains tethered to Jack’s perspective, while Brie Larson makes good on her Short Term 12 (LFF2013) promise with a stunning performance that steers the mother-son relationship clear of cloying sentimentality. Director Lenny Abrahamson (Frank, What Richard Did, Garage, Adam and Paul) continues his eclectic run of projects, transforming the challenge of filming within a tiny, confined space into an opportunity for visual invention. Boasting a fascinating central female character, Room is a wholly cinematic and moving experience that muses on life in captivity, the resilience of young minds and the bonds of parenthood.

Kate Taylor
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People who added this item 157 Average listal rating (100 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.5
A devastating portrait of life in a concentration camp, seen from the extremely subjective perspective of a Sonderkommando, this is a blistering debut from a new Hungarian director.

László Nemes’ brilliant debut feature is propelled by the same harrowing intensity as its central character, a Sonderkommando at Auschwitz-Birkenau who is forced to assist in the grisly day-to-day management of the exterminations. When Saul recognises a boy who miraculously, but only fleetingly, survives the gas chamber, he decides to give him a proper burial. However, his search for a Rabbi to recite the mourner’s Kaddish places both his own life and the escape plan hatched by his fellow inmates in jeopardy. From its blurred opening shot, with Saul only coming into focus when he is inches away from the camera, Nemes eschews any grand overview of the Final Solution in favour of a penetrating, subjective portrait of one man’s experience. As Saul travels through every part of the camp on the search, the atrocities are heard off camera, or glimpsed beyond the focus of Saul’s immediate vicinity, consistently reinforcing the horror and barbarity. Poet Géza Röhrig’s mesmerising debut performance is all the more extraordinary because the situation requires that he remain expressionless while the camera stays on him for almost the entire film. Son of a filmmaker and for a time, assistant to Bela Tarr, Nemes urgently declares himself a major new directorial talent. Winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival.

Clare Stewart

At the director’s request the Sun 11 Oct 13:00 Curzon Soho screening will be presented on 35mm.
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People who added this item 17 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.4
Sunset Song (2015)
Terence Davies returns to the festival with this glorious adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s 1932 novel.

Last seen closing the LFF in 2011 with The Deep Blue Sea, Terence Davies returns to the Festival with this exquisite treatment of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s 1932 novel, which gives him a broad canvas of rain-lashed farmland on which to apply his knack for literary adaptation. It’s the early 20th-century in rural Scotland and Chris Guthrie is a young woman with plans. Excelling at her schooling and in possession of a burgeoning independent streak, she seems destined for a job in teaching. But family life has its own pull and her religious father exerts a formidable force on his brood, as well as on her mother whose body he treats as both refuge and battleground. As the constellation of her family shifts around her and romance comes calling, Chris grows into womanhood just as the First World War begins to devastate a generation. Agyness Deyn builds upon her starring role in last year’s Electricity with a spirited performance that expresses Chris’ joys as a light from within, while Peter Mullan brings gnarly authenticity to the zealous patriarch. A true Scottish epic, Sunset Song laments the devastation of war and pays fine tribute to the endurance of the land.

Kate Taylor
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People who added this item 118 Average listal rating (81 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.1
A real-time drama, shot on iPhones in downtown LA and featuring two transgender working girls in a vengeful mood, this is the ultimate in filmmaking on the fly.

Fizzing and popping with the energy of as-it-happened classics like Before Sunset and Do the Right Thing, Sean Baker’s Tangerine, a tale of two transgender working girls on Santa Monica Boulevard, could prove the sleeper hit of the year. On Christmas Eve, released from a brief stint in jail, Sin-Dee Rella meets her best friend Alexandra who reveals that her beau, Chester, has been cheating on her with a ‘white fish’ (a Caucasian female-born woman). The news propels the mercurial Sin-Dee to find Chester’s new girl and teach her a lesson. Remarkably, considering the richness of the bold, saturated colour and widescreen photography, Baker and his co-cinematographer, Radium Cheung filmed this on iPhone 5s, grabbing most scenes with just two cameras and dolly shots filmed from cycles. The result is a film of urgency and veracity, with charming performances from transgender non-actors Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez. From donut shop to Hollywood dive bar, the comedy of hair pulling and bitch slapping gives way to something altogether more tender and unexpected: a film about female friendship and solidarity.

Tricia Tuttle
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People who added this item 1 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 7.4
Hilarious black comedy about a Beirut drug dealer trying to go legit for the sake of his two brothers finding himself at odds with his crime boss.

Lebanese director Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya’s debut feature almost defies categorisation. By turns a suspenseful crime thriller, social satire and laugh out loud comedy, Bou Chaaya displays a deft sleight of tone that befits as contradictory and seductive a land as his native Lebanon. Very Big Shot opens with a bang, literally, as three brothers find themselves in the middle of a struggle with an armed man. One of the brothers Ziad shoots the man dead. His brother Jad, however, takes the fall and is sent to jail. Cut to five years later. In the intervening years, Ziad has turned their modest family bakery into a drug dealing hub for a local gangster. With Jad’s imminent release, however, he wants to go legit, much to the chagrin of his boss, who asks him to do one last drop off as a personal favour. When that drop off is across the border in war-torn Syria, anything can happen. And it does, as Bou Chaaya defies expectations to create a memorable, hugely impressive and enjoyable caper.

Ali Jaafar
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First Feature Competition

The Sutherland Award recognises the most original and imaginative directorial debut.
People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.2
3000 Nights (2015)
Mai Masri’s fiction debut about a young Palestinian mother in detention is a poetic, compelling and raw allegory for freedom under occupation.

Accused of helping a young man on the run, schoolteacher Layal finds herself incarcerated in a top security Israeli detention centre for Palestinian and Israeli women. When she discovers that she’s pregnant, her husband insists that she abort the child. Terrified but defiant, she gives birth behind bars. Set in Nablus in 1980, Masri draws on realities she has both experienced first hand and explored in her documentary work – the central role women play under occupation and the devastating Sabra and Shatila massacre – to craft a powerful script that explores the complex dynamics of relationships behind bars. Paranoia prevails and conflicts arise, but there are moments of unexpected solidarity in the intimacy of confinement. With a compelling central performance by Maisa Abd Elhadi (Dégradé), Masri’s fiction debut is a poetic and raw allegory of freedom under occupation.

Elhum Shakerifar
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High-school students and their summer of orgies are the focus of Eva Husson’s no-holds-barred drama.

As they say in the movies: after that summer, nothing would be the same again... Director Eva Husson shows she means business with this intense, confident debut feature, in which a group of Biarritz high-school students start a private orgy society. They seem to have created their own earthly paradise of total liberation, but matters soon prove more complex. Dazzlingly shot and the work of a true stylist, Bang Gang on one level resembles a French version of Larry Clark’s Kids, but with a specifically female point of view and updated for the age of internet sex and revenge porn. The young cast of newcomers is deeply impressive, and not just for their no-holds-barred courage. At once celebratory, libidinously lawless and with an edge of sober social critique, Bang Gang is one of the most striking French debuts in ages – and is certain to be one of the most controversial.

Jonathan Romney
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People who added this item 6 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.5
Teenager John returns home after serving time. Those in his community are unwilling to forgive him his crime, or to face up to the pervasive darkness at their very core.

Teenager John returns home after serving time in a correctional facility and looks forward to starting life afresh with his father. However, his crime is neither forgiven nor forgotten by their small-town neighbours. In fact, John’s presence appears to provoke those around him to give voice to their baser instincts. Writer/director Magnus von Horn reveals John’s story by gradual degrees, drawing us deep into the narrative and calmly building a profound sense of empathy. John’s crime was incredibly serious, but it is the insidious culture of brutality and its passive acceptance within his community that we are called to question. This captivating and beautifully constructed film has a challenging tension at its heart, which von Horn sustains with masterly control. A sharp and sensitive script coupled with eloquent performances ensures this film gets right under your skin.

Sarah Lutton
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People who added this item 36 Average listal rating (34 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.2
In this SXSW Grand Jury prize-winner a woman arrives in a Texan suburb to stay with relatives but soon realises not everyone is happy that she’s there.

Krisha crackles with tension from the opening tracking shot of a woman dragging her suitcase across suburban yards, over boundaries created by hedges and trees, while spluttering and cursing under her breath. It’s an unnerving, menacing start and Trey Edward Shults’ never lets the tension drop in this original take on the dysfunctional family holiday. Krisha (an electrifying Krisha Fairchild, the director’s real-life aunt) arrives for the big meal to a house filled with life – arm wrestling, barking dogs, noisy engagement with a football game on TV, aunts, uncles and cousins. Body language marks Krisha as an intruder, welcomed with warm Texan manners but also great trepidation. Scene by scene and with impressive economy, Shults’s intelligent script slowly reveals why. Bristling with dread and insights worthy of John Cassavetes and Tennessee Williams, Krisha won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW.

Tricia Tuttle
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People who added this item 8 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.7
Lamb (2015)
Ephraim and his beloved pet sheep are taken by his father to live with relatives, but he soon hatches a plan to escape.

This is an exquisite, multilayered directorial feature debut that unfolds amidst the breathtakingly beautiful mountains of Ethiopia. After the death of his mother, 9-year-old Ephraim is taken from his drought-stricken home by his father who places him in the care of relatives while he goes to look for work in Addis Ababa. Ephraim has his pet sheep Chuni for company and they are inseparable, spending all their time playing together. Ephraim’s uncle, a hard working peasant-farmer, is frustrated that Ephraim doesn’t seem to be good at anything. However, the situation turns against Ephraim when he is told that Chuni will be sacrificially slaughtered at the next religious feast. Distraught at this news, Ephraim decides that he must take drastic action to save his only friend, even if that means returning home. Lamb marks the arrival of a major new African filmmaker in Yared Zeleke.

Keith Shiri
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People who added this item 0 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 6.2
Light Years (2015)
A subtly nuanced drama that explores the toll that physical and mental illness can have on a family.

A first feature of fragile beauty from Esther May Campbell, whose equally daring short film September screened in LFF2007 and won a BAFTA. Three children and their distant, distracted father appear aimless and missing the glue that makes a family a unit. All are hobbled by neuroses and longing, yet it becomes clear that things weren’t always this way and that the children’s mother has recently become physically and mentally unable to live at home. With a pace and narrative rhythm that rewards contemplation, Light Years offers dazzling fractured moments to savour: a stolen kiss witnessed in glimpses as a speeding train passes; a golf ball spiralling into a hole, a mother and her children filing gracefully through a forest of silver birch trees. Campbell’s film is a poignant and poetic eulogy to a lost parent, and asks what happens when someone is physically present but no longer ‘there’, like stars that are light years away.

Tricia Tuttle
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People who added this item 20 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 5.8
Partisan (2015)
Vincent Cassel stars as a charismatic papa leading a family of women and pint-size assassins.

Communal living rarely ends well in cinema, and yet the fine line between alternative family and crazy cult provides a rich seam for filmmakers. Here, Vincent Cassel brings obvious relish to his role as Gregori, a charismatic papa leading a band of women and children in a concrete hideaway that is part utopian refuge and part training ground for adolescent assassins. The nature of the outside world, filmed in an apocalyptic-looking Georgia, is ambiguous. Has a war taken place? Does the rule of law apply? We watch through the eyes of Alexander, an 11-year-old boy who idolises Gregori, as the bohemian enclave becomes increasingly contaminated by paranoia and newcomers expose the illusion the group is founded upon. Ariel Kleiman picked up a string of awards for his short film Deeper Than Yesterday in 2010, and here, with screenwriting partner Sarah Cyngler, he expertly spins out the psychological thrills, leading to a heart-in-mouth climax.

Kate Taylor
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People who added this item 0 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 6.1
Paula (2015)
A nanny struggles to find help in this insightful, beautifully observed debut feature from Argentine director Eugenio Canevari.

Paula works as a nanny for a middle class family where behaviour is governed by fiercely observed codes around gender and class. When she has a serious problem, Paula tries to find a solution with her habitual quiet efficiency. However, time is of the essence and no one appears willing to help. Eugenio Canevari’s ambitious debut feature exudes a quiet confidence, allowing the camera to observe the dynamics of the family members as the situation plays out around them. Like fellow Argentine Lucrecia Martel, he shows a keen eye for drawing out the details of this small town community at work and at play, eliciting lean, unmannered performances from his ensemble cast. Paula is both a coming of age tale, confidently realised, as well as an insightful portrait of the wider dynamics of Argentine society.

Maria Delgado
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People who added this item 24 Average listal rating (16 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.9
Tanna (2015)
The narrative debut of acclaimed documentarians Bentley Dean and Martin Butler set on the Vanuatu island of Tanna.

Filmed on the remote island of Tanna in Vanuatu, this visually ravishing film tells the story of Wawu, a young woman who has fallen in love with her chief’s grandson, Dain. Despite their desire to marry, Wawa’s family forbid this union. When an inter-tribal war breaks out with a neighbouring community, her hand is unwittingly promised as part of the peace negotiations. With the threat of separation looming, Wawa and Dain abandon their homes in an attempt to be together, causing further upset between the warring clans. Based on the true story that took place in 1985, this is a stunningly photographed, evocative tale of two star-crossed lovers fighting the laws of ancient tradition and tribal custom. Working with an extraordinary cast of non-actors, acclaimed documentary filmmakers Martin Butler and Bentley Dean have made an arresting narrative debut, expanding on their previous work with indigenous communities, resulting in a truly special film.

Michael Blyth
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People who added this item 13 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.5
L'attesa (2015)
Juliette Binoche shines in this emotionally rich drama about a grieving mother welcoming her son’s fiancée to her idyllic home, whilst concealing the tragedy.

Juliette Binoche is excellent as Anna, a grief stricken mother, anchoring this plaintive, emotionally complex and original story from first time filmmaker, Piero Messina. Still reeling from the sudden death of a loved one and roaming around in a large house in Sicily, Anna is forced out of her shell when Jeanne, her son’s estranged fiancée, comes to stay, but she cannot reveal the recent tragedy that has befallen them. So Anna pretends that they are waiting for the son to arrive, encouraging her young guest to enjoy her hospitality, knowing that sooner or later the secret must come out. Over the course of a few days a sensitive and emotionally rich drama plays out, as Jeanne tries to understand her boyfriend’s mother and learn what is really going on. Handsomely mounted, this is subtle, thoughtful filmmaking, featuring an intelligent script and nuanced direction from newcomer Messina.

Adrian Wootton
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People who added this item 1 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.1
Wedding Doll (2015)
Hagit is determined to build a life for herself no matter what obstacles she has to overcome, in this fascinating portrait of the relationship between a mother and daughter.

Though picked on from a young age because of her learning disabilities, 24-year-old Hagit is both fiercely independent and obsessed with the idea of getting married. Whilst her doting divorcée mother Sarah is torn between protecting her daughter and living her own life, Hagit works in a small family run toilet paper factory, where a secret romance starts to develop with Omri, her boss’s son. But when the failing factory is set to close, their relationship is affected. Award-winning documentary filmmaker Nitzan Gilady received the Best First Film Award at this year’s Jerusalem Film Festival for his accomplished directorial debut (and a FIPRESCI Special Mention for the beautifully nuanced screenplay), which brings issues surrounding social stigma into sharp focus. Outstanding performances by Asi Levi (Best Actress at Jerusalem Film Festival) as Sarah and Moran Rosenblatt as Hagit, whose luminous smile is the beating heart of the film, bring the characters to life, adding to the emotional power of this affecting story.

Elhum Shakerifar
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People who added this item 389 Average listal rating (319 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 6.8
A family in 17th century New England are torn apart by tension and the suspicion of witchcraft.

In 17th-century New England, a devout Christian family are banished from their plantation. They relocate to a humble farm situated on the edge of a dense forest to live a life of self-sufficiency. With the elements taking their toll and food growing scarce, the family are thrown into despair when their youngest child inexplicably goes missing. As they hunt desperately for the lost child, tensions and paranoia breeds within the family and the growing belief that a supernatural force is at work slowly leads them to turn on each other. Taking place decades before the infamous Salem witch trials of the 1690s, Robert Eggers’ (Best Director, Sundance Film Festival) gruelling tale of hysteria and sorcery is a profoundly unsettling and visionary work, capturing the unrelenting bleakness of its period setting with uncompromising conviction. Often terrifying, although by no means a traditional horror film, this hellish descent into madness is a cruel, sometimes enigmatic and entirely singular experience.

Michael Blyth
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Documentary Competition



The Grierson Award recognises films with integrity, originality, and social or cultural significance.
People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.2
The traditions that have been passed through generations of a small rural Portuguese village come face-to-face with the shifting desires of a young, mobile generation.

In Uz, a rural village in northern Portugal, a family of farmers has been working the land for generations. Daniel is a younger member of the family and unlike many his age, who have been attracted away by the appeal of urban life, he has decided to stay. While the village gets ready for its annual fair, Daniel is temporarily distracted from his daily labour by an attractive young woman and the possibility of love and companionship. Following the cycle of the seasons and the village’s calendar landmarks, first-time director João Pedro Plácido draws warmth and humour with his impressionistic portrait of a young man on the brink of adulthood in a place where family and tradition weigh heavily on one’s life choices. With watchful sensitivity for his subject and a distinctive eye for the beauty of the dramatic landscape around him, Plácido proves himself to be a confident new director.

Laure Bonville
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People who added this item 2 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 9.5 IMDB Rating 7.3
Daunting testimonies of Israeli soldiers returning from the Six Day war revealed following 45 years of censorship.

A week after the Six-Day War in 1967, which resulted in Israel’s critical victory over its neighbouring states and the tripling of the area under its control, a group of young Kibbutzniks led by acclaimed writer Amos Oz recorded intimate conversations with soldiers returning from the front. Miles away from the euphoria of victory, these testimonies reveal ordinary men who were guilt-ridden and stunned at the horrors inflicted on Arab civilians, foretelling further troubles to come. Most of these recordings were buried by the Israeli army, silencing doubts about the legitimacy of the war in Israel’s collective consciousness. Determined to shed a different light, documentarian Mor Loushy gained unprecedented access to these recordings, which she interweaves with rarely seen footage of the conflict. Even 45 years on, the voices heard in Censored Voices are both devastating and topical. And this film, playing a crucial role in understanding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, shouts out to be seen and heard.

Laure Bonville
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A bold, compelling account of a Death Row convict who decides to take his case to court, not to seek freedom but to petition for his execution.

After 23 years on Death Row, a convicted murderer petitions the court for his execution. As he tells his story directly to camera, you gradually realise that nothing is quite as clear-cut as it at first seemed. The Fear of 13 is a stylistically daring experiment in storytelling – in effect a one-man play. Part monologue, part confessional and part performance, the film is illustrated with hyper-stylised imagery contextualising a narrative as compelling as any crime drama and features a final, shocking twist that casts his life in a new light. The protagonist carries the film with his charisma and literary turn of phrase recounting his experiences on the wrong side of the law, but David Sington’s film is more than an account of one man’s incarceration; it is both a damning indictment of the US penal system and an emotional meditation on the redemptive power of love and literature.

Christine Bardsley
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People who added this item 0 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 8
An inspiring account of four outstanding photojournalists in Afghanistan’s fledgling free press as they report on current issues from an Afghan perspective.

This documentary shows Afghanistan as you have never seen it – through the lenses of Afghans themselves. While the Taliban ruled photography was a crime. Since their fall a media revolution has begun. A fledgling free press has emerged, although with the withdrawal of foreign troops it has had to face dangerous, often lethal, challenges on the ground. Debut directors Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli follow four courageous Afghan photojournalists – Najibullah Musafer and Wakil Kohsar, and husband-and-wife team Massoud Hossaini and Farzana Wahidy – as they strive to reclaim their country’s identity lost through decades of war, violence and oppression. Employing skilfully assembled vérité footage, interviews, photojournalism and previously unseen archival footage, secretly shot during the Taliban regime, the photographers’ commitment, camaraderie and investigative drive shine through. Their collective eye for unexpected beauty reframes Afghanistan for themselves, the world and the future.

Christine Bardsley
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BFI London Film Festival (17 lists)
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Published 2 years, 11 months ago



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