Continuing in the same vein as last year’s outing, London Film Festival returns for another year and is once again placing precedence on accessibility. The festival will be taking place from the 5th to the 16th of October across a variety of London-based venues, in addition to a selection of UK-wide cinemas that will be screening a portion of this year’s programme. It’s also worth noting that for those who want to enjoy the festival from the comfort of their sofa there’s also the option to watch some of the work on the BFI Player, with features screening there from the 14th to the 23rd of October and short films from the 5th October through to the 23rd.
Each year the festival adapts to the cultural climate, pushing the boundaries of what it constitutes as cinema with the inclusion of series and immersive storytelling featuring alongside the slate of new films that will be showcased and premiered. If you’re keen to go to any of these events and are yet to buy tickets, you can head over to the BFI website now, where they have been on sale to the general public since September 14th.
In terms of what we’re looking forward to watching at the festival, there’s another swathe of features and shorts due to be screened that we can’t wait to catch. Starting with some of the big-hitters, there’s Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, which stars Brendan Fraser, an actor set for what is being dubbed a Brenaissance after drawing critical praise for his performance in this and his upcoming appearance in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon. The Whale looks like a typical Aronofsky affair; strange, cerebral, and uncomfortable, with Fraser portraying an estranged father seeking to reconnect with his seventeen-year-old daughter.
There’s also Martin McDonagh, of Three Billboards and Seven Psychopaths fame, returning with The Banshees of Inisherin, a tragicomedy starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two friends living on a small island off the Irish coast whose afternoon trips to the pub snag a hitch when one of them doesn’t show up. It’s set to blend McDonagh’s typical brand of black comedy with some genuine heart in addition to a few twists and turns along the way.
Guillermo Del Toro’s stop-motion adaptation of Pinocchio looks interesting, with the much-told story a seemingly strong match with the director’s continued interest in the darker side of storytelling. In addition to Del Toro, there are an array of popular directors showcasing work with Ryan Johnson’s Knives Out sequel Glass Onion, Sam Mendes’s personal drama Empire of Light, Park Chan-Wook’s noirish thriller Decision To Leave, Noah Baumbach’s Don DeLillo adaptation White Noise, and Joanna Hogg’s ghostly The Eternal Daughter all set to be screened.
If there’s one feature we’re particularly excited to catch it is Mark Jenkin’s Enys Men. DN has long been fans of Jenkin’s work, having spoken with the filmmaker on numerous occasions, most recently for an extensive interview about his BAFTA-winning feature Bait. Jenkin’s keen curiosity for form makes him a continually fascinating watch, and Enys Men looks to further that interest. It’s set to be a chilling folk horror shot on grainy, textured 16mm about a volunteer environmentalist who records the daily patterns of a rare flower on a remote Cornish island. Abstract and almost dialogue-free, it’s certainly going to be one for the big screen.
Now onto DN’s bread and butter, the short films. As we were just talking about Mark Jenkin, it makes sense to firstly mention Edward Rowe’s Mab Hudel. Rowe starred in Jenkin’s Bait as protagonist Martin and has now directed his own Cornish-language short about a farmer who looks to balance his life as a local rugby legend alongside some romance.
We’re also intrigued to catch Ade Femzo’s Drop Out, about Tobi whose success on the streets leads him into a conflict with his hard-working African mother. It’s up for Best Short this year and looks to be a really intriguing, eye-opening drama. Atsushi Wada is present with animated short Bird in the Peninsula. Wada first caught our attention back at GLAS Animation earlier this year with his quirky film My Exercise and his latest work looks to tap into his wonderfully idiosyncratic disposition. Speaking of superbly strange shorts, we’re keen to watch Maria Estela Paiso’s It’s Raining Frogs Outside which looks to be a brilliantly baffling fever dream of a doc. And the last short film we’ll mention is An Avocado Pit, a late-night drama from Director Ary Zara. Set on the streets of Lisbon, it sees a trans woman and cis man find common ground during a chance nighttime encounter.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the features and shorts on offer at LFF this year only scratch the surface of what the festival has in store for its 66th outing and if you’re keen to delve deeper into the wide-ranging programme it’s available over on the BFI’s website in all its glory. You can also check back on DN’s pages during the festival itself where as always we’ll be sharing our Best of Fest picks for both the shorts and features on offer alongside interviews with some of the exciting filmmakers screening at LFF this year.