58th BFI London Film Festival (8-19 October 2014) // Words: Saam Das
The BFI London Film Festival returns for its 58th edition this October, with over 200 films in tow - including its usual gamut of UK and world premieres, reissued and restored classics, as well as great support for British filmmakers. Our preview below takes in some of the highlights from the programme, but with such breadth and depth on offer, there's plenty more to choose from.
The Festival begins with Alan Turing biopic, 'The Imitation Game', which sees Benedict Cumberbatch step into the iconic mathematician's shoes as he helped break the Enigma code during World War II, and the persecution he faced for his sexuality. The closing night gala is reserved for 'Fury' - another film based around WWII, although 'End Of Watch' director David Ayer opts to take the viewer onto the frontline with his trademark intensity.
Other galas include Xavier Dolan's 'Mommy', early Oscar contender 'Foxcatcher', Mike Leigh's 'Mr Turner', Palme D'or winner 'Winter Sleep', and Jason Reitman's 'Men, Woman, And Children'.
Clare Stewart has again brought back thematic strands to the programme, and of particualr note to our readers will undoubtedly be the Sonic element. (No relation to the video game character.) 'Bjork: Biophilia Live' is the Sonic gala but the strand also includes Communion Records journey 'Austin To Boston' and hip-hop documentary 'Nas: Time Is Illmatic'.
The Official Competition sees indie darling Francois Ozon getting a nod for 'The New Girlfriend', alongside Cannes-award winning 'Leviathan', and Carol Morley's follow-up to previous LFF offering 'Dreams Of A Life'. Morley's 'The Falling' is just one of a number of British-led efforts at the Festival including perhaps most notably Michael Winterbottom's take on the Amanda Knox case, 'The Face Of An Angel'.
The Treasures strand is particularly intriguing this year, and perhaps one of the few opportunities to see such classics on the big screen. Its range of acclaimed efforts offers such variety that the animated 'Animal Farm' is programmed alongside gritty documentary 'Hoop Dreams', by way of seminal horror 'Texas Chain Saw Massacre'.
Other notable films include Jean-Luc Godard's 3D (yes, you read that right. And apparently the 3D is actually pretty nifty.) 'Goodbye To Language', Donnie Yen martial arts vehicle 'Kung Fu Jungle', and the Gareth Edwards-less sequel to his 2010 debut feature - 'Monsters: Dark Continent'.
Many of these films may already be sold out - however, Thursday 2nd October will see any return tickets released on the BFI website. This is in addition to the traditional hope-for-the-best approach whereby you can join the standby queue at each cinema's box office approximately half an hour before your chosen screening, and if the odds are in your favour, you may well be rewarded. It's worked for us before so if you have the time, please do give it a go.
Find more info and book London Film Festival tickets at bfi.org.uk.