Preview: BFI London Film Festival 2013

on Friday, October 04, 2013
BFI London Film Festival (9-20 Oct '13) // Words: Team FG

The world renowned BFI London Film Festival returns this month for its edition, opening and closing with a Tom Hanks double bill - diving head first into proceedings via hijack thriller 'Captain Phillips' and exiting with 'Saving Mr Banks', a biopic surrounding the film adaptation of 'Mary Poppins'. With tickets still on sale to many films, we've compiled a list of our most anticipated festival offerings.

'12 Years A Slave'

Antebellum-era America was tackled in bloody fashion with Tarantino’s 'Django Unchained' last year, but Steve McQueen will no doubt take a wildly different approach in '12 Years A Slave', the tale of Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor) a free man living in New York, who is kidnapped and sold into brutal slavery. With Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch also starring, expectations are high! .

'Blue Is The Warmest Colour'

This year’s Palme D’Or winner has raised plenty of eyebrows thanks to its extended sex scenes, but Abdellatif Kechiche’s ‘Blue is the Warmest Colour’ also promises a compelling, mature treatment of a subject often neglected by mainstream cinema: the birth, growth and decline of a relationship between two young women.

'Chinese Puzzle'

Relatively unheard of in a mainstream context, this series of films has built a cult following. Almost anyone who has ever studied a European language will have been indoctrinated with the frantic rom-com 'L'Auberge Espagnole' and 'Les Poupee Russes'. The story has taken the central couple to their 40s and a far cry from the foolhardy student antics of old but onto a new journey in 'Casse-Tete Chinoise'.

'Don Jon'

As explained in Raman FG's most anticipated films of the next however long, the directorial debut from Joseph Gordon-Levitt has the great premise of modern romance tampered by sex addiction. Having established himself as a popular screen presence, it's pleasing to note that Gordon-Levitt also stars as the titular character.

'The Double'

Richard Ayoade follows up 2010’s 'Submarine' with another unconventional love story. This adaptation of Dostoevsky’s novella transports the tale from 19th century Russia to contemporary America, with Jesse Eisenberg starring opposite Mia Wasikowska as an unfulfilled office clerk whose life begins to unravel when his uncanny doppelganger starts working at his company.


Alfonso Cuaron returns with the follow-up to his stunning 2006 Oscar-nominated dystopian drama 'Children Of Men', which looks set to be similarly critically acclaimed. Turning his deft hand to space and 3D, 'Gravity' may well trump the commerical success of Cuaron's previous film thanks to its big name stars, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.

'Kill Your Darlings'

Firmly abandoning his Harry Potter tag with a revelatory performance as Allen Ginsberg, Daniel Radcliffe leads a strong cast (including Dane DeHaan and Elizabeth Olsen) in this stylised take on the beginnings of the Beat Generation. A formidable debut from director John Krokidas.

'Only Lovers Left Alive'

Director Jim Jarmusch takes the vampire myth into new territory with this tale of two estranged undead lovers, Adam and Eve – played by the aptly ethereal-looking Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. The pair’s reunion is disrupted by the arrival of Eve’s sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska), in a story that spans centuries and continents.

'The Past'

2011's 'A Separation' was an incredible achievement for even-handed storytelling when dealing with complex relationship and family issues, justly rewarded with an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Director Asghar Farhadi is looking to take us to that uncomfortable but gripping theme again in 'Le Passé'.


Based on a true story of a mother (Judi Dench) searching for her son (Steve Coogan), this understated quaint tale that allows its two great leads to flourish. Director Stephen Frears has a great eye for pathos, and with Coogan also on hand as a screenwriter, 'Philomena' matches tenderness with humour.

'The Zero Theorem'

Terry Gilliam is one of the visionary directors of our time, constructing fascinating worlds across a decades-long career. He returns to his favoured dystopian view (as per the likes of 'Brazil' and '12 Monkeys') in 'The Zero Theorem', which also features a bald-headed Christoph Waltz. Colour us intrigued.

'Under The Skin'

Set among Glasgow’s dark backstreets, 'Under The Skin' (directed by Jonathan Glazer, the man behind 2000’s 'Sexy Beast') stars Scarlett Johansson as a man-hunting alien creature. Sounds slightly familiar ('Species', anyone?), but Glazer’s surrealist approach should make for an interesting twist on the extra-terrestrial-femme-fatale theme.

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