Preview: A Look At Some Of The Best Films For Music Fans At The 2017 BFI London Film Festival

on Wednesday, October 04, 2017
2017 BFI London Film Festival (4-15 October 2017) // Words: Saam Das

It was sad to open this year's programme for the BFI London Film Festival and not find a dedicated sonic strand as has been the case in recent years. There are still plenty of music-related films available for consumption however, including this evening's Opening Night Gala 'Breathe', directed by Andy Serkis and scored by Nitin Sawhney.

Fellow FG scribe Lauren Johnson-Ginn has already plucked a couple of music-leaning movies on offer, in the form of 'How To Talk To Girls At Parties' and 'Mutafukaz'. The former, a Neil Gaiman adaptation, that features original material from composer Nico Muhly as well as members of Xiu Xiu and The New Pornographers. The latter film, a self-proclaimed dystopian hip-hop sci-fi animation, led by a duo of French rappers. Below you can find some of the other films from the Festival that might catch the eye of a discerning music fan.


The 'Create' strand of the 2017 BFI London Film Festival has gone some way to replacing previous dedicated musical sections, and this year offers documentaries on an arguably forgotten British folk singer ('The Ballad Of Shirley Collins'), a Warren G-led musical movement ('G Funk'), and pioneering punk madams (Here To Be Heard: The Story Of The Slits'), among others.

Perhaps most interesting is 'Bamseom Pirates Seoul Inferno' - an examination of Korean punk upstarts Bamseom Pirates, whose oft ill-advised activism (which includes jokingly championing Kim Jong-il) contrasts the uptight society they inhabit. Having already made waves at the Rotterdam Film Festival, this documentary could make a similarly positive impression in London.

Outside of the 'Create' strand, there are yet more films with music at their heart. Two notable examples are the curious 'Sheikh Jackson' (a dramatic tale of an Islamist preacher whose faith wavers follow the passing of Michael Jackson) and 'The Drummer And The Keeper', directed by former The Fat Lady Sings frontman Nick Kelly.


One of the finest elements of Zack Snyder's divisive 2009 superhero film 'Watchmen' was the manner in which he re-used some of Philip Glass' iconic 'Koyaanisqatsi' score. Glass' latest score is a centerpiece of 'Jane', a documentary of renowned primatologist Jane Goodall directed by Brett Morgen, who brought us the excellent 'Cobain: Montage Of Heck' in 2015.

From one acclaimed composer to another, as A R Rahman also makes an appearance on film at this year's LFF. Rahman, who won an Oscar for his compositions on 2008 LFF Closing Night Gala 'Slumdog Millionaire', combines with Oscar-nominated Iranian director Majid Majdi on slum-based, coming-of-age 'Beyond The Clouds'.

Fellow Academy Award winner Alexandre Desplat also has his work present at the LFF, on Guillermo Del Toro's already impressively well received new romantic fantasy, 'The Shape Of Water'. At the less well-known end of the film's programming comes the archival video essay 'Arcadia', with Adrian Utley of Portishead and Will Gregory of Goldfrapp providing the score.


Double Mercury Prize-nominee Richard Hawley has recorded original material for the soundtrack of 'Funny Cow', starring Maxine Peake as an upcoming female comedian battling a troubled home life and challenging audiences. Corrine Bailey Rae and Ollie Trevers also contribute to the soundtrack, and all three musicians make cameo appearances in this bittersweet offering.

For those who wish to look back, the double whammy of 'My Generation' and the iconic 'Saturday Night Fever' may be of interest. The 4k restoration of the latter is also a director's cut but one that maintains the formidable presence of the Bee Gees on its soundtrack. The Michael Caine-narrated documentary 'My Generation' explores sixties Britain, with contributions from the likes of Paul McCartney, and tracks from The Kinks and The Who.

Very much at the other end of the spectrum comes Seth Ickerman's bonkers grindhouse 'Turbo Killer' short, appearing in the 'Strange Worlds' collection, soundtracked by the bombastic eponymous track from French electro producer Carpenter Brut.


Johnny Flynn is well-established in the music world alongside his Sussex Wit, however he has also significant acting credits on stage and on TV, and a burgeoning career on the big screen. His latest role comes in 'Beast', a British serial killer thriller, seemingly a world away from his folk music background.

The similarly seasoned actor-musician/actress-musician Natalia Tena, who has featured heavily on 'Game Of Thrones' alongside her work as frontwoman of Molotov Jukebox, is one of the leads in Spanish-UK co-production 'Tierra Firme' ('Anchor And Hope'. A film about London, life, and love, as a lesbian couple try to cope with constrained living space when their close friend visits.

Beastie Boys' Ad-Rock (Adam Horowitz to his fam) may be of lesser acting experience but with his group now disbanded following the passing of fellow member Adam Yauch, he has been stepping in front of the camera from time to time. Fiery drama 'Golden Exits' is Horowitz's most recent effort, and he joins a strong cast including Chloe Sevigny and Jason Schwartzman.


As mentioned in the opening paragraph to this piece, Nitin Sawhney has scored tearful melodrama 'Breathe', the latest from a now prolific artist. Another former Mercury nominee, Sawhney will be appearing at the Festival in person as part of the LFF Connects series to discuss his career, including his forthcoming score on 'The Jungle Book', that sees him team up again with 'Breathe' director Andy Serkis.

Search for these films and purchase any LFF remaining tickets at

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