Preview: A Music Fan's Guide To The 2018 BFI London Film Festival

on Monday, October 08, 2018
BFI London Film Festival (10-21 October 2018) // Words: Saam Das

The BFI London Film Festival 2018 is upon us for yet another year - an impressive 62nd edition. We're on hand to guide you through as many of the music-related films at the 2018 LFF as we possibly can. Many of these films sadly won't make an appearance otherwise in UK cinemas, and for those that do, you'll miss out on the oft-interesting introductions and Q&As that characterise these films' appearances at a film festival.


It seems sensible to begin our music-led guide with the LFF's dedicated strand to the creative process and artistic expression. There are profiles a-plenty on offer with 'After The Screaming Stops' (on Bros, aka Matt and Luke Goss, 'Bad Reputation' (on Joan Jett), 'Shut Up And Play The Piano' (on Chilly Gonzales), and 'Rudeboy: The Story Of Trojan Records' (on the influential London-based label).

Of particular note however are Ethan Hawke's directorial debut ('Blaze') and 'Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story'. The latter examines the bizarre cult musician/comedian Frank Sidebottom, who inspired the posthumous 'Frank' in 2014, with Michael Fassbender in the lead role. Hawke's biopic 'Blaze' is understandably more grounded, a tribute to Texan folk singer Blake Foley, with Ben Dickey in the title role.

Another non-documentary directorial feature debut with music at its heart is Ed Lilly's 'VS.', which brings us back much closer to London. Having directed music videos for the likes of Frank Turner, Lilly takes a fictional look into the Southend (we're hoping for an appearance of the area's excellent crazy golf courses) underground battle-rap scene, drawing inescapable comparisons to '8 Mile'.


Several other films across the LFF 2018 programme have a focus on music, such as the Festival Gala, 'Wild Rose'. Starring Jessie Buckley - a recent lead in the twisted 'Beast', opposite folk singer-songwriter Johnny Flynn - and the brilliant duo of Sophie Okonedo and Julie Walters, this tale of a Glaswegian single mum aspiring to be a country singer looks set to be a crowd pleaser.

If you're going to watch one film this year that features black metal, popstar Sky Ferreira, and Rory Culkin, make it Jonas Akelund's 'Lords Of Chaos'. The Swedish director is perhaps best known for his music videos, such as The Prodigy's 'Smack My Bitch Up' and Madonna's 'Ray Of Light', and has based on his new film on a book rather terrifyingly entitled 'Lords Of Chaos: The Bloody Rise Of The Satanic Metal Underground'. Sounds jolly.

On a more tangential (and considerably lighter) note, documentary 'United Skates' highlights the rollerskating sub-culture in the US that originally helped kickstart the musical careers of hip-hop legends like Queen Latifah and Busta Rhymes.


Combining with 'Gone Girl' writer Gillian Flynn, Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen's follow-up to '12 Years A Slave' is the hotly anticipated 'Widows'. Appropriately, the London-born director has been deservedly given the Opening Night Gala and we're eager to see what he has up his sleeve in a film soundtracked by the ever-brilliant Hans Zimmer.

From a seasoned composer to a more unexpected one - Radiohead's Thom Yorke recently revealed his regret at turning down the opportunity to soundtrack David Fincher's 'Fight Club. Yorke accepted 'Call Me By Your Name' director Luca Guadagnino invitation for 'Suspiria', a re-imagining of Dario Argento's 1977 horror of the same name.


Sam Riley is now a well-established actor but we'll never forget his stint as frontman of Leeds upstarts 10,000 Things, who made a brief but fairly prominent impression in the mid-noughties with releases on Domino and Polydor. At the LFF 2018, Riley finds himself in two prominent British films.

Firstly, versatile director Ben Wheatley's 'Happy New Year, Colin Burstead' which features a rather impressive ensemble cast including Neil Maskell ('Kill List'), Doon Mackichan ('Smack The Pony'), and Asim Chaudry (the inimitable Chabuddy G from 'People Just Do Nothing'). Furthermore, the consistently brilliant Clint Mansell ('Pi', 'Moon', 'Loving Vincent') is on hand to score the film.

Riley will also be appearing in the Bill Nighy-led 'Sometimes Always Never', with Jenny Agutter and Alice Lowe among another excellent supporting cast. Elsewhere, we see Savages frontwoman Jehnny Beth's acting chops in French feature 'An Impossible Love', based on a novel by Christine Angot, who also co-wrote last year's 'Let The Sunshine In' with Claire Denis.


One of the more unusual (and arguably best) aspects of the BFI London Film Festival is its mix of live music and film - we've caught a couple of performances over the years such as Bear's Den and The Staves combining live following a screening of their tour doc 'Austin To Boston' in 2014. This year, 'The Great Victorian Moving Picture Show' brings us turn-of-the-20th-century restored short films of London life in IMAX, accompanied by live music from John Sweeney and his Biograph Band.

Speaking of shorts, 'The Velvet Underground Played At My High School' takes a fairly unique look at an early gig from the iconic outfit based on co-director Anthony Jannelli's experiences as a teen watching the band in 1965. The animated effort is one of a number of music-led shorts in the 'This Is The Sound, This Is The Picture' programme - we're particularly interested in Caroline Catz's piece on the uncredited female creator of the 'Doctor Who' theme music, 'Delia Derbyshire: The Myths And Legendary Tapes'.

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