Festival Review: London Film Week 2018

on Monday, December 24, 2018
London Film Week (4-10 December 2018) // Words: Saam Das

Regent Street Cinema in the heart of London's West End was one of the first cinemas in the UK to show moving pictures, back in the late 1890s. Following a restoration by the University of Westminster in 2015, it seems appropriate that this year's London Film Week was held there - a carefully selected celebration of moving pictures, both feature-length and shorts, from across the world.

With only seven features and seven accompanying shorts on offer during London Film Week, it was up to Wash Westmoreland's French period drama 'Colette' (starring Keira Knightley and Dominic West) to lead proceedings on the Opening Night Gala. Other heavy hitters at LFW this year included Gilles Lellouche's Cannes-crowd-pleasing comedy 'Sink Or Swim' and Lee Chang-dong's acclaimed festival smash 'Burning'.

'Burning' was also the big winner at the LFW Awards, taking home Best Film, as well as Best Director and Best Screenplay. Short films also found themselves amongst the winners, with Kyla Simone Bruce's affecting 'Mercury' awarded Best Short, no doubt thanks in part to a terrific performance from Isabella Laughland portraying a young pregnant mother contemplating her future child's future.

Another short, 'Three Centimetres' took the Jury Prize, written and directed by Lara Zeidan. Taking place on a ferris wheel ride in Beirut, this provocative conversation between friends left us longing for more. The beautifully meditative 'Negative Space', a vivid Oscar-nominated stop-motion short, can consider itself unfortunate not to receive an award at LFW but its creators, Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata, are likely satiated with their universal acclaim.

Elsewhere, a stirring performance from Damla Sonmez won the award for Best Acting for her daring role in 'Sibel', a tale of a mute woman in a mountainous Turkey region as she struggles to find her place in her family and the local society. Perhaps most interestingly, much of the communication within the film is via a whistling language, used within the Turkish village which inspired co-directors Çağla Zencirci and Guillaume Giovanetti to develop this brilliant project, as they eloquently explained in the post-film Q&A.

The Jury Prize went to Yolande Zauberman's 'M', an intimate and revealing documentary that explores an open secret in an ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Tel Aviv, Israel - sexual abuse of children. Focussing on a victim trying to make his peace with his past as an adult, 'M' is both fascinating and distressing, with the remarkable openness of its participants on all sides of this issue, albeit with some troubling takes on sexuality.

London Film Week 2018 presented a dazzlingly eclectic selection of films, both shorts and features, and we're looking forward to the 2019 edition to see a new range of talented filmmakers and their films.

London Film Week will return 2-8 December 2019. Find more info at londonfilmweek.com.

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