The BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® showcases a rich and diverse programme of international films and events from both established and upcoming talent over a 12 day celebration of cinema. 2018 sees the 62nd anniversary edition which will take place at venues across the UK capital from the 10th to 21st October. Due to our unique relationships with the film industry and sponsors we can offer unrivaled access to 248 films over 17 London venues, plus special events and after-parties.
Are you looking to entertain a group, staff or clients at a leading film premiere.? We currently have packages available which include pre-event drinks and dinner, walking the red carpet at a leading gala, plus exclusive afterparty for groups of 10-30 people Contact us below quoting GROUP BOOKINGS for our latest offerings.
The 2017 schedule can be seen below:
Odeon Leicester Square
This year’s Opening Night Gala is a moving true story of courage under profound difficulties, by first-time director and acclaimed British actor Andy Serkis.
Director: Andy Serkis
Producer: Jonathan Cavendish
Screenplay: William Nicholson
Staring: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Hugh Bonneville, Tom Hollander
Starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy, this compelling directorial debut from Andy Serkis is an inspirational love story about two indomitable people who defy the odds and pave the way for change. When dapper and adventurous Robin Cavendish (Garfield) meets self-assured Diana (Foy) at a cricket match, a whirlwind romance ensues. Soon after their wedding, they set out for Nairobi where Robin works as a tea broker. But their new life together takes an abrupt turn when he contracts polio and is given only weeks to live. Determined that her husband’s life should not be restricted by medical and social prejudice, Diana ignores all advice and breaks him out of hospital. With the support of her twin brothers (both played by Tom Hollander) and friend Teddy (Hugh Bonneville), an Oxford professor who invents a wheelchair with a respirator attached, Diana creates an environment in which Robin can thrive and he goes on to lead a long and full life.
Based on the true story of producer Jonathan Cavendish’s parents, William Nicholson’s (Les Misérables, Gladiator) screenplay is emotionally and socially resonant, foregrounding the relationship between this courageous, witty and determined couple, while illuminating the broader impact they had on progressing mobility and access for people with disabilities. Serkis, who is world-renowned for his innovative and intensely physical performances, proves a similarly buoyant director, adopting a spirited and playful style that matches Cavendish’s infectious levity. Featuring terrific performances from its stellar cast – with Garfield and Foy especially vivid – Breathe was shot by three-time Oscar® winner Robert Richardson (JFK, The Aviator, Hugo), and its rich visual texture is enhanced by Nitin Sawhney’s emotive score. We are proud to be opening the 61st BFI London Film Festival with this powerful and affecting film that is also a beacon for remarkable British talent.
Odeon Leicester Square
Director Dee Rees (Pariah) delivers a searing racial drama about two families – one white, one black – set in the Deep South in the 1940s.
Director: Dee Rees
Producers: Sally Jo Effenson, Cassian Elwes, Carl Effenson, Charles D. King, Kim Roth, Christopher Lemole, Tim Zajaros
Screenplay: Dee Rees, Virgil Williams
Staring: Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Mary J Blige, Rob Morgan, Garrett Hedlund
The friendship of two Second World War veterans ignites racial tension in Dee Rees’ majestic epic about two families in the Deep South. Pariah marked Rees as a filmmaker of uncompromising originality and vision; Mudbound retains that distinct voice within a complex narrative about what sets us apart, and perhaps more so, what we all share. Adapting Hillary Jordan’s novel, Rees weaves together multiple threads of two family histories: white farmers the McAllans and the Jacksons, black sharecroppers who lease a plot on the McAllans’ land. Though a genuine ensemble of consistently impressive performances, Laura’s (Carey Mulligan) story spurs the plot. With spinsterhood looming, despite being attracted to his debonair brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund), Laura agrees to marry Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke), and he soon moves the family to the mud-caked Mississippi Delta. Meanwhile, Hap Jackson (Rob Morgan) and his wife Florence (a transformed Mary J Blige) struggle to make small gains sharecropping when the McAllans take their lease. As a post-war comradeship develops between Jamie and the Jacksons’ eldest son, distinguished war hero Ronsel (Jason Mitchell), tensions with bitterly racist McAllan patriarch, Pappy erupt into violence. Rees skillfully draws these stories together, reflecting on how bigotry and intolerance serves no one – a message with fresh relevance given the rise of an emboldened far right in America.
Odeon Leicester Square
R C Sherriff’s acclaimed First World War drama reaches the screen in this all-star adaptation, directed by Saul Dibb (Bullet Boy).
Director: Saul Dibb
Producers: Guy de Beaujeu, Simon Reade
Screenplay: Simon Reade
Staring: Sam Claflin, Asa Butterfield, Toby Jones, Tom Sturridge, Stephen Graham, Paul Bettany.
Men await an attack in the trenches of the First World War in this outstanding, intensely claustrophobic adaption of R C Sherriff’s 1928 play. Monday, 18 March 1918. C Company, led by Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin) is about to take its posting on the front line. Intelligence suggests an imminent German attack and having been all but abandoned by the Commanding Officers, Stanhope knows there is little chance of survival. Trench supplies and munitions are depleted, as is the troop’s morale. In these appalling conditions, each man’s character is laid bare. An adroit cast offer performances of great depth and texture, from Paul Bettany’s Osborne, the very definition of the English ‘stiff upper lip’, to Claflin’s Stanhope, whose own shredded nerves are steeled with alcohol. But the shattered heart of the film is Asa Butterfield as Raleigh – the tender new recruit who ardently requested a placement in order to be close to Stanhope, his sister’s fiancé. Saul Dibb’s taut, confident direction is dread-inducing from the start – set in the cramped, stifling spaces of the trenches, foregrounding the tense personal dramas in Simon Reade’s lean screenplay. Journey’s End brings a fresh and powerful sense of this terrible war’s cost to a generation.
Odeon Leicester Square
Emma Stone and Steve Carell star in this playful true story of the 1970s gender wars played out on the tennis court, while the world watches.
Directors: Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton
Produced by: Christian Colson, Danny Boyle, Robert Graf
Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy
Staring: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue
The legendary 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) takes centre court in this rousing, playful and funny film from Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton (Little Miss Sunshine). The sexual revolution is in full swing and Billie Jean King is number one, but why won’t the US Tennis Association respond to her call for gender equality? Together with the founder of World Tennis magazine Gladys Heldman (Sarah Silverman), she sets forth to lobby the Board, riled by the blatant discrepancy between the prize money offered to male and female players (sound familiar?). Faced with mocking resistance from the blokes in power, the women establish an alternative tournament (now the WTA). Initially buoyed by the success of their venture and the camaraderie of her fellow players, Billie Jean is soon thrown off her game by a blossoming romance with Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough), the arrival of title contender Margaret Court and an unexpected late night call from one-time men’s champ, Bobby Riggs.
A seasoned hustler with a gambling habit and a wife (Elisabeth Shue) who is fast running out of patience, Riggs pitches a challenge match that King ultimately can’t resist – ‘male chauvinist pig versus hairy legged feminist!’. Simon Beaufoy’s (Slumdog Millionaire, The Full Monty) agile screenplay mines the rich comic potential of this central rivalry while honouring the spirit, vulnerability and resilience of Billie Jean, whose off-court battle to come to terms with her own sexuality is at the pulsating heart of the story. Stone is radiant as the player whose impact on gender politics was as powerful as her legendary forehand, while Faris and Dayton deliver aces with another sprightly, enjoyably rebellious film that relishes the fallibility of its characters, as much as their triumphs and serves as an all too timely reminder of how far we still have to go.
Odeon Leicester Square
Richard Linklater’s ruminative comedy finds three men accepting that life isn’t quite what it used to be.
Director: Richard Linklater
Producers: Ginger Sledge, John Sloss
Screenplay: Richard Linklater, Darryl Ponicsan
With Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne
Richard Linklater’s knowing tribute to Hal Ashby’s 1973 classic The Last Detail is both a droll, enjoyably shambolic road movie and a meditation on the futility of war. It’s 2003 and Larry ‘Doc’ Shepherd (Steve Carell) walks into a roadside dive looking for Sal (Bryan Cranston), whom he hasn’t seen since they served in the Vietnam War. A charming loudmouth with a flagrant disregard for authority, Sal is soon enlisted in Doc’s get-the-gang-back-together quest. When they track down Mueller (Laurence Fishburne), they discover he has traded one uniform for another and is now a happily married preacher. The sobering reason for this reunion is revealed when Doc asks for help burying his own son who has returned from Iraq in a casket. Alternately serious and comedic, Linklater’s screenplay was co-written with author Darryl Ponicsan, adapting his 2005 novel – itself a sequel to the book on which Ashby’s film was based. But both the filmmaking and the charismatic cast ensure this film stands very much on its own. Linklater’s ongoing fascination with duration, so materially imbedded in Boyhood, filters through between unspoken lines about the changing nature of warfare, the kind of men these veterans have become and their sense of responsibility to the past.
Odeon Leicester Square
Bottom of Form
A rapturous study in passion and desire from the director of I Am Love and A Bigger Splash.
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Producer: Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges, Rodrigo Teixeira, Marco Morabito, James Ivory, Howard Rosenman
Screenplay: James Ivory
With Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois
In every way as languorous and seductive as its North Italian setting, Luca Guadagnino’s (I Am Love, A Bigger Splash) adaptation of André Aciman’s coming-of-age novel is a sun-kissed, cinematic ode to the ecstasy and exquisite pain of first love. Timothée Chalamet is riveting as Elio, a musically gifted 17-year-old whose idyllic summer break takes a tumultuous turn when Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives to stay at the family palazzo. The physical embodiment of ancient Greco-Roman beauty, Oliver is an all-American doctoral student on a 6-week research trip working with Elio’s father, an antiquities professor. While Oliver slips effortlessly into the heady rhythm of the Italian summer – al fresco dining, bicycle rides and midnight swims – Elio’s casual flirtation with local girlfriend Marzia (Esther Garrel) is soon eclipsed by a more sensual, volatile attraction. From Elio’s renditions of a Bach capriccio to The Psychedelic Furs’ anthemic Love My Way, this is a film that luxuriates in classical art, poetry and music as much as it relishes the candy-colored new romance of its early 80s setting. Guadagnino, working from a screenplay by James Ivory, lingers on fleeting moments of desire, jealousy and affirmation, giving a sublime depth to Elio’s transcendent and ravishingly queer awakening.
Odeon Leicester Square
Master of things that go bump in the night, Guillermo del Toro spins the compelling tale of friendship between a mute woman and an amphibious creature.
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Producers: Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale
Screenplay: Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Staring: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, Octavia Spencer
Drawing on classic 1950s sci-fi B-movies and the on-going fascination with Area 51 conspiracy theories, Guillermo del Toro’s sprightliest tale of the inexplicable is an old-school cinematic joy. At the height of the Cold War, in a secret US laboratory, a young, mute woman begins to communicate with a strange, aquatic creature. Elisa (Sally Hawkins), whose only friends are her gay artist neighbor (Richard Jenkins) and a fellow cleaner (Octavia Spencer), is alarmed by the behavior of research head Strickland (a deliciously cruel Michael Shannon), who sees the creature as nothing more than an oversized lab rat. A fellow scientist (Michael Stuhlbarg) of dubious connections is decidedly more curious, especially when he sees a bond forming between Elisa and the creature. Intertwining sci-fi, horror and gothic romance to spellbinding effect, del Toro’s singular vision is enhanced by Dan Laustsen’s (Crimson Peak) vivid cinematography and Alexandre Desplat’s hypnotic score, which runs the gamut from high-wire thrills to the stirringly romantic. Hawkins, always the most empathetic of actors, is a marvel and she ensures that Elisa’s fierce desire to fight for what’s right never eclipses her sense of innocence. Love takes many shape-shifting forms and this intoxicating film is a pure celebration of tolerance and human connection.
Odeon Leicester Square
The true story of the love affair between Gloria Grahame and young, aspiring actor Peter Turner,
Director: Paul McGuigan
Producers: Barbara Broccoli, Colin Vaines
Screenplay: Matt Greenhalgh
Staring: Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Kenneth Cranham, Stephen Graham, Frances Barber
Annette Bening and Jamie Bell vividly bring to the screen the intense romance between Hollywood icon Gloria Grahame and her much younger lover. In 1981, decades after she rose to fame in Hollywood, the Academy Award®-winning star of The Big Heat, in a Lonely Place and The Bad and the Beautiful, Grahame (Bening) is treading the boards in a modest theatre production when she collapses in a Lancaster hotel. Her health failing, she reaches out to former lover, Liverpudlian actor Peter Turner (Bell). When Peter takes her back to his family home, to the care of his sympathetic mother (Julie Walters), memories of their grand affair soon come flooding back. Adapted from Turner’s own memoir, Paul McGuigan’s consummate study of a truly extraordinary relationship is filled with humor, passion and insight, effortlessly capturing the connection, both emotional and physical, between the pair. Flying dazzlingly in the face of the ‘fading star’ epithet, Bening eloquently portrays a woman who will not compromise her professional ambitions or her desire for personal happiness. And Bell, revelatory in the role, is more than a perfect match in this bracingly romantic and irresistibly sexy love story.
Odeon Leicester Square
For those who loved the biting satire of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster, he returns with another electrifying critique of bourgeois values.
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Producers: Ed Guiney, Yorgos Lanthimos
Screenplay: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou
Staring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic, Alicia Silverstone
Interlacing elements of Greek tragedy, surrealism and absurdist horror, Yorgos Lanthimos’ follow-up to The Lobster (LFF2015) is a deliciously twisted and slyly macabre morality tale. Steven (Colin Farrell) is a wealthy cardiothoracic surgeon who lives a harmonious existence with his ophthalmologist wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) and their two children Kim and Bob. Unbeknownst to his magazine-perfect family, Steven has formed an odd friendship with fatherless teenager Martin, to whom he brings gifts and offers financial support. When Steven decides to introduce Martin to his unsuspecting family, the sinister intentions of this strange young man become frighteningly clear. Shot with cool precision by cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis, the film exudes a clinical calm that is in keeping with Steven and Anna’s professions, but very much at odds with their mounting domestic horrors. The stellar cast delivers unnerving, deliciously off-kilter performances with young Irish actor Barry Keoghan a revelation as the malevolent interloper. The pitch-black script by Lanthimos and regular collaborator Efthimis Filippou (who jointly won the best screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival) shifts allegiances with a slipperiness that belies the film’s relentless, irreversible story logic. A wickedly perverse riff on the myth of Iphigenia, Steven too will discover that all actions have consequences.
Odeon Leicester Square
Smaller doesn’t mean simpler, as Alexander Payne points out in this hilarious satire that manages to keep the laugh rate high while engaging with a wealth of topical issues.Top of Form
Director: Alexander Payne
Producers: Mark Johnson, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Staring: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Kristen Wiig
Alexander Payne (Nebraska, LFF2014) puts climate change, mobility and immigration under the microscope in this utterly bewitching satire starring Matt Damon. In a future that could very well be right now, Norwegian scientists discover a method for shrinking people to pocket-size as part of a grand design to limit humanity’s footprint and save the world. Five years later, a thriving parallel ‘small’ economy has evolved, complete with lifestyle choices and luxury miniature communities. Beige, work-a-day Paul Safranek (Damon) wants to scale-up his options by sizing-down, but things begin to go awry when wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) gets cold feet. Payne and regular collaborator Jim Taylor started work on Downsizing’s wildly inventive screenplay between the making of Sideways (LFF2004) and The Descendants (LFF2011), and this lengthy gestation has seen its underlying topicality become even more urgent and relevant. Immediately shedding its sci-fi skin – just as its protagonists must discard hair and teeth to become small – this is precision, high-concept filmmaking that ripples with wry observational humour and seamlessly integrates its visual effects. Damon, superb as the bewildered everyman, is supported by an appropriately florid Christoph Waltz and a captivating Hong Chau, playing an illegal immigrant who arrives in a parcel.
Odeon Leicester Square
Lynne Ramsay journeys with Joaquin Phoenix into the mind of an ex-soldier gun-for-hire whose own demons are as brutal as the actions of his adversaries.
Director and Screenplay: Lynne Ramsay
Producers: Rosa Attab, Pascal Caucheteux, James Wilson, Lynne Ramsay
Staring: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Alessandro Nivola, Alex Manette, John Doman, Judith Roberts
Lynne Ramsay’s stark inversion of the noir thriller is a devastatingly brutal portrayal of one man’s battle with repression and abuse, anchored by a rage-fueled, Cannes-winning performance from Joaquin Phoenix. Joe (Phoenix) is a Gulf War veteran and former FBI agent turned killer-for-hire, specialising in saving victims from child sex rings and living at home with his ailing mother. When Nina, a US Senator’s daughter is kidnapped, he is contracted to dispense with the perpetrators and save the girl (Ekaterina Samsonov is hauntingly good). Having located Nina in a seedy New York brothel, Joe’s escape plan suddenly derails, unleashing a maelstrom of violence that ultimately takes him deeper into the hallucinatory darkness and closer to the truth. Working from Jonathan Ames’ 2013 novel, Ramsay (who jointly won the best screenplay award in Cannes) is more concerned with the psyche of her unhinged protagonist than she is with the action, and she eschews the spoken word in favor of Phoenix’s eloquent, line-ravaged face. Reuniting several of her key collaborators on We Need to Talk About Kevin (Best Film, LFF2011), her taut, syncopated cinema is intensified by Jonny Greenwood’s pulsating score, Thomas Townend’s expressive camerawork and razor-sharp editing from Joe Bini who rejects exploitation, cutting away from the action rather than to it.
Odeon Leicester Square
Martin McDonagh’s third feature is a scabrously funny drama about the battle between a grieving mother and the local head of law enforcement.
Director and Screenplay: Martin McDonagh
Producers: Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin, Martin McDonagh
Staring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage
Martin McDonagh’s follow-up to Seven Psychopaths (LFF2012) is a characteristically pitch-black comedic drama featuring a blistering central performance from Frances McDormand. It’s been seven months since her daughter was murdered and foul-mouthed, tough-as-nails Mildred Hayes (McDormand) is fed up. Fueled by grief and outraged that the investigation has gone quiet, she provokes the local police department with a series of messages plastered on three disused billboards outside her home town of Ebbing, Missouri. So begins a rapidly escalating and very public feud between Mildred and venerated community leader and family man, Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). The situation is exacerbated when blundering side-kick, Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) gets involved. Just as unhinged as Mildred, but with a significantly lower IQ, Dixon’s penchant for violence is stoked by his leaden, borderline psychotic mother to whom he is unhealthily attached. McDonagh’s screenplays are consistently audacious and his sleight-of-hand here is to make the victim (or more accurately, the victim’s mother), a righteous, nasty woman who is just as hell-bent on rebuffing sympathy as she is on getting justice.
Like many of McDonagh’s best and most profane characters, Mildred has a fibrous moral code. Her indignant blustering is frequently triggered by social injustice and small-town bigotry – ‘it seems to me that the police department is too busy torturing black folks to solve actual crime’ – and her increasingly reckless actions are prompted by a deep-seated sense of guilt and regret. McDonagh’s latest exploration of the American psyche is by turns riotously funny and deeply sobering, cutting to the quick of social division and tearing to shreds – like the tattered billboards that Mildred papers over – the all-American dreaminess of the Capra-esque small town. A universally splendid cast is rounded out by Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Clarke Peters and Caleb Landry Jones.
Key filmmaking talent that were due to attend the Festival’s gala and special presentation screenings include: Galas and Special Presentations: Amma Asante, David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Laura Carmichael, Jack Davenport, Ben Wheatley, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor, Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Nate Parker, Damien Chazelle, Kenneth Lonergan, J.A. Bayona, Lewis MacDougall, Tom Ford, Mira Nair, Lupita Nyong’o, Oliver Stone, Joely Richardson, Lone Scherfig, Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Harshvardhan Kapoor, Saiyami Kher, Park Chan-wook, Bertrand Bonello, Maren Ade, Sandra Hüller, Ben Younger, Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn, Andrea Arnold, Fiona Tan, Xavier Dolan.
Additional filmmaking talent attending for films in competition include: Official Competition: Martin Koolhoven, Mohamed Diab, Paul Verhoeven, François Ozon, Ivan Sen, Mijke de Jong, Barry Jenkins, Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes, Terence Davies, Benedict Andrews, Makoto Shinkai. First Feature Competition: Jorge Riquelme Serrano, Gastón Salgado, Darren Thornton, Seána Kerslake, Houda Benyamina, Johannes Nyholm, Mohamed Ben Attia, William Oldroyd, Naomi Ackie, Hope Dickson Leach, Bartosz M. Kowalski, Gabe Klinger, Lucie Lucas, Julia Ducournau, Wang Yichun, Daouda Coulibaly. Documentary Competition: Jenny Gage, Eva Orner, Jon Nguyen, Claire Simon, Khushboo Ranka, Vinay Shukla, Alma Har’el, Alice Diop, Marco Del Fiol.
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