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BFI London Film Festival 2017

The 4th of October this year saw the start of the world’s most accessible major international film festival, as filmmakers and media from across the globe joined the great British public in the West End and beyond for 12 days of film promotion and appreciation at the 61st London Film Festival (LFF), brought to us by the British Film Institute (BFI). Once again over 240 films from all corners of the globe were on show, and of course there were prizes awarded for the films in competition this year.

As the bold and beautiful stars graced the glitzy red carpets across the iconic Leicester Square, and Londoners were treated to a full spectrum of global cinema, often many months before general release, we break down the big events at the festival this year. You can also see the full schedule of this year’s LFF and much more on the official BFI site at http://www.bfi.org.uk/lff and all of our LFF reviews so far here . . . but stay tuned for more.

 

Galas & Screenings

Week 1

Wednesday the 4th

Breathe

Image Source: Getty Images

In what is quickly becoming a new tradition at the LFF, the festival was officially opened with a gala screening of yet another biographical British period piece with a strong social message, as Andy Serkis assembled his cast for a European premiere of his directorial debut ‘Breathe’—the story of British adventurer Robin Cavendish, whose life is turned upside down after becoming paralyzed by polio, only to become one of the longest responaut survivors of the disease and a tireless advocate for the disabled, thanks to the unwavering support and undying love of his wife.

Serkis and his stars Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander and Hugh Bonneville were joined by producer and Robin Cavendish’s son Jonathan Cavendish along with his widow Diana Cavendish, ‘Breathe’ is out in UK cinemas on the 27th of October and in the US on the 13th of October, you can see our LFF review here.

Breathe @ The LFF 2017 (courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

 

 

Brigsby Bear

Image Source: Sony Pictures

Day one at the LFF also saw a screening for one of the more charming and quirkier entries this year, as star/creator Kyle Mooney was joined by director and fellow SNL alumnus Dave McCary for a screening of their comedic concoction and storytelling homage ‘Brigsby Bear’; the story of a man trying to find his place in the world after being released from a lifetime of captivity, using his favourite kid’s TV show—made for an audience of one—to connect to the world and bring joy to many. ‘Brigsby Bear’ is out now in US cinemas, and on the 8th of December in the UK, you can see our LFF review here.

Brigsby Bear trailer (courtesy of BFI)

 

 

The Summit

Image Source: Warner Bros.

The first Wednesday also signalled the first Spanish language entry at this years LFF, in the form of Santiago Mitre’s character piece and human drama ‘The Summit’. A story centred around the president of Argentina and a crucial summit at a Chilean mountaintop retreat, where Latin America leaders are meeting to secure energy trading power for the region, but where shady political dealings and personal family drama conspire to challenge a supposedly honest man’s integrity.‘The Summit’ is out now in Argentina with no UK release date yet.

The Summit Trailer

 

 

Thursday the 5th

Mudbound

Image Source: Getty Images

A rather busy first Thursday at this year’s festival culminated with Netflix expanding their global film festival presence with the gala for writer/director Dee Rees’ racially-charged American period drama ‘Mudbound—the story of two families forced together by their shared misfortunes on a muddy Mississppi farm, and the two young men who return home from their service in the second world war, only to struggle with adjusting to civilian life and the glaring racial injustices of the American south.

Rees was joined on the Leicester square red carpet by her stars Mary J. Blige, Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell and Carey Mulligan, ‘Mudbound’ is released on Netflix on the 7th of November.

Mudbound at the LFF (courtesy of BFI)

 

 

Wonderstruck

Image Source: Getty Images

The second day at this year’s LFF also saw a gala screening of the latest Todd Haynes drama ‘Wonderstruck’; the intersecting story of two American 12-year-olds who are separated by geography and half a century but connected by shared experiences, only to come together through cosmic forces and unravel the wondrous mystery of what links them. Haynes was on hand with two of his younger stars Oakes Fegley and Jaden Michael as well as writer Brian Selznick and producers Pamela Koffler, Christine Vachon and John Sloss. ‘Wonderstruck’ is out on the 20th of October in the US with no UK date yet, you can see our review here.

Todd Haynes on Wonderstruck at the LFF (courtesy of TheUpcoming)

 

 

Lean on Pete

Image Source: Getty Images

Thursday also provided a first look at an official competition entry at this year’s festival with the screening of Andrew Haigh’s British-made classic American wanderer drama ‘Lean on Pete’—the story of a stoic teenage loner who forms a strong bond with a racehorse after suffering a personal tragedy, embarking on an impromptu journey across the American Northwest to find belonging, only for their adventure to take a sobering turn. Writer/director Haigh brought along his young lead Charlie Plummer to walk the red carpet, ‘Lean on Pete’ is out on the 16th of February 2018 in the UK, you can see our LFF review here.

Andrew Haigh on Lean on Pete at the LFF (courtesy of TheUpcoming)

 

 

Ava

Image Source: Bac Films

The first look at a ‘First Feature Competition’ entry also took place on Thursday with the screening of Léa Mysius’s daring and unconventional French coming-of-age drama ‘Ava’—a story of young love and sexual awakening as a stoic and detached 13-year-old girl reacts to the inevitable loss of her eyesight by embarking on an accelerated journey of formative experiences, and falls hard for the local wild-child. Writer/director Mysius was on hand to present a film already released in French cinemas but with no confirmed UK date, you can see our LFF review here.

Ava trailer

 

 

Good Time

Image Source: Getty Images

Robert Pattinson was also in town on Thursday along with his director Josh Safdie for an out-of-competition screening of their crime thriller ‘Good Time’; starring Pattinson as a bank robber who plunges deeper into the criminal underworld and a dangerous race against time to spring his recently incarcerated brother from jail. ‘Good Time’ is out now in US cinemas and on the 17th of November in the UK, you can see our review here.

Good Time trailer (courtesy of A24)

 

 

Stronger

Image Source: Getty Images

US superstar Jake Gyllenhaal rounded off Thursday’s proceedings as he attended a screen talk to present an out-of-competition screenings of his upcoming biographical survival drama ‘Stronger’—chronicling the trials of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman, as he struggles with life-changing injuries and becoming an unwilling symbol of hope and resistance for a city and a nation. ‘Stronger’ is out now in US cinemas and on the 8th of December in the UK, you can see our review here.

Jake Gyllenhal interview on Stronger at the LFF (Courtesy of Holly Bytes)

 

 

Friday the 6th

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Image Source: Getty Images

The first Friday this year culminated with a gala screening for yet another Netflix presentation as director Noah Baumbach brought along his iconic stars Dustin Hoffman, Adam Sandler and Emma Thompson for a screening of their quirky urban family dramedy—the story of a quirky, dysfunctional and estranged New York family who come together and rally around their difficult and imposing artist father. ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’ is out now on Netflix, you can see our LFF review here.

The Meyerowitz Stories LFF press conference (courtesy of TheUpcoming)

 

 

The Double Lover (L’amant double)

Image Source: Mars Films

Friday also saw the gala screening for François Ozon’s latest tense French drama/thriller ‘The Double Lover’; the tale of a beautiful young lady who falls for her psychologist, only to discover that there may be more to his identity than meets the eye. ‘The Double Lover’ is out on the 20th of October in the UK.

The Double Lover trailer (courtesy of TheUpcoming)

 

 

Loveless (Nelyubov)

Image Source: Altitude Film

The start of the first weekend at this year’s LFF also brought the Russian official competition entry (and eventual winner) as writer/director Andrey Zvyagintsev treated us to his latest critique of modern Russian society with the screening of ‘Loveless’; the story of a self-centred middle-class couple on the road to divorce, who are confronted with their own loveless upbringing and the neglectful treatment of their young son after he disappears. ‘Loveless’ is out now in Russia and on the 10th of November in UK cinemas, you can see our LFF review here.

Loveless trailer (courtesy of TheUpcoming)

 

 

Journey’s End

Image Source: Getty Images

Friday’s proceedings were rounded off with a gala screening for Saul Dibb’s World War I trench drama ‘Journey’s End’; an adaptation of the R.C. Sherriff stageplay which follows a company of British soldiers as they excruciatingly await an inevitable attack, while their commanding officers begin to succumb to the pressures of brutal trench warfare. Director Dibb was in attendance with a small taste of his all-star British cast in the form of Sam Claflin and Toby Jones, plus producers Guy de Beaujeu and Simon Reade, ‘Journey’s End’ is out on the 2nd of February 2018 in the UK.

Journey’s End at the LFF (courtesy of BFI)

 

 

Saturday the 7th

Battle of the Sexes

Image Source: Getty Images

Equality and female empowerment were the themes of the day on the first Saturday at the LFF this year, culminating in the gala screening of Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s biographical period dramedy ‘Battle of the Sexes’; a story of the struggle for equal rights in professional tennis, set against the backdrop of the media circus surrounding the match between legendary women’s world number one Billie Jean King and retired male pro and flamboyant hustler Bobby Riggs in 1973.

Directors Faris and Dayton were joined on the Leicester Square red carpet by their stars Emma Stone, Andrea Riseborough and Elisabeth Shue, as well as the great Billie Jean King herself, ‘Battle of the Sexes’ out now in the US and on the 24th of November in the UK, you can see our review here.

Battle of the Sexes at the LFF (courtesy of BFI)

 

 

120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)

Image Source: Getty Images

Saturday also gave us a look at another official competition entrant in the form of Robin Campillo’s semi-biographical French LGBT drama ‘120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)’—a story revolving around the AIDS awareness activism in Paris during the early 90s, dissecting the cause and changing group dynamics while providing a personal and unflinching look at the trials and tribulations of activists involved. ‘120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)’ is out on the 20th of October in the US, and on the 6th of April 2018 in the UK.

120 Beats Per Minute trailer (Courtesy of TheUpcoming)

 

 

Redoubtable

Image Source: Getty Images

‘La France’ doubled its presence on Saturday as Oscar-winner Michel Hazanavicius brought along his stars Louis Garrel, Stacy Martin and Bérénice Bejo for the gala screening of their own biographical drama ‘Redoubtable’; a story following legendary French ‘New Wave’ filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard as he begins a love affair with young actress Anne Wiazemsky—20 years his junior—during the existential period in the late 1960s when his Marxist world view and outsider persona was truly crystallised. ‘Redoubtable’ is now in France, with no UK date yet.

Redoubtable Q&A at the LFF (courtesy of BFI)

 

 

Ingrid Goes West

Image Source: Getty Images

Saturday also saw some further American presence as director Matt Spicer was joined by his leading lady Aubrey Plaza and co-star Billy Magnussen for a screening of their dark modern comedy/drama about obsession and emotional instability ‘Ingrid Goes West’. The story of a troubled young lady who follows her social media obsession to L.A. where she strategically inserts herself into the life of her unsuspecting social media star and lifestyle ‘guru’ idol. ‘Ingrid Goes West’ is out now in the US and on the 17th of November in the UK, check out our review here.

Ingrid Goes West trailer (Courtesy of Neon)

 

 

Sunday the 8th

Last Flag Flying

Image Source: Getty Images

Not to be outdone by Netflix, Amazon also made their presence felt at this year’s festival as director Richard Linklater was accompanied by one of his leading men Bryan Cranston, for a gala screening of their reflective and poignant road comedy/drama ‘Last Flag Flying’. A story with the footprints of Hal Ashby’s ‘The Last Detail’, following a Vietnam veteran who enlists the help of his estranged army buddies to bury his fallen soldier son, embarking on a road trip which will force them to reflect on a changing world and the notion of brothers in arms. ‘Last Flag Flying’ is out on the 3rd of November in the US, with no UK date yet, you can check out our review here.

Last Flag Flying at the LFF (courtesy of BFI)

 

 

Blade of the Immortal

Image Source: Getty Images

Sunday also brought a Japanese presence to the LFF, as prolific director Takashi Miike treated us to his 100th credit in a gala screening of the comically violent samurai revenge epic and Manga adaptation ‘Blade of the Immortal’. The story of a skilled but cursed immortal Samurai who agrees to help a young girl avenge her brutally murdered parents in an effort to regain his soul and achieve inner peace. ‘Blade of the Immortal’ is out on the 8th of December in the UK and on the 3rd of November in US cinemas, check out our LFF review here.

Blade of the Immortal trailer (courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)

 

 

Mutafukaz

Image Source: Ankama

LFF audiences were also treated to a dose of animation on Sunday, and a truly bizarre dose at that, in the form of a unique Shoujirou Nishimi and Guillaume Renard blend of genres, styles and cultures that is ‘Mutafukaz’. A semi cyberpunk dystopian yet contemporary sci-fi fantasy which blends French and US hip-hop culture with Japanese anime and poverty-stricken urban living—following a young deadbeat and his friends in the rundown city of ‘Dark Meat’, as he goes on the run while uncovering the mystery of his orphaned upbringing . . . and the major planet-altering conspiracy that’s linked to it. ‘Mutafukaz’ has no confirmed release dates yet.

Mutafukaz Trailer

 

 

Gemini

Image Source: Neon

Sunday also brought a screening for Aaron Katz’s stylish neo-noir L.A. mystery ‘Gemini’; a story centred around a personal assistant to a young movie star who turns sleuth after she becomes embroiled in a suspected murder, forced to unravel a mystery which makes her question her relationship with her employer and the notion of celebrity in the 21st century. ‘Gemini’ has no confirmed release dates yet.

Gemini Trailer

 

Week 2 at the 2017 London Film Festival—>

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