CINEMA / ΚΙΝΗΜΑΤΟΓΡΑΦΟΣ
BFI London Film Festival

BFI Southbank, major Leicester Square screening venues and independent cinemas across London

Only one day left before the opening of the 56th version of the BFI London Film Festival and the list of films for our must-see selection seems never-ending. For 12 days from 10 November, the city will dazzle again with the best of international cinema. Taking over from the brilliant Sandra Hebron, who led this festival to international admiration for eight years until 2011, Clare Stewart who stepped in as Head of Exhibition in autumn last year has a number of fresh surprises for us.

With a thematic map of focused sections such as love, debate, dare, laugh, thrill, journey and sonic, this year’s Festival programme aims towards an exciting, if not sophisticating, navigation of more than 200 feature films. It’s worth also highlighting the Shorts programme put together by the short film advisor Simon Young and the London Short Film Festival’s own director Philip Ilson and the brilliantly focused and extended Experimenta strand selected by Mark Webber.

Annual events such as international film festivals are a great chance to talk about new ideas with friends and film professionals, meet people who love to explore this medium, renew and reflect but above all escape. And our best advice is: dedicate a few days for a full cinema experience. The Festival’s programme is very rich but our top 15 recommendations can help you kick start your Festival journeys in London this month:

Galas
BEYOND THE HILLS
Cinema’s modern maestro, director-producer-screenwriter Christian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days), returns with a story of real love that can lead one to isolation.

Official Competition
GINGER AND ROSA
Competing with a strong list of candidates including François Ozon’s In the House, Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone, Pablo Larraín’s No and Michael Winterbottom’s Everyday, Sally Potter’s Ginger and Rosa follows two best friends growing up in the era of ill-defined protest of 1960s London.

First feature competition
WADJDA
The debut film of Saudi female director Haifaa Al Mansour gives us a rare glimpse of her country’s society.

Documentary Competition
CANNED DREAMS
Katja Gauriloff’s film is about the powerful and shocking backstage story of what we consume today.

Love
AMOUR
A great chance to keep up with the new project by insightful Austrian director, Michael Haneke (Code Unknown, Funny Games, Benny’s Video).

Debate
THE HUNT
Danish director Thomas Vinterberg, creator of the superb 1998 film Festen, comes back with yet another disturbing subject matter.

Dare
BOY EATING THE BIRD’S FOOD
What is really like living in the capital of a country that is placed in the middle of the European economic meltdown? The debut feature by Ektoras Lygizos observes for an answer (screening together with THE CAPSULE by Athina Rachel Tsangari).

Laugh
MATERIAL
Inspired by young comedian Riaad Moosa, dir-scr Craig Freimond’s new gentle comedy echoes his love to Woody Allen.

Thrill
A FISH
Without revealing too much, Park Hongmin’s debut work is a challenging and moving story.

Cult
ROOM 237, dir Rodney Ascher
Delve into Stanley Kubrick’s world of cinematic perfection and bizarre stories whispered for the making of his 1980 masterpiece The Shining.

Journey
THURSDAY TILL SUNDAY
The much assured debut film by Chilean director Dominga Sotomayor that will take you through a journey of delicate anxieties and realisations both as a child and a grown-up.

Sonic
KINSHASA KIDS
Marc-Henri Wajnberg’s film is a powerful portrait of the Congolese capital featuring great music by a group of kids exposed to real social issues.

Family
ANIMATED SHORTS FOR YOUNGER AUDIENCES
Dig into a programme of adventurous worlds with your young ones.

Shorts
INTIMACY
A programme of 9 short films that focuses on what is that makes us who we are. Includes Eva Weber’s 69.4 Degrees North, Janis Rafailidou’s Exit K1 and Audrey Lam’s Faraways.

Experimenta
Literally it’s worth seeing the whole Experimenta programme for its diversity of films and focus on new talents. This year it also features special guest and Austrian director Peter Kubelka, the latest work of current Turner Prize nominee Luke Fowler and recent short films by the niece of legendary Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambéty. But if you’re looking for an escape, WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS is an appealing programme that includes Nick Collins’s Dark Garden and Ben Rivers’s The Creation As We Saw It, which alongside Nathaniel Dorsky’s and Jerome Hiler’s latest films (also part of this year’s Experimenta strand) is a fable of cinematic imagery.

Treasures
MAHANAGAR (1963)
It’s always a great chance to see Satyajit Ray on the big screen.

The 56th BFI London Film Festival runs from 10-21 October

Guest Editor|Georgia Korossi – writer & curator based in London & Athens