They call it The Festival of Festivals, the nicest possible way of saying that most of the big films to play at the London Film Festival have already premiered elsewhere. They call it a People’s Film Festival, because anybody can buy tickets, fairly easily if not exactly cheaply.
This morning, the full lineup for this year’s fortnight of films in London’s not-exactly-glittering West End were announced and, yes, many of them were familiar from the rosters of other fests around the world but, honestly, that goes beyond being a First World problem to being more of an Ivory Tower Niggle.
Here are some of the higher profile titles we can expect to see unspool between october 12th and 27th.
- Shame – Steve McQueen’s follow up to Hunger is a stylised drama about addiction and obsession. Went down a storm at Venice, and seemed to be one of the most popular films at the LFF unveiling. How much this excitment is down to the film’s headline-making nudity by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, I don’t know. And don’t really want to know.
- Trishna – Michael Winterbottom relocates Tess of the D’Urbervilles to India. With Freida Pinto in the lead. I’m expecting this to be something of a turkey, I’m afraid.
- The Artist – a silent film, or more or less, and a real crowd pleaser at Cannes.
- We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lynne Ramsay returns. I’ve felt the need to talk about this one a bit already.
- 50/50 – a comedy about cancer with Joseph Gordon Levitt and Seth Rogen.
- Alps – Another film from the director of Dogtooth. Seems to have appeal with the WTF crowd.
- The Descendants – Alexander Payne returns almost a decade after Sideways. He has been missed. This time he has Clooney in tow – there’s always a knock-out lead in Payne’s pictures, but that’s just the beginning of their qualities.
- We Have A Pope – Nanni Moretti satiries the Vatican’s attempts to elect a new Pope.
- Coriolanus – Ralph Fiennes does Shakespeare. From the clips I’ve seen he also appears to be doing Leonard Rossiter.
- Ides of March – More Clooney. This is his adaptation of Farragut North and stars the over-hot Ryan Gosling as a young press secreatry getting tangled in dirty politics.
- Sarah Palin – You Betcha! – Nick Broomfield’s documentary about the Beastmother of Alaska. Will probably play as combination farce and horror film.
- Anonymous – Roland Emmerich’s drama about the Shakespeare authorship question. Rhys Ifans and Toby Kebbel and loads more, all of whom should have known better.
- The Kid With The Bike- Brighter and bouncier than other films by The Dardennes, but still rooted in naturalism, this emotional drama is one of my top choices for the year.
- Wuthering Heights – Andrea Arnold’s reinvention packs in the attitude and grit.
- Carnage – Polanski’s adaptation of the play God of Carnage with Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, Jodie Foster and Christoph Waltz. Looks properly funny.
- Take Shelter – Is Michael Shannon mad or does it just look that way to the audience? And how about his character in this film about, perhaps, the end of the world.
- Tales of the Night – Michel Ocelot’s latest, beautiful animation.
- W.E – Virtually kicked to death at Venice, people will still turn out to try and catch a glimpse of Madonna – or Abbie Cornish, or Andrea Riseborough.
- Junkhearts – John Boyega returns. Also in the cast are Romola Garai and Eddie Marsan. It’s apparently a “dark” and “urban” drama.
- Natural Selection – A SXSW winner about a woman tracking down the first child born from her late husband’s sperm bank donations and finding he’s something of a ne’re do well. American Indie Premise #45, but apparently well executed.
- 360 will open the fest and The Deep Blue Sea will close it- previously announced
The full programme has now gone live on the BFI website for more indepth perusal. I’ll give it a good going over then come back to you later to shine a light on some of the more exciting bits.
Officially, they say the festival will include “13 World Premieres, 18 International Premieres and 22 European Premieres.” What’s an International Premiere exactly? A film that has yet to play in more than one country? Well, whatever it is, it sounds like a rather fudgey way to get more “Premieres” on the fest’s calendar.
This is the final programme by the fest’s artistic director Sandra Hebron, notorious for her high-boot fashions and rather beloved, including by many of those Ivory Tower dwelling moaners. I wish they’d make their mind up.