The UK’s biggest film festival, LFF, is back with a bang. Having embraced online exhibition last year, the capital’s most iconic cinemas will play host to the must-watch films of the next few months. Below are nine of the biggest. The festival runs until 17 October, and tickets can be purchased via the BFI website.
The Harder They Fall
The Opening Night Gala is from Netflix, a studio that isn’t always the most welcome at festivals designed to herald the cinematic artform (its feud with Cannes still rumbles on). However, the streamer was an ironic saviour of the theatrical experience last year, putting its movies in cinemas when traditional studios kept rescheduling. They provide the opening gala for this year’s festival, a western by director Jeymes Samuel starring a mouth-watering cast. Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Lakeith Stanfield and more star in this story of a cowboy (Majors) who assembles his old gang on a mission of revenge. The trailer looks brilliant, and every single person on screen is on a hot streak of success. This could be Samuel’s arrival as the next must-see filmmaker.
LFF screening 10 October at 11am; on Netflix from 3 November
The Tragedy of Macbeth
Another streaming offering closes the festival, and it’s something that will certainly appeal to movie fans. The Coen Brothers are one of the most famous filmmaking duos in cinema, but Joel goes it alone for this Shakespeare adaptation starring Denzel Washington as the general driven mad by destiny, aided by Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth. It appears the split is temporary (brother Ethan was simply busy with other projects), but it offers a rare chance to see Joel work solo, and this incredible cast bring a black-and-white adaptation of The Scottish Play to the big screen.
LFF screening 17 October at 7pm, in cinemas and on Apple TV+ later in the year.
The Power of The Dog
Another Western, this time from the legendary Jane Campion and starring Benedict Cumberbatch in what many are calling an Oscar-worthy performance. He stars in this adaptation of Thomas Savage’s novel about a rancher (Cumberbatch) who struggles to adapt to change when his brother (Jesse Plemons) arrives with his wife (Kirsten Dunst) and son (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Having already impressed in many festivals worldwide, it’s sure to be a highlight from this year’s programme.
LFF screening 11 October (6pm), 12 October (2.45pm), and 17 October (8.20pm). On Netflix from 1 December.
The French Dispatch
Wes Anderson has a long-standing relationship with The LFF, bringing several of his films here in the past. His latest is a typically star-studded and whimsical trilogy of stories, all published in the French-based US magazine, The French Dispatch. Timothee Chalamet continues his streak of being the most in demand actor around (this film releases around the same time as Dune), starring alongside Anderson regulars like Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and Saoirse Ronan. If you’re a fan of the director, this looks like it will have everything you need.
LFF screening 10 (6pm), 11 (2.45pm), 13 (3pm) and 17 (2.45pm) October, in cinemas from 22 October.
Director Sir Kenneth Branagh draws on his childhood. Set in 1960s Belfast, the story centres one a young boy named Buddy (Jude Hill) whose idyllic life living among his tight-knit community is about to be destroyed by sectarian violence. Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe, Dame Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds all co-star in a thoughtful and heartfelt story that looks at the idea of family, home, and belonging.
LFF screening 12 (6pm), 13 (11.30am), and 16 October (12.15), in cinemas from 25 February.
After a fallow period, Will Smith’s star began to ascend once again after the success of Bad Boys for Life, one of the final big hits prior to the pandemic. His next project is a role that may just get him that elusive Oscar. King Richard sees him play Richard Williams, the man who would use his unshakeable vision to coach his daughters, Venus and Serena, to become two of the most successful tennis players of all time. A feel-good and inspirational tale that will be recognisable to audiences, this is your chance to see the film before the awards buzz gains momentum.
LFF screening 15 (6pm) and 16 (11am) October, in cinemas from 19 November
Last Night In Soho
As if he wasn’t already beloved by movie nerds the world over, British director Edgar Wright became a champion of cinemas during an uncertain time in Lockdown. It’s therefore gratifying to see his new work showcased at the festival, his first narrative film since the excellent Baby Driver in 2017. Last Night In Soho is a psychological horror starring Thomasin McKenzie as an aspiring fashion designer who is transported into the body of an iconic night club singer (Anya Taylor-Joy) in the 1960s. Some real icons from the 60s are in the cast, such as Terence Stamp and the late Diana Rigg, but it’s Wright’s unique gift for genre filmmaking which gives this ‘must see’ status.
LFF screening 9 (6pm), 10 (11.15am), and 15 (5.45) October, in cinemas from 29 October.
One of the most talked-about trailers of recent weeks, Kristen Stewart plays Princess Diana in a film about an imagined Christmas in Sandringham Castle during the 1990s. Diana, crumbling under the pressure of a loveless marriage and unfair expectation, seeks a way out of the maze that has become her royal duty. It’s directed by Pablo Larraín, who gave us another portrait of a famous partner in Jackie, and sparkles with the talents of co-stars Timothy Spall, and Sally Hawkins.
LFF screening 7 (6pm), 8 (2.45pm), and 17 October (2.45pm). In cinemas from 5 November.
Awoken by a loud bang only audible to her, Jessica (Tilda Swinton) explores Bogota, where she is visiting her sister, in search of answers but slowly becoming immersed in the sights and sounds that surround her. The sort of peculiar and opaque story that makes film festivals such exciting experiences, Swinton alone is a good enough reason to venture down this unusual path.
Screening 16 October at 5.30pm, in cinemas 14 January.