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Preview: The wait is over, the BFI London Film Festival is back

Image: Titane

The wait is over, the BFI London Film Festival is back and once again the festival will be a mix of virtual and in-person events and screenings.

Now in it’s 65th year, the BFI London Film Festival is a staple in the film calendar and this year is set to be a bigger celebration than the year before. Amongst the 21 feature films having their world premiere is the opening night film, Jeymes Samuel’s The Harder They Fall, featuring a stellar cast including Idris Elba and Regina King. With 159 feature films being screened during the festival, there will also be a wide range of short film programmes, immersive art works, talks and Q&As with filmmakers across the BFI’s social networks and their BFI Player, all part of LFF for Free.

The festival is setting itself apart from previous years by selecting a number of features to be screened during the festival period at 10 cinemas around the UK in their effort to include those who cannot reach London. This is also the reason for a number of features being made available on the BFI player during the festival as well.

The festival is moving it’s Gala and Special Presentation films to a venue befitting such events to Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall complete with its 18-meter screen and 2,000 seats. As well as The Harder They Fall, the closing festival film will be The Tragedy of Macbeth, a bold and unforgiving Shakespeare adaptation from Joel Coen. The opening and closing night gala films will be the most anticipated events in the festival with key cast members and both directors expecting to be in attendance.

With 39% of the programme being made up of films from female and non-binary identifying filmmakers, two of the films to look out for have already caused a stir. Award winning director Jane Campion brings her dark and captivating tale set in the American West, The Power of the Dog to London straight from its successful festival run around the world. Director Julia Ducournau created a phenomenal buzz when she won the Palme d’Or for her visceral film, Titane, which is being shown as part of the Special Presentation strand.

Films in Official Competition will be presented at BFI Southbank itself with a host of London’s best cinemas also screening titles from the programme including; ODEON Luxe West End, the Prince Charles Cinema, ICA, Curzon Soho and Curzon Mayfair.

As well as the traditional film side of events, LFF Expanded, the festival’s immersive art and VR stand, will be returning and be presented in partnership with the National Theatre. Featuring 18 projects from and including ethnically diverse and female identifying artists working in immersive media from 13 countries (UK, France, USA, South Africa, Taiwan, Finland, Latvia, Sweden, Israel, Sweden, Nigeria, Canada, Denmark and Luxembourg) taking the festival to new horizons and expanding opportunities. The programme will be presented across multiple venues in-person at LFF Expanded at 26 Leake Street, BFI Southbank, Ballet Rambert, and LFF Expanded at the National Theatre. A selection of works will be available online to audiences in the UK and internationally via the virtual exhibition space, The Expanse.

Alongside the diverse curation of art works, the programme features six world premieres from UK artists including Asif Kapadia’s striking VR animation, Laika, which Kapadia will be in attendance to present. Eulogy, a captivating and challenging performance that unfolds in complete darkness by cutting-edge production company Darkfield, and Future Rites, a work-in-progress version of an interactive VR dance performance from the Alexander Whitley Dance Company. Going deeper into this immersive world, The Expanse will be a dedicated virtual exhibition art space which will be accessible worldwide and free of charge via VR headsets and a standalone desktop app.

The BFI London Film Festival will take place from 6-17 October at various venues around London and the UK as well as online. To make sure you don’t miss out of the eclectic array of events and screenings on offer, head over to the BFI website to book tickets. bfi.org.uk

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