From Wednesday 2 Sunday 13 October, some of the world’s most exciting new films come to London at the BFI London Film Festival. With 345 films to choose from, there’s lots to explore – and we’re especially excited to see the productions featured below screening at the festival.
Be Still My Beating Heart (Short)
A nightmarish, contemporary vision. Two adult sisters exist dysfunctionally, each limited by illnesses affecting both body and mind – one physically and the other psychologically. Featuring Maxine Peake.
Directed by Ruth Paxton, Be Still My Beating Heart is featuring in the short films programme, When You Think You Know How it Ends.
Duck Daze (Short)
Johnina seeks revenge on her childhood abuser and the community that enabled him.
Directed by Alison Piper, Duck Daze will feature in the short films strand, In An Age of Consent.
Agnieszka Holland’s latest film introduces us to the world of foreign journalists in Moscow during the 1930s. There’s Walter Duranty (Peter Sarsgaard), chief correspondent for the New York Times and controversial apologist for Stalin’s policies, and Gareth Jones (a superb James Norton), whose short career had already seen him advise Prime Minister David Lloyd George. He became one of the few journalists of his time to expose Stalin’s despotic nature.
As scripted by Orwell authority, Andrea Chalupa, the film throws startling and horrific light on Stalin’s brutal treatment of the agrarian class. Holland, whose career has flourished in both cinema and television, directs with real passion and commitment. And Jones’ struggle to reveal unpalatable truths to a world unwilling to confront an inconvenient political reality has uncomfortable contemporary parallels.
Mr Jones is produced by Klaudia Smieja, Andrea Chalupa, Stanislaw Dziedzic, and written by Andrea Chalupa. Sales distribution is handled by WestEnd Films.
Showing times: Sunday 6 October and Monday 7 October. Further details available here.
Our Ladies (Special Presentation)
A pitch-perfect evocation of the possibilities and frustrations of being young and riotously alive in mid-90s Scotland, Our Ladies follows the teenage choirgirls of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour on a day trip from their port town in the Highlands to a singing competition in Edinburgh.
Its focus is the rebellious gang sitting at the back of the bus, who are less interested in the contest than furthering their own version of a catholic education in the big city. Booze and boys feature heavily and hilariously, but this unvarnished coming-of-age saga also ponders (without preachiness) sexuality, pregnancy, class difference and the tumultuous path of true friendship.
The six central characters are brought to life by brilliant performances from Eve Austin, Tallulah Greive, Abigail Lawrie, Sally Messham, Rona Morison and Marli Siu. Each is given her space to shine by Alan Sharp and Michael Caton-Jones’s screenplay, which skilfully adapts Alan Warner’s widely acclaimed novel, The Sopranos, without compromising the source material’s gloriously profane and swaggeringly musical spirit. This is the author’s second book to be made into a film (following Morvern Callar) and a long-gestating labour of love for veteran Scottish director, Caton-Jones, who optioned it 20 years ago.
Our Ladies is produced by Michael Caton-Jones, Laura Viederman, Brian Coffey, and written by Alan Sharp and Michael Caton-Jones. Sales distribution is handles by Sony Pictures Releasing.
Showing times: Friday 4 October and Saturday 5 October. Details available here.
14-year-old Leigh (impressive newcomer, Frankie Box) lives with her neglectful father on the outskirts of Brighton. She’s a talented gymnast, training hard for her first competition despite her lack of confidence, some bitchy fellow gymnasts and little money to pay for her fees.
When an older half-brother appears at her house one night, Leigh’s lonely existence is altered. Mistrust gradually transforms into exciting new feelings as Leigh receives the attention she craves. But she is also exposed to the thrill and danger of moped crime.
Debut director, Eva Riley delivers an assured and spirited coming-of-age story that explores with heartfelt sensitivity a sibling relationship. A keen visual style and lively soundtrack complete this portrait of wilful yet sensitive teenagehood.
Produced by Jacob Thomas, Valentina Brazzini, Bertrand Faivre. Sales distribution is handled by The Bureau Sales.
Showing times: Thursday 3 and Saturday 5 October. Further details available here.
Dublin-based fortysomething Colm (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, superb) is married with two older children and a long-term job at the docks. But his placid facade masks a psyche that’s rapidly disintegrating. A recent takeover threatens his future employment, his teenage son treats him with disdain and he’s grieving the death of his own, emotionally destructive father.
Colm has also become infatuated with sex worker Jay (Tom Glynn-Carney), while avoiding contact with his wife Claire (Monica Dolan).
Working from Mark O’Halloran’s nuanced screenplay, Peter Mackie Burns has crafted a rich, cinematic and multi-layered portrait of a mid-life crisis, with Rialto’s visual incisiveness accentuated by its tense, enveloping sound design.
Rialto is produced by Alan Maher, John Wallace, Tristan Goligher, Valentina Brazzini, and written by Mark O’Halloran. Sales distribution is being handled by The Bureau Sales.
Showing times: Saturday 5, Sunday 6 and Thursday 10 October. Further details available here.
Everything about Finnie (Mark Stanley), from the tattoo on his body to the records in his garage, screams that he was born to run. But life hasn’t turned out that way.
Toiling in the fish factory of this grey Scottish town, with the son he fathered young about to make him a granddad, Finnie cannot face the idea that this is all there is. So, when he gives a lift to his lad’s pregnant girlfriend Kelly (Marli Siu), he is surprised to find in her a kindred spirit and to feel his lost adrenaline return.
Director, Scott Graham (Shell, LFF 2012) expertly evokes restless Scottish masculinity with guts and enough brusque sensitivity that each character remains sympathetic. And Mark Stanley thrills as the conflicted ex-boy-racer ready to take everything to the limit.
Run is produced by Margaret Matheson, Ciara Barry, Rosie Crerar, and Sales Distribution is handled by Film Constellation.
Showing times: Saturday 5 October and Monday 7 October. Further details available here.