BFI London Film Festival 2012: Programme announced

The official programme for this year’s 56th BFI London Film Festival was announced to the press today at the Odeon Leicester Square. As previously revealed, Tim Burton’s stop-motion animation Frankenweenie 3D will open the 12-day festival, with Mike Newell’s new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations closing. With only 14 World Premieres across the 225-strong lineup (including Alfred’s Hitchcock’s long-lost The Manxman), surprises were few and far between, with the altered format arguably more intriguing.

One World Premiere that should prove newsworthy is the first ever showing of Brett Morgen’s Rolling Stones documentary Crossfire Hurricane, with the band and its director expected to attend (time permitting). Other notable inclusions in the Gala section include Ben Affleck’s third feature 70s-based drama Argo, Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut Quartet (starring Maggie Smith), musical comedy The Sapphires and Roger Michell’s UK/US collaboration Hyde Park on Hudson, which will see Bill Murray’s Franklin D Roosevelt come face to face with the King George V (Samuel West) and Queen Elisabeth (Olivia Colman).

In keeping with tradition, a great deal of this year’s programme features films that have previously premièred at Berlin, Cannes, Venice and Toronto. Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or winner Amour is a welcome addition, heading up the newly instated ‘Love’ strand, whilst there will also be UK Premieres for Venice opener The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Michel Franco’s After Lucia, Cate Shortland’s Lore, Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths and Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Admirably, there seems to be a pronounced move this year to celebrate documentary filmmaking in all its forms. Aside from the Gala Stones doc Crossfire Hurricane, Sophie Fiennes’ The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, Graham Chapman ode A Liar’s Autobiography and Alex Gibney’s Mea Maxima Culpa all look like extremely worthwhile additions. The competition section has also witnessed a revamp, with The Grierson Award making a welcome comeback.

Though far from the revolutionary step forward some had predicted, new festival director Clare Stewart seems to have found a good blend of poaching festival circuit big-hitters (minus Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master and Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder), whilst promoting new and emerging talent – British or otherwise.

The 56th BFI London Film Festival runs from 10-21 October. For more of our LFF coverage, simply follow this link.
Daniel Green