The BFI London Film Festival returns to the nation’s capital for its 59th edition this week (7 October), once again offering a host of filmic delights for casual cinemagoers and militant cinephiles alike. Kicking off this year’s programme is Sarah Gavron’s revolutionary period drama Suffragette, featuring an ensemble cast headed up by Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep, while the task of closing the fest on 18 October falls to Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender as the Apple-founding icon. Below our attending writers have selected their hot tickets to help you narrow down your picks.
Ben Nicholson @BRNicholson
Arabian Nights – Miguel Gomes’ six-hour social realist fable may sound like hard work – and at times it is – but it coalesces into a deeply moving ode to austerity-stricken modern Portugal.
Dog Lady – Eschewing conventional narrative, Verónica Llinás and Laura Citarella craft a meditative visual poem that observes the routines of a woman on society’s outskirts.
Evolution – Lucile Hadžihalilovic returns to cinemas in with a beguiling and unsettling siren’s song. Like an unearthly marriage between David Cronenberg and the Brothers Grimm.
Room – Brie Larson is raises her own high standards in Lenny Abrahamson’s clever handling of Emma Donoghue’s hit novel. It packs an emotional wallop.
Wedding Doll – An excavation of underlying prejudice and romantic fantasy, Nitzan Giladi’s refreshingly debut gives agency and vivacity to a character with learning difficulty.
Patrick Gamble @PatrickJGamble
The Club – With sardonic wit and pitch-black humour, Pablo Larraín takes down the Catholic Church whilst illuminating wider social concerns. Be warned however: dog lovers should give this a wide berth.
The Forbidden Room – Slipping down the plug hole into a cinematic sewer of forgotten celluloid memories, Guy Maddin’s latest is a maddeningly beautiful summation of his work to date.
Jia Zhangke, a Guy from Fenyang – Jia’s Mountains May Depart remains one of the programme’s highlights, yet this gentle documentary about his career from The Motorcycle Diaries director Walter Salles shouldn’t be missed. A tender portrait of one of cinema’s most important voices.
Queen of Earth – Alex Ross Perry returns with his best film to date, a feminist exploration of jealousy and entitlement that marks a tonal, if not entirely thematic, departure from his previous work.
Nasty Baby – An innocuous US comedy that morphs into a twisted noir about the ills of gentrification, Silva’s latest is a socially conscious thriller that not only defies genre expectations, it tramples all over them.
Matthew Anderson @behind_theseens
He Named Me Malala – Documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim flits between the personal and the public lives of a globally recognised figure in this intimate portrait of the remarkable Malala Yousafzai.
Hitchcock/Truffaut – An indispensable introduction to the work of the Master of Suspense based on the now legendary interviews conducted by François Truffaut. Essential viewing for all movie buffs.
My Golden Days – An unofficial prequel to French director Arnaud Desplechin’s My Sex Life…Or How I Got Into An Argument, this coming of age tale of the long-lasting effects of adolescent heartache is genuinely stirring and sincere.
Office – An eclectic, humorous and satirical pre-economic crash warning cry to to the tune of musical dance numbers and minimalist staging. Johnnie To’s latest is nothing if not unusual.
The People vs. Fritz Bauer – A party fictionalised biopic of one lawyer’s battle to apprehend Adolf Eichmann, architect of the Final Solution. A murky, methodical but engaging drama centred on a fine lead performance.
The London Film Festival takes place from 7-18 October. For more coverage, follow this link.