Since 1953, BFI’s annual London Film Festival has curated a sprawling collection of cinematic offerings from all manners of international auters. First set up to bring the festival highlights from similar ventures in Venice and Cannes, the bustling event has ballooned from showing only 15-20 films to over 300 shorts, feature-length movies and documentaries. In a decade beset with snippets of podcasts, news headlines, tweets, and all other forms of ‘snack-media’, settling down for a two-hour rumination on the human condition has never seemed as essential.
But where to start? Having considered the huge range of starry studios lining up to showcase their wares this year, this is our pick of the festival.
Breathe (dir. Andy Serkis)
Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy helm this against-the-odds true story of disabled rights campaigner Robin Cavendish. A tearful, inspiring drama marking the directorial debut of motion-capture actor Andy Serkis (Planet of the Apes).
Journey’s End (dir. Saul Dibb)
The century’s most iconic war-drama for stage makes it way to the big-screen in this all-star adaptation from screenwriter Simon Reade (Private Peaceful). Tune in to see a mournful Sam Claflin, Toby Jones and Asa Butterfield peopling the claustrophobic trenches of WWI.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)
After making waves with surreal dystopian drama The Lobster, visionary Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos is back with a sinister thriller that scooped Best Screenplay at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman in a tense face-off with rising star Barry Keoghan.
The Final Year (dir. Greg Barker)
A fascinating glimpse into the internal machinations of American government at a time of major upheaval. This thoughtful documentary charts the final lap of an administration seeing the political system it knew completely upended by the 2016 election, with unprecedented access to both former president Barack Obama and his closest advisors.
Stronger (dir. David Gordon)
Jake Gyllenhaal steps into the shoes of Jeff Bauman, a real-life survivor of the Boston Marathon Bombing who lost the use of his legs in the explosion. Based on the best-selling memoir of the same name, Stronger is a devastating but ultimately inspiring story of Bauman’s struggle to adapt to a changing world.