Tuesday, March 21, 2023

‘Spencer,’ ‘The Lost Daughter,’ ‘Benedetta’ Among BFI London Film Festival Galas, Full Program Unveiled

The 65 British Film Institute (BFI) London Film Festival has unveiled its full program and the headline galas include several films that have been gaining fame recently.

Among the galas are Pablo Larrain’s “Spencer,” with Kristen Stewart; Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog,” with Benedict Cumberbatch; Reinaldo Marcus Green’s “King Richard,” with Will Smith; and Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” featuring a host of stars including Timothée Chalamet, Tilda Swinton and Léa Seydoux.

The galas also include Kenneth Branagh’s “Belfast,” Paul Verhoeven’s “Benedetta,” Eva Husson’s “Mothering Sunday,” Edgar Wright’s “Last Night in Soho,” Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter,” Joanna Hogg’s “The Souvenir: Part II” and Sarah Smith and Jean Philippe-Vine’s “Ron’s Gone Wrong.”

Special presentations include Clio Barnard’s “Ali & Ava,” Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Drive My Car,” Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Memoria,” Julia Ducournau’s “Titane,” Jacques Audiard’s “Paris, 13th District,” Terence Davies’ “Benediction,” Sebastian Meise’s “Great Freedom,” Craig Roberts’ “The Phantom of the Open” and Todd Haynes’ “The Velvet Underground.”

In all, the festival will screen 159 feature films, including 21 world premieres. Some 39% of the program is from female and non-binary directors/creators or co-directors/creators with 40% made by ethnically diverse directors/creators.

Competing for the Sutherland Award for best feature are Bassel Ghandour’s “The Alleys,” Andreas Fontana’s “Azor,” Mounia Akl’s “Costa Brava Lebanon,” Tatiana Huezo’s “Prayers For The Stolen,” Lee Haven Jones’ “The Feast,” Laura Samani’s “Small Body,” Laura Wandel’s “Playground” and Kavich Neang’s “White Building.”

The contenders for the Grierson documentary award are Wang Qiong’s “All About My Sisters,” Sergei Loznitsa’s “Babi Yar. Context,” Liz Garbus’ “Becoming Costeau,” Pat Collins’ “The Dance,” Alonso Ruizpalacios’ “A Cop Movie,” Jessica Beshir’s “Faya Dayi,” Andrea Arnold’s “Cow” and Victoria Fiore’s “Hide and Seek.”

As always, the festival programmed by thematic strands. Highlights of the “Love” strand include Joachim Trier’s “The Worst Person in the World,” Prasun Chatterjee’s “Two Friends,” Céline Sciamma’s “Petite Maman” and Alexandre Koberidze’s “What Do We See When We Look At The Sky?”

The “Debate” strand features Nadav Lapid’s “Ahed’s Knee,” Asghar Farhadi’s “A Hero,” Rahul Jain’s “Invisible Demons” and Abdullah Mohammad Saad’s “Rehana.”

The “Laugh” strand has Fernando Léon de Aranoa’s “The Good Boss,” Bong Soo Ko’s “Humidity Alert,” Roshan Sethi’s “7 Days” and Sean Baker’s “Red Rocket,” while the “Dare” strand features Lorenzo Vigas’ “The Box,” Nathalie Álvarez Mesén’s “Clara Sola” and Natesh Hegde’s “Pedro.”

Highlights of the “Thrill” strand include Philip Barantini’s “Boiling Point,” Michael Pearce’s “Encounter” and Ferit Karahan’s “Brother’s Keeper,” while the “Cult” strand features Ruth Paxton’s “A Banquet,” Valdimar Jóhannsson’s “Lamb” and Ana Lily Amirpour’s “Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon.”

Gessica Généus’ “Freda,” Liesbeth De Ceulaer’s “Holgut” and Maria Speth’s “Mr. Bachmann and His Class” feature in the “Journey” strand, while the “Create” strand features Mia Hansen-Løve’s “Bergman Island,” Maung Sun’s “Money Has Four Legs” and Mark Cousins’ “The Story of Film: A New Generation and “The Storms of Jeremy Thomas.”

“These are works which have moved us, provoked us, made us think and feel, and made us look at the world a little differently this year,” said festival director Tricia Tuttle.

BFI CEO Ben Roberts said: “I’m in awe of all of the filmmakers across the world who have found the ways and means — practical, creative, emotional — to get their stories told in such challenging and turbulent times and I want audiences to immerse themselves in the sweet glow of the cinema screen and celebrate their very existence.”

As previously announced, the festival will open Oct. 6 with the world premiere of Jeymes Samuel’s “The Harder They Fall,” and close Oct. 17 with Joel Coen’s ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth.”

Eight films will be in the festival’s official competition, including Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Hand of God” and Michel Franco’s “Sundown.”


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