LFF 56 opinion

It’s the traditional morning of the first Wednesday of September, the weather is fine, and several hundred journalists have their rumps parked on the famously tacky leopard-print seats of Odeon Leicester Square, a cinema that frequently hosts red-carpet premieres and a destination where tourists are regularly duped into paying up to £24 to spend a few hours in front the blockbuster of the moment. It’s the press launch for the BFI London Film Festival and there’s one burning question on everyone’s minds; Are the delegate bags better than last year?

The 56th London Film Festival will, will be a highlight of the nation’s film calendar with a schedule packed with big hitters, small indie fireflies, and everything in between.

As already announced, the festival will open with Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, which looks like a big bag of fun, and close with a lavish star-filled yawnyetanother adaptation of Great Expectations. Few surprises were expected from today’s revelations, with the Venice and Toronto film festivals generally being good indicators of what to expect. The biggest surprises aren’t what films are included, in fact, but a few glaring omissions. The two most talked about films from Venice, P. T. Anderson’s The Master and Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder, are nowhere to be found. Peculiar. And a great shame. And where are Silver Linings Playbook and The Place Beyond the Pines? Sad face. Maybe Venice and Toronto aren’t such great indicators after all.

We are treated to Argo, directed by Ben Affleck (yes, Ben Affleck - he’s a respectable filmmaker now, you know), Hyde Park on Hudson, starring Bill Murray, and Ernest and Celestine, an animation co-directed by the team behind the wonderfully mad A Town Called Panic. The special gala screenings are intriguing but a tad underwhelming, truth be told.

Of further interest are the European premiere of Seven Psychopaths from In Bruges’ demigod Martin McDonagh, Rust and Bone, directed by Jacques Audiard with an early-tipped second best-actress Oscar nod for Marion Cotillard, Sundance Film Festival favourites Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Sessions, Haneke’s Amour, Ben “Kill List” Wheatley’s Sightseers, and a small portion of personal glee was experienced on seeing the inclusion of Robot and Frank.

Now, indeed, they’re mostly English and American and glossy and whatnot, but the host of relatively unknown low-budget and foreign films always reveal pleasant surprises. Someone would need to buy me a moon and a spaceship to get there before I subject myself to Laurence Anyways, from Heartbeats’ Xavier Dolan or Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Mekong Hotel but No (Chile/Mexico, Gael Garcia Bernal), The Hunt (Denmark, Thomas Vinterberg directs, Mad Mikkelsen), Teddy Bear (from the director of popular short “Dennis”), White Elephant (Argentina, from the director and star of Carancho), and Michel Gondry’s return to indie, The We and the I, all look like bets well worth taking.

The festival has a slightly shorter duration than recent years with films and events running at various locations around London from 10th to 21st October.

4th Sep 2012


I would have thought the big films are "My Brother the Devil", "Quartet" and "Beyond the Hills" - none of which you have mentioned?

sheila factor, 6th Oct 2012

Interesting choices. I'm not sure many would pick those three as the big films but I'm certainly looking forward to seeing Beyond the Hills. I'm a little more skeptical about Quartet...

Patrick Griffiths, 10th Oct 2012

"My German Friend", "Fill the Void" and "Lore" look interesting. I have seen "Frankenweenie" - sorry Tim - I am not a fan! All I got was a migraine the next day.

sheila factor, 11th Oct 2012