The 61st BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® has announced its full programme, featuring a wide selection of 242 feature films from both established and emerging talent. This 12 day celebration of cinema illustrates the richness of international filmmaking, with films to delight and entertain audiences, and also films that probe and interrogate issues of significance.
This year, the Festival will host 28 World Premieres, 9 International Premieres and 34 European Premieres and will welcome a stellar line up of cast and crew for many of the films. The 242 feature programmes screening at the Festival include: 46 documentaries, 6 animations, 14 archive restorations and 16 artists’ moving image features. The programme also includes 128 short films, with 67 countries represented across short film and features.
Each evening of the Festival sees a Headline Gala presentation at Odeon Leicester Square. Films in Official Competition and Strand Galas are once again presented at the 820-seat Embankment Garden Cinema following a successful inaugural year in 2016.
Alongside the Galas, Special Presentations and films in Competitions, the Festival will show a thrilling range of new cinema in sections Love, Debate, Laugh, Dare, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Experimenta and Family. In 2017, the LFF presents a new strand, Create, featuring films that celebrate artistic practice in all its channels and forms the electricity of the creative process. Audiences have the opportunity to hear some of the world’s creative leaders through the Festival’s acclaimed talks’ series LFF Connects, which features artists working at the intersection of film and other creative industries, and Screen Talks, a series of in-depth interviews with leaders in contemporary cinema.
The BFI London Film Festival each year provides films stimulating debate, shining a light on pressing social and political issues. This year a number of ‘talking points’ run through the Festival programme, including:
- LBGT – In the year of the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, the Festival presents a powerful LGBT line-up.
- Immigration and Social Division – Two of the defining themes of our times are explored by filmmakers who are committed to telling powerful and complex stories about borders – both real and psychological.
- Black Star – Following the BFI’s landmark season celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors in film, recent world events give new urgency to questions of opportunity, and basic human rights.
- Visionaries – Cinema remains one of the most exhilaratingly kinetic and visually potent storytelling forms, and many filmmakers this year impress with the singularity and power of their vision, with keen imagination and dazzling style.
- Thrill – It’s a very strong year for global thrill seekers at the Festival, with a particularly strong showing from East Asia, which comes as the BFI embarks on the UK-wide season BFI Thriller, exploring how the genre reflects societal upheavals, fears and anxieties.
- Strong Women – The Festival continues to shine a light on strong women behind and in front of the camera. At this year’s Festival, 61 women directors are represented in the feature film selection, approximately 25% of the programme.
- Deafness and disability – Both feature with marked prominence in this year’s Festival programme, though the film industry still has a long way to go in terms of representation for disabled people. The Festival’s industry programme will include a partnership event on equality of opportunity and expression for deaf and disabled people working in film & television.
The Festival takes over screens at fifteen venues across the capital, from the West End cinemas – Vue Leicester Square and the iconic Odeon Leicester Square; central London venues – BFI Southbank, BFI IMAX, Picturehouse Central, the ICA, Curzon Mayfair, Curzon Soho, Empire Haymarket, Prince Charles Cinema and Ciné Lumière; and local cinemas – Hackney Picturehouse , Rich Mix in Shoreditch and Curzon Chelsea. Special screenings will also be held at the National Gallery and the Barbican, and several key events will also be cinecasted to cinema venues around the UK.
Unfortunately unlike 2016 where we were hit over the head with Moonlight, Queen of Katwe, and for the British Black’s Shola Amoo’s A Moving Image, and Joseph A. Adesunloye’s White Colour Black there aren’t as many full on black themed/made by feature films at this year’s festival. British Black features are non-existent apart from the restored Frantz Fanon tribute by Isaac Julien. A conversation needs to be had about funding, support and how British black filmmakers make the transition from short films to cinematic features… We do fare better in the short film category, with short filmmakers – Shola Amoo, Kibwe Tavares, Robbie Samuels, Cecile Emeke and Runyararo Mapfumo all having their work show as a part of this extensive programme.
As usual TBB has your best interests at heart so we’ve pulled out the films which have been made by, or star black talent from across the Diaspora to help you navigate this colossal event.
CLOSING NIGHT GALA
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – by Martin McDonagh is a darkly comic drama, which sees Mildred Hayes (Academy Award® winner Frances McDormand) take a stand against the town’s revered chief of police, William Willoughby (Academy Award® nominee Woody Harrelson) after months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case. Clarke Peters (The Wire, Treme, Jericho) stars . (Also stars Amanda Warren, Darrell Britt-Gibson)
Tickets for the Closing Night Gala screenings are subject to a BFI Members’ ticket ballot to ensure the fairest allocation.
- Sunday 15 October 2017 Odeon Leicester Square Enter the ballot
- Sunday 15 October 2017 Embankment Garden Cinema Enter the ballot
THE BFI PATRONS’ GALA
Downsizing – is a wildly inventive and satirical film from Alexander Payne (Nebraska, LFF 2014) which puts climate
change, mobility and immigration under the microscope. After Norwegian scientists discover a method for shrinking people to pocket-size as part of a grand design to limit humanity’s footprint, a thriving parallel ‘small’ society emerges. Ordinary, work-a-day Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) wants to scale-up his options by sizing-down, but things begin to go awry when his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) gets cold feet.
Niecy Nash (Scream Queens; Brooklyn Nine-Nine) stars. In an interview this year Nash gave the scenario: A friend of Nash’s approached her later that day, asking to why he was hanging around, of all places, the set of a TNT drama. “He must really like you,” the friend said, surprised, “because he never puts black people in his movies!” Nash took a breath. “Well,” she responded: “It’s a new day.” 
Screening Dates: Fri 13th, Sat 14th October 2017 @ Odeon Leicester Square | Sun 15 October 2017 @ Hackney Picturehouse – find out more / book tickets here.
THE MAY FAIR HOTEL GALA
Last Flag Flying – Richard Linklater returns to the Festival with this International Premiere of Last Flag Flying, a tribute and sequel to Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail. Both droll road movie and a meditation on the futility of war, the film stars Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne as an endearingly shambolic threesome of veterans reunited by one man’s tragedy.
Screening Dates: Sun 8th, Mon 9th October 2017 @ Odeon Leicester Square | Tues 10 October 2017 @ Hackney Picturehouse – find out more / book tickets here.
ROYAL BANK OF CANADA GALA
Mudbound – is Dee Rees’ triumphant return to the Festival after Pariah (LFF 2011). Receiving its European Premiere as the Royal Bank of Canada Gala, her majestic epic examines the friendship of two Second World War veterans which ignites racial tension. Adapting Hillary Jordan’s novel, Rees weaves together multiple threads of two family histories: white farmers the McAllans and the Jacksons, black sharecroppers who lease a plot on the McAllans’ land. With spinsterhood looming, despite being attracted to his debonair brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund), Laura (Carey Mulligan) agrees to marry Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke), and he soon moves the family to the mud-caked Mississippi Delta.
Meanwhile, Hap Jackson (Rob Morgan) and his wife Florence (a transformed Mary J Blige) struggle to make small gains sharecropping when the McAllans take their lease. As a post-war comradeship develops between Jamie and the Jacksons’ eldest son, distinguished war hero Ronsel (Jason Mitchell), tensions with bitterly racist McAllan patriarch, Pappy erupt into violence. Rees skilfully draws these stories together, reflecting on how bigotry and intolerance serves no one – a message with fresh relevance given the rise of an emboldened far right in America.
Screening Dates: Thurs 5th, Fri 6th October 2017 @ Odeon Leicester Square | Sat 7th October 2017 @ Hackney Picturehouse – find out more / book tickets here.
AMERICAN AIRLINES GALA
The Shape of Water – Exuberantly drawing on classic 1950s sci-fi B-movies and the on-going fascination with Area 51 conspiracy theories, the American Airlines Gala The Shape of Water, is an old-school tale of the inexplicable and pure cinematic joy from Guillermo del Toro, featuring a wonderful central performance from Sally Hawkins. Academy Award® Octavia Spencer (The Help, Hidden Figures) stars. 
Screening Dates: Tues 10th, Weds 11th October 2017 @ Odeon Leicester Square | Fri 13th October 2017 @ Hackney Picturehouse – find out more / book tickets here.
STRAND AND FESTIVAL GALAS
The Final Year – The final, momentous year of the Obama administration is documented with extraordinary intimacy by Greg Barker, whose Manhunt screened in the LFF2013 Documentary Competition. With an election looming, The Final Year observes the administration’s key players in foreign policy as they work to cement their gains in international relations, painstakingly negotiated over two terms. Barker gained unprecedented access to four central figures: Secretary of State John Kerry; Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the United Nations; Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor, and Barack Obama himself.
What emerges is a portrait of an administration keen to secure its legacy, whether it’s climate change or Syria. Or a concerted attempt to shift the perception of America’s approach to foreign policy, from one enforced by military might to one of engagement, diplomacy and consensus. The urgency of their international work is juxtaposed against the turmoil of an election at home, which shifted from a foregone conclusion to the gradual realisation of just how different the incoming administration was likely to be. A tense and rich work that offers insight into the mechanisms of international relations, The Final Year is also a sobering look at how diplomacy is far tougher than bellicosity.
Screening Dates: Sun 8th October 2017 @ Odeon Leicester Square | Mon 9th October @ Hackney Picturehouse – find out more / book tickets here.
AWARDS AND COMPETITIONS
Sweet Country – An Aboriginal stockman is accused of murdering a white man in Warwick Thornton’s searing Australian Western. Thornton follows up his uncompromising Camera d’Or winning debut Samson & Delilah (LFF2009) with an expansive film of great cinematic scope and vision. It’s 1929 and segregationist policies weigh heavy in Australia’s Northern Territory. Cattle-herder Sam (Hamilton Morris) is sent with his wife and niece to work for newly-arrived station owner Harry March (Ewen Leslie). But where Sam’s religious boss (Sam Neill) treats them respectfully, March is institutionally racist, unhinged and abusive. When March goes on a booze-fuelled rampage, an altercation occurs and Sam shoots him in self-defence.
Anticipating that frontier ‘justice’ will prevail, Sam and wife Lizzie (Natassia Gorey-Furber) go on the run. The local sergeant (Bryan Brown) sets off in hot pursuit, leading a posse of landowners and aided by Aboriginal tracker Archie (Gibson John). Traversing the stunning MacDonnell Ranges outside Alice Springs, the chase takes them onto country where Sam, a seasoned bushman, has the upper hand. Heightening the overall sense of dread and unease with a series of hallucinatory flash-forwards that reveal horrors yet to come, Thornton brings a vital Indigenous perspective and a striking visual imagination to this potent, revisionist epic.
Screening Dates: Thurs 12th, Fri 13 October 2017 @ Embankment Garden Cinema – find out more / book tickets here.
FIRST FEATURE COMPETITION
I Am Not a Witch – In a Zambian village Shula, a small, silent girl with big eyes, is accused of being a witch. Her choice: join a travelling witch camp or become a goat. Thus begins Zambian-born, Wales-raised Rungano Nyoni’s dazzling and audacious satirical fairy tale. Choosing to join the troop, Shula (a startlingly impressive Margaret Mulubwa) is placed onto a flatbed truck alongside witches with long ribbons streaming down their backs, attached to spindles which ensure their captivity. Shula’s big eyes remain inscrutably calm, even when she is subjected to the bizarre absurdities of being a tourist attraction in a travelling freak-show. Nyoni explodes onto the global stage with this thrilling debut and its exhilaratingly cacophonous array of cultural influences.
Rooted in an attack on a specific tradition – witch camps – this allegorical tale is also a blistering critique of attitudes to women. And if the details are specific to Africa, its themes are globally resonant.
Screening Dates: Thurs 12th October 2017 @ Curzon Mayfair Cinema | Sat 14th, Sun 15th October 2017 @ Curzon Soho Cinema – find out more / book tickets here.
The Wound – A traditional rite of passage ritual forms the backdrop for this powerful exploration of masculinity and unspoken queer desire. In the remote mountains of South Africa’s Eastern Cape, the teenage boys of the Xhosa community are initiated into manhood through an annual circumcision ritual. This painful ordeal is followed by two weeks healing, during which each initiate is assigned an elder to teach the culture’s codes of masculinity.
Factory worker Xolani is tasked with caring for Kwanda, a petulant adolescent from Johannesburg. As the days pass, Kwanda begins to notice Xolani harbours a deep affection for fellow elder Vija, leading to growing tensions between the three men. Privileging a need for cultural authenticity, director John Trengove worked with a cast of exclusively native Xhosa speakers, many of whom are non-actors. The result is a visually breathtaking, thematically complex meditation on the wounds that exist on the surface and those deeper scars that never truly heal.
Screening Dates: Mon 9th October 2017 @ Picturehouse Central | Tues 10th October 2017 @ Cine Lumiere |
Thursday 12 October 2017 @ Vue Leicester Square Cinema – find out more / book tickets here.
Makala – The deserved winner of the Cannes Critics’ Week top prize, Emmanuel Gras’ painterly observational documentary charts the arduous work cycle of a Congolese coal maker. The work is back-breaking, but twenty-something farmer Kabwita Kasongo’s spirit is indomitable. He dreams, like so many, of providing for his young family and building them a home. From the gloriously cinematic opening, as Kasongo stalks through the grasslands with a machete, before spending a whole day felling a gargantuan tree – which he burns to produce charcoal – through to more tender moments, such as the tough man wincing in agony as his wife extracts a sizeable splinter from his foot, Gras draws the viewer into Kasongo’s world.
As befitting its subject, Makala is expansive and patient. It’s not just about the harsh realities of rural African life, but a rousing document of one human’s incredible strength of character, writ large through the grand beauty of this cinematic experience.
Screening Dates: Tues 10th October 2017 @ Curzon Soho Cinema, Screen 1 | Thurs 12th October 2017 @ Rich Mix Cinema – find out more / book tickets here.
LOVE – STRAND
Roller Dreams – Beneath palm trees and dusty pink orange sunsets, the rock stars of 1980s Venice Beach spin, glide and break-dance to R&B, hip hop and disco. Welcome to ‘Disco Alley’, a dynamic subculture that transformed the identity of California’s ‘slum by the sea’ and fuelled skate movies such as Xanadu, Skatetown, U.S.A. and Roller Boogie. Kate Hickey’s documentary feature debut tells the exhilarating story of Venice Beach’s roller-dancing scene, from its roots to its boots.
While racially motivated police violence, gang warfare and unrest blazed through inner-city Los Angeles, Venice Beach was a hub of trailblazing creativity and a haven for young African-Americans. Archive footage and interviews with roller dancers from the heart of the scene recall the vibrancy and freedom of those dancing days; the awesome choreography, the community and the dreams – before the iron fist of the LAPD bore down and gentrification whitewashed the beach.
Screening Dates: Thurs 5th October 2017 @ Hackney Picturehouse | Fri 6th October 2017 @ Haymarket Cinema – find out more / book tickets here.
Saturday Church – Devotees of Glee and Moonlight, we’ve got you covered with Damon Cardasis’ joyous story of young love in musical form. Following his father’s death, teenager Ulysses (Luka Kain) has to stay with his mean and controlling aunt while his mother works nights. His aunt is determined to shame him out of his desire to wear his mother’s clothes and forces him to be his unruly young brother’s keeper. It means Ulysses has little time for contemplating his awakening interest in boys. Luckily, he finds a second home at ‘Saturday Church’, the weekly volunteer-run shelter. A trio of fairy godmothers, Ebony (MJ Rodriguez), Dijon (Indya Moore) and Heaven (Alexis Garcia) take him under their gloriously feathered wings and introduce him to heart-throb Raymond.
Nathan Larson’s (Velvet Goldmine) melodious, hook-laden tunes underscore this heart-swelling celebration of love, which gives glorious voice to queer and trans characters of colour.
Screening Dates: Sat 7th October 2017 @ Vue Leicester Square | Sun 8th October 2017 @ Prince Charles Cinema | Sat 14th October 2017 @ Rich Mix Cinema – find out more / book tickets here.
DEBATE – STRAND
Birds Are Singing in Kigali – Reeling with the psychological impact of the Rwandan genocide, Polish ornithologist Anna and her Tutsi friend Claudine embark on creating a new life. Claudine, the daughter of Anna’s colleague and a victim of the genocide, is accepted as a refugee by the Polish authorities. From there, the film deals with the parallel but differing effects of trauma. Underlying themes are gradually revealed, with the use of flashback and voiceover adding a powerful metaphorical context. Avoiding explicit accounts of the atrocities, the film’s exploration of ‘white’ and ‘black’ realities also exposes the bureaucratic and frequently inhuman obstacles faced by refugees. Their intertwined lives eventually find Anna and Claudine returning to Rwanda in search of the graves of Claudine’s lost relatives, and perhaps some resolution.
Directed by Johanna Kos-Krauze and Krzysztof Krauze, there are powerful performances by Jowita Budnik (who starred in the directors’ earlier Papusza) and Eliana Umahire.
Screening Dates: Thurs 5th October 2017 @ BFI Southbank | Fri 6th October 2017 @ Curzon Soho – find out more / book tickets here.
The Forgiven – Forest Whitaker and Eric Bana excel as Desmond Tutu and Piet Blomfeld in this political drama that asks how far we can go in forgiving past crimes. It is 1996 and South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which aims to offer support and reparations to the victims of apartheid, has been running for two years. It is headed by Archbishop Tutu, who works to resolve crimes in order to heal an embittered nation. After promising the grief-stricken family of one victim of a government-sanctioned ‘disappearance’ that he will uncover the truth, Tutu’s search leads him to Piet Blomfeld, a convicted murderer languishing in Cape Town’s Pollsmoor Prison.
Roland Joffé’s gritty and suspenseful drama recreates Tutu’s confrontation with Blomfeld, who seeks redemption for his crimes. What emerges is an intelligent and deeply affecting exploration of the psychological and moral questions raised by the TRC and our capacity to let go of the past.
Screening Dates: Fri 13th October 2017 @ Picturehouse Central | Sat 14th October 2017 @ Haymarket Cinema | Sun 15th October 2017 @ Curzon Mayfair Cinema – find out more / book tickets here.
Oh Sun – This excitingly radical, avant-garde, fast-moving and at times surreal drama finds director Med Hondo boldly displaying influences that range from Eisenstein to Godard. Shot on a low budget over four years, Oh, Sun! tells the story of a man from a French colony in West Africa who, encouraged by propaganda, is chosen to emigrate to Paris where he optimistically hopes to make a ‘better’ life for himself. Although an educated man, he has extreme difficulty finding work (employers refuse to hire him before he’s given an interview). He can’t get an apartment because landlords worry he’ll cause trouble and he’s on the receiving end of condescending sexual advances from women. He faces discrimination from all angles.
Prize-winning Med Hondo is a giant of African cinema and Oh, Sun! is a vibrant humanist statement on racism and immigration that remains pertinent today. (1970).
Screening Dates: Thurs 12th, Sat 14th October 2017 @ BFI Southbank – find out more / book tickets here.
LAUGH – STRAND
Bad Lucky Goat – Two bickering teenagers are forced to put their differences aside when they accidentally hit a goat while running an errand for their father. Corn (Honlenny Huffington) and Rita (Kiara Howard) are in big trouble. Not only do they have to dispose of a dead goat, they also need to find a quick way of sorting out the damage to their father’s truck. That isn’t easy in a small town like the Port Paradise, where everyone knows everyone else’s business. An entertaining series of mishaps and misunderstandings take place over a 24-hour period as the warring siblings try to cover up their misdeeds, whilst ignoring the sage advice of the town’s elders.
Samir Oliveros’ fresh and funny coming-of-age comedy, shot in Creole patois on the picturesque Caribbean island of Old Providence, delivers engaging performances from its two teenage leads and a fizzy plotline balancing the probable and the improbable to hilarious effect.
Screening Dates: Sat 7th October 2017 @ ICA Cinema | Sun 8th October 2017 @ Prince Charles Cinema – find out more / book tickets here.
Ingrid Goes West – Social Media White Female: this jet-black stalker comedy, driven by Aubrey Plaza’s fearless lead performance, brilliantly skewers dangerous obsession and the sham of Instagrammed perfection. When life goes south for Ingrid (her mother dies, crazed retribution at a wedding leads to time out on a psychiatric ward), she goes west. Armed with her inheritance, she hits Venice Beach to find Taylor Sloane. A social media celebrity extraordinaire, whose online feeds overflow with sun-kissed, bohemian LA chic, Taylor is a world away from Ingrid’s painful past.
She artfully inveigles herself into her idol’s orbit, though Taylor’s narcissism and her own instability means the threat of being unmasked is just a ‘Send’ away. Ingrid Goes West’s wicked wit and delectably twisted double-act from Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen daringly flirts with psychological horror and full-blown tragedy. Its dark humour transgressively suggests that Ingrid’s flickering sociopathic self-awareness arguably makes her the sanest of them all.
Ice Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson (Straight Outta Compton) stars.
Screening Dates: Sat 7th, Sat 14th October 2017 @ Picturehouse Central | Sun 8th October 2017 @ Curzon Mayfair – find out more / book tickets here.
Mutafukaz – If you see just one dystopian hip hop sci-fi animated feature this year… Loser pizza-delivery boy Angelino and his flaming-headed buddy Vinz live in a Californian ghetto called Dark Meat City. It’s a cockroach-infested hell hole but it’s home and orphan Angelino survives by keeping his big round head down. However, after clocking a mysterious girl Angelino starts seeing odd things about certain people on the street. This revelation sends him on the run from some shadowy square-jawed men in black. Pop culture references abound, from Batman and Ren and Stimpy to Grand Theft Auto. But nothing comes close to the high levels of WTF-ness on display here.
Voiced by French rappers Casseurs Flowters (named after characters in Home Alone), Mutafukaz is fast-paced, very gory, flowing with juvenile humour and a total riot.
Screening Dates: Sun 8th October 2017 @ Prince Charles Cinema – find out more / book tickets.
Five Fingers For Marseilles – A deftly-constructed, Western-inspired drama, whose thrilling and intensely raw tone is made more breathtaking by the stunning backdrop it unfolds against. The vast landscape of South Africa’s Eastern Cape, with its rugged rural terrain and surrounding mountains, provides the spectacular setting for this story of five young friends who live in a community on the outskirts of the small, remote town of Marseilles. Fed up with the continual police harassment, they decide to take a stand. But things go terribly awry. Some 20 years later, one of the group returns to Marseilles. Once a feared gang leader, he now wants a peaceful life and to seek forgiveness for his past actions.
With its excellent cast, led by a superb central performance from Vuyo Dabula, Five Fingers for Marseilles is a tension-driven drama, building inexorably towards a climactic, High Noon-style showdown.
Screening Dates: Thurs 5TH October 2017 @ Vue Leicester Square Cinema | Sat 7th October 2017 @ Rich Mix Cinema | Sun 15th October 2017 @ Hackney Picturehouse – find out more / book tickets here.
Gemini – Jill (Lola Kirke) works as a personal assistant to bisexual movie star Heather (Zoë Kravitz), who has pissed off a lot of people. Jill is minder, manager and friend to the increasingly paranoid Heather. Their nights in gleaming Los Angeles are mostly filled with the crackling patter of off-the-chart Bechdel-test-passing dialogue. But when Jill’s gun becomes a murder weapon, she must turn amateur sleuth to clear her name. Rocking a ‘Katharine Hepburn gone golfing’ disguise, she eavesdrops in dive bars and modernist glass houses, while a philosophy-fixated detective (John Cho) is on her tail. Mumblenoir is back!
The originator – and sole practitioner – of this micro-genre, director Aaron Katz (Cold Weather), returns to it with a hugely inventive and pleasurable crime thriller. It gives classic 1940s Hollywood thrillers an Instagram shot in the arm, accompanied by a dreamy neon electro score. It’s anchored by the dazzling Kirke (Mistress America) as a millennial Miss Marple.
Screening Dates: Sun 8th October 2017 @ Haymarket Cinema | Mon 9th October 2017 @ Hackney Picturehouse – find out more / book tickets here.
Good Time – After a bank robbery goes seriously wrong, a small-time New York criminal devises a plan to spring his injured accomplice from police custody. The heist-gone-wrong scenario may be well-worn, but in the Safdie brothers’ latest it’s a springboard into a less familiar subgenre: the yuppie nightmare movie.
Highlighting this because it stars Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) and we’re concerned with how Hollywood treats this Oscar nominated Somali actor! He’s cast as ‘Dash’ the park security guard…
Screening Dates: Thurs 5th October 2017 @ BFI Southbank | Sun 8th October 2017 @ Odeon Leicester Square – find out more / book tickets here.
Small Town Crime – Beer is breakfast for former cop Mike (John Hawkes), an unrepentant loser desperate to get his badge back but burning bridges at every turn. Even his supportive sister Kelly (played with deadpan élan by Octavia Spencer, who is also executive producer on the film) is starting to lose patience with Mike’s lying, drifting and drinking. But he maintains an unfounded optimism about his career prospects, so when a murdered woman is found by the side of the road our low-rent gumshoe dedicates himself to seeking justice for the Jane Doe. Embarking on his own unofficial investigation, Mike soon stumbles upon a Twin Peaks-style vice ring.
This is a hugely fun, blackly comic sunshine noir in the Elmore Leonard vein, with a great line in bad taste and a satisfying dollop of pulpy genre thrills. Hawkes, channelling a drunk Columbo, dazzles throughout, giving one of his finest performances. Also stars Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)
Screening Dates: Weds 11th October @ Haymarket Cinema | Thurs 12th October @ Prince Charles Cinema – find out more / book tickets here.
Chateau – Life around the Château d’Eau metro station, in a working-class area of Paris, is captivatingly seen through the eyes of the employees and clientele of the African hair salons located there. To make a living, the hairdressers rely on hustlers to get their customers. Dapperly dressed Charles (Jacky Ido), nicknamed the Prince, heads the group that cajoles potential clients. His unbridled charisma and years of experience – knowing the best areas to attract people with money to spend – have made him the undisputed leader. But Charles has dreams of his own – settling down and owning Mourat’s (Ahmet Zirek) failing barber shop. However, life becomes complicated when a new hustler appears on the scene, whose aggressive tactics threaten Charles’ monopoly.
With its restless camerawork, Château balances this kaleidoscopic portrait of daily life with a more general homage to the French capital, and the resourcefulness and vivacity of the people who live in it.
Screening Dates: Sun 8th October 2017 @ Rich Mix Cinema | Tues 10th, Fri 13th October @ BFI Southbank – find out more / book tickets here.
A Season in France – Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s sullen and soul-searching film focuses on the plight of undocumented
asylum seekers desperately trying to find sanctuary in Europe. Abbas (Eriq Ebouaney), a college professor and father of two, seeks political asylum in France after fleeing the civil war that has raged in the Central African Republic since 2013. Widowed when his wife died in attempting to escape the country with him, he has since met Carole (Sandrine Bonnaire), who consoles him in his anguish at the French immigration system. Two years of waiting finally elicit a response from the authorities. Everything he holds dear, including his hopes for both his future and those of his children, lie in their decision.
Ebouaney and Bonnaire both give compelling performances, while Haroun masterfully contrasts the intimacy of human relationships with the cold bureaucracy of a vast, impersonal system.
Screening Dates: Fri 6th October 2017 @ Cine Lumiere | Sat 7th October 2017 @ Hackney Picturehouse – find out more / book tickets here.
Untitled – In 2013, Austrian documentary filmmaker Michael Glawogger set out with a small crew to film various locations around the world. The plan was to shoot for a year and be open to situations as they arose – to work without any predetermined theme and free from expectations. It would be a self-professed film ‘about nothing’. But some months later, while in Liberia, Glawogger died from malaria.
Co-directed by his regular collaborator Monika Willi, Untitled completes this project. It combines some of Glawogger’s footage with extracts from a diary, read by Fiona Shaw, that he kept during the production. Switching between Africa, the Balkans and Italy, this absorbing and visually striking essay film always returns to concerns central to Glawogger’s previous work.
Screening Dates: Weds 11th October @ ICA Cinema | Fri 13th October 2017 @ Vue Leicester Square – find out more / book tickets here.
Félicité – Alain Gomis’ poetic sensibilities are to the fore in this 2017 Berlin Film Festival winner as he weaves a compelling tale about a resilient woman in Kinshasa. Félicité is the singer at a popular but dingy bar in the Congolese capital. Audiences flock to see her, enraptured by her soulful and sombre performances. When her son is involved in a terrible accident, Félicité must race to raise the money needed to pay for an urgent operation. But seeking help from spurned admirer Tabu might be a decision she will come to regret.
Actors Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu and Papi Mpaka brilliantly articulate the issues raised by Gomis’ film, of the harassment women experience in their everyday lives. The other star in this heartfelt drama is the music, performed with passion and verve by the fabulous Kasai Allstars, who bring an additional level of compassion to this profoundly moving and rewarding film.
Screening Dates: Sun 8th October 2017 @ ICA Cinema | Mon 9th October 2017 @ BFI Southbank – find out more / book tickets here.
G-Funk – tells the story of the 1990s sound that transformed hip-hop into a global phenomenon and how three friends from East Long Beach changed the world. Warren G, Snoop Dogg and the late great Nate Dogg were childhood friends in LA. Having recorded under the moniker 213 (the LA telephone code), they were discovered by Dr. Dre when he was at Death Row Records. As a collective, they began to combine the melodic elements of Motown, funk and R&B with the angry, visceral sound of socially aware gangsta rap. The result was a smooth, laid back and melodic brand of hip hop that took the music from out of the underground and to a massive global audience.
First-time director Karam Gill synthesises rare archival material with commentaries from a who’s-who of hip hop royalty to tell the story of G Funk and particularly the role of Warren G, whose influence was pivotal to its success.
Screening Dates: Sat 14th October 2017 @ Hackney Picturehouse | Sun 15th October 2017 @ Haymarket Cinema – find out more / book tickets here.
Liyana – Affecting and uplifting, this beautiful documentary and animated fiction hybrid tells the story of a young girl as imagined by a group of orphaned Swazi children. Executive produced by Thandie Newton and animated by artist Shofela Coker, five children from a self-sustaining agricultural orphanage in Swaziland, create a story under the guidance of South African children’s author Gcina Mhlophe. In this tale-within-a-tale, the orphans invent a character drawn from their own experience. Their character, Liyana, is a brave and strong girl who lives in a thatched hut with her mother, father and two brothers. Their story never shies away from pain and loss – her father often comes home drunk and is unfaithful to her mother. The tragedy is that he contracts HIV, passing it on to Liyana’s mother. True to their own lives, resilience is key to the narrative the children tell – a fairytale imbued with tenderness and courage.
Screening Dates: Sat 7th October 2017 @ Curzon Soho Cinema | Mon 9th October 2017 @ BFI Southbank – find out more / book tickets here.
Frantz Fanon: Black Skin White Mask – Frantz Fanon was an African-Caribbean psychiatrist, philosopher and revolutionary whose inspiring, ground-breaking writing of the 1950s and 1960s explored the psychopathology of colonisation. Subverting traditional documentary codes, artist Isaac Julien and Mark Nash here depict and unpack Fanon’s life and ideas through a rich, compact interweave of lustrous Algerian locations, archival footage and interviews with family members and critical thinkers, including the much-missed Stuart Hall.
Fanon wrote that racism was the absolute depersonalisation of the individual and the film examines the extension of this dynamic through the complexity and problematics of language; whilst pointed, unusual framing emphasises the chains of gazing and desire that exists in the Oedipal relationship that Fanon identified between master and slave.
A rich, poetic, powerful work, this newly restored version, which makes its world premiere at the LFF, looks both punchy and resplendent.
Screening Dates: Thurs 5th October, Sun 8th October 2017 @ BFI Southbank – find out more / book tickets here.
Spell Reel – This debut feature from Portuguese artist Filipa César is a powerful reflection on cinema’s role in the creation and legacy of West African political history and national identity. Spell Reel follows the process to preserve the history of revolutionary cinema in Guinea-Bissau, particularly the work of filmmakers Sana Na N’Hada, Flora Gomes, José Bolama Cobumba and Josefina Crato, which documented Guinea-Bissau’s war of independence from Portugal. César follows the process by which a country’s fragile artistic and social history begins to be reclaimed.
Screening Dates: Screening Dates: Fri 6th October 2017 @ BFI Southbank | Mon 9th October 2017 @ ICA Cinema – find out more / book tickets here.
Tonsler Park – A film at the edge of history, about the workers of democracy in America on November 8, 2016. Everson’s unobtrusive observational style divulges the mechanisms behind the operation of Election Day.
Filmed at polling stations in Charlottesville, Virginia, we see the mainly African American officials set up, operate the balloting and explain procedures.
Filmed on b/w 16mm, the effect is like a dance as voters and officials briefly meet, then part. Among the bitter ironies, what it reveals is the possibility of hope, now dashed.
Screening Dates: Thurs 5th October 2017 @ BFI Southbank – find out more / book tickets here.
SHORT FILM AWARD PROGRAMME 1
- The Rabbit Hunt (Pahokee, Florida) – An initiation rite is practised here for boys on the cusp of manhood.
SHORT FILM AWARD PROGRAMME 2
- Laws of the Game (Suriname-UK) – The epic story of a Surinamese female referee fighting for her place in the world of men’s football.
- Robot & Scarecrow (UK-South Africa) – A uniquely modern fairytale about love with Jack O’Connell and Holliday Grainger. Directed by British black director Kibwe Tavares.
Screening dates: Sat 14th October 2017 @ Haymarket Cinema | Sun 15th October 2017 @ Vue Leicester Square – find out more / book tickets here.
GITS AND SHIGGLES (As part of the LAUGH strand)
- Masterpiece – Perfectly comical #BlackBoyJoy as a group of young men try to interpret their friend’s art so they can save face and show support. Directed by British black director Runyararo Mapfumo.
Screening Dates: Thurs 5th October 2017 @ Vue Leicester Square Cinema | Sat 7th October 2017 @ Rich Mix Cinema – find out more / book tickets here.
- Screwball – A couple of teenagers seem to be set to have sex for the first time, but their exploration of consent may be even funnier than the expected awkward fumbling. British Blacktor Alhaji Fofana stars as co-lead.
Screening Dates: Thurs 5th October 2017 @ Vue Leicester Square Cinema | Sat 7th October 2017 @ Rich Mix Cinema – find out more / book tickets here.
THE THRILL OF THE CHASE (As part of the THRILL strand)
- 1745 – In the year of the Jacobite rising, two slave sisters escape into the Scottish wilderness. Starring Scottish Nigerian actresses Moyo Akandé and Morayo Akandé – Screening Dates: Thurs 5th October 2017 @ Curzon Soho Cinema | Fri 6 October 2017 @ BFI Southbank – find out more / book tickets here.
HEADING FOR THE ADULT CRASH (As part of the JOURNEY strand)
- Work – A 17-year-old dancer attempts to contain her growing contempt towards an unjust world.
Screening Dates: Tues 10th October 2017 @ BFI Southbank | Fri 13th October 2017 @ Cine Lumiere – find out more / book tickets here.
LONDON CALLING (As part of the JOURNEY strand)
A young man attempts to discover more about his deceased father by interviewing friends and family during the man’s wake. Directed by British black director Jamie Noel.
Screening Dates: Thurs 12 October 2017 @ BFI Southbank | Sat 14 October 2017 @ Hackney Picturehouse – find out more / book tickets here.
HOPING. FEARING. DREAMING (As part of the CREATE strand)
- Black Barbie – A thought-provoking poetic essay on the notion of lighter skin being the beauty ideal. Directed by Ghanaian Comfort Arthur.
- Hip Hop Cafe – An ensemble slice of life in a diner, where rap lyrics become part of the drama. By British black director Robbie Samuels.
- Dear Mr. Shakespeare – Journey through Shakespeare’s Othello in a historical and contemporary setting. By British black director Shola Amoo.
- The Ancestors Came – Faith Ringgold, an African-American civil rights activist famous for her quilted narrations, recounts the stories of her past. By British black director Cecile Emeke.
- Robot & Scarecrow – A uniquely modern fairytale about love with Jack O’Connell and Holliday Grainger. By Kibwe Tavares.
Screening Dates: Thursday 12 October 2017 @ BFI Southbank – find out more / book tickets here.
BRITISH BLACK TALENT SHOUT OUTS:
- Bentley Kalu has a role in British Film Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool – find out more about the film here.
- John Giwa-Amu  is executive producer on British film The Party – find out more about the film here.
- Faith Edwards has a role in Anchor and Hope – find out more about the film here.
- Elarica Johnson, Joey Ansah, Jumayn Hunter, Nansi Nsue, Rosaria D’Agostino, Semere Sebhatu and Joshua Kekana have roles in British film How to Talk to Girls at Parties – find out more about the film here.
- Anthony Welsh has a role in (brilliant) British boxing film Journeyman – find out more about the film here.
- Corinne Bailey Rae stars in Funny Cow – find out more about the film here.
- Kobna Holdbrook-Smith stars in Ghost Stories – find out more about the film here.
- Kamari May, Richard Owusu, Alkali Reid star in short film Real Gods Require Blood – find out more about the film here.
- Treva Etienne features in the documentary Filmworker – find out more about the film here.
BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL: AT A GLANCE – The 61st BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express®
- Event dates: 4 – 15 October 2017
- Tickets on sale: BFI Members: 10:00am 7 September | Amex priority booking opens at 10.00am, 12 September | General sale: 10:00am 14 September
The Festival again hosts Press and Industry screenings at Picturehouse Central, the Digital Viewing Library, a host of delegate hubs, discounts at partner venues and numerous networking opportunities with delegates and filmmakers. Visit www.bfi.org.uk/lff/professional-delegates for further details.
The BFI London Film Festival experience can be enjoyed UK-wide on BFI Player, the BFI’s VOD service, featuring a Festival digital channel showing regular red carpet action and film maker interviews. BFI London Film Festival content will be a key attraction in the range of services on BFI Player – at player.bfi.org.uk/
See the full BFI London Film Festival schedule here.
 – TBB interview with Clarke Peters: https://thebritishblacklist.co.uk/tbb-speaks-to-clarke-peters-about-owning-the-black-narrative-and-his-role-in-new-itv-series-jericho/
 – slate.com interview with Niecy Nash: http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2017/06/14/claws_niecy_nash_on_her_long_road_to_peak_tv_stardom.html
 – TBB’s #OutOf100 review of Hidden Figures: https://thebritishblacklist.co.uk/88-outof100-hidden-figures-will-delight-and-inspire-you/
 – TBB interview with producer John Giwa-Amu: https://thebritishblacklist.co.uk/screens-2015-future-leader-producer-of-the-call-up-john-giwa-amu-talks-exciting-projects-sci-fi-cannes/