By Cleaver Patterson.
Earlier last month saw the official programme launch for the London Film Festival 2014. To a packed house at the Odeon Leicester Square, BFI Chief Executive Amanda Nevill introduced the festival’s director, Clare Stewart, who went on to reveal a sample of the films which will show at this year’s event. Over twelve days between the 8th and 19th of October, the festival will take place at a number of cinema’s throughout the capital, from major venues including Leicester Square’s Odeon, Empire and Vue cinemas, to smaller more intimate settings such as Chelsea and Mayfair’s Curzon cinemas and The Ritzy in Brixton, South London.
The London Film Festival has in recent years become a foundation stone and international showcase for the British Film Industry. As well as this, however, it is increasingly being seen as a platform to bring fresh new talent from abroad to the attention of the British public, as well as providing a chance for the general public to catch a range of films which they might not otherwise have the opportunity to see.
During the launch, Ms Stewart focused on – through a series of trailer montages – highlights from the various categories which make up the festival’s rich and varied programme. The festival prides itself in the scope of films screened: the audience were treated to extracts from upcoming major studio releases – such as the World War II dramas The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley and Fury featuring Brad Pitt, which will play respectively as the festival’s opening and closing night gala screenings – to those from smaller independent and experimental films, showcasing the talents of up-and-coming filmmakers.
Overall the festival breaks into various categories including the three major prize sections for First Feature, Documentary and the prestigious Best Film. This year sees such diverse entries as the gritty Northern Ireland based drama ’71 (First Feature), Hockney: A Life in Pictures (Documentary), about the artist David Hockney, and coming-of-age mystery The Falling (Best Film). There will also be a number of gala screenings, including one for the star-studded sports drama Foxcatcher starring Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Vanessa Redgrave, being held by the festival’s chief sponsor American Express. Other films running over the twelve days include those for families, like the bewitching Celtic animated fantasy Song of the Sea by the director Tomm Moore (who was Oscar nominated for his magical The Secret of Kells (2009), humorous films such as writer / director John Boorman’s Queen and Country and horrors like the visually arresting Chinese fantasy The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom.
Press screenings started during the last week of September, providing an idea of what the wider public can expect during the festival itself. Over the coming month many of the films showing will be brought to the public’s attention through the national and international media, whetting their appetites for what they can see during the festival and the proceeding months, as many of the films go on general cinematic release both in the UK and abroad.
For full programme details, and to book tickets for the BFI London Film Festival, 2014, visit their website at: www.bfi.org.uk/lff.
Cleaver Patterson is a film critic and writer based in London. A regular contributor to Film International, his work can also be found on the websites of Vérité, Cine-Vue and The People’s Movies, amongst others.