The British Film Institute has announced the line-up for their 2014 London Film Festival, throwing a spotlight on British film production this year and screening 248 films across London from the 8th-19th of October.
The festival will be opened by Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, Benedict Cumberbatch’s latest cinematic outing which follows the story of Alan Turing, mathematician logician who cracked the Enigma code in World War II. Cumberbatch stars alongisde Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong and Charles Dance. The Imitation Game will be screening next week at the Toronto International Film Festival, and screened last week at the Telluride Film Festival, where it was generally felt to be a festival crowd pleaser. According to LFF director Clare Stewart, the film “does cinematic justice to Alan Turing’s vision, determination and personal story as well as his enduring impact on British history and contemporary life”. Already on track for the Oscar race, its BFI LFF screening, which will also be its European premiere, could help cement a relatively early lead.
On a side note, the BFI LFF has seen some fairly prestigious opening night films over the years, with directors Jacques Demy, Jean Renoir, Eric Rohmer, Francois Truffaut, Akira Kuosawa, Bernado Bertolucci, Peter Weir, David Mamet, Peter Bogdanovich, Jane Campion, Kathryn Bigelow, David Cronenberg, Mike Leigh and a host of others kicking off the festival. Last year saw Oscar front-runners Captain Phillips and Saving Mr Banks open and close the festival respectively, boding well for The Imitation Game.
The festival will also feature other current festival circuit favourites such as Yann Demange’s ’71, a debut feature and Berlin standout that follows one English squaddie in Belfast during The Troubles, and Cannes favourite Foxcatcher from Bennett Miller, who will also be giving a talk at the festival. Audiences will also have the chance to see Berlin festival-topper and recent Sydney Film Festival favourite, Diao Yinan’s Black Coal, Thin Ice (you can read our review here and our interview with Yinan here) and Sundance’s Guantanamo Bay drama Camp X-Ray, which stars Kristen Stewart.
Australian films have a relatively strong showing, with Rolf de Heer’s latest, Charlie’s Country, which garnered a Best Actor prize for its lead David Gulpili at Cannes from the Un Certain Regard competition, screening alongside Kriv Stenders’ comedy-thriller Kill Me Three Times and Mark Hartley’s documentary about exploitation cinema and Cannon Film, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films.
The festival also features some heavy crossover with TIFF, screening Michael Winterbottom’s The Face of an Angel, starring Daniel Brühl and Kate Beckinsale and opening this Saturday in Toronto. The London Film Festival will also feature Alan Rickman’s sophomore directing effort, A Little Chaos, TIFF’s closing night film starring Rickman himself, Kate Winslet, Stanley Tucci and Mattias Schoenaerts.
Festival-goers can also take advantage of the “Surprise Film”, a LFF tradition that has previously included The Grandmaster, Silver Linings Playbook and The Wrestler, masterclasses with industry heavyweights such as production designer Maria Djurkovic, director Frederick Wiseman and DreamWorks Chief Technology Officer Lincoln Wallen, who’ll speak to the art of animation. DreamsWorks itself has a significant presence at the festival, with illustrated talk “DreamWorks Animation: Taking Flight and Beyond” also programmed, exploring the animation history of the studio.
The full line-up of 248 films can be found here.