Next month brings the 58th London Film Festival, and the press launch this week threw up more than a handful of interesting propositions. You know the drill so I won’t detain you here much longer: I recommend a lucky dip of highlights, avoiding where possible those which already have distributors, and especially those which are being released imminently. Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner, for instance, is a wonderful film, but there’s not much point shelling out for a gala festival ticket when it will be in a cinema near you three weeks after its LFF unveiling. On the other hand, you might just want to brag on social media about having seen it first, in which case—be my guest.
Booking opens to BFI members next Thursday 11 September and to the public a week after that. Here is my selection of sixteen titles that I’m particularly looking forward to:
Did you really think I could resist recommending a documentary about the director of my favourite film (McCabe and Mrs Miller), not to mention one of the most innovative of all US filmmakers?
This fiction debut from the Brazilian documentary maker Gabriel Mascaro charts the romance between a young couple in a village threatened by global warming.
As an admirer of Duane Hopkins’s gruelling but visually arresting Better Things, I’m excited to see this belated follow-up, especially as it stars the excellent George Mackay (Pride) as an ailing young man living in straitened circumstances on a council estate.
After Father of My Children and Goodbye First Love, the writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve is the closest thing you can get to a sure thing. Her latest is a fictionalised portrait of the rise of the French house music scene that spawned Daft Punk.
Anyone who saw Carol Morley’s semi-documentary Dreams of a Life, about a woman whose body lay undiscovered in her north London flat for three years after she died, is likely still thinking about it to this day. This fiction follow-up about hormonal hysteria at a 1960s girls’ school suggests shades of Picnic at Hanging Rock.
Approving reviews have trickled through from the Venice film festival for this debut drama from the British director Guy Myhill, set in the Norfolk countryside but infused with a renegade spirit that has been likened to Harmony Korine.
I saw this excellent documentary about a provincial Canadian school when it screened at the Berlin film festival earlier this year. Think of it as Être et avoir: the High School Years.
In the Basement
A creepy documentary from the fearless Ulrich Seidl, director of the Paradise trilogy, about Austrians and their beloved basements and cellars? Count me in.
David Robert Mitchell’s The Myth of the American Sleepover, a gentle but insightful coming-of-age movie, was one of the great US debuts of recent years. His next film, which earned rave reviews from Cannes, sees him moving into horror.
The new film from Andrey Zvyagintsev, director of the unforgettable Elena and The Return, about a man resisting the purchase of his property.
The most unlikely words heard at the LFF launch announced this, “a knockabout comedy from Bruno Dumont.” As anyone who has seen the taxing L’Humanité or La Vie de Jesus will know, that’s like a fey period romance from Quentin Tarantino or a monster movie by Woody Allen. Still, I have it on good authority that is properly funny and entertaining. Colour me intrigued.
Abel Ferrara’s film has Willem Dafoe as the legendary Italian poet, director and firebrand Pier Paolo Pasolini in the hours immediately prior to his murder in 1975.
The always fascinating German director Christian Petzold (Yella, Barbara) is reunited with his regular collaborator, the hypnotic Nina Hoss. She plays a concentration camp survivor who undergoes cosmetic surgery and searches for the husband who betrayed her.
The great Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Kandahar, A Moment of Innocence) relocates to Georgia about a president who sparks revolution in an unnamed country.
I’ve heard terrific things about this entirely dialogue-free drama set among the criminal fraternity at a Ukranian boarding school for young deaf people.
A girl and her dog: that’s the misleadingly innocuous-sounding starting point for a shocking, visceral film that won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes this year.
The 58th London Film Festival runs 8—19 October.