8 September 2015

BFI London Film Festival 2015 – Our Top 10 Films to Watch

By Danny Kelly | Categorised in Breaking News, Film Festival Diary, Cinema news, Film News

Met Film School is the largest provider of filmmaking education in London. We offer a range of MA and BA courses and short full-time, part-time and weekend courses. To find out more about our courses request a prospectus.

It’s been an exciting month for London based film fans, with the 2015 BFI London Film Festival announcing their full programme. We headed down to the Members’ Programme Launch last week where the festival team introduced an eclectic 238-film list that will begin screening on October 7th. Particular emphasis was made of this being the “year of the strong woman”, alluding to the rising percentage of women directors listed, and the fascinating and engaging female characters that lead many of this year’s standout screenings.

Here are ten films that have caught our eye so far…

Suffragette (Opening Night Gala

This year’s Opening Night Gala is a film that manages to proudly fly the flag for what is so important about the 2015 London Film Festival. Suffragette features a strong female cast including Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep, is directed by Met Film Advisory Board Member Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane) and is a confident reflection of the contemporary vitality of British Cinema. This intense drama explores the feminist suffrage movement sparked during the late 19thcentury whereby foot soldiers strived for over 50 years for the right to vote. The Houses of Parliament even allowed interior filming to take place for the period piece – surely an acknowledgement and appreciation for the important nature of the film’s themes and conception.

Carol (American Express Gala

Acclaimed director Todd Haynes returns to film after an eight-year absence with Carol, the story of a growing love affair between a young department store clerk (Rooney Mara) and an older, married women (Cate Blanchett). The hotly tipped entry is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, a novel that saw controversy upon release due to its progressive attitude towards sexuality. Initial response suggests that the film – which is set in 1950s New York – acts as a strong companion piece to the director’s successful past Technicolor feature Far from Heaven, which was hailed for its meticulous 50’s authenticity.

You can watch the teaser trailer for Carol here.

High-Rise (Empire Festival Gala

Each year it’s difficult to limit our recommendations from the diverse Gala list, however, Ben Wheatley’s (Sightseers, Kill List) J.G Ballard adaptation, High-Rise, appears to have some incredible imaginative potential. The 70’s set satire sees a modern luxury building, offering privileged citizens closed community living, turn to chaos when occupants begin to reinforce a familiar social structure through a rather literal top-to-bottom hierarchy. In an exclusive clip shown at the preview, protagonist Dr Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) enters an homogeneously stocked supermarket – an eye-catching scene that suggested a darkly funny tone for which the director is becoming synonymous.

Love & Peace (Cult

Love & Peace is the story of repressed officer worker, Ryoichi, whose dreams of becoming a music star have long since faded, leaving him slaving away as another cog in the machine. Fairly familiar territory so far. The catalyst arrives in the chance purchase of a talking pet turtle named Pikadon, marking the beginning of a series of increasingly bonkers and outlandish events that may change not only Ryoichi’s life, but the fate of the world itself. This film was Cult strand programmer Michael Blyth’s personal recommendation, and the frantic trailer below certainly goes some way towards indicating why.

Office (Official Competition

Hong Kong Director Johnnie To continues to jump genre-to-genre with another one of LFF’s most dazzling and unexpected looking entries: Office. Plenty of films are set in sleek, modern and professional corporate buildings, but how many are celebratory musicals? As expected with the genre, the film reportedly manages insightful satire of its capitalist focus, while having a lot of fun in the process. In the clip shown at the preview, the camera zips and glides around an expertly designed angular set, guarantying some stunning single frame shots.

You can watch the teaser trailer for Office here.

Youth (Journey

Paolo Sorrentino’s follow up to the Oscar winning The Great Beauty made its debut at Cannes in May, and certainly looks to be every bit the beautiful companion piece to its virtuosic predecessor. Youth follows the friendship between Fred (Michael Caine) and Mick (Harvey Keitel) – two artists with opposing aspirations for their later years. Sorrentino so masterfully tackled notions of aging and artistic endeavour in his last outing, so our fingers are firmly crossed for him to continue perfecting these themes in this English speaking film. A supporting cast featuring Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano and Jane Fonda obviously helps too.

Ghost Theatre (Cult

Considering the relatively little absolute Horror on show, we are pleased to see Ghost Theatre – the latest from legendary J-horror Director Hideo Nakata (Ringu, Dark Water) – creep its way into two evening screenings. The film centers on young actor Sara who lands a small part in a theatre production, but after a quick succession of strange occurrences, realises she may have taken on a role more then she bargained for. A large, paranormally affected theatre is a great setting for a Horror film and it would certainly pay to not only see this release within a similar cinema setting, but to catch it before an inferior Western remake hits production.

You can watch the Japanese language teaser for Ghost Theatre here.

Room (Official Competition

Since birth, five-year old Jack has known nothing beyond the confines of the bunker-like room that he has been stuck in with his mother. Then, suddenly, an opportunity for escape opens, leading to an overwhelming and moving journey into the outer world. A major selling point for Room is undoubtedly the casting of Brie Larson as the mother, a wickedly talented actress whose authentic aura helped make Short Term 12 a minor indie gem.This is another billing that fits well with the year’s theme, and one that will hopefully be talked about in the same regard as the high-profile Galas.

He Named Me Malala (Documentary Special Presentation

If anyone deserves to be the focus of a documentary in 2015, it’s the youngest-ever Noble Prize laureate and girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai. To try and summerise Malala’s extraordinary achievements here would be reductive, but what should be celebrated is this vital film release, one that will hopefully bring an even greater awareness of the important work achieved, and the extent of which still remains. He Named Me Malala also delivers a heartwarming portrait of an “ordinary teenager”, one who just so happens to be a wise, eloquent, and conscientious voice of a generation. Inspiring stuff.

You can watch the trailer for He Named Me Malala here.

The End of the Tour (Journey

The End of the Tour sees Jason Segel – in some great against type casting – take on the challenging role of everyman American writer David Foster Wallace, whose entwined troubles and craft led to his suicide at age 46. More precisely this is a road movie, taking place with Wallace in the company of Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) while on a promotional book tour. This concise two-character story works to the film’s advantage – ultimately avoiding an unsavoury biopic in favour of a far more real tale of male friendship.

Met Film School is the largest provider of filmmaking education in London. We offer a range of MA and BA courses and short full-time, part-time and weekend courses. To find out more about our courses request a prospectus.

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