The 62nd BFI London Film Festival is taking its annual outing from 10-21st October and a number of our Queens are going to be on site covering the festival as press. With its stellar lineup just announced, they’re here to tell you about the films they are most excited to see from this years programme.
Rafiki (Dir: Wanuri Kahiu)
The first Kenyan film to be shown at Cannes, Wanuri Kahiu’s lesbian romance Rafiki has already made waves in the media, and will be screened as the BFI Flare special presentation at LFF this year. Rafiki was promptly banned by the Kenyan film classification board for promoting homosexuality, which is still against the country’s law. However, undeterred director Kahiu is determined for the film to reach out internationally, and the film’s trailer promises a sweet but emotional story about two girls falling in love despite the attitudes of the politician fathers. Their romantic connection is undeniable, but their fledgling relationship must find its course in secret.
I first learnt about Rafiki due to its controversy, however, my real excitement is rather founded in the relationship between the two leads, Ziki and Kena. The need for more lesbian films depicting women of colour, and taking place in non-western countries, is still a persistent one. And though the trailer teases a fair amount of drama and tears in highlighting the struggles of queer Kenyan people, I do sincerely hope for a happy ending for the two girls – the tendency to render all lesbian narratives tragic is a tireless one, and god knows we deserve to see some positive, optimistic representation of minorities on screen. Rafiki promises to be a colourful visual treat with a cool modern soundtrack, whilst shedding light on a conflict between culture and sexuality that is strikingly necessary right now; not just for queer audiences but for us all. – Megan Wilson
Suspiria (Dir: Luca Guadagnino)
Dario Argento’s 1977 cult horror classic remains loved and studied to this day, and Call Me By Your Name’s Luca Guadagnino is the brave soul who dares to take on its reimagining. Set in a prestigious Berlin dance school, Suspira tells the tale of its most promising students and their terrifying mistresses. Starring Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, and the mysterious Lutz Ebersdorf (though we’re not yet certain he exists) – the film has kept itself in people’s minds with mystery and intrigue. The Twitter account responds expertly to memes as though a central member of the ‘film twitter’ community; teasing every theory that’s suggested. I’m also looking forward to an eerie and spell-binding score from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.
Guadagnino has pretty much inverted the neon primary colour palette Argento’s original is famed for, the muted greys look murky and the walls look secretive. I can’t wait to be disgusted and traumatised, and I hope I’m not let down. Give me darkness, tears, and sighs. – Millicent Thomas
The Front Runner (Dir: Jason Reitman)
Hugh Jackman is an incredibly talented actor, yet I’m still hesitant he could ever make me believe that he isn’t Wolverine – now that would be a talent. For this reason, I can’t wait to see Jason Reitman’s political drama, The Front Runner. I have complete faith that Jackman will convince me he really is 1988 Democratic candidate Gary Hart, not that I know who that is. I know nothing of America’s political climate in the 80s and, interestingly, this period is highly regarded as the time when “politics went tabloid.”
The film also boasts an excellent ensemble cast in J.K. Simmons, Vera Farmiga, and rising star Kaitlyn Dever. Gary Hart went from America’s most loved to most hated in less than a week, when the Miami Herald exposed his affair with Donna Rice (Sara Paxton). Based on the book All the Truth is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid by Matt Bai, Reitman covers this fascinating story with a focus on the fallout for Hart and his family. In this hideous era where Trump and the White House consistently attempt to demonize the press, it will be interesting to see if The Front Runner takes a specific stance or side, or will it be just a human story of a man in the spotlight whose secrets are out? –Millicent Thomas
Colette (Dir: Wash Westmoreland)
From one festival-bound period piece tinged with overt lesbian desire to another, Colette is the story of the incorrigible French novelist, whose personal life often inspired almost as much frenzy and conversation as her stories did. Colette was a revolutionary of the Belle Époque, in writing honestly on subjects such as women’s sexuality and also in living, rather openly, as a woman that engaged in relationships with other women – without apology and without reservations. She has deserved, for some time now, to be given the kind of film that has been awarded to countless, sometimes mediocre, male writers before her. At last, it appears that Wash Westmoreland may have created a feature worthy of her in casting Keira Knightley, the undisputed spearhead of the period drama, and in refusing to shy away from Colette’s inclinations towards women.
Colette’s experimentation with presentations of gender, her strive to accurately reflect the sexual appetites and ventures of women in bohemian France, and her sheer talent made her one of the most fascinating figures of the twentieth century – her influence on the development of modern womanhood cannot be understated and deserves to be depicted honestly onscreen. For its decision to present a challenge to the traditions of both historical and period dramas, Colette will undoubtedly be a radical addition to what can occasionally feel like tired genres. It is about time, surely, that the great women of history should have their stories told as widely, and as regularly, as those of the men are – Colette, I feel, will finally provide that. – Hannah Ryan
Widows (Dir: Steve McQueen)
Based on a British TV series from the 1980’s of the same name and taking place in the US, Widows focuses on grieving women who decide to take control of their lives as the debts left behind by their late husbands are threateningly placing a real Sword of Damocles over their heads. With Widows, Steve McQueen is offering a pretty stunning line-up as well. The film stars Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo in the lead roles; but amongst the cast we’ll also find Liam Neeson, Jon Bernthal and Daniel Kaluuya, a combo of raw talents that have a real chance of making sparks fly.
For me, the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave was one of the most emotional movie experiences I’ve had. McQueen has a way of aligning every single frame to the point of perfection. I’m very excited and most of all curious to see how he is going to approach this kind of genre material. I’m moreover very enthusiastic to see another adaptation of writer Gillian Flynn, to whom we owe the acclaimed and sizzling books – and then screenplays – Gone Girl, and the recent Sharp Objects. She’s a modern master of thriller and I can’t wait to see how she, along with McQueen, will bring this story to life. – Marie-Célia Cannenpasse
The Favourite (Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos)
If there is one thing that Yorgos Lanthimos can truly be categorised as, then it is offbeat – at the very least. His films frequently defy convention and root themselves deeply, and comfortably, in the realm of surrealism. From Dogtooth to The Lobster, Lanthimos’ filmography conveys a fascination with both the bizarre and the macabre, and so his latest feature, a dive into the court of Queen Anne with Emma Stone, Olivia Colman, and Rachel Weisz, is sure to carry this signature style. Perhaps all the way to awards glory, if early reactions are anything to go by.
The Favourite centres around Weisz’s and Stone’s attempts, respectively, to increase their popularity with a somewhat unhinged monarch, who comes in the form of Colman’s Anne. The performances that Lanthimos draws from his actors often take them far beyond their comfort zone, so much so that even thinking about what he could do with Stone, still fresh from an Oscar win for La La Land, is enough to induce goose-bumps. Both Weisz and Colman have taken on rather zany roles before but, for Stone, this feels like uncharted territory – and could prove to be a highlight of her career, as it surely will for her counterparts when Lanthimos once again unleashes his penchant for the unconventional upon the world. – Hannah Ryan
If Beale Street Could Talk (Dir: Barry Jenkins)
After the unsurmountable success of 2016’s Moonlight, Barry Jenkins returns to London Film Festival with (only!) his third film, If Beale Street Could Talk, this year’s Love Gala. Set in Harlem in the early 1970s, Jenkin’s newest drama tells the story of Tish and Fonny, a young couple who are deeply in love and expecting a baby. However, when Fonny is accused of raping a Puerto Rican woman, both he and Tish face a harrowing fight to prove his innocence and free him in time for the birth of their child. The film is based upon the eponymous 1974 novel by James Baldwin, whose writings on race and identity in America were recently explored in the 2016 documentary I Am Not Your Negro. Raoul Peck’s documentary is a fantastic visual introduction to Baldwin’s work, and certainly infected me with a desire to know more about the author. As opposed to his introspective non-fiction, If Beale Street Could Talk presents such themes within a stirring fictional narrative.
The recently-released trailer for the movie thankfully doesn’t give too much away – the deep, silent stares of the characters into the camera were enough to leave me breathless, even before you consider the painful action that the story promises. Jenkins manages in two short minutes to captivate me with his effortlessly stunning cinematography, and a carefully nuanced approach to dramatic storytelling that made me fall so in love with Moonlight and its characters. I have no doubt that If Beale Street Could Talk will deliver the same level of profound characterisation and artistry, and I cannot wait to have the privilege of seeing it for myself. – Megan Wilson
Wildlife (Dir: Paul Dano)
Inspired by Richard Ford’s 1990 novel, Paul Dano takes his first steps as a director with Wildlife. The film was received warmly at both this year’s Sundance Film Festival and at Cannes, which is very promising. The ’60s-era drama follows a family on the brink of collapse when they move to Montana. Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) and Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) have a son, Joe (Ed Oxenbould) and through him the whole story is told – as he watches his parents tear each other apart. What piques my curiosity is the way we, as an audience, are going to witness this family dynamic during this particular period in time, especially from the point of view of a young person. I believe Gyllenhaal and Mulligan, regarding previous performances and the potential they both have, might just make the perfect dysfunctional couple on screen.
When it comes to Paul Dano, he is no doubt one of the most capable and gifted actors of his generation. His numerous notable performances, such as in Love & Mercy, There Will Be Blood or Little Miss Sunshine to name just a few, speak louder than words. Furthermore, I think it’s crucial to underline that, being involved with a brochette of the most talented directors in our time, he most definitely learned from the best and I have great faith in him to deliver with Wildlife an excellent feature. –Marie-Célia Connenpasse
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