Five Films To Look Out For: London Film Festival 2020

LFF

Mangrove

One of the films in Steve McQueen’s ‘Small Axe’ series that will soon be showing on BBC One, Mangrove examines another part of Black British history that is not widely known about. The Mangrove restaurant in Notting Hill was both a place to eat and a space for the local Black community. Subject to police harassment and intimidation, it became the centre of a court case when nine activists were wrongfully arrested for incitement to riot in 1970.

McQueen’s varied directorial career ranges from sex addiction, to Bobby Sands, to the slick heist drama Widows — his entry into the genre of the courtroom drama will no doubt be another successful string to his bow. With a cast of rising stars in Black Panther‘s Letitia Wright and Malachi Kirby, alongside Gary Beadle and Jack Lowden, this examination of Black British history in the late 20th century is a strong opener filled with homegrown talent for the 64th London Film Festival.

Still from Kajillionaire. Gina Rodriguez is pushing a trolley in a supermarket, and Evan Rachel Wood is standing next to her. The supermarket is displaying a selection of meat on the left hand side.
LFF

Kajillionaire

Miranda July’s offbeat and quirky Kajillionaire explores the lives of a family of grifters: Old Dolio (Evan Rachael Wood), a young woman raised by parents (Debra Winger, Richard Jenkins) who have tried to spare her from the conventional, capitalist lifestyle. When they take on a new grift involving a stranger (Gina Rodriguez), Old Dolio’s life begins to turn upside down.

In her review for Screen Queens Nathasha Orlando Kappler highlighted July’s “acute understanding of our universal yearning for human connection” — appropriate for our pandemic and contact-reduced times.

See Natasha’s full review here: Miranda July’s ‘Kajillionaire’ is a Poignant and Sweetly Tender Exploration of Lonesome Love

And for more insight into the film, check of Graciela Mae’s interview with director Miranda July here: Miranda July on Stepping into a Deeper Level of Directing in ‘Kajillionaire’

Still from Undine. Paula Beer faces the camera, her head tucked into the shoulder of a man, locked in an embrace. She looks right at the lens. In the background are glass buildings and cranes.
LFF

Undine

German auteur Christian Petzold’s examination of recent German history through a lens that blends the past and present into a familiar hinterland continues with his latest Undine. Reuniting his two Transit stars, Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski, Undine follows an urban historian (Beer) who, after one unhappy relationship has imploded, finds herself falling in love with an industrial diver (Rogowski).

Intertwining the ancient myth of the undine — an elemental being associated with water, most notably modernised into the mermaid, or water nymph — and modern day Berlin, Petzold weaves a tale of romance, mysticism and intrigue with a talented cast whose chemistry is undeniable.

Still from Limbo. A child's playground. One man sites at the end of the slide, a oud (Syrian guitar) in his hands, wearing a panda hat. Another man stands centre, wearing a blue coat with his hands in his pockets, watching him.
LFF

Limbo

A bleak island in the outer Hebrides that is home to newly arrived asylum seekers is an unlikely setting for a dark comedy, but Ben Sharrock’s latest film manages to blend pitch-black humour with a story of immigration. Syrian musician Omar (Amir El-Masry) is stuck in the limbo of the title, waiting for his asylum status to be approved, while taking cultural awareness classes with his fellow residents.

With considered and tender performances from the cast, Sharrock tells a story of the benign and intended cruelty that makes up the British asylum system — marooning a group of people seeking a better life on a barren island surrounded by fog. With a Tory government focused on denying the rights and needs of those seeking safety, Limbo is a film with an essential message that still maintains the humour in the banality of everyday life.

Still from Ammonite. Kate Winslet in close up, looking down to the bottom left of the camera. She has her hair tied back and is wearing a white lace collar.
LFF

Ammonite

2017’s God’s Own Country , the debut of filmmaker Francis Lee, was a gay love story in rural Yorkshire that touched on masculinity, immigration and class and resonated in a country dealing with the toxic aftermath of Brexit. Now, in Lee’s second film, he takes on the story of one of the key figures of British palaeontology Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) and an imagined romance with a younger woman and geologist Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan).

Divided by class, and travelling on the harsh Southern coast of England — now know as the Jurassic Coast for it’s prominence in prehistoric fossils — the two women grow close in their pursuit of careers in a predominantly male field of study. The closing film of London Film Festival, this much anticipated film starring two multiple Oscar-nominated actors is going to be one to watch as the awards season starts to take hold this year.

The BFI London Film Festival runs virtually this year from Wednesday 7th October to Sunday 18th October

by Rose Dymock

Rose is a budding film critic, who graduated from the University of Liverpool with an MRes in Film Studies. She’s currently living back home in the Black Country in the West Midlands, juggling working full time and trying to break into criticism. She loves thrillers, great female characters, Al Pacino, and multilingual cinema. She’s not entirely sure if she’s a millennial and she wants a Lord of the Rings tattoo. Find her on twitter @rosedymock or on her website https://rosefd.wordpress.com/

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