The BFI London Film Festival returns with some changes for 2020. Usually a London-centric affair, this year films are being rolled out to certain cinemas nationwide, or premiered on BFI Player to watch from the safety of the sofa. Alongside blockbusters such as Steve McQueen's Mangrove, Francis Lee's Ammonite and Chloé Zhao's Nomadland, there's a host of other exciting films on offer. Here's what we're looking forward to for LFF 2020.
Director Josephine Decker is known for her searingly original experimental features such as psychological thriller Butter on the Latch (2013) and 2018's surprise break out Madeline's Madeline. Shirley, starring the brilliant Elizabeth Moss and executive produced by Martin Scorsese is her highest profile film so far. In this fictional 'anti-biopic' of American horror writer Shirley Jackson, the depressed, blocked writer finds new inspiration in a campus disappearance and a young couple, in a portrait of creative sociopathy.
Screening online on the BFI Player, Miranda July's new feature tells the tale of a family of barely successful con artists and the new arrival who throws their dysfunctional relationship with one another into question. Sparked by contemporary culture's recent obsession with phoneys – from Anna Delvey to Elizabeth Holmes – Kajillionaire follows 2019's Hustlers in a new wave of scammer cinema. July's take promises to be a reliably weird one.
It's always worth checking out the documentary line-up at the BFI LFF, as there's always weird and wonderful gems to be found here. Caroline Catz's portrait of audio pioneer Delia Derbyshire (composer of the Dr Who theme) is informed by the discovery of 267 tapes in an attic, along with a treasure trove of journals hidden in Derbyshire's childhood bedroom. Watch from the comfort and safety of your own home on BFI Player.
Short films are often sidelined at mainstream festivals, but when it's directed by Pedro Almodovar and starring Tilda Swinton, you make time in your schedule. Screenings of Almodovar's adaptation of this Jean Cocteau play are accompanied by a pre-recorded introduction and Q&A with Pedro Almodóvar and Tilda Swinton.
There are in fact a promising assortment of shorts in the festival, programmed into thematic strands such as 'Secrets and Lies', 'My Time to Shine' and 'We Built A World'. Our pick is the UK Focus' for a chance to see some emerging local talent.
Son of legendary body horror director David, Brandon Cronenberg showed incredible promise with his first dystopian sci fi feature, Antiviral, way back in 2012. The wait is now over for the follow up. Andrea Riseborough plays a psychic assassin who highjacks other people's bodies to commit her crimes. I mean, if that synopsis alone doesn't inspire you to see it then I don't know what will.
With a first episode directed by Lena Dunham, this upcoming British drama series follows the new recruits of an investment bank's graduate programme. Led by rising star Myha’la Herrold, the group navigates a toxic culture of ego, excess and the legacy of the 2008 financial crisis as they compete for permanent jobs. Premiering on BBC 2 and HBO in November, LFF is giving a sneak peek of Episodes 1, 2 and 4 for a limited time on BFI Player.
Weaving together years of home videos with contemporary footage, Garrett Bradley's documentary focuses in on the resilience and determination of Fox Richardson, a woman who has spent over 20 years campaigning for the release of her husband, who was sentenced to life without parole for a botched armed robbery, all the while raising six sons. This earned Bradley the Best Director prize at Sundance.
For the industry insiders, aspiring filmmakers and geeks, this year's line-up of screen talks are free to access and will be streaming on Youtube. Speakers include Letitia Wright, Miranda July, Riz Ahmed and George Clooney among others!