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BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2021 - A Window on the World
28 Sep 2021
Ian Haydn Smith

After a quieter year, with COVID-19 pushing much of the programme online, the BFI London Film Festival returns fully to cinemas this year with a fantastic programme of over 150 features, dozens of shorts, archive and experimental film, an XR programme of cutting-edge work and a wide array of events and Q&As. The largest film festival in the UK, the LFF continues to expand its remit, showcasing films at cinema across the UK. And once again, Curzon is teaming up with the LFF to host many of the films and events.

The festival opens with the Black Western The Harder They Fall, directed by Jeymes Samuel and starring Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, Delroy Lindon LaKeith Stanfield, Regina King and Idris Elba. It turns the genre on its head and offers up a star-powered shoot-em-up of magnum force. The festival closes with Joel Coen’s sumptuous monochrome adaptation of The Tragedy of Macbeth, with a magnetic Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand playing the power-hungry couple. Galas and Special Presentations include Jane Campion’s much-anticipated The Power of a Dog, Kenneth Branagh’s personal Belfast, Paul Verhoeven’s typically controversial Benedetta, Wes Anderson’s witty homage to the New Yorker The French Dispatch, Edgar Wright’s bracing time-travel horror Last Night in Soho, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s pitch-perfect adaptation of Elena Ferrante The Lost Daughter, Joanna Hogg’s career-best The Souvenir: Part II, Pablo Larraín’s Diana drama Spencer, Clio Barnard’s Ava & Ali, Terrence Davies’ Benediction, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria, Jacques Audiard’s Paris, 13th District, Todd Haynes’ documentary The Velvet Underground and outrageous Cannes Palme d’Or winner Titane.

Jacques Audiard's Paris 13th District

Jacques Audiard's Paris 13th District

The Awards – Official competition, First Feature, Documentary, Short Film, and Immersive Art and XR – also feature a rich selection of films. Alongside these are the usual LFF programme strands: Love, Debate, Laugh, Dare, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Create, Experimenta, Shorts, Expanded, Family and Treasures. There are also some fantastic screen talks with guest filmmakers, actors and practitioners.

Curzon Mayfair and Curzon Soho will be screening over 70 titles throughout the 12 days of the festival, with titles ranging the full scope of the programme. (The Expanded section will have its own physical and virtual venue.) They run the gamut, from award winners (Compartment No. 6, Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, The Worst Person in the World and Drive My Car) and documentary (The Dance, Quant, 8Bar – A Tale of Grime, Becoming Cousteau, Faya Dayi, All These Sons, The First Wave, Mothers of the Revolution, Burn It Down!, The Real Charlie Chaplin, Mr. Bachmann and His Class) to a wealth of titles by acclaimed directors such as Mia Hansen-Løve (Bergman Island), Paolo Sorrentino (The Hand of God), Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (Lingui, The Sacred Bonds), Ana Lily Amirpour (Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon), Michel Franco (Sundown).

Jonas Poher Rasmussen's Flee

Jonas Poher Rasmussen's Flee

Curzon will also have a collection of new releases playing in the festival, offering an opportunity to see much-anticipated releases before the eventually reach our screens. They include the powerful animated documentary Flee, detailing the flight of one young man from conflict and persecution; Jacques Audiard’s Cannes entry Paris, 13th District, a compendium of love stories in the French capital; acclaimed novelist Emmanuel Carrère’s Between Two Worlds, which adapts a journalist’s undercover account of life on the breadline and stars Juliette Binoche; the taut and uncompromising Second World War drama Natural Light; much-loved Cannes romantic travelogue Compartment No. 6, and cinephiliac filmmaker Mark Cousins fitting tribute to one of our greatest producers The Story of Jeremy Thomas.

Tickets are now on sale for all screenings and events. The festival runs from 6-17 October.

Ian Haydn Smith

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