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London Film Festival 2014: Full line-up announced

The Imitation Game

Story by Jack Foley

THE full line-up for the 58th BFI London Film Festival has been announced and includes 16 world premieres, nine International Premieres, 38 European Premieres and 19 Archive films, including two Restoration World Premieres.

Taking place over 12 days, the Festival’s screenings are at venues across the capital, the event will run from Wednesday, October 8 until Sunday, October 19, 2014.

As previously announced, Oscar-tipped Benedict Cumberbatch drama The Imitation Game will open the event with its European premiere, while Brad Pitt’s World War II tank drama Fury will close it (another European premiere).

Both Opening and Closing events will have a cinecast from the red carpet and simultaneous screenings taking place at cinemas across the UK.

Headline galas

Among the other highly anticipated Galas are the previously announced American Express Gala of Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, the dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multimillionaire and two champion wrestlers, starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo.

The Accenture Gala is the audacious thriller Whiplash, about a young jazz drummer under the tutelage of a ruthless and fearsome maestro starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons.

Virgin Atlantic will present the European Premiere of Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children, starring Adam Sandler and Ansel Elgort with a racy voiceover by Emma Thompson.

The May Fair Hotel Gala is the European Premiere of biopic-drama Wild starring Reese Witherspoon, adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby from Cheryl Strayed’s extraordinary account of her 1,100-mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trails.

The Centrepiece Gala supported by the Mayor of London is the World Premiere of Testament of Youth based on Vera Brittain’s memoir of World War 1 starring Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Hayley Atwell, Emily Watson and Dominic West.

The Festival Gala is Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner starring Timothy Spall as the great British artist J.M.W. Turner whose paintings evoked the moving image before there was cinema.

The Archive Gala is the World Premiere of the BFI National Archive restoration of The Battles Of Coronel And Falkland Islands.

Strand Galas

The nine programme strands are each headlined with a gala, they are…

The Love Gala – Alan Rickman’s A Little Choas (European Premiere)

The Debate Gala – Jon Stewart’s Rosewater (European Premiere)

The Dare Gala – Xavier Dolan’s Mommy

The Laugh Gala – Damián Szifron’s Wild Tales

The Thrill Gala – Kristian Levring’s The Salvation

The Cult Gala – Jacob Cheung’s The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom (International Premiere)

The Journey Gala – Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep

The Family Gala – Tomm Moore’s Song of the Sea (European Premiere).

In addition to which, the previously announced Sonic Gala is Peter Strickland and Nick Fenton’s concert film BJÖRK: Biophilia Live.

Awards and competitions

The Best Film Award will again be handed out in Official Competition; the Sutherland Award in the First Feature Competition and the Grierson Award in Documentary Competition. Each section is open to international and British films.

Official Competition

The Official Competition line-up, recognising inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking, includes the following:

Peter Ho-Sun Chan, DEAREST
Peter Strickland, THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY (European Premiere)
Carol Morley, THE FALLING (World Premiere)
Céline Sciamma, GIRLHOOD
Daniel Barber, THE KEEPING ROOM (European Premiere)
Andrey Zvyagintsev, LEVIATHAN
Christian Petzold, PHOENIX
Mohsen Makhmalbaf, THE PRESIDENT
Julius Avery, SON OF A GUN (European Premiere)
Abderrahmane Sissako, TIMBUKTU

First feature competition

Titles in consideration for the Sutherland Award in the First Feature Competition recognising an original and imaginative directorial debut are:

Yann Demange,‘71
Josephine Decker, BUTTER ON THE LATCH
Daniel Wolfe, Matthew Wolfe, CATCH ME DADDY
Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, DIFRET
Franco Lolli, GENTE DE BIEN
Guy Myhill, THE GOOB
Adityavikram Sengupta, LABOUR OF LOVE
Sudabeh Mortezai, MACONDO
Debbie Tucker Green, SECOND COMING
Ester Martin Bergsmark, SOMETHING MUST BREAK
Naji Abu Nowar, THEEB
Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, THE TRIBE



The Love Gala is the European Premiere of Alan Rickman’s sophomore feature A Little Chaos set in the Court of Versailles starring Rickman himself as King Louis XIV, Kate Winslet as landscape gardener Sabine De Barra, Matthias Schoenaerts as the famous architect Le Nôtre and Stanley Tucci in hilarious form as a court dandy.

Other titles in this section include: Benoît Jacquot’s 3 Hearts starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve; Daniel Ribeiro’s romantic tale of the joys and woes of young love, The Way He Looks; Ira Sachs’ Love Is Strange starring Alfred Molina and John Lithgow as life-long lovers; the European Premiere of Shonali Bose’s portrait of a Punjabi teenage girl Margarita, With A Straw; a new adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s classic Madame Bovary directed by Sophie Barthes and starring Mia Wasikowska as the eponymous lead; the World Premiere of Corinna McFarlane’s Silent Storm starring Andrea Riseborough and Damian Lewis; Susanne Bier’s Serena starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, and the European Premiere of BAFTA-winning documentary filmmaker Morgan Matthews’ debut feature X + Y.


This year’s Debate Gala is the European Premiere of Jon Stewart’s directorial debut Rosewater starring Gael Garcia Bernal and based on the real-life ordeal of London-based journalist Maziar Bahari.

Other highlights in this section include: the European Premiere of Michael Winterbottom’s The Face Of An Angel, about an American student charged with the murder of her British housemate; the World Premiere of Tom Harper’s House of Commons-set political thriller War Book; Gabriel Mascaro’s haunting tale of the effects of climate change on a coastal community in Brazil, August Winds; Annalet Steenkamp’s documentary about the four generations of her Afrikaner family I, Afrikaner; Dieudo Hamadi’s National Diploma, following a group of Congolese high schools students preparing for their exams; Steve James’ newly restored 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams about the ultra-competitive world of college basketball; and Shira Geffen’s Self Made and Eran Riklis’ Dancing Arabs, which both explore life on either side of the Palestinian-Israeli divide.


The Dare Gala is Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, which jointly won the Jury Prize in Cannes earlier this year.

Other highlights in this strand include: Jean-Luc Godard’s first foray into 3D, Goodbye To Language, which jointly won the Jury Prize in Cannes in May and will be presented here at BFI IMAX; New Queer Cinema alumnus Gregg Araki’s White Bird In A Blizzard starring Eva Green and Shailene Woodley; the World Premiere of Rebecca Johnson’s Honeytrap based on the 2008 case of Samantha Joseph, dubbed the ‘honeytrap killer’; Duane Hopkins’ social melodrama Bypass; Aleksei German’s black and white epic Hard To Be A God, completed by his wife and son following German’s death in 2013; and Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini starring Willem Dafoe as the Italian filmmaker.


This year’s Laugh Gala is Wild Tales, a delirious black comedy directed by Damián Szifron with Augustín and Pedro Almodóvar as producers.

Other titles in this strand include: Director-writer-star Desiree Akhavan’s fearless feature debut Appropriate Behaviour; Hungary’s most innovative and controversial director György Pálfi’s new film Free Fall; the International Premiere of Justin Simien’s razor-sharp satire Dear White People; Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz’ delicate and heart-warming comedy Land Ho!; Josh Lawson’s whip-smart sex comedy The Little Death; Emilio Martínez-Lázaro’s Spanish Affair, a massive box-office hit in its native Spain; and John Boorman’s semi-autobiographical film, Queen And Country.


The Gala presentation for this strand is Kristian Levring’s The Salvation, a gripping tale of revenge set in the Old West starring Mads Mikkelsen and Eva Green.

Other highlights in this section include: Diao Yinan’s murder mystery and Berlin winner Black Coal, Thin Ice; the European Premiere of Toa Fraser’s thriller The Dead Lands, made entirely in the Maori language; Michaël R. Roskam’s The Drop starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and the late James Gandolfini; the European Premiere of Kriv Stenders’ boldly enjoyable comedy thriller Kill Me Three Times starring Simon Pegg; the World Premiere of Tom Green’s Monsters: Dark Continent, a sequel to Gareth Edwards’ 2010 debut Monsters and Andrew Hulme’s crime thriller, Snow In Paradise.


The Cult Gala is the International Premiere of Jacob Cheung’s lavish wuxia epic The White Haired Witch Of Lunar Kingdom starring Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing.

Other highlights in this strand include: Mark Hartley’s latest celebration of exploitation films Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films; David Robert Mitchell’s remarkable shocker It Follows; the European Premiere of British director Oliver Blackburn’s latest horror Kristy; Carter Smith’s ethereal coming-of-age tale Jamie Marks Is Dead; Sion Sono’s Yakuza gangster flick-cum-hip hop musical Tokyo Tribe and the World Premiere of Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s striking debut The Town That Dreaded Sundown, inspired by the 1976 classic of the same name.


This year’s Journey Gala is Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s extraordinary Winter Sleep, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year.

Other titles in this section include: African Metropolis, a collection of six short films that explore the complexity of African urban life; Rolf de Heer’s Charlie’s Country starring legendary Australian actor David Gulpilil who won Best Actor in Un Certain Regard at Cannes this year; Writer-Director David Oelhoffen’s Far From Men, featuring Viggo Mortensen, Fatih Akin’s The Cut starring Tahar Rahim; Israel Horovitz’s My Old Lady starring Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas; 18 different filmmakers including Warwick Thornton, Justin Kurzel and a debut by Mia Wasikowska contribute to an expansive adaptation of Australian author Tim Winton’s The Turning starring Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne and Hugo Weaving; the World Premiere of Bryn Higgins’ Electricity starring Agyness Deyn; and the World Premiere of Gerry Fox’s Marc Quinn – Making Waves documenting one year in the life of the artist Marc Quinn.


This year’s Sonic Gala is Peter Strickland and Nick Fenton’s BJÖRK: BIOPHILIA LIVE, a concert film capturing the extraordinary closing night performance of Björk’s Biophilia project at London’s Alexandra Palace last year.

Other highlights in this strand include: the European Premiere of James Marcus Harvey’s Austin To Boston about a modern music tour, done the old fashioned way; One9’s documentary Nas: Time Is Illmatic about one of the most influential and important records in hip hop; the European Premiere of Alan Hicks’ Keep On Keepin’ On about the relationship between legendary Jazz trumpet player Clark Terry and his protégé Justin Kauflin; Mia Hansen-Løve’s Eden, a fictionalised account of the French house boom that spawned Daft Punk, Michael Obert’s Song From The Forest that explores one man’s quest to find and record the music and sound of the remotest parts of the African jungle, Fenar Ahmad’s Flow, a portrait of Copenhagen’s hip-hop scene; and a Bug Special: Full Time Hobby, devoted to the 10th anniversary of the independent London record label.


This year’s family Gala is the European Premiere of Song Of The Sea, director Tomm Moore’s sophomore feature following his Oscar-nominated debut, The Secret of Kells.

Other highlights are the International Premiere of Xavier Picard’s Moomins Of The Riviera, a glorious animated tale of Tove Jansson’s much-loved characters released in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of her birth; the World Premiere of Christian De Vita’s animated family tale Yellowbird 3D; Jon Wright’s British sci-fi adventure Robot Overlords starring Gillian Anderson and Sir Ben Kingsley; Chan Hyung-Yun kooky animated love story The Satellite Girl And Milk Cow; and Martin Miehe-Renard’s teen drama The Contest – To The Stars And Back.

We will show the UK’s first animated feature, Animal Farm (1954) based on George Orwell’s novella, and directed and produced by John Halas and Joy Batchelor.

As part of our celeberation of 20 years of Dreamworks Animation, we present a special event for younger audiences and animation enthusiasts alike DreamWorks Animation: Taking Flight and Beyond showcasing the work of producer Bonnie Arnold and director Dean DeBlois, who will be joined by Cressida Cowell, author of the highly successful How to Train your Dragon series of novels. Exclusive footage from upcoming release The Penguins of Madagascar will also be shown.

To find out more, visit the festival website