Top 5: BFI London Film Festival

It was Samuel Johnson who said ‘When a person is tired of London Film Festival, they are tired of life’ – or something like that. Even the dictionary-writing Mr Johnson would be impressed by the encyclopaedia of titles on show at this year’s event, which runs from 7-18th October at several locations around the capital. There are grand Gala screenings, beginning with Sarah Gavron’s eagerly anticipated Suffragette & ending with Danny Boyle/Aaron Sorkin/Michael Fassbender’s Steve Jobs, which everyone who owns an Apple product everyone will want to see. There are special events, including talks by Todd Haynes and Christopher Nolan. The reel highlights, though, lie elsewhere; in the titles that are buzzing from other festivals and those as yet undiscovered. Here are 5 top picks by Depends On The Dream from the 2015 programme; what can you find that grabs your attention? Let us know in the comments or at @dreamdepends!

5. Chevalier – dir. Athina Rachel Tsangari

‘A buddy movie without the buddies’ is perhaps the greatest poster tagline of all time, and Tsangari’s follow-up to Attenburg only gets better from there. When a game between six men on a boat produces winners and losers, they decide to answer that most masculine of questions, ‘Who is the best – at everything?’ Competitive natures take over, and they go head-to-head to claim the title of ‘the best’ – and push their comrades beneath them. Absurdly comic, Chevalier takes apart the male obsession with rivalry and ego, and is poised to be a success with audiences who like psychological dissection and laughing at men being stupid.


4. The Club – dir. Pablo Larraín

Screening in the Debate section, Larraín’s story of defrocked priests and a nun living on the Chilean coast is a perfectly measured picture of doctrine, guilt, and damaging effects of secrecy. The dreadful deeds committed by the priests are so familiar to modern audiences that they need not be shown, explained or debated; instead the discussion surrounds how we deal with the wrongdoings of the past. How can we repent of our sins? Can forgiveness be earned for the most awful of crimes? Abstaining from shock, the film grasps the audience through trembling, true performances and dusky visuals. It is extraordinarily humane, and a film worthy of both the Grand Jury Prize it won in Berlin and further success in London.

3. Public House – dir. Sarah Turner

What is more British, or indeed more London, than a pub? In an innovative, colloquial (that’s a good thing) style of filmmaking, Sarah Turner considers why the public house is so central to our communities and sense of identity in the UK, from the base of the Ivy House pub in Peckham. With the issue of gentrification causing quite a stir right now, this must-see documentary uses dance, poetry and song to construct the character of the pub, and demonstrate why social activism and fellowship are crucial to the places where we live. This round is on all of us.


2. Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story) – dir. Eva Husson

The First Feature section at any festival often provides the roughest but shiniest of diamonds- unexpected, raw and wonderful for it. Of the candidates at this year’s LFF, Eva Husson’s Bang Gang has precious stone potential; set around a group of French high-schoolers who start an orgy society, it gives us total liberation sexually and socially, but in doing so considers the perils of this openness. Liberté, égalité, puberté, if you will. Already compared to Larry Clark’s Kids and exhibiting a similarly confident cast of newcomers, Bang Gang promises to be the type of first film that leaves everything out there, for better or for worse. Watch Husson speak about storytelling from the female perspective below:

1. The Survivalist – dir. Stephen Fingleton

From Killing Bono to X+Y and his brief but brutal turn in ’71, Martin McCann has been flirting with a leading role for a couple of years. He has one with all the trimmings in Stephen Fingleton’s feature debut, and there are many signs that it fulfils all the promise of his supporting parts. Living alone in the forest after an apocalypse, McCann must use not just his wits but whatever he can bargain with to stay alive. But can any human being sustain themselves on such a spartan existence? Find out in under a fortnight.

There is, as ever, a special mention: it goes to The Witch, reviewed here and previewed here on Depends On The Dream. Check out the links to see just why it is still the best film I’ve seen this year, and trade whatever you have to secure a ticket to one of its two LFF screenings. It will terrify you; you won’t regret it. Stay tuned to Depends On The Dream for more LFF news and reviews across the next few weeks!

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