The 56th BFI London Film Festival Has Started!

Mimi ON Oct 10, 2012 AT 10:26 am

BFI London Film Festival

This year’s 56th BFI London Film Festival features a whopping 225 fiction and documentary features, 111 live action and animated shorts, and offers films from 68 different countries. If, like us, you’re already overwhelmed – before you’ve even caught a glimpse of a title or cast list – BFI has highlighted its top picks, which will be shown at their red carpet Gala Screenings, from the 10-21 October across London.

Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie

The LFF will open with the European premiere of Tim Burton’s stop-motion 3D animated fantasy Frankenweenie. In Burton’s whimsical take on the classic Frankenstein story, young Victor’s beloved dog Sparky meets with a tragic end and he endeavors to bring him back to life. The film is sure to attract Burton enthusiasts and be a cartoon that adults will like as much as kids.

This red carpet Opening Gala event will for the first time ever be streamed live from Odeon Leicester Square to BFI IMAX and 30 other screens across the UK. Tim Burton, Winona Ryder and Martin Short are all expected to attend the opening at Leicester Square on 10 October.

Great Expectations

The Closing Gala is also highly anticipated, as it will be the European premiere of director Mike Newell’s lavish new adaptation of Great Expectations. Clare Stewart, BFI Festival Director, called the film “a fitting conclusion to both the Festival and the bicentenary celebrations of the life and work of Charles Dickens.” The Festival hopes to welcome the director along with cast members Helena Bonham Carter (Miss Havisham) and Ralph Fiennes (Magwitch).

If neither of these films strike your fancy, there will be several other galas that will appeal to a wide-range of audiences. The Festival is newly structured around thematic strands/pathways designed to help festivalgoers navigate their way through the large programme. Films are clustered around the themes of Love, Debate, Dare, Laugh, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Sonic and Family, with each strand featuring its own gala screening.


Michael Haneke’s Cannes Palme d’or wining film Amour heads up the Love section, telling the story of elderly couple Anne and Georges. Anne suffers a stroke and is left mute and paralyzed on one side of her body. Their bond of love is tested as Georges struggles to take care of his wife, having promised never to put her in a nursing home.

The Debate Gala with be the European premiere of Sophie Fiennes’s The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology featuring philosopher Slavoj Zizek, while fresh from the Venice festival is Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, set as the Dare Gala and topping a section of films sure to take audiences out of their comfort zone. The UK premiere of Ben Wheatley’s dark comedy Sightseers is presented as the Laugh Gala, Prakash Jha’s Chakravyuh is the gala film of the Thrill section, and the Journey Gala is Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills.

Ernest and Celestine

The Cult strand, set to feature an array of odd and unclassifiable fantasy, sci-fi and horror cinema, includes a gala screening of the European premiere of A Liar’s Autobiography, an animated telling of the story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman. Heading the Family strand is Ernest and Celestine, telling the story of an improbable friendship between a bear and mouse, based on the children’s books by Gabrielle Vincent.

The Manxman

The previously announced Archive Gala will be the BFI’s restoration of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1929 film The Manxman. The silent film is the grand finale to The Genius of Hitchcock project, telling the story of the trial and struggle of two childhood friends in love with the same woman.

Set as the American Express gala is the World Premiere of Crossfire Hurricane, the first comprehensive film portrait of The Rolling Stones, from acclaimed documentary filmmaker Brett Morgen. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood are all expected to join the director at the Festival.

Crossfire Hurricane

Further gala screenings will include the Accenture Gala screening of Ben Affleck’s political thriller Argo; the Centrepiece Gala screening of Roger Michell’s Hyde Park on Hudson, sponsored by the Mayor of London; the American Airlines Gala screening of Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut Quartet; Wayne Blair’s musical comedy The Sapphires screening as the Nintendo Gala; the May Fair Hotel Gala screening of Paul Andrew Williams’s Song for Marion; and Ben Lewin’s drama The Sessions, screening as the Festival Gala.

The public can book tickets for screenings, here’s the link

For a complete line up of all the films of the BFI London Film Festival visit their site here.

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