Debuts, breakthroughs, winners and discoveries, courtesy of the London Film Festival.
Excellence isn't good enough. To qualify as a festival favourite you have to deliver something beyond escapism, something that resonates with a very discerning crowd before it staggers the world. It's a rare achievement, captured in this selection of short films and interviews with the people behind many of the most fevered, intense visions of recent history.
You Were Never Really Here
Thriller201790 minsDirector: Lynne Ramsay
Lynne Ramsay journeys with Joaquin Phoenix into the mind of an ex-soldier gun-for-hire whose own demons are as brutal as the actions of his adversaries.
Drama2017127 minsDirector: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Andrey Zvyagintsev (Elena, Leviathan) delivers a masterpiece in this caustic look at contemporary Russian society, a failed marriage and the disappearance of a child. A major prize winner at both Cannes and BFI London Film Festival.
Lean on Pete
Drama2017122 minsDirector: Andrew Haigh
The ravishing fourth feature from Andrew Haigh (45 Years, Weekend) sees a boy and a horse embark on a Huckleberry Finn-esque journey across America in search of home.
Drama2017106 minsDirector: Michael Pearce
The hunt for a Jersey serial killer sparks a dangerous awakening in a young woman in this astonishing psycho-sexual thriller, which sets all the senses aflame.
Horror201798 minsDirector: Jeremy Dyson
Being scared has never been this much fun, as Martin Freeman, Andy Nyman and Paul Whitehouse bring the chilling London stage play to the screen.
Comedy2017102 minsDirector: Adrian Shergold
Maxine Peake plays a woman who rises above abusive relationships and crass sexist audiences of the 1970s to become a female stand-up comedian.
Drama2017108 minsDirector: Saul Dibb
Sam Claflin, Paul Bettany and Asa Butterfield bring R C Sherriff’s acclaimed First World War play to the screen, in this new adaptation from director Saul Dibb.
The Florida Project
Drama2017112 minsDirector: Sean Baker
Tangerine director Sean Baker presents another visionary take on the wild ups and dangerous downs of life in America’s underbelly, featuring an Oscar-nominated turn from Willem Dafoe.
Comedy201688 minsDirector: Sean Foley
Julian Barratt is hilarious as the washed-up actor forced to reprise his 80s TV role as a sleuth with a robotic truth-telling eye, to help catch a deranged killer.
Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool
Biopic2017106 minsDirector: Paul McGuigan
Annette Bening and Jamie Bell bring to life the true story of the love affair between Gloria Grahame and young, Liverpudlian actor Peter Turner.
Period drama2016146 minsDirector: Park Chan-wook
Park Chan-wook (Old Boy, Stoker) channels Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith, to create a sumptuous twisty psychological thriller full of erotic intrigue.
Animation & Artists Moving Image201594 minsDirector: Julian Rosefeldt
Cate Blanchett gives a tour-de-force performance in this kaleidoscopic trip through the art manifestos of the 20th century.
Comedy2016117 minsDirector: Lone Scherfig
Gemma Arterton sparkles in this witty drama set in the world of propaganda filmmaking during WWII, from director Lone Scherfig (The Riot Club, An Education).
A Quiet Passion
Biopic2016125 minsDirector: Terence Davies
Terence Davies' elegant and deeply moving biopic of poet Emily Dickinson, played with sensitivity and rebellious spirit by Cynthia Nixon.
Trespass Against Us
Crime201599 minsDirector: Adam Smith
Brendan Gleeson and Michael Fassbender are the father and son outlaws in this exhilarating crime drama with a Chemical Brothers soundtrack.
Drama2015131 minsDirector: Paul Verhoeven
Isabelle Huppert gives an unforgettable performance in Paul Verhoeven’s provocative thriller about one woman’s response to a violent attack.
Drama2016111 minsDirector: Barry Jenkins
Winner of the 2017 Oscar for Best Picture (eventually!), Barry Jenkins’ intoxicating drama follows the furtive life of a gay black boy through 80s Miami.
Manchester by the Sea
Drama2016137 minsDirector: Kenneth Lonergan
Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams shine in this devastating, Oscar-winning drama from Kenneth Lonergan about a man’s painful hometown return.
La La Land
Musical2016128 minsDirector: Damien Chazelle
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone channel old-school Hollywood glamour in this bright and playful romantic musical from director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash).
A Monster Calls
2016108 minsDirector: J.A. Bayona
JA Bayona's visually inventive and deeply moving story about a boy who draws on his expansive imagination to come to terms with impending loss, adapted from Patrick Ness’ hugely popular book.
A United Kingdom
Drama2016111 minsDirector: Amma Asante
Amma Assante (Belle) directs this impassioned drama starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike depicting an interracial romance that changed the world.
Science Fiction2016116 minsDirector: Denis Villeneuve
Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner star as the humans who make first contact with extra-terrestrial visitors in this richly textured sci-fi from director Denis Villeneuve.
Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World
Documentary201698 minsDirector: Werner Herzog
Legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog explores the past, present and future of the Internet in this extraordinary documentary.
Thriller201595 minsDirector: Jeremy Saulnier
A punk band becomes besieged in the backstage hideaway of a hideous neo-Nazi club, in this gloriously tense shocker from the director of Blue Ruin.
My Scientology Movie
Documentary201599 minsDirector: John Dower
Louis Theroux investigates the secretive world of the Church of Scientology, armed with his characteristic deadpan wit.
Comedy2015105 minsDirector: Athina Rachel Tsangari
Athina Rachel Tsangari's biting and hilarious dissection of the male ego was awarded Best Film at the 2015 BFI London Film Festival.
Comedy2016118 minsDirector: Jim Jarmusch
Adam Driver excels in this effortlessly charming tale of a bus driver poet in New Jersey, filmed with typically groovy elan by Jim Jarmusch.
After the Storm
Drama2016118 minsDirector: Hirokazu Kore-eda
As typhoons buffet Tokyo, Hirokazu Kore-eda examines a broken family and the father’s dogged attempts to glue it back together.
Biopic2016108 minsDirector: Pablo Larraín
Pablo Larraín's bold, inventive detective thriller offers an electrifying contemplation of the Chilean poet's life on the run in the late 1940s.
Action and Adventure201690 minsDirector: Ben Wheatley
Ben Wheatley’s (High-Rise, Sightseers) all-guns-blazing bullet opera, starring Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy and Armie Hammer.
Biopic2015124 minsDirector: Jay Roach
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Argo) gives a cracking performance as Dalton Trumbo, the Oscar-winning screenwriter who became a Hollywood outcast.
Drama201586 minsDirector: Ben A. Williams
Russell Tovey stars as a Premier League footballer who shares a fumbled pass (of the sexual kind) with a teammate (Arinzé Kene), changing everything - both on and off the pitch.
Disaster2015105 minsDirector: Roar Uthaug
Seismic rumblings in the Norwegian fjords threaten to start a chain reaction that will destroy the local area. Can it be stopped in time?
Action and Adventure2015106 minsDirector: Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s mesmerising, visually stunning tale of love and honour was Sight and Sound magazine’s best film of 2015.
Drama201582 minsDirector: Lucile Hadzihalilovic
The long-awaited second feature from Lucile Hadžihalilović (Innocence) is a gorgeously surreal coming-of-age tale laced with bizarre body-horror.
A Bigger Splash
Thriller2015124 minsDirector: Luca Guadagnino
Ralph Fiennes delivers a sensational performance as one of four passionate souls sharing a villa in the Sicilian sunshine, with jealousy, intrigue and violence simmering beneath the surface.
Drama2015115 minsDirector: Jacques Audiard
Jacques Audiard’s soul-stirring Palme d’Or winner tells of a veteran Tamil Tiger guerrilla who finds fresh violence in his new life in Paris.
Drama201597 minsDirector: Pablo Larraín
Pablo Larraín’s Berlin prize-winner is a typically stylish, darkly witty tale of corruption, concealment and conspiracy in Chile’s Catholic church.
The Pearl Button
Documentary201582 minsDirector: Patricio Guzmán
Patricio Guzmán’s lyrical, illuminating follow-up to Nostalgia for the Light explores the fateful role played by water in Chile’s tragic history.
Moomins on the Riviera
Animation & Artists Moving Image201477 minsDirector: Xavier Picard
The Moomins sample the delights of high society with a Riviera holiday, bringing mayhem with them.
Documentary201581 minsDirector: Jafar Panahi
Following a personally difficult but artistically rewarding spell making films under house arrest, Jafar Panahi is back on the streets of Tehran.
Historical drama2015106 minsDirector: Sarah Gavron
The time is now for factory worker Maud (Carey Mulligan) as she joins the campaign movement for women’s votes, in Sarah Gavron’s stirring social history.
Biopic2015103 minsDirector: Stephen Frears
Ben Foster is Lance Armstrong in this kinetic account of the cyclist who fell from grace, from acclaimed director Stephen Frears.
Science Fiction2015118 minsDirector: Yorgos Lanthimos
Colin Farrell, Ben Whishaw and Rachel Weisz star in this bleakly hilarious dystopian drama from Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth).
Testament of Youth
Drama2014130 minsDirector: James Kent
Alicia Vikander brings to life the extraordinary life of Vera Brittain, whose affair with a dashing friend (Kit Harington) is cruelly cut short by the onset of war.
Romance2015112 minsDirector: John Crowley
Saoirse Ronan shines as a woman who journeys from post-war small-town Ireland to New York, in Nick Hornby’s adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s best-selling novel.
Mountains May Depart
Drama2015126 minsDirector: Jia Zhangke
Jia Zhangke delivers another ambitious, astute and humane drama, spanning the early days of Chinese capitalism to a vision of 2025.
Drama2014132 minsDirector: Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy
A new arrival at a school for young deaf people is drawn into a nightmarish world of crime and brutality, in this audacious and acclaimed modern classic.
The New Girlfriend
Melodrama2014108 minsDirector: François Ozon
Ruth Rendell provides the source novel for this delicious tale of deception and identity, from the master of mischievous melodrama, François Ozon.
Drama2012129 minsDirector: Mike Newell
Pip, a poor blacksmith's apprentice, becomes a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor. A BAFTA-nominated telling of the Dickens' classic.
The Lives of Others
Drama2006138 minsDirector: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
The winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the 2007 Academy Awards is a rich and intriguing political mystery.
Cemetery of Splendour
Drama2015120 minsDirector: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s imaginative, sensuous and enigmatic film about soldiers suffering from a mysterious sleeping sickness.
Drama2015136 minsDirector: Terence Davies
Agyness Deyn stars in Terence Davies’ moving drama about a strong young woman facing many adversities in the run up to WWI.
Song of the Sea
Animation & Artists Moving Image201493 minsDirector: Tomm Moore
Tomm Moore’s Oscar-nominated animation follows the magical journey of Ben and his sister Saoirse, the last Seal-child.
Still the Water
Romance2014119 minsDirector: Naomi Kawase
Naomi Kawase’s visually ravishing, beautifully composed film tells the story of two youths growing up and falling in love on a Japanese island.
Drama201498 minsDirector: Christian Petzold
Nina Hoss is superb as concentration camp survivor who assumes a new identity, in Christian Petzold’s intricate post-WWII thriller.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Horror2014101 minsDirector: Ana Lily Amirpour
If you only see one Iranian vampire western this year, make sure it’s this one. A female vampire stalks a ghost town in Ana Lily Amirpour’s arresting debut.
Love Is Strange
Drama201495 minsDirector: Ira Sachs
Ira Sachs’s refined Manhattan-set drama sees Alfred Molina’s Ben and John Lithgow’s George in the latter days of a tender, loving 39-year relationship.
The Invisible Woman
Biopic2012111 minsDirector: Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in this adaptation of Claire Tomalin’s book about the long-standing affair between Charles Dickens and Nelly Ternan.
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films
Documentary2014106 minsDirector: Mark Hartley
A documentary love letter to the golden of exploitation cinema and the output of Cannon Films, the cut-price studio that challenged Hollywood.
Drama2014138 minsDirector: Xavier Dolan-Tadros
With stylish and charged intensity, Xavier Dolan charts the fractious relationship between an uncontrollable teen and his fun-loving mother.
Action and Adventure2013109 minsDirector: Wong Kar-wai
Wong Kar-Wai’s lavish martial arts biopic tells the story of Ip Man, the legendary trainer who became Bruce Lee’s mentor.
Queen and Country
Comedy2014115 minsDirector: John Boorman
John Boorman’s follow up to Hope and Glory finds 18-year-old Bill called up for National Service against the backdrop of the Korean War.
Drama201482 minsDirector: Pawel Pawlikowski
The Best Film winner at the 2013 BFI London Film Festival is an exquisitely shot, moving drama about a Polish nun exploring her family past, from UK-based director Pawel Pawlikowski.
Documentary2014128 minsDirector: Sergei Loznitsa
An essential and explosive documentary about the Ukrainian civil riots and protest movement, from the acclaimed director of In the Fog.
The Duke of Burgundy
Drama2014104 minsDirector: Peter Strickland
Peter Strickland’s visually and aurally intoxicating tale of sadomasochistic power-play is a daringly erotic sensory feast.
Documentary2014181 minsDirector: Frederick Wiseman
The inner workings of London’s National Gallery are laid bare in this absorbing, forensic examination by revered filmmaker Frederick Wiseman.
The Imitation Game
Biopic2014115 minsDirector: Morten Tyldum
Benedict Cumberbatch’s roundly acclaimed performance anchors the incredible, Oscar-winning story of code-breaker Alan Turing.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Drama201293 minsDirector: Benh Zeitlin
Set in a Deep South delta, Zeitlin’s feature debut takes a child’s eye view of poverty, adult apathy and ecological crisis. Hallucinatory fare
Beyond the Hills
Drama2012152 minsDirector: Cristian Mungiu
Cristian Mungiu's scarily plausible drama about a nun's friend suffering for her love in a nunnery; obsession and superstition wreak havoc.
Documentary2014108 minsDirector: Randall Wright
A portrait of the beloved British artist, drawing on his own home-movie footage and with revealing contributions from his friends and colleagues.
Biopic200896 minsDirector: Steve McQueen
Northern Ireland, 1981. In the Maze prison, Bobby Sands begins a hunger strike to reclaim the status of Republican inmates as political prisoners.
Goodbye to Language
Drama201470 minsDirector: Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard’s typically innovative and playful meditation on technology, love and language was acclaimed one of the best films of 2014.
Drama2013105 minsDirector: Joanna Hogg
Joanna Hogg's sleek and minimalist comedy about a pair of artists and their emotional attachment to their ultra-modernist apartment.
The Kid with a Bike
Drama201187 minsDirector: Luc Dardenne
The Dardennes' powerful, award-winning drama tells of a troubled and volatile young teenager abandoned by his dad and 'adopted' by a hairdresser
Documentary201496 minsDirector: Ron Mann
An illuminating documentary about American cinema’s maverick genius Robert Altman, featuring unseen home movies and extensive interviews.
Drama201393 minsDirector: Richard Ayoade
Richard Ayoade’s stylish and sinister adaptation of Dostoevsky’s story stars Jesse Eisenberg in a dual-role as a timid office clerk confronted by his confident, scheming doppelganger.
Drama2013105 minsDirector: Ritesh Batra
Mismatched lunchboxes lead to an unlikely romance in this exquisite Indian drama, brimful of tantalising food and elegantly delivered wisdom.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Crime2011151 minsDirector: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
A modern masterpiece from major filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, following police and prosecutors as they escort a murderer through the bleak Anatolian steppes in search of a buried body.
Like Someone in Love
Drama2012105 minsDirector: Abbas Kiarostami
Abbas Kiarostami’s excursion into Japanese filmmaking is a masterly study of duplicity and role play centred around a student and her double life as an escort.
The Selfish Giant
Drama201391 minsDirector: Clio Barnard
Two Yorkshire tearaways struggle with life and friendship in this challenging, compassionate growing-up tale by the director of The Arbor.
Tom at the Farm
Drama2013103 minsDirector: Xavier Dolan-Tadros
Dark psychosexual thriller from prodigious Canadian director Xavier Dolan, following a young man who finds himself embroiled in a dangerous game of deception.
Drama2011114 minsDirector: Michael Winterbottom
Tragedy befalls a young Indian woman when she falls in love with a rich British man in Michael Winterbottom's sharp Thomas Hardy update.
Stranger by the Lake
Drama2013100 minsDirector: Alain Guiraudie
A young man witnesses a violent crime at a gay cruising ground and becomes obsessed with the killer in Alain Guiraudie’s acclaimed mystery-thriller.
Drama197598 minsDirector: Peter Hall
Peter Hall’s extraordinary, long-unseen work of sublime poetic realism traces three generations of one Suffolk family and their lives in the farming industry.
We Are the Best!
Drama201398 minsDirector: Lukas Moodysson
A raucous coming-of-age comedy about three schoolgirls who form a punk band in 1982 Stockholm, from director Lukas Moodysson (Show Me Love).
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Drama2010112 minsDirector: Lynne Ramsay
Tilda Swinton gives a BAFTA-nominated performance as the mother of a teenager who commits a high school massacre. With Ezra Miller and John C. Reilly.
The White Ribbon
Drama2009143 minsDirector: Michael Haneke
Michael Haneke's Cannes prizewinner, set in a pre-WW1 German village, explores the oppressively strict social conditions that gave rise to Nazism
Inside Llewyn Davis
Drama2012100 minsDirector: Joel Coen
The Coen brothers’ funny, melancholic elegy to early 1960s folk music follows a struggling songwriter through a winter’s worth of misdeeds, mishaps and lost cats.
Drama2014110 minsDirector: Susanne Bier
Two of the planet’s biggest stars – Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence – align in this extravagant period drama set in depression-era America.
Drama2012110 minsDirector: Fernando Meirelles
Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Anthony Hopkins lead an ensemble cast in a sleek thriller exploring the way our lives interconnect across the world.
Crime2010124 minsDirector: Peter Mullan
Peter Mullan's forceful drama about a boy who becomes embroiled in gangland life in 1970s Glasgow, peppered throughout with a rich vein of black humour.
Drama2008120 minsDirector: Danny Boyle
Danny Boyle’s crowdpleaser, based around the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, won the Oscar for best picture.
Drama2004124 minsDirector: Hans Weingartner
Three anti-capitalist activists kidnap a wealthy businessman, only to be confounded when he declares his own radical past.
Comedy200897 minsDirector: Stephan Elliott
Jessica Biel plays the brash American fiancée who disrupts an upper-class family in this delightful Downton Abbey-esque tale of high-society hijinks.
Drama2010124 minsDirector: Mike Leigh
Mike Leigh's drama about contented couple (Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen) who play host to various friends, each struggling to find happiness.