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.
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.
Biopic2016125 minsDirector: Terence Davies
Terence Davies' elegant and deeply moving biopic of poet Emily Dickinson, played with sensitivity and rebellious spirit by Cynthia Nixon.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Documentary201698 minsDirector: Werner Herzog
Legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog explores the past, present and future of the Internet in this extraordinary documentary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Animation & Artists Moving Image2015119 minsDirector: Guy Maddin
Gleeful and hypnotic, Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson’s phantasmagoric opus reworks improvised rushes into a demented homage to B-movies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Science Fiction2015118 minsDirector: Yorgos Lanthimos
Colin Farrell, Ben Whishaw and Rachel Weisz star in this bleakly hilarious dystopian drama from Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in this adaptation of Claire Tomalin’s book about the long-standing affair between Charles Dickens and Nelly Ternan.
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.
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.
Costume drama2014110 minsDirector: Lisandro Alonso
Viggo Mortensen is a distraught Danish military man searching his fugitive daughter in Lisandro Alonso’s visually breathtaking drama.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Apichatpong's Cannes prizewinner, about an ailing man revisiting his past, is a measured, lyrical evocation of mysterious beauty and quiet humanity
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).
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.
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
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.
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.