The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival is boosting its awards this year introducing new categories, including Best Film and Best British Newcomer, and hosting a dedicated ceremony for the first time.
The festival, which runs October 14 – 29, is building on the existing Grierson Award, for best feature-length documentary, and The Sutherland Trophy, for most original and imaginative first features, with the new categories. It aims to reward creative, original, intelligent and distinctive film-making from both established industry figures and emerging talent. The British Film Institute (BFI) will also award its Fellowship to two people for their contribution to directing and acting.
The judges for the Newcomer award are Lenny Crooks, head of the UK Film Council’s New Cinema Fund, BBC Films creative director Christine Langan, Tessa Ross, controller of Film4 and drama, Channel 4, and Tanya Seghatchian, head of the UKFC’s Development Fund and executive producer of the Harry Potter films. Further details of the new awards will be announced separately on September 28.
LFF announced the plans as it revealed the programme for this year’s edition, which will include 15 world premieres. It has already previously announced that the premiere of Wes Anderson’s animation Fantastic Mr. Fox will open the event, while the debut feature film from artist Sam Taylor Wood, Nowhere Boy, will screen on the closing night.
Other world premieres include actor David Morrissey’s debut feature Don’t Worry About Me, Julien Temple’s Oil City Confidential and Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas’ American: The Bill Hicks Story. A restored version of Anthony Asquith’s Underground will also be shown for the first time.
There will be a further 23 European premieres including Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Micmacs, Scott Hicks’ The Boys Are Back, and Mugabe And The White African, by Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson.
LFF will also see 146 UK debut screenings including Cannes Palme d’Or winner Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon, Jane Campion’s Bright Star and Grant Heslov’s The Men Who Star At Goats, starring George Clooney, who will be in London for the premiere.
A number of up and coming British directors will be making their debut at the festival as well as Morrissey including Tom Harper with The Scouting Book For Boys and Malcolm Venville with 44 Inch Chest, which is also a world premiere.
LFF will also feature a selection of new French cinema, including Jacques Audiard’s Cannes title A Prophet, and a range of contemporary European titles, such as Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth, and World cinema, including Bong Joon-Ho’s Mother.
The programme also includes documentaries, short films and animations, as well as a range of special events, such as talks and masterclasses.
LFF artistic director, Sandra Hebron, said: “I’m delighted that we have such a strong and varied programme this year, presenting new work from some of the world’s most renowned directors alongside films from exciting new talents, and showcasing creativity and imagination from around the world.”
This year will also see a majority of the festival’s galas and Film On The Square premiere events being relocated to the Vue West End, as its previous home, the Odeon West End is being redeveloped as part of the revamp of Leicester Square. However, the opening and closing night galas will still be screened at the Odeon Leicester Square cinema.
Opening Film:Fantastic Mr. Fox, Dir: Wes Anderson (UK)
Closing Film:Nowhere Boy, Dir: Sam Taylor Wood (UK)
1 Day, Dir: Penny Woolcock (UK)
44 Inch Chest, Dir: Malcolm Venville (UK)
American: The Bill Hicks Story, Dir: Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas (UK)
Don’t Worry About Me, Dir: David Morrissey (UK)
Have You Heard From Johannesburg?: The Bottom Line, Dir: Connie Field (USA)
Oil City Confidential, Dir: Julien Temple (UK)
An Organization Of Dreams, Dir: Ken McMullen (UK/France)
Perestroika, Dir: Sarah Turner (UK)
Ride The Wave Johnny, Dir: Sudhir Mishra (India)
Shed Your Tears And Walk Away: Dir: Jez Lewis (UK)
Starsuckers, Dir: Chris Atkins (UK)
Today’s Special, Dir: David Kaplan (USA)
Underground, Dir: Anthony Asquith (UK)