LFF 2021

Source: FilmNation Entertainment / HBO / See-Saw Films / Warner Bros

(Clockwise from top left): ‘Spencer’, ‘Succession’ season 3, ‘The Power of the Dog’, ‘King Richard’

Pablo Larrain’s Spencer, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter and Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch are among the 159 features that will play the 65th BFI London Film Festival (LFF, October 6-17), which will also screen episodes one and two of the third season of HBO’s Succession, in what will be the European premiere of the anticipated series. 

The festival will play 21 world premieres in its feature programme, including Sarah Smith and Jean Philippe-Vine’s Ron’s Gone Wrong, the debut feature from UK animation studio Locksmith Animation; Craig Roberts’ The Phantom of the Open starring Mark Rylance, Sally Hawkins and Rhys Ifans; and debbie tucker green’s ear for eye, based on the director’s play of the same name.

Scroll down for the full list

Titles will play both at cinemas in London and UK-wide at 10 LFF partner venues, with select virtual premieres also hosted on the BFI Player online platform. 

In a first for the festival, gala titles will play each night at the Royal Festival Hall in London’s Southbank Centre as part of the festival’s new Southbank hub that will also include BFI Southbank. The Royal Festival Hall has a capacity of 2,700; its usage for LFF will be over 2,000, with the exact number to be confirmed.

The festival is aiming for all screenings to be at 100% capacity by the end of the event, although capacity for the partner venues is at the discretion of the respective exhibitors. Revenues for the partner venue screenings will be split mainly between the distributor and exhibitor, with the festival taking “a small amount” to cover contractual tickets for sponsors, as happened at last year’s first pan-UK edition. “We’re not paying the cinemas to do it, but we’re supporting them through the difficult times [by extending the festival to them]” said Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival director.

Tuttle told Screen that “about 80%” of filmmakers with films in the festival want to attend the event in-person, with travel details still being ironed out and dependent upon regularly changing rules for each country. The festival will also accommodate those who don’t wish to or are not able to travel, via means including recorded introductions. “It’s going to be a busy, buzzy festival, with filmmakers here,” Tuttle said.

One of the most highly-anticipated titles, the first two episodes of season three of HBO’s Succession, will receive its European premiere with a red carpet event at the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank, with cast and filmmakers in attendance.

“In early 2020, we set out how we would build on the vibrant established film programme at LFF to expand the festival,” said Tuttle. “While we had to adapt those ambitions for the pandemic, we are back in full force this year and you’ll really see that vision played out in the model for the Festival this year.”

Spencer, The Lost Daughter and The French Dispatch are three of 11 Headline Gala titles playing at the festival, alongside Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta, and Edgar Wright’s London-set Last Night In Soho.

Reinaldo Marcus Green’s King Richard, with Will Smith playing Richard Williams, father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams; and Eva Husson’s Mothering Sunday are also in the line-up.

Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir: Part II will play as the Londoner Gala, with Jane Campion’s The Power Of The Dog a previously-announced Gala selection.


Source: Altitude


Also playing at the venue will be 12 Special Presentations, including Julia Ducournau’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner Titane; Clio Barnard’s Ali & Ava; Craig Roberts’ The Phantom of the Open; and the Succession episodes.


For the second successive year, the LFF awards ceremony will take place online, with prizes including the best film, first feature and audience awards, as well as the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary in association with the BFI.

This year’s First Feature Competition includes Costa Brava Lebanon, set in a near-future Lebanon where the refuse crisis has made Beirut uninhabitable, from Screen Arab Star of Tomorrow 2016 Mounia Akl; and Lee Haven Jones’ Welsh-language horror The Feast.

Andrea Arnold’s Cannes title Cow, Alonso Ruizpalacios’ hybrid documentary A Cop Movie and Liz Garbus’ Becoming Costeau are among eight titles in the Documentary Competition.

The festival is maintaining the thematic strands from previous additions: Love, Debate, Laugh, Dare, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Create, Experimenta, Family and Treasures. For the first time this year, many of the strands will feature series titles.

LFF Expanded, the programme of immersive and extended reality works, also returns, with titles including the world premiere of Laika, a virtual reality animation from Oscar-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia. The LFF Expanded section will have a physical exhibition at 26 Leake Street and the National Theatre in London, as well UK-wide and internationally on virtual exhibition space The Expanse.

The 159 features in the line-up this year is down from the 229 that played in 2019. (Last year’s pandemic-era online edition screened 58 features). The festival said 39% of the entire programme (including shorts)  is from female and non-binary directors or co-directors, while 40% has been made by ethnically diverse filmmakers.

“I’m in awe of all of the filmmakers across the world who have found the ways and means – practical, creative, emotional – to get their stories told in such challenging and turbulent times and I want audiences to immerse themselves in the sweet glow of the cinema screen and celebrate their very existence,” said BFI CEO Ben Roberts.

Netflix title The Harder They Fall, the debut feature of London filmmaker Jeymes Samuel, was previously announced as opening the festival in its world premiere; with Joel Coen’s Shakespeare adaptation The Tragedy of Macbeth closing the festival in its European premiere. Both films will be available at LFF partner cinemas across the UK.

An eight-strong Official Competition was announced last week, including Panah Panahi’s Hit The Road, Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand of God and Harry Wootliff’s True Things.

Industry details 

The festival has confirmed that “the majority” of the industry and education programmes will be events and activities for delegates to attend in-person, as well as being accessible online. This will include press and industry screenings, talks and events, and networking opportunities.

The festival is aiming for eight to 10 industry events. Two or three of those will be virtual as they feature industry guests who are unable to travel; however Tuttle said that international industry executives are confirmed to attend, with the line-up to be announced later this month.

Film London’s two-day Production Finance Market returns to the event; the full LFF industry programme will be announced later this month.

BFI London Film Festival 2021 titles

WP - world premiere

Opening film – The Harder They Fall, dir. Jeymes Samuel - WP

Closing film – The Tragedy of Macbeth, dir. Joel Coen

Headline Galas

The Power of the Dog, dir. Jane Campion

Belfast, dir. Kenneth Branagh

The French Dispatch, dir. Wes Anderson

Benedetta, dir. Paul Verhoeven

King Richard, dir. Reinaldo Marcus Green

Last Night In Soho, dir. Edgar Wright

Mothering Sunday, dir. Eva Husson

The Lost Daughter, dir. Maggie Gyllenhaal

The Souvenir: Part II, dir. Joanna Hogg

Spencer, dir. Pablo Larrain

Ron’s Gone Wrong, dirs. Sarah Smith, Jean Philippe-Vine - WP

Special Presentations

Ali & Ava, dir. Clio Barnard

Drive My Car, dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Benediction, dir. Terence Davies

Great Freedom, dir. Sebastian Meise

The Phantom of the Open, dir. Craig Roberts - WP

Memoria, dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Titane, dir. Julia Ducournau

Paris, 13th District, dir. Jacques Audiard

The Velvet Underground, dir. Todd Haynes

Flee, dir. Jonas Poher Rasmussen

Neptune Frost, dirs. Saul Williams, Anisia Uzeyman

Succession, creator-showrunner Jesse Armstrong – series

Official Competition

Belle, dir. Mamoru Hosoda

Il Buco, dir. Michelangelo Frammartino

The Hand of God, dir. Paolo Sorrentino

Nitram, dir. Justin Kurzel

Hit The Road, dir. Panah Panahi

Sundown, dir. Michel Franco

Lingui, The Sacred Bonds, dir. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

True Things, dir. Harry Wootliff

First Feature Competition

The Alleys, dir. Bassel Ghandour

Azor, dir. Andreas Fontana

Costa Brava Lebanon, dir. Mounia Akl

Prayers For The Stolen, dir. Tatiana Huezo

The Feast, dir. Lee Haven Jones

Small Body, dir. Laura Samani

Playground, dir. Laura Wandel

White Building, dir. Kavich Neang

Documentary Competition

All About My Sisters, dir. Wang Qiong

Babi Yar. Context, dir. Sergei Loznitsa

Becoming Costeau, dir. Liz Garbus

The Dance, dir. Pat Collins - WP

A Cop Movie, dir. Alonso Ruizpalacios

Faya Dayi, dir. Jessica Beshir

Cow, dir. Andrea Arnold

Nascondino (Hide and Seek), dir. Victoria Fiore - WP

Love strand

Bantu Mama, dir. Ivan Herrera

Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest, dir. Mads Hedegaard

Compartment No. 6, dir. Juho Kuosmanen

Our Men, dir. Rachel Lang

The Gravedigger’s Wife, dir. Khadar Ayderus Ahmed

The Outlaws, dir. Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken - WP

Language Lessons, dir. Natalie Morales

Petite Maman, dir. Celine Sciamma

Ride The Wave, dir. Martyn Robertson

What Do We See When We Look At The Sky?, dir. Alexandre Koberidze

A Tale of Love and Desire, dir. Leyla Bouzid

Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Two Friends, dir. Prasun Chatterjee - WP

When A Farm Goes Aflame, dir. Jide Tom Akinleminu

The Worst Person In The World, dir. Renate Reinsve

Debate strand

Ahed’s Knee, dir. Nadav Lapid

All These Sons, dirs. Bing Liu, Joshua Altman

Between Two Worlds, dir. Emmanuel Carrere

Burn It Down!, dirs. Tim Travers Hawkins, Celia Aniskovich - WP

The First Wave, dir. Matthew Heineman

A Hero, dir. Asghar Farhadi

The Hole In The Fence, dir. Joaquin del Paso

Little Palestine (Diary of a Siege), dir. Abdallah Al-Khatib

Invisible Demons, dir. Rahul Jain

Mass, dir. Fran Kranz

Leave No Traces, dir. Jan P Matuszynski

The Neutral Ground, dir. CJ Hunt

Rehana, dir. Abdullah Mohammad Saad

Welcome To Spain, dir. Juan Antonio Moreno

ear for eye, dir. debbie tucker green - WP

Dopesick, creator-showrunners Barry Levinson, Danny Strong – series

Laugh strand

7 Days, dir. Roshan Sethi

All My Friends Hate Me, dir. Andrew Gaynord

Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn, dir. Radu Jude

The Good Boss, dir. Fernando Leon de Aranoa

Cop Secret, dir. Hannes Thor Halldorsson

Humidity Alert, dir. Bong Soo Ko

The Divide, dir. Catherine Corsini

The Odd-Job Men, dir. Neus Ballus

Queen of Glory, dir. Nana Mensah

Red Rocket, dir. Sean Baker

Dare strand

All Is Vanity, dir. Marcos Mereles - WP

As In Heaven, dir. Tea Lindeburg

The Box, dir. Lorenzo Vigas

Earwig, dir. Lucile Hadzihalilovic

Clara Sola, dir. Nathalie Alvarez Mesen

Les Enfants Terribles, dir. Ahmet Necdet Cupur

Historya Ni Ha, dir. Lav Diaz - WP

Natural Light, dir. Denes Nagy

Memory Box, dirs. Joana Hadjithomas, Khalil Joreige

Pedro, dir. Natesh Hegde

La Mif, dir. Fred Baillif

Petrov’s Flu, dir. Kiril Serebrennikov

The Tsugua Diaries, dirs. Miguel Gomes, Maureen Fazendeiro

Users, dir. Natalia Almada

4 Feet High, series, episodes 1-6

Curse of the Chippendales, creator-showrunner Simon Chinn, series, episodes 1-2

Thrill strand

Boiling Point, dir. Philip Barantini

Brother’s Keeper, dir Ferit Karahan

Bull, dir. Paul Andrew Williams

Hinterland, dir. Stefan Ruzowitzky

Encounter, dir. Michael Pearce

Munich – Edge of War, dir. Christian Schwochow - WP

See For Me, dir. Randall Okita

Wild Indian, dir. Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr.

Hellbound, creator-showrunner Yeon Sang-ho, series, episodes 1-3

Cult strand

La Abuela, dir. Paco Plaza

A Banquet, dir. Ruth Paxton

DASHCAM, dir. Rob Savage

Lamb, dir. Valdimar Johannsson

Inexorable, dir. Fabrice du Welz

The Medium, dir. Banjong Pisanthanakun

Juju Stories, dirs. Abba T Makama, CJ ‘Fiery’ Obasi, Michael Omonua

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon, dir. Ana Lily Amirpour

She Will, dir. Charlotte Colbert

Shepherd, dir. Russell Owen - WP

The Rope, creators Dominique Rocher, Eric Forestier, series, episodes 1-3

Journey strand

Citizen Ashe, dirs. Rex Miller, Sam Pollard

The Crossing, dir. Florence Miailhe

Luzzu, dir. Alex Camilleri

Freda, dir. Gessica Geneus

Mothers of the Revolution, dir. Briar March - WP

Holgut, dir. Liesbeth De Ceulaer

Mr Bachmann and His Class, dir. Maria Speth

Nudo Mixteco, dir. Angeles Cruz

The Sea Ahead, dir. Ely Dagher

Passing, dir. Rebecca Hall

Sediments, dir. Adrian Silvestre

A River Runs, Turns, Erases, Replaces, dir. Shengze Zhu

The Wolf Suit, dir. Sam Firth - WP

Wood and Water, dir. Jonas Bak

Fires, series

Create strand

8 Bar – The Evolution of Grime, dir. Ewen Spencer - WP

Bergman Island, dir. Mia Hansen-Love

Marx Can Wait, dir. Marco Bellocchio

Quant, dir. Sadie Frost - WP

Money Has Four Legs, dir. Maung Sun

The Real Charlie Chaplin, dirs. Peter Middleton, James Spinney

Omar Amiralay: Sorrow, Time, Silence, dir. Hala Alabdalla - WP

Ripples Of Life, dir. Wei Shujun

The Story of Film: A New Generation, dir. Mark Cousins

The Storms of Jeremy Thomas, dir. Mark Cousins

The Taking, dir. Alexandre O Philippe

We, dir. Alice Diop

Experimenta strand

The Afterlight, dir. Charlie Shackleton - WP

Train Again, dir. Peter Tscherkassky

Anachronic Chronicles: Voyages Inside/Out Asia, dirs. Yu Araki, Lu Pan

The Bang Straws, dir. Michelle Williams Gamaker

Tellurian Drama, dir. Riar Rizaldi

Eye Cut, dir. Sarah Pucill

What We Shared, dir. Kamila Kuc - WP

Lago Gatun, dir. Kevin Jerome Everson - WP

The Landscapes of Resistance, dir. Marta Popivoda

Liberation Radio, dir. Esther Johnson

Family strand

The Ape Star, dir. Linda Hamback

Martin and the Magical Forest, dir. Petr Oukropec

Robin Robin, dirs. Dan Ojari, Mikey Please

Maya and the Three, creator Jorge R. Gutierrez, series, episodes 1-4

Treasures strand

I Know Where I’m Going!, dirs. Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger

Naked, dir. Mike Leigh

Oliver!, dir. Carol Reed

The Outsiders, dir. Francis Ford Coppola

Sambizanga, dir. Sarah Maldoror