We Preview BFI London Film Festival 2016


Written by Oliver J. Hunt
05 Wednesday 05th October 2016

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the prestigious BFI London Film Festival; initially conceived in 1953, it has gained repute through its ceaseless championing of the best in British and international talent. The festival is set to begin on the 5th October with Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom and will run until the 16th, culminating with the European premiere of Ben Wheatley’s much anticipated Free Fire. With the diverse offerings on show, we take a look at some of the unmissable flicks...

Last year the festival focussed on celebrating female industry talent with the Year of the Strong Woman season. 2016 highlights black talent both in front of and behind the camera with the illuminating autumn season Black Star. Home-grown talent such as Amma Asante, David Oyelowo, and Julie Dash - to name a few - will conduct discussions concerning the current state of the film industry and how it can be diversified further.

An intriguing film to catch our eyes is the debut of Nigerian-British filmmaker Joseph A. Adesunloye. White Colour Black follows the hedonistic life of London-based photographer Leke (played by up-and-comer Dudley O’Shaughnessy), but an urgent letter from his homeland shakes his world. The urban cityscape our lead has adopted as home is in real contrast to the vibrant yet calming village in Popenguine; even just with visuals, White Colour Black looks to wow audiences. 

Next we have the sophomore flick from fashion kingpin-turned-director Tom Ford. His first flick was the Colin Firth-starred A Single Man and he surprised critics with the tender yet tragic drama, showing there was a substance to Ford's style. Now he returns with another cinematic adaptation, this time Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan. Retitled Nocturnal Animals for a cinematic release, Ford’s latest is a proverbial who’s who of Hollywood talent. Amy Adams leads the pack as Susan, an accomplished gallery director whose marriage is called into question when a manuscript from her first husband arrives at her door. But soon there's more than a marriage at risk in the neo-noir styled flick...

Returning to the silver screen since her 2011 adaptation of Wuthering Heights, provocateur and powerhouse Andrea Arnold is back with a feature set in the wild American plains. American Honey follows the uneasy life of Star (played by newcomer Sacha Lane) who falls for enigmatic rogue Jake (Shia Lebeouf) as the two travel the country with his band of misfits. However, Star is torn between her new life and rescuing her half-siblings from their chaotic home. With a visual palate that recalls the work of Malick and the manic charm that evokes a Harmony Korine movie, Arnold seems to be stepping out of her comfort zone on this one and into (literally and figuratively) new territories. 

The final film that has us excited is one that's playing in the Official Competition category. Based on the play Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCaney, Barry Jenkins has adapted the heartrending story of a queer individual living in the 1980s black community in Miami. The trials and tribulations are many as our lead Chiron battles with his uncertain inner desires, but the world around him is quick to pick up on who he is. However, Chiron falls onto the wrong side of the tracks as he becomes dependent on a local criminal-cum-confidant played by Mahershala Ali. Whether his film is successful in the competition or not, we're interested to see how Jenkins' career plays out over the next few years.

The films we've mentioned here are only a taste of the exciting programming the festival has to offer. The festival begins on 5th October so be sure to take a look over the full LFF programme here.

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