2019 DOC NYC movie review: ‘Tyson’

November 18, 2019

by Carla Hay

Mike Tyson in “Tyson” (2019)


Directed by David Michaels

World premiere at DOC NYC in New York City on November 9, 2019.

Not to be confused with the 2009 Mike Tyson documentary “Tyson” (directed by James Toback), this new “Tyson” documentary (directed by David Michaels) is also about Mike Tyson, but it’s an updated look at the former boxing champ’s life. There’s also another movie called “Tyson,” which was a 1995 HBO biopic, starring Michael Jai White as Tyson. The Michaels-directed “Tyson” movie made a huge mistake with the title of the film, since it’s bound to confuse people who might think it’s the other “Tyson” documentary. So with all these “Tyson” movies in the world, how is this second documentary different from the first one?

For starters, the Michaels-directed “Tyson” documentary doesn’t cover anything new in Tyson’s pre-2008 life that wasn’t already covered in the Toback-directed first “Tyson” documentary. The Michaels-directed “Tyson” documentary should’ve had a title like “The Redemption of Mike Tyson.” That’s essentially the theme of the film, as it pushes a narrative that Tyson is now an upstanding family man, after having a long history of violence and abuse against others. Tyson is interviewed in the documentary, as well as his current and third wife, Kiki; his daughter Mikey; his son Amir; his biographer Larry Sloman; his addiction specialist Sean McFarland; and his longtime friends Dave Malen, Al B. Sure and Damon Elliott. It’s a very one-sided narrative, because Tyson’s critics are not interviewed at all.

The 2009 “Tyson” documentary was unique because Tyson was the only person interviewed for the movie; the rest of the film consisted of archival footage. The result was that the 2009 “Tyson” documentary was rambling and flawed, but a riveting and unflinching look at Tyson’s troubled soul. There were things he said in that first documentary that would be cause for alarm in this #MeToo era. For example, he called his rape accuser Desiree Washington “wretched swine,” and admitted that although he “took advantage” of many women, he didn’t take advantage of her. He also vividly described how he liked to sexually dominate women.

Even though Tyson was convicted in 1992 of raping former beauty contestant Washington, and he spent three years in prison for it, he still denies committing the crime. His denial is more muted in Michaels’ “Tyson” documentary (which doesn’t have the victim-shaming language the first “Tyson” documentary had), but Tyson’s anger over spending time in prison for the crime is still palpable. Even though Tyson shed tears in both documentaries when discussing his traumatic childhood, his past mistakes, and deaths of loved ones, director Michaels portrays Tyson in a much more filtered, sympathetic way than what viewers seen in director Toback’s “Tyson” documentary, because Michaels allows several Tyson family members and associates to constantly defend him and insist that Tyson is one of the sweetest people they’ve ever met.

In the Toback-directed documentary, Tyson was divorced from his second ex-wife, Monica Turner, and had not yet begun the next chapter in his life as a professional entertainer. Tyson made a comeback in pop culture with his memorable cameo playing himself in the 2009 blockbuster comedy film “The Hangover.” In 2014, Tyson became the co-creator and star of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim animated series “The Mike Tyson Mysteries.” In the Michaels-directed documentary, Tyson admits he was still strung out on drugs during his “Hangover” comeback period, and it took him several years and multiple stints in rehab to get to where he is now. Tyson claims he’s now clean and sober, and that his kids (he currently has seven children by three different women) are now his top priority. (One of the movie’s opening scenes is of Tyson accompanying his daughter Milan to her tennis game.) His wife Kiki is described as a “breath of fresh air” and an “angel,” but like a carefully Photoshopped and curated Instagram account, her marriage to Tyson, as it’s presented in this movie, looks too good to be true. The cracks show when Tyson admits that he’s never been faithful to his wives and partners, and that infidelity is one of the main reasons why he’s had a string of failed relationships. Kiki also acknowledges that she and Tyson often argue, but family members (including her parents) say she’s strong-willed and is no pushover.

Kiki describes their rocky courtship as something she chose to endure in order to get a so-called happy ending. (They started dating when she was 19, and he was 29, and he broke her heart when he abruptly married second wife Monica in 1997. After their 2003 divorce, Kiki and Tyson reunited, and married in 2009, the same year that Tyson’s 4-year-old daughter Exodus tragically died from an accidental strangling by exercise equipment.) One of the recurring themes in both “Tyson” documentaries is how he describes himself as a “pig” but also “generous” to a fault, and how he lost millions to what he calls “leeches” in his life, which led to him declaring bankruptcy in 2003. Based on the lavish spending by him, Kiki and ex-wife Monica (he openly talks about these spending sprees in the film), his money problems won’t be over anytime soon. Tyson has stayed out of trouble for years, so maybe he really has changed into someone who no longer abuses drugs, alcohol or women. Maybe he really is no longer the conflicted bully that he had the reputation of being for most of his life. But if there’s another documentary about him in 10 years (and please let it have another title besides “Tyson”), we’ll have to see if this reformed Mike Tyson is real or is a façade.

2019 DOC NYC movie review: ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me’

November 18, 2019

by Carla Hay

Brian Belovitch in “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”

“I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”

Directed by Karen Bernstein

World premiere at DOC NYC in New York City on November 7, 2019.

Brian Belovitch is the embodiment of “gender fluid.” He lived as a male in his childhood and teen years, transitioned into a transgender woman in his 20s, and then decided to go back to living as a gay man when he was in his 30s. Why did he want to be a woman in the first place? Belovitch explains in this documentary: “I loved the idea of being something other than myself. Let’s forget about Brian, and become some other creation.” How did that work out for him? “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” tells that fascinating story in a way that is entertaining and informative without being exploitative. Karen Bernstein, who directed “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” is a close friend of Belovitch, and that kinship shows in how the film was made, as he’s allowed to share his life story with dignity and respect. The movie’s main flaw (which is a minor one that doesn’t take away from the movie’s overall message of self-acceptance) is the editing, which jumps back and forth in the story timeline. This zig-zag narrative might off-putting to people who like biographical stories told in chronological order.

So, who is Brian Belovitch? Born in Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1963, Belovitch was raised primarily in Providence, Rhode Island, in a family of two daughters and five sons. (Some of his siblings are interviewed in the movie.) His father was a Russian Jew, his mother was Portuguese, and he grew up in a culture of homophobia, which was very common in families of that era. As a child, Belovitch was shamed and bullied by his family members and others for being effeminate, and his father often physically abused him. When strangers mistook him for a girl, his mother would get very angry and offended. In the documentary, Belovitch looks back on this traumatic period in his life and says, “By today’s standards, I would be considered a trans kid.”

A turning point in his life was his teenage relationship with his first boyfriend, Paul Bricker (Belovitch calls him a “soul mate”), whom he met at a gay bar in Providence. Unlike his unhappy home life where his parents had trouble accepting his queerness, Belovitch found complete acceptance in his relationship with Bricker, whose mother, Gloria, treated Belovitch like a family member. Gloria, who is interviewed in the documentary, says of Belovitch: “He was worth putting in my time and love.” While living in the Lola Apartments (what Belovitch calls a “trans ghetto”) in Providence, he began dressing as a woman. He says, “I was addicted to the reaction and attention I got from folks.” Throughout his younger life, as a man and as a woman, Belovitch says he would often be a sex worker, out of desperation to help pay the bills. He says in the documentary that his biggest decisions were “made for love,” but “most of my decisions were made for survival.”

At 18 years old, he moved to New York City and tried to live as a gay man for about nine months. His relationship with Paulie Bricker ended, and then Belovitch decided to commit to being a transgender woman, and changed his name to Natalie Belo. Belovitch says there was another reason why he wanted to live as a woman, besides preferring the attention that he got as a female: He didn’t want to be a gay, and he didn’t want to be a man, because being a man reminded him of the homophobic men from his childhood. Even though Belovitch tells his life story with amusing wit, there’s a lot of deep-seated trauma that’s brought up in this documentary (including childhood sexual abuse), so people who are easily triggered by similar issues should be warned that this is not always an easy film to watch.

While living as a Natalie Belo, Belovitch said he spent “thousands” on his physical transformation, including electrolysis, breast augmentation, butt implants (he still has silicone-related health issues) and female hormones. As Natalie, she met her first husband, David (a bartender at the time), in 1979, and they married in 1980. David joined the Army, and the couple moved to Germany, where David was stationed. While in Germany, Natalie became a “Tupperware lady,” but being an Army wife didn’t suit her, and she was still going through some confusion about her gender identity. She and David broke up after they moved back to New York City.

Natalie’s life then took an exciting but dark turn, as she reinvented herself as aspiring actress/singer Natalia “Tish” Gervais (this became her legal name for a while), and she plunged into the downtown Manhattan nightlife scene of the ’80s. She found a small level of fame as a cabaret singer/celebutante, including as a member of the “It’s My Party” revue, and her close friends included other nightlife scenesters, such as entertainment journalist Michael Musto (who’s interviewed in the documentary) and drag queen Nelson Sullivan. However, Tish became an alcoholic and drug addict, and spent years as a slave to her addictions. She got sober in 1986, after a rock-bottom incident when she stole money from the box office of a theater owned by her friend Edith O’Hara, who gave Tish an ultimatum to go to rehab and stay off of drugs.

It was around this time that Belovitch decided to go back to living as a man. He’s now an addiction counselor who’s happily married to second husband Jim (a botanist), who’s also interviewed in the movie, which has a scene of them attending a Pride parade in Providence. (This isn’t spoiler information, since it’s shown in the beginning of the film.) To understand Belovitch’s difficult journey to self-acceptance, he says it partly comes from his “fear of being average,” but he admits: “Having lived the life that I’ve lived is hardly boring dinner conversation.” As for coming to terms with what his true identity is, he sums it up this way: “All I ever wanted to be was comfortable.”

2019 DOC NYC review: ‘Vas-y Coupe!’

November 18, 2019

by Carla Hay

Jacques Selosse employees in "Vas-y Coupe!"
Jacques Selosse employees in “Vas-y Coupe!” (Photo courtesy of By the By Productions)

“Vas-y Coupe!”

Directed by Laura Naylor

French with subtitles

World premiere at DOC NYC in New York City on November 9, 2019.

If you’ve ever wondered about some of the people behind the making of French champagne, then “Vas-y Coupe!” is a candid but slow-paced peek into the crucial harvesting process. “Vas-y Coupe!” translates to “Go ahead, cut!” in English. This movie focuses on Jacques Selosse, a family-run vineyard in France’s Champagne region and what happens during harvest season. The documentary was inspired by director Laura Naylor’s real-life experiences harvesting grapes at the vineyard in 2016, about a year after she first discovered the vineyard through a sommelier friend.

Founded in the 1950s, Jacques Selosse is located in the small village of Avize, and much of the culture in the movie feels like a 1950s time warp. The roles of the men and women are, for the most part, sharply segregated by gender. Although there are a few harvesters who are female (and they’re briefly spotted on camera), the male harvesters and their male supervisors get the most of the focus in this documentary. The women in the film are primarily shown in the kitchen and fulfilling the roles of cooks, food servers and maids. The women are preoccupied with preparing meals and trying on beauty products, while the men do the dirty work of picking and distilling the grapes. Even with the Selosse family that owns the vineyard, the men in the family are the ones who get to taste and evaluate the company’s product made from the harvested grapes.

In addition to the gender lines that are clearly defined, there are also class lines that are almost never crossed. The laborers know their place as servants, and there’s sometimes tension with the vineyard owners/supervisors over wage issues. The rough-and-tumble nature of this working-class crew sometimes leads to them clashing with each other, as minor squabbles are captured on camera. But if you’re looking for shocking, dramatic moments, you won’t find them here in this mostly quiet film. To its credit, what’s shown in this movie doesn’t look staged, like a reality show.

But to its detriment, the movie suffers from editing that shows too much repetition of mundane tasks. It’s not necessary for viewers to keep seeing similar scenes of the women in the kitchen discussing the meals they’re preparing, followed by scenes of the women serving the meals to the laborers gathered in the dining room area. In order for a documentary like this to stand out, there has to be at least one big, riveting personality to keep viewers interested, but the people in this movie are just too average to make this a compelling story. And unfortunately, the movie gets bogged down in so much “slice of life” footage that the end result is a documentary that is duller than it should be.

2019 DOC NYC: recap and award winners

November 16, 2019

by Carla Hay

The 10th annual DOC NYC—which took place in New York City from November 6 to November 15, 2018—has continued its status as an outstanding international festival for documentary visual media, with more than 300 films at the festival. Almost all of the DOC NYC screenings and other events took place at the SVA Theatre, IFC Center and Cinépolis Chelsea. DOC NYC also has panel discussions about filmmaking, offering a wealth of opportunities to share knowledge, discover new talent and network with professionals. This year’s DOC NYC was dedicated to D.A. Pennebaker, the iconic documentarian (best known for “Don’t Look Back”), who died on August 1, 2019, at the age of 94.


Wang Tiancheng in "City Dream"
Wang Tiancheng in “City Dream”

DOC NYC 2019 also had competitions, with all voted for by juries, except for the Audience Award and the Kanopy DOC NYC U Award. The winners were:

Viewfinders Competition (for films with a distinct directorial vision): “City Dream,” director Weijun Chen’s look at a feisty street vendor Wang Tiancheng’s battle to not be displaced by the Urban Management Bureau in Wuhan, China.

Special mention: “Love Child,” director Eva Mulvad’s portrait of an Iranian man who flees Iran with his mistress and their son because of Iran’s death-penalty laws against adultery.

Metropolis Competition (for films with New York City stories): “Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back,” director John Carluccio’s profile of Tony-nominated entertainer Maurice Hines, the older brother of Gregory Hines.

Shorts Competition: “Bob of the Park,” director Jake Sumner’s profile of Robert “Birding Bob” DiCandido, who’s described in the DOC NYC materials as the “archvillain of New York City bird watchers.”

Special mentions: “A Childhood on Fire,” directed by Jason Hanasik; “Yves & Variation,” directed by Lydia Cornett

Audience Award: “I Am Not Alone,” director Garin Hovannisian’s profile of former Armenian political prisoner Nikol Pashinyan, who becomes a Member of Parliament and leads a peaceful protest against injustice.

DOC NYC PRO Pitch Perfect Award: “After Sherman,” directed by Jon-Sesrie Goff

Kanopy DOC NYC U Award (for student directors): “Kostya,” directed by Oxana Inipko (School of Visual Arts)

In addition, category awards were given to DOC NYC’s Short List films, which are considered frontrunners to be nominated for Oscars and other major film awards.

Short List: Features

“The Edge of Democracy” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Directing Award: “The Edge of Democracy,” directed by Petra Costa 
Producing Award: “American Factory,” produced by Steven Bognar, Julie Parker Benello, Jeff Reichert and Julia Reichert 
Editing Award: “Apollo 11,” edited by Todd Douglas Miller 
Cinematography Award: “The Elephant Queen,” cinematography by Mark Deeble
Special Recognition for Courage in Filmmaking: “For Sama,” director Waad al-Kateab
Short List: Shorts
Directing Award: “Stay Close,” directed by Luther Clement and Shuhan Fan

The 2019 DOC NYC Visionaries Tribute (which has non-competitive categories), an invitation-only event presented on November 7, honored Martin Scorsese and Michael Apted, each with the Lifetime Achievement Award; “American Factory” directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichart with the Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence; and New York Women in Film & Television executive director Cynthia Lopez with the Leading Light Award.

Other celebrities who attended DOC NYC included Robbie Robertson, J.K, Simmons, Ron Howard, Katie Couric, Andre Leon Talley, Michael Moore, Kate Nash, Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Olivia Harrison.

2019 Hollywood Film Awards: recap and photos

November 3, 2019

Al Pacino (left), winner of the Hollywood Supporting Actor Award, and “The Godfather” director Francis Ford Coppola at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

The following is a press release from Dick Clark Productions:

The 23rd Annual “Hollywood Film Awards” brought together Hollywood’s elite to honor the year’s most talked about and highly anticipated actors, actresses and films, and those who helped bring them to life. The awards ceremony, celebrating its 23rd anniversary as the official launch of the awards season, was hosted by actor and comedian Rob Riggle, and took place at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. In its 23-year history, over 340 of the world’s biggest stars and filmmakers have been highlighted at the “Hollywood Film Awards” and more than 140 of the honorees have gone on to garner Oscar nominations and/or wins.

Rob Riggle  at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for HFA)

Host Rob Riggle infused the ceremony with heart and humor, proving to be a steadfast guide through the evening’s many memorable moments. There was no shortage of standing ovations for both presenters and honorees alike, who included some of the most iconic members of the Hollywood community. Al Pacino took time to acknowledge many of his fellow honorees and friends in the room as he accepted the “Hollywood Supporting Actor Award.”

Martin Scorsese at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for HFA)

After a presentation from her mentor Martin Scorsese, “Hollywood Producer Award” recipient Emma Tillinger Koskoff delivered an emotional speech, offering a tear-filled thank you to the legendary director and producer. “Hollywood Filmmaker Award” honoree Bong Joon Ho, spoke in his native tongue to deliver a universal message that “we use only one language of cinema.”

Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for HFA)

In a touching moment between “Hollywood Career Achievement Award” presenter Nicole Kidman and this year’s honoree Charlize Theron, Kidman remarked that “we don’t get to choose our heroes, but through this journey, I got to work with one of mine!”

Antonio Banderas and Dakota Johnson at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Dakota Johnson took the stage to present Antonio Banderas with the “Hollywood Actor Award,” and reflected upon her realization that Banderas has become one of the most influential people in her life. He accepted by dedicating the award to Dakota, and his daughter Stella, who was in the room to share the night with him.

Cynthia Erivo at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for HFA)

Viola Davis presented Cynthia Erivo with the “Hollywood Breakout Actress Award,” calling her “fearlessness personified” as she takes on the role of Harriet Tubman. Ray Romano brought the laughs as he showered praise upon “Hollywood Breakout Actor” honoree Taron Egerton, pointing out how unfair it is that Egerton is not only endlessly talented, but funny as well.

Robert Downey Jr. and Shia LaBeouf at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019 . (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for HFA)

Christian Bale and Matt Damon turned up to honor their “Ford v Ferrari” director James Mangold, while Robert Downey Jr. was on hand to laud “Honey Boy” actor and screenwriter Shia LeBeouf with the “Hollywood Breakthrough Screenwriter Award.”  Former co-stars Jennifer Garner and Olivia Wilde celebrated Wilde’s “Hollywood Breakthrough Director Award,” each sharing humorous tales of their adventures together on set.

Olivia Wilde at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for HFA)

Kevin Feige and Victoria Alonso joined together to accept the “Hollywood Blockbuster Award,” thanking their amazing writers, directors, and awe-inspiring cast, including presenter Mark Ruffalo. Alicia Keys began her tribute to “Hollywood Song Award” honoree Pharrell Williams by recognizing all of the love in the room, before Williams delivered a powerful speech focusing on the unparalleled contributions made by “The Black Godfather” subject, Clarence Avant. He said that he has opened doors when others would glue them shut and has consistently demanded equality throughout his career.

Finn Wittrock, Renée Zellweger and Jessie Buckley at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

“Judy” co-stars Finn Wittrock and Jessie Buckley were on hand to recognize their leading lady Renée Zellweger with the “Hollywood Actress Award.” She said that the experience of playing Judy Garland was “one of those rare opportunities that essentially make no sense at all, but becomes your greatest accomplishment!”

Laura Dern and Willem Dafoe at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for HFA)

After an earnest tribute from Jon Hamm, “Hollywood Screenwriter Award” honoree Anthony McCarten joked about finding success when he strayed from his teacher’s advice to write what he knows. He advised others to write what they want to know, that curiosity is what drove him to this project. Willem Dafoe presented his friend and colleague Laura Dern with the “Hollywood Supporting Actress Award,” praising the inspiring way in which she connects to audiences through her compassion.

This year’s award show honored the following:

“Hollywood Career Achievement Award”
Charlize Theron, presented by Nicole Kidman

“Hollywood Actor Award”
Antonio Banderas for Pain and Glory, presented by Dakota Johnson

“Hollywood Actress Award”
Renée Zellweger for Judy, presented by Finn Wittrock & Jessie Buckley

“Hollywood Supporting Actor Award”
Al Pacino for The Irishman, presented by Francis Ford Coppola

“Hollywood Supporting Actress Award”
Laura Dern for Marriage Story, presented by Willem Dafoe

“Hollywood Producer Award”
Emma Tillinger Koskoff for The Irishman, presented by Martin Scorsese

“Hollywood Director Award”
James Mangold for Ford v Ferrari, presented by Christian Bale & Matt Damon

“Hollywood Filmmaker Award”
Bong Joon Ho for Parasite, presented by Sienna Miller

“Hollywood Screenwriter Award”
Anthony McCarten for The Two Popes, presented by Jon Hamm

“Hollywood Blockbuster Award”
Avengers: Endgame, presented by Mark Ruffalo

“Hollywood Song Award”
Pharrell Williams for Letter To My Godfather, presented by Alicia Keys

“Hollywood Breakout Actor Award”
Taron Egerton for Rocketman, presented by Ray Romano

“Hollywood Breakout Actress Award”
Cynthia Erivo for Harriet, presented by Viola Davis

“Hollywood Breakthrough Director Award”
Olivia Wilde for Booksmart, presented by Jennifer Garner

“Hollywood Breakthrough Screenwriter Award”
Shia LaBeouf for Honey Boy, presented by Robert Downey Jr.

“Hollywood Animation Award”
Toy Story 4

“Hollywood Cinematography Award”
Mihai Malaimare Jr. for Jojo Rabbit

“Hollywood Film Composer Award”
Randy Newman for Marriage Story

“Hollywood Editor Award”
Michael McCusker & Andrew Buckland for Ford v Ferrari

“Hollywood Visual Effects Award”
Pablo Helman for The Irishman

“Hollywood Sound Award”
Donald Sylvester, Paul Massey, David Giammarco, & Steven A. Morrow for Ford v Ferrari

“Hollywood Costume Design Award”
Anna Mary Scott Robbins for Downton Abbey

“Hollywood Make-Up & Hair Styling Award”
Lizzie Yianni-Georgiou, Tapio Salmi, & Barrie Gower for Rocketman

“Hollywood Production Design Award”
Ra Vincent for Jojo Rabbit

Honoree Portraits are available on the show’s Twitter and Instagram pages. For all information and highlights, please visit the website for the Hollywood Film Awards.

For the latest news, follow the “Hollywood Film Awards” on social and join the conversation by using the official hashtag for the show, #HollywoodAwards.

Twitter: @HollywoodAwards
Facebook: Facebook.com/HollywoodAwards
Instagram: @hollywoodawards

About Dick Clark Productions
Dick Clark Productions (DCP) is the world’s largest producer and proprietor of televised live event entertainment programming with the “Academy of Country Music Awards,” “American Music Awards,” “Billboard Music Awards,” “Golden Globe Awards,” “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” and the “Streamy Awards.” Weekly television programming includes “So You Think You Can Dance” from 19 Entertainment and DCP. DCP also owns one of the world’s most unique and extensive entertainment archive libraries with over 60 years of award-winning shows, historic programs, specials, performances and legendary programming. DCP is a division of Valence Media, a diversified and integrated media company with divisions and strategic investments in television, film, live entertainment, digital media and publishing. For additional information, visit www.dickclark.com.

About the Hollywood Film Awards
The Hollywood Film Awards, founded in 1997, were created to celebrate Hollywood and launch the awards season. The recipients of the awards are selected by an Advisory Team for their body of work and/or a film(s) that is to be released during the calendar year. For additional information, visit www.hollywoodawards.com.

2019 DOC NYC: What to expect at this year’s event

October 24, 2019

by Carla Hay

Celebrating its 10th edition in 2019, the annual DOC NYC, which takes place in New York City, is one of the world’s leading documentary festivals, with a slate of more than 300 films from a diverse array of topics. In 2019, DOC NYC takes place from November 6 to November 15, and continues the festival’s tradition of offering an outstanding variety of feature films and short films, with several of the movies focusing on under-represented people and marginalized communities. Most of the festival’s events take place at the IFC Center, SVA Theatre and Cinépolis Chelsea. This year’s DOC NYC is dedicated to documentarian D.A. Pennebaker (“Don’t Look Back,” “The War Room”), who died on August 1, 2019, at the age of 94.

DOC NYC, which was co-founded by Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen, has also had an excellent track record when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Long before the 5050×2020 pledge to have gender parity for directors at film festivals, DOC NYC was ahead of its time by having a larger percentage of films from female directors than most other film festivals. Many other international film festivals are starting to catch up and make more of an effort to include movies from female directors. Beyond the gender parity issue, this year’s DOC NYC is a true definition of a “world-class” festival, since there are numerous ethnicities and cultures from around the world represented in the films at the festival. DOC NYC also offers panel discussions and filmmaker showcases through its DOC NYC PRO programming. Most of the discussions are geared to sharing behind-the-scenes knowledge about filmmaking.

Celebrities expected to attend the event include “Ask Dr. Ruth” star Ruth Westheimer; Lydia Lunch, L7 lead singer Donita Sparks and Sonic Youth lead singer Thurston Moore for “Lydia Lunch: The War Is Never Over”; “Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back” star Maurice Hines; and “The Longest Wave” star Robby Naish. The directors of almost all of the films at DOC NYC will be at the festival’s screenings for introductions and post-screening Q&As.

The annual Visionaries Tribute, which takes place this year on November 7, will honor Martin Scorsese and Michael Apted, each with the Lifetime Achievement Award; “American Factory” directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichart with the Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence; and New York Women in Film & Television executive director Cynthia Lopez with the Leading Light Award.

There are many films at DOC NYC that have premiered elsewhere, and some films that have already been released in theaters. DOC NYC’s Short List collection spotlights films that could be Oscar contenders. Every year so far, DOC NYC’s Short List has had a movie that has gone on to win the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Films on DOC NYC’s Short List this year are “American Factory,” “The Apollo,” “Apollo 11,” “Ask Dr. Ruth,” “The Biggest Little Farm” (which was DOC NYC’s opening-night film in 2018), “The Cave,” “Diego Maradona,” “The Edge of Democracy,” “The Elephant Queen,” “For Sama,” “The Great Hack,” “Honeyland,” “The Kingmaker,” “Knock Down the House” and “One Child Nation.”

New this year is DOC NYC’s Winner’s Circle collection, which spotlights movies that have won awards at other film festivals, but might be underrated or overlooked for Oscar nominations. Winner’s Circle documentaries this year are “Advocate,” “Cold Case Hammarskjöld,” “The Fourth Kingdom: The Kingdom of Classics,” “Hope Frozen,” “Midnight Family,” “Midnight Traveler” and “Sea of Shadows.”

Even though most of the movies at DOC NYC have had their world premieres elsewhere, DOC NYC has several world premieres of its own. Here are the feature films that will have their world premieres at DOC NYC. A complete schedule can be found here.


“Blessed Child”

In this autobiographical film, director Cara Jones examines her upbringing in the controversial Unification Church of the Reverend Sun Myong Koon, also known as the Moonies. The main thing that most people know about the Moonies is that they are a Korean-based organization that arranges marriages for its members, and they have massive group weddings where the brides and grooms often don’t know each other very well before they get married. World premiere: November 9 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Buster Williams: Bass to Infinity”

This is an intimate portrait of jazz bassist Buster Williams, who has worked with legends such as John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughn, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, Nancy Wilson and Herbie Hancock.  World premiere: November 12 at IFC Center.

“Ganden: A Joyful Land”

This film gives a rare inside look at Ganden, which is considered the most influential monastery in Tibetan Buddhism. Ganden is where the Dalai Lama got his start. World Premiere: November 12 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“The Grand Unified Theory of Howard Bloom”

In the 1970s and 1980s, Howard Bloom was a high-powered entertainment publicist whose clients included Michael Jackson, Prince, Joan Jett, John Mellencamp, Billy Idol and Aerosmith. But when chronic fatigue syndrome left him housebound for 15 years, he reinvented himself as an author and philosopher. World Premiere: November 10 at SVA Theatre.

“Healing From Hate: Battle for the Soul of a Nation”

The current politically divided climate has led to an increase of documentaries exploring the impact of extreme hate groups. This documentary looks at Life After Hate, an organization of people who used to be neo-Nazis and white-supremacist skinheads, who are now trying to heal the wounds they caused in their communities and beyond. World premiere: November 13 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“He Dreams of Giants”

For nearly 30 years, director Terry Gilliam tried to get a movie made based on the novel “Don Quixote,” but he experienced the kind of bad luck and setbacks that you might see in a movie. This documentary shows how the difficult journey was for Gilliam to make “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” which was finally released in 2019. World premiere: November 10 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Hungry to Learn”

The rising cost of college education in the U.S. has increased a problem that is rarely talked about in the news media: Students often have to choose between paying for their tuition and paying for adequate, regular meals. World premiere: November 9 at SVA Theatre.

“I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”

This unusual documentary tells the story of Brian Belovitch, who lived as a male in his childhood and teen years, transitioned into a woman (and aspiring entertainer in New York City) in his 20s, and then decided to go back to living as a man. World premiere: November 7 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Imitating Life: The Audacity of Suzanne Heintz”

Suzanne Heintz is an artist with an eccentric schtick: She takes photographs of herself with mannequins (a man and a girl), and the pictures are supposed to look like family portraits. World premiere: November 10 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Koshien: Japan’s Field of Dreams”

Koshien is Japan’s national championship for high school baseball, and it’s considered the premiere recruiting resource for Japan’s baseball players who want to go pro. This film examines how competitive Koshien can be and why it’s a sporting event in Japan that’s almost the equivalent of the World Series in the United States. World premiere: November 12 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Lifeline/Clyfford Still”

The mysterious artist Clyfford Still was one of the leaders of the American Abstract Expressionist Movement, which included Jackson Pollack and Mark Rothko. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Still avoided the media spotlight, but this documentary examines the man behind the mystique. World premiere: November 12 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“The Longest Wave”

Award-winning documentarian Joe Berlinger is known mostly for covering true crime (the West Memphis Three cases and serial killer Ted Bundy), but in “The Longest Wave” he turns to the sport of surfing to profile world-champion windsurfer Robby Naish.  World premiere: November 13 at SVA Theatre.

“Los Ultimos Frikis”

“Los Ultimos Frikis” translates in English to “The Ultimate Freaks.” The movie tells the story of Cuban heavy-metal band Zeus and the group’s struggles to survive for 30 years, starting with the Fidel Castro regime. The documentary focuses mainly on Zeus’ 25th anniversary tour in the Communist country, where heavy metal has been branded as the music of radicals. World premiere: November 10 at SVA Theatre.

“Lydia Lunch: The War Is Never Over”

Avant-garde singer Lydia Lunch was a pioneer in the No Wave movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This film explains why she became an underrated influence in the ’90s riot girl movement and how she’s made an impact on today’s generation of feminist rock singers. World premiere: November 9 at IFC Center.

“Mai Khoi and the Dissidents”

Mai Khoi used to be an uncontroversial pop star in her native Vietnam. But then she became an outspoken activist, formed a left-wing band called the Dissidents, and became the target of the Vietnamese government.  World premiere: November 13 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Martin Margiela: In His Own Words”

This movie offers a rare look at Martin Margiela, the celebrated fashion designer who left the industry at the height of his fame in 2008, and then became a recluse who refused to be interviewed or photographed. Viewers get unprecedented access to Margiela and his thoughts on his legacy since he retired from the spotlight. World premiere: November 8 at SVA Theatre.

“Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back”

Tony-nominated entertainer Maurice Hines gets candid about his life, including his sometimes rocky relationship with his more famous younger brother, Gregory Hines. This film also addresses how being an openly gay black man impacted Maurice’s career. World Premiere: November 10 at SVA Theatre.


This is a movie that will no doubt push emotional buttons and spark debate over the rights that women should have when it comes to family planning and pregnancy. “Personhood” looks at what happened when Wisconsin resident Tammy Loertscher is jailed while pregnant because of how she wanted to handle the pregnancy.  World premiere: November 8 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“The Queen’s Man”

Steve Talt, a native New Yorker, was the bodyguard to Sarah Pahlavi, the wife of the former Shah of Iran. Talt is still employed by Pahlavi, and he has taken it upon himself to find her stolen art collection, even if he has to hire shady people to help him do it. World premiere: November 14 at IFC Center.

“Revolution Rent”

Andy Señor co-directed this autobiographical film about his journey of bringing the Tony-winning musical “Rent” to Cuba, the homeland of his parents, with just 12 weeks to prepare. He also faces the challenges of Cuba’s restrictions on entertainment, especially since “Rent” tackles subjects that are taboo in much of Cuban culture, such as homosexuality and AIDS. World premiere: November 8 at SVA Theatre.

“River City Drumbeat”

The River City Drum Corps in Louisville, Kentucky, has been an artistic outlet for African American youth for 30 years. Nardie White, the leader of the drum corps, is approaching retirement and must find a successor. World premiere: November 12 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Searching for Mr. Rugoff”

Donald Rugoff (who died in 1989 at the age of 62) was one of the underrated influencers of the independent film movement. The heir to the New York City-based arthouse theater chain Rugoff Theatres, he founded the independent film distribution company Cinema 5, which operated in the 1960s and 1970s, and helped boost the early careers of filmmakers such as Werner Herzog, Costa-Gravas and Nicolas Roeg. World premiere: November 7 at IFC Center.

“Stevenson Lost and Found”

James Stevenson (who died in 2017 at the age of 87) was a cartoonist at the New Yorker since 1956. This film tells his story. World premiere: November 10 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope”

As Americans debate over how much the U.S. government is responsible for fixing people’s problems, this documentary takes a look at how U.S. residents are affected by opioid addiction, poverty and incarceration. World Premiere: November 13 at SVA Theatre.


Not to be confused with the 2009 Mike Tyson documentary “Tyson” (directed by James Toback), this new “Tyson” documentary (directed by David Michaels) is also about Mike Tyson, but it’s an updated look at the former boxing champ’s life.  World premiere: November 9 at Cinépolis Chelsea.


The public education system is facing a crisis in many areas of the U.S., and this movie is a profile of the alternative school Natural Creativity Center, which has been operating for about 30 years in Pennsylvania. The unorthodox teachings of the school include students being allowed to direct their own learning. World premiere: November 11 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

“Vas-y Coupe!”

“Vas-y Coupe!” translates to “Go ahead, cut!” in English.  This movie takes a look at a family-run vineyard in France’s Champagne region and what happens during harvest season. World premiere: November 9 at SVA Theatre.

“Waging Change”

There’s an ongoing battle in the U.S. over what the federal minimum wage should be for restaurant workers who receive tips. On one side is the National Restaurant Association, which wants to keep the minimum wage as low as possible. (The federal minimum wage for an hourly salary will rise from $11.10 to $12, as of January 1, 2020.) On the other side is Restaurant Opportunities Center United, which is fighting for a higher minimum wage. World premiere: November 8 at Cinépolis Chelsea.

2019 Toronto International Film Festival: ‘Jojo Rabbit’ wins People’s Choice Award

September 15, 2019

The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival took place from September 5 to September 15 in Toronto. Here are the 2019 winners of the festival’s awards, which were announced on September 15 at an awards-ceremony brunch:


Winner: Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit

First runner-up: Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story
Second runner-up: Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite

The award offers a $15,000 cash prize and custom award, sponsored by Grolsch.


Winner: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s The Platform

First runner-up: Andrew Patterson’s The Vast of Night
Second runner-up: Jeff Barnaby’s Blood Quantum


Winner: Feras Fayyad’s The Cave

First runner-up: Garin Hovannisian’s I Am Not Alone
Second runner-up: Bryce Dallas Howard’s Dads



Winner: Pietro Marcello’s Martin Eden

Honourable Mentions:

Kazik Radwanski’s Anne at 13,000 ft

Alice Winocour’s Proxima

The Toronto Platform Prize offers a custom award and a $20,000 cash prize.

The Festival welcomed an international jury comprised of award-winning filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari, Berlinale Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian, and international film critic Jessica Kiang.


Winner – Discovery Programme: Carmel Winters’ Float Like a Butterfly​

Honourable Mention: Laura Luchetti’s Twin Flower


Winner – Discovery Programme: Heather Young’s Murmur

Winner – Special Presentations: Coky Giedroyc’s How to Build a Girl

The jury was comprised of Jury President Rita di Santo (UK), Frédéric Jaeger (Germany), Liam Lacey (Canada), Ruben Peralta Rigaud (Dominican Republic), Müge Turan (Turkey), and Claire Valade (Canada).


Winner: Oualid Mouaness’ 1982

The jury, selected from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Pacific Cinema, included Chairperson Beckie Stocchetti, Kanako Hayashi, and Albert Shin.



Winner: Chloé Robichaud’s Delphine

Honourable Mention: The jury awarded a special mention to Theodore Ushev’s The Physics of Sorrow for its impressive filmmaking and detailed craftsmanship.

The award offers a $10,000 cash prize, made possible by IWC Schaffhausen.


Winner: Lasse Linder’s All Cats Are Grey in the Dark

Honourable Mentions: Federico Luis Tachella’s The Nap, for its brave exploration of age and sexuality.

The award offers a $10,000 cash prize, made possible by IWC Schaffhausen.

The jury was comprised of Chelsea McMullan, Léo Soesanto, and Andrea Roa.



Winner: Matthew Rankin’s The Twentieth Century

This award carries a cash prize of $15,000, made possible by the City of Toronto.


Winner: Sophie Deraspe’s Antigone

Honourable mention: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn’s The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open.

This award carries a cash prize of $30,000 and a custom award, sponsored by Canada Goose®.

The jury was comprised of Magali Simard, Devyani Saltzman, and Alicia Elliott.

2019 Venice International Film Festival: ‘Joker’ wins the Golden Lion top prize

September 7, 2019

by Carla Hay

Venice Film Festival

“Joker,” director Todd Phillips’ origin story about the DC Comics villain, was awarded the Golden Lion (the top prize) at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival in Venice, Italy. “Joker” stars Joaquin Phoenix in the title role. Warner Bros. Pictures will release “Joker” on October 4, 2019. Movie critics have mostly praised “Joker,” which is a dark and violent film that is a departure for Phillips, who was previously known for directing comedies like “The Hangover” movies and “Old School.” The 76th annual Venice International Film Festival took place from August 28 to September 7, 2019.

The Grand Jury Prize (second place) went to “An Officer and a Spy,” directed by Roman Polanski. The Venice Film Festival got considerable criticism for selecting Polanski’s film to be a part of the festival. Polanski has been a fugitive of the law since 1978, when he fled to France after being convicted of raping an underage girl in the Los Angeles area.

Other winners at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival included Luca Marinelli, “Martin Eden” for Best Actor; Ariane Ascaride of “Gloria Mundi” for Best Actress; and “About Endlessness” helmer Roy Andersson for Best Director.

Here is the complete list of winners for the 2019 Venice International Film Festival:


Golden Lion: “Joker,” directed by Todd Phillips

Grand Jury Prize: “An Officer and a Spy,” directed by Roman Polanski

Silver Lion for Best Director: Roy Andersson, “About Endlessness”

Volpi Cup for Best Actress: Ariane Ascaride, “Gloria Mundi”

Volpi Cup for Best Actor:  Luca Marinelli, “Martin Eden”

Best Screenplay: “No. 7 Cherry Lane,” written by Yonfan

Special Jury Prize: “The Mafia Is No Longer What It Used to Be,” directed by Franco Maresco

Marcello Mastroianni Award for Young Performer:


Best Film: “Atlantis,” directed by Valentyn Vasyanovych

Best Director:  Théo Court, “White on White”

Special Jury Prize: “Verdict,” directed by Raymund Ribas Gutierrez

Best Actress: Marta Nieto, “Madre”

Best Actor: Sami Bouajila, “A Son”

Best Screenplay: “Back Home,” directed by Jessica Palud, Philippe Lioret and Diastème

Best Short Film: “Darling,” directed by Saim Sadiq


Luigi De Laurentiis Award for Best Debut Film: “You Will Die at Twenty,” directed by Amjad Abu Alala


Best Documentary on Cinema: “Babenco – Alguém Tem Que Ouvir O Coração E Dizer: Parou,” directed by Bárbara Paz

Best Restored Film: “Ecstasy,” directed by Gustav Machatý


Best Virtual Reality: 
“The Key,” directed by Céline Tricart

Best Virtual Reality Experience: “A Linha,” directed by Ricardo Laganaro

Best Virtual Reality Story: “Daughters of Chibok,” directed by Joel Kachi Benson

2019 Telluride Film Festival: programming slate announced

August 29, 2019

by Carla Hay

The 46th annual Telluride Film Festival—which takes place August 30 to September 2, 2019 in Telluride, Colorado—has announced its lineup of movies. They include the world premieres of “Judy,” starring Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland; “Ford v Ferrari,” starring Christian Bale as a race-car driver and Matt Damon as a car designer who team up to build a champion race car; “Waves,” an African American family drama, starring Sterling K. Brown; and “Motherless Brooklyn,” a crime drama starring and directed by Edward Norton as a private investigator involved in a murder case.

The Telluride Film Festival, along with the Venice International Film Festival in Italy and the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada, can be considered one of the most important Oscar-contender launching pads from August to September. Unlike other major film festivals, which announce their movies weeks in advance, the Telluride Film Festival keeps its slate of movies a secret until a day or two before the festival begins.

Because the Telluride and Venice film festivals overlap in time frame, they both tend to have a lot of the same films, with Venice (the larger festival) usually having the edge in getting world premieres. For example, in 2018, both festivals had “Roma,” “The Favourite” and “First Man”—three movies that had their world premieres at Venice, and went on to win to win several awards, including Oscars and Golden Globes. In 2018, Telluride had the world premiere of the mountain-climbing documentary “Free Solo” (which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature) and the true-crime drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” which received three Oscar nominations.

The 2019 Telluride Film Festival will also have a tribute to the late Belgian French filmmaker Agnès Varda, who died on March 29. The last film she directed, the documentary “Varda by Agnes,” will screen at the festival.

In addition, the festival’s 2019 Silver Medallion Awards (given to those who’ve had significant achievements in movies) will go to Zellweger; actor Adam Driver (whose movies “Marriage Story” and “The Report” are at the festival); and writer/director Philip Kaufman, who will have two of his  movies screening at the festival “The Right Stuff” (1983) and “The Wanderers” (1979).

Dolby Laboratories will receive the festival’s 2019 Special Medallion Award.

Also at the festival is the Aretha Franklin concert documentary “Amazing Grace,” which was filmed in 1972 but wasn’t officially released in theaters until 2018 for a limited run, followed by a wider release in 2019.

Here is the complete lineup of feature-length movies in the “Show” main program at the 2019 Telluride Film Festival:

“The Aeronauts” (Directed by Tom Harper, U.S./U.K.)
“The Assistant” (Directed by Kitty Green, U.S.)
“The Australian Dream” (Directed by Daniel Gordon, Australia)
“Beanpole” (Directed by Kantemir Balagov, Russia)
“The Climb” (Directed by Michael Angelo Covino)
“Country Music” (Directed by Ken Burns, U.S.)
“Coup 53” (Directed by Taghi Amirani, U.K.)
“Diego Maradona” (Directed by Asif Kapadia, U.K.)
“Family Romance, LLC” (Directed by Werner Herzog, U.S./Japan)
“First Cow” (Directed by Kelly Reichardt, U.S.)
“Ford v Ferrari” (Directed by James Mangold, U.S.)
“A Hidden Life” (Directed by Terrence Malick, U.S.)
“The Human Factor” (Directed by Dror Moreh, U.K.)
“Inside Bill’s Brain” (Directed by Davis Guggenheim)
“Judy” (Directed by Rupert Goold, U.K./U.S.)
“The Kingmaker” (Directed by Lauren Greenfield, U.S.)
“Lyrebird” (Directed by Dan Friedkin, U.S.)
“Marriage Story” (Directed by Noah Bumbach, U.S.)
“Motherless Brooklyn” (Directed by Edward Norton, U.S.)
“Oliver Sacks: His Own Life” (Directed by Ric Burns, U.S.)
“Pain and Glory” (Directed by Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)
“Parasite” (Directed by Bong Joon-Ho, South Korea)
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (Directed by Céline Sciamma, France)
“The Report” (Directed by Scott Z. Burns, U.S.)
“Tell Me Who I Am” (Directed by Ed Perkins)
“Those Who Remained” (Directed by Barnabás Toth, Hungary)
“The Two Popes” (Directed by Fernando Meirelles, U.K.)
“Uncut Gems” (Directed by Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie, U.S.)
“Varda by Agnès” (Directed by Agnès Varda, France)
“Verdict” (Directed by Raymond Ribay Gutierrez, Philippines)
“Waves” (Directed by Trey Edward Shults, U.S.)
“Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema” (Directed by Mark Cousins, U.K.)

Here is the complete list of films for the “Backlot” selection of documentaries at the 2019 Telluride Film Festival:

“63 Up” (Directed by Michael Apted, U.K.)
“Billie” (Directed by James Erskine, U.K.)
“Chulas Fronteras” (Directed by Les Blank, U.S., 1976)
“The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash” (Directed by Thom Zimny, U.S.)
“Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice” (Directed by Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, U.S.)
“Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin” (Directed by Werner Herzog, U.S.)
“Soros” (Directed by Jesse Dylan, U.S.)
“Uncle Yanco” (Directed by Agnès Varda, France/U.S., 1967) + “Black Panthers” (Directed by Agnès Varda, France-U.S., 1968)

Guest Director Pico Iyer, who serves as a key collaborator in the festival’s program, presents the following revival programs:

“Late Autumn” (Directed by Yasujirō Ozu, Japan, 1960)
“The Makioka Sisters” (Directed by Kon Ichikawa, Japan, 1983)
“Mr. and Mrs. Iyer” (Directed by Aparna Sen, India, 2002)
“The Phantom Carriage” (Directed by Victor Sjöström, Sweden, 1921) — new 35 mm print
“Under the Sun” (Directed by Vitaly Mansky, Czech Republic-Russia-Germany-Latvia-North Korea, 2015)
“When a Woman Ascends the Stairs” (Directed by Mikio Naruse, Japan, 1960)
“The Wind” (Directed by Victor Sjöström, U.S, 1928)

2019 BFI London Festival: programming slate announced

August 29, 2019

The following is a press release from the BFI London Film Festival:

The 63rd BFI London Film Festival (LFF) in partnership with American  Express announces its full programme, presenting 229 feature films from some of the world’s greatest filmmakers and emerging talent.

For 12 days from 2-13 October 2019 the  LFF  will celebrate the diverse landscape of international cinema, showcasing films set to entertain and inspire, provoke debate and tackle the urgent issues of our time.

Amanda Nevill, CEO, BFI said  “At this moment when the UK is adapting and reshaping our place in the world, the BFI London Film Festival really underlines the soft power of the art of film and showcases the dynamism of global exchange and partnership. All the BFI’s cultural programmes, from BFI Southbank to BFI Player, have sought to be an active champion at the heart of the global cinema story and this year’s LFF does this so powerfully with its incredibly rich and diverse programme and the international filmmaking community who love being here.’

Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival Director said, “In its 63rd year, BFI London Film Festival is one of the world’s  great public film fests. And that greatness comes from the fact that we serve one of the most vibrant and international cities in the world and welcome voracious, adventurous and cineliterate audiences. While there are many talking points emerging from this year’s programme, a few really leap out: the strong instinct from filmmakers to explore urgent social and political issues through narrative and often through the use of genre; the striking emergence of a a new generation of filmmakers exploding onto the international stage with startlingly bold, original and ambitious debuts; the continuing and welcome trend of increased gender balance in directing talent behind short film, first and second features. And while we so delighted to see work from 78 countries in the Festival, we also love welcoming a particularly exceptional new wave of UK based filmmakers with cracking first and second feature films in LFF. ”

As Britain’s leading cinema event and one of the world’s most important film festivals, the programme offers UK  audiences the chance to see some of the most anticipated new films from around the globe, including a host of new works destined to be major awards contenders. This October, the Festival will present 28 World Premieres, 12 International Premieres and 28 European Premieres, welcoming an impressive line up of first-class filmmakers and acting talent.

The programme presents stories from a broad range of voices, continuing to support both home-grown cinema and international productions. 78 countries are represented across short films and features, with 40% of all films directed
or co-directed by women.  The Festival continues to act as a launch pad for debut filmmakers, often supporting them throughout their career, demonstrated by returning Festival alumni in this year’s programme. The 229 feature films screening include: 41 documentaries, 7 animations, 13 archive restorations and 7 artists’ moving image features. The programme also includes 116 short films.

The Competitive sections serve to recognise remarkable creative achievements from British and international filmmakers. Winners are selected by hand-picked juries across four categories: Official Competition, First Feature, Documentary and Short Film. Last year, audiences were placed at the heart of the awards celebrations  for the first time, when the winning film from each section was presented to the public as a surprise screening, following the on-stage announcement of the winner. Building on last year’s sell-out success, audiences will once again have the chance to buy tickets to these awards screenings and be part of the proceedings.

This year sees the return of Odeon’s iconic flagship cinema, the redesigned ODEON Luxe Leicester Square. Each night of the Festival, a Headline Gala will screen in flawless 4k projection with pitch-perfect Dolby® Atmos sound. Luxe recliners offer space and comfort, ensuring every seat in the 800 seater venue is the best in the house. Films in Official Competition will be presented at the Vue West End and once again the festival’s beautiful 800-seat purpose-built venue Embankment Garden Cinema will be housed in the tranquil surroundings of Victoria Embankment Gardens. First built for the Festival in 2016, this state-of-the-art venue is constructed to the highest technical specifications with raked seating, Christie Digital 4k RGB pure laser illuminated projection and Dolby® 7.1 surround sound, with audiences and filmmakers alike praising its quality of cinema experience.

Alongside the Galas, Special Presentations and films in Competition, the Festival will show a range of new world cinema in sections Love, Debate, Laugh, Dare, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Create, Experimenta and Family – which provide pathways for audiences to navigate the extensive programme.

Cinemagoers across the UK will have the opportunity to be part of the closing night celebrations, with simulcast screenings of Martin Scorsese’s THE IRISHMAN, bringing the excitement of the Leicester Square premiere to cinemas nationwide. Continuing the Festival’s offering to audiences outside of London, screenings of three new films will be brought to young film lovers, with curated screenings across the UK for primary and secondary schools as part of the  LFF Education Programme.

LFF Connects gives audiences the chance to hear from creative leaders working at the intersection of film and other creative industries. The Festival’s acclaimed Screen Talks offer a series of in-depth interviews with leaders in contemporary cinema. Participants confirmed so far include directors Rian Johnson, Kim Longinotto and Lukas Moodysson, with more to be announced nearer the Festival.

The Festival continues to develop its offering of both industry and public events. Audiences will have the chance to join in the film chat and soak up all the atmosphere at the official social hub down at BFI Southbank, where they can take part in free events. Designed to take you behind the scenes and get conversations flowing, events will include talks and debates, book signings, live DJ club nights and free short film screenings.

The Festival will partner with a host of London cinemas, with its films playing on 18 screens at 12 venues across the capital: BFI Southbank, BFI IMAX, Ciné Lumière, Curzon Mayfair, Curzon Soho, Embankment Garden Cinema, Empire Haymarket, the ICA, ODEON Luxe Leicester Square, ODEON Tottenham Court Road, Prince Charles Cinema and Vue West End.


As previously announced,  this year’s Opening Night gala will be THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD, directed by the multi-award-winning writer, filmmaker and broadcaster Armando Iannucci (The Death of Stalin) and starring BAFTA Award winner Dev Patel as David Copperfield. The film will receive its European Premiere on Wednesday 2nd October at ODEON Luxe Leicester Square. This fresh take on Charles Dickens’ classic novel boasts a stellar British cast, led by Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi, Ben Whishaw, Paul Whitehouse and Gwendoline Christie, many of whom are expected on the red carpet in Leicester Square.

The Festival closes with the International Premiere of THE IRISHMAN, directed by one of the true giants of cinema, Martin Scorsese (Silence, The Departed), and starring Academy Award® winners Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. A film that has been many years in the making, THE IRISHMAN is a grand scale epic examining the influence of organised crime in post-war America. The festival is delighted to be bringing the work of this iconic filmmaker to the UK on Sunday 13th October in London, where there will be simultaneous preview screenings of THE IRISHMAN taking place at cinemas across the UK.


HEADLINE GALAS  The American Express Gala is the European Premiere of KNIVES OUT, a fresh take on a classic ‘whodunit’ written and directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper). A stylish tribute to mystery mastermind Agatha Christie, KNIVES OUT is a fun, modern-day murder mystery where everyone is a suspect. When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday, the inquisitive and debonair Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is mysteriously enlisted to investigate. A witty delight for film fans, the film features a starstudded cast that includes Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford and Christopher Plummer. The film will premiere on Tuesday, 8th October at the ODEON Luxe Leicester Square.

The Mayor of London’s Gala sees Academy Award® winner Eddie Redmayne and Academy Award® nominee Felicity Jones reunite on screen, as aerial explorers in THE AERONAUTS. This heart-racing adventure story directed by longtime festival favourite Tom Harper (Wild Rose, LFF 2018) and written by Jack Thorne (The Scouting Book for Boys, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child) captures the audacity and romance of the Victorian race into the air, with special effects that will transport you to the skies as we follow Amelia Wren (Jones) and James Glaisher (Redmayne) on mankind’s highest ever balloon voyage.

Starring Academy Award® winner Tom Hanks as beloved television entertainer Fred Rogers, the BFI Patrons’ Gala, A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD, sees director Marielle Heller return to the festival after premiering her second feature Can You Ever Forgive Me? last year. The film is the perfect antidote for uneasy times and will melt the coldest of hearts. Matthew Rhys is excellent as magazine writer Lloyd Vogel (based on journalist Tom Junod) who is commissioned to write an article on the presenter. Regarding Rogers as a monolith of an unfashionable past, he asks: ‘Could anyone really be so good, so kind?’ But on spending more time with Rogers, Vogel begins to question his own misanthropic outlook.

British director Michael Winterbottom (The Trip, The Wedding Guest) brings us a sharp-tongued and timely satire in the Headline Gala European Premiere of GREED. The film stars Steve Coogan as Richard ‘Greedy’ McCreadie, a highstreet retail tycoon who throws a lavish, Rome-themed 60th birthday bash to prove he’s still on top after a recent spate of fraud investigations. As guests start arriving, including McCreadie’s ex-wife (Isla Fisher), his empire starts to fall apart at the seams. Featuring a vast ensemble cast that includes Shirley Henderson and David Mitchell, this entertaining and anarchic farce pits humour against the 1%.

Celebrated screenwriter William Nicholson (Les Miserables, Gladiator, Shadowlands) directs Annette Bening and Bill Nighy in the Headline Gala HOPE GAP, a witty divorce drama that depicts a couple in their 60s as they face the end of their marriage after 29 years. Josh O’Connor plays their son, who discovers, on returning to his parents bohemian coastal home for the weekend, that his father has had enough and his bags are packed. Shot with a ravishing sense of design and colour, making the most of its lush English coastline, this is an emotionally astute portrait of a marriage; of regrets uncovered, decisions made too late and the precariousness of hope.

Taika Waititi’s JOJO RABBIT will receive its European Premiere in this exuberant and satirical Headline Gala. Jojo is a game, if somewhat inept, member of the Hitler Youth; his closest friend, an imaginary Adolf Hitler (Waititi, on hilarious form). When he discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson) has been hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie,
Leave No Trace) in their house, Jojo must go to war with his own conscience. Tackling the ludicrousness of racism and nationalism, Waititi has also crafted a film of great emotional charge and tenderness. Amongst an illustrious cast of comic greats including Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson and Stephen Merchant, Johansson dazzles on screen with one of her most charismatic performances.

This year’s American Airlines Gala, the UK Premiere of THE KING, stars Timothée Chalamet in David Michôd’s (Animal Kingdom, The Rover) visceral portrait of Henry V. The startling transformation undertaken by Hal in Shakespeare’s Henriad series, from the fun-loving prince into the all-powerful monarch, is one of literature’s most acute character studies. Here, Michôd and co-screenwriter and star Joel Edgerton adapt those texts to explore how a reluctant monarch took the crown and found himself embroiled in the very same wars he despised his father for. The superbly talented supporting cast includes Lily-Rose Depp as Catherine, future Queen of England, Ben Mendelsohn as Henry IV and Robert Pattinson as a particularly spicy Dauphin, heir to the French throne.

Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in the UK Premiere of LE MANS ’66, a study of friendship that shaped 1960s motor racing, brimming with old-school Hollywood charm. Working from an excellent script by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, director James Mangold (Logan) hooks you from the first scene and never lets go.

The May Fair Hotel Gala is MARRIAGE STORY, directed by Noah Baumbach (While We’re Young, Frances Ha) and starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as an ill-fated couple who are married, have a son and run a theatre company together. Arguably Baumbach’s most personal film to date, MARRIAGE STORY charts the unravelling of their marriage, often with bitter hilarity in even the most desolate of scenes. Baumbach shoots on gorgeous 35mm with a 1.66 aspect ratio that foregrounds performance, often with startling long takes.


Chilean director Pablo Larraín’s (Jackie) EMA is this year’s Festival Gala, starring the superb Gael García Bernal and featuring a spellbinding lead performance from newcomer Mariana Di Girolamo. In this character study of a beguiling woman ruled by heart and impulse, Larraín paints a picture of talented contemporary street/reggaeton dancer and teacher Ema. Larraín’s film intersperses explosive, intoxicating scenes of dance amidst dramatic moments that are fractured in time.

The Family Gala is the UK Premiere of Jill Culton and Todd Wilderman’s ABOMINABLE. This latest animated tale from Dreamworks is a fun, fast-paced action adventure about a little girl and her yeti companion in a race-against-time trip from China to the Himalayas. Boasting a compelling story and breathtaking visuals, ABOMINABLE is as beautiful as it is funny and exciting.

Kleber Mendonça Filho (Neighbouring Sounds) and Juliano Dornelles’ critically acclaimed BACURAU, winner of the Cannes Jury Prize 2019, features as this year’s Thrill Gala. This futuristic, sardonic and complex thriller explores the lives of misfits, mixed-heritage outsiders, whores, hippies and queers. They live in the margins in a dusty little town that has been wiped clean off the map by the middle-class elite from the north, who are busy ingratiating themselves, selling their country and its people to rich European and American interests.

This year’s Laugh Gala, THE DUDE IN ME from director Hyo-jin Kang, is a sassy body-swap comedy from South Korea, which tells the story of a ballsy gangster who accidentally possesses a timid schoolboy. Employing dry humour to undercut macho culture, the film finds fresh twists to a classic premise, resulting in an upbeat, poptastic entertainment that sustains its surprisingly sweet energy and laughs to the last.

Mirrah Foulkes’ JUDY & PUNCH features as the Dare Gala. Prepare for an audaciously brilliant first feature, with Mia Wasikowska splendid in this fairy tale with a feminine twist. Foulkes creates an origin story of sorts, but one that reimagines what might have happened if Judy decided not to take Punch’s incessant battery quite so meekly.

Acclaimed filmmaker Robert Eggers, the Sutherland Award-winning director of The Witch, returns to terrorise audiences with his masterful maritime shocker THE LIGHTHOUSE, which is this year’s Cult Gala. Once seen, never
forgotten, this hypnotic fusion of beauty and brutality is truly the stuff of nightmares, boasting extraordinary performances from Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as a downtrodden lackey and baiting slave driver at the begrimed lighthouse where they’ve been assigned to work together for four weeks.

OFFICIAL SECRETS is filmmaker Gavin Hood’s (Eye in the Sky) sharp political thriller, about a key moment in the history of the Iraq conflict, opening as this year’s Debate Gala. It follows the story of Katharine Gun, an ordinary government contract worker faced with an extraordinary choice: in 2003, on the eve of the UK-US invasion of Iraq, Gun intercepted communications that revealed the UK was being asked to spy on UN Security Council Members to help influence votes sanctioning the Iraq invasion. Keira Knightley gives an excellent performance as Gun, alongside a strong ensemble cast that includes Matt Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Matthew Goode and Rhys Ifans.

The Love Gala, in association with Malta Tourism Authority, is the UK Premiere of Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson’s effortlessly charming buddy movie, THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON, about a young man in pursuit of his dreams. Zak, a restless 22-year old with Down’s Syndrome, is frustrated by the slow pace of life at his nursing home. Itching for some excitement, he hatches a plan to meet his idol, a pro wrestler named The Salt Water Redneck. Zak makes a break from his geriatric prison with his worried carer in hot pursuit.

This year’s Journey Gala is the thrillingly cinematic two-hander from Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener), THE TWO POPES, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce as a pair of men tussling over the future of the Catholic Church. Disullusioned Jorge Bergoglio (Pryce) is a strong contender for the revered position of head of the Church but is relieved when Joseph Ratzinger (Hopkins) gets the top job and becomes Pope Benedict XVI. When the two men are brought together over one summer, their clash of ideologies make for a passionate debate.

The European Premiere of WESTERN STARS sees global music legend Bruce Springsteen perform the entirety of his 19th studio release in this year’s Create Gala, co-directed by Thom Zimny and Bruce Springsteen. Resolved  that he would not be taking the record on tour, Springsteen, collaborating with Zimny, opted instead to produce a feature-length film as a means of bringing the live experience to music lovers across the world. Set in the atmospheric surroundings of a majestic old barn, Springsteen’s elegiac ode to the American West blends lush orchestration with emotional tenderness. Springsteen (joined by wife Patti Scialfa, a small orchestra and a handful of accompanying musicians) reflects on the songs and ruminates on the loves, challenges and regrets he has faced in his own life.


Eleven Special Presentations shine the spotlight on new work from major directors.

The eagerly awaited follow-up to Cory Finley’s explosive debut Thoroughbreds (LFF 2017) is his BAD EDUCATION, which screens as a Special Presentation in association with Empire. Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney star in this school-set political thriller based on the true story of an embezzlement scandal that rocked the New York school system.

One of the UK’s classiest cinematic storytellers, Roger Michell (Enduring Love, Le Week-End, Notting Hill) directs BLACKBIRD, a deeply moving and satisfying drama about the complexity of family love.

A glorious love letter to life and love in Mumbai, BOMBAY ROSE, from feature debut director and screenwriter Gitanjali Rao, is both epic and personal. Rao’s exquisite animation allows characters to move seamlessly between real and imagined worlds, in this delicate and nuanced collection of stories.

Oscar-nominated Feras Fayyad’s (Last Men in Aleppo) essential film THE CAVE tells the harrowing story of an underground Syrian hospital and its extraordinary staff. Fayyad crafts an urgent and poignant testimony of the humanity of the hospital staff, who risk their lives to maintain the health and hopes of the people they treat. But the film is also a call to action – a demand for a response to this intolerable humanitarian crisis.

Prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike proves in FIRST LOVE that he still has much to explore in the yakuza world, even after 2015’s anarchic, bloody vampire flick-crime movie mash-up Yakuza Apocalypse. This time employing a love story as a counterpoint to the intrigues of the Tokyo underworld, the film follows a young boxer on the brink of death as he falls in love with a woman caught in the crossfire between yakuza and triad gangs in a fight over stolen drugs.

Last seen at LFF with 2013’s widely adored girl-punk charmer We Are the Best!, Swedish writer-director Lukas Moodysson returns with his first foray into episodic television in Special Presentation GÖSTA. The focus of this loving satire is on its extremely kind title character, the nicest child psychologist in provincial Sweden. Affectionately lampooning youthful idealism, Moodysson’s empathetic storytelling transfers perfectly to the small screen.

A collaboration between two award-winning directors returning to the Festival, Anocha Suwichakornpong and Ben Rivers, the Experimenta Special Presentation is KRABI, 2562. The two merge their unique cinematic languages across reality and folklore in the eponymous tourist town, to create an absorbing and playful portrait of a people, place and time that makes for a series of haunting vignettes on the legacy of our age.

Featuring Britain’s biggest star of the 1920s, the ‘Queen of Happiness’ Betty Balfour, this year’s Archive Special Presentation is LOVE, LIFE AND LAUGHTER. The discovery of this cinematic treasure, lost for nearly a century, is a major event. Telling the story of a pair of working-class youngsters with big dreams, the film was rediscovered when an incomplete Dutch-language version was identified by archivists at EYE Filmmuseum in the Netherlands. This has been painstakingly pieced together by our restoration team with new English intertitles, bringing back to life a truly vivacious performance from Balfour.

Another Special Presentation is OUR LADIES, a loving adaptation of Alan Warner’s novel The Sopranos by veteran director Michael Caton-Jones (The Jackal, Basic Instinct 2) and a perfect evocation of being young and riotously alive in mid-90s Scotland. Following a rebellious group of six teenage choirgirls on a day trip to a singing competition in Edinburgh, this unvarnished coming-of-age saga features brilliant central performances from young actors Eve Austin, Tallulah Greive, Abigail Lawrie, Sally Messham, Rona Morison and Marli Siu.

The BFI Flare Special Presentation in association with Sight & Sound is PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE; a female portrait painter falls in love with her subject in Céline Sciamma’s perfect new film. Whilst a devastatingly effective story of love set against impossible social and cultural barriers, it is also a film that redefines the construction of the gaze – of the protagonist, the camera, and the viewer – on the female form. It’s Céline Sciamma on fire.

The final Special Presentation is ROCKS, a vibrant and hugely engaging portrait of female friendship and growing up in London, from director Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane, Suffragette). Based on a script from award-winning playwright Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson, the drama was developed through extensive workshops with the female cast, all of whom were discovered through casting sessions at schools. With magnetic performances across the board – particularly from Bukky Bakray, Kosar Ali and Shaneigha-Monik Greyson – ROCKS gives voice to London girls who have something to say.

Key filmmaking talent expected to attend the Festival’s Gala and Special Presentation screenings include:   Armando Iannucci, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Stephen Graham, Rian Johnson, Tom Harper, Marielle Heller, Michael Winterbottom, Steve Coogan, William Nicholson, Taika Waititi, Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Alfie Allen, Archie Yates, David Michôd, Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Ben Mendelsohn, Sean Harris, Lily-Rose Depp, Tom Glynn-Carney, James Mangold, Noah Baumbach, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, David Heyman, Pablo Larraín, Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles, Mirrah Foulkes, Robert Eggers, Gavin Hood, Keira Knightley, Katharine Gun, Martin Bright, Michael Schwartz, Tyler Nilson, Zack Gottsagen, Fernando Meirelles, Jonathan Pryce, Thom Zimny, Bruce Springsteen, Cory Finley, Hugh Jackman, Roger Michell, Gitanjali Rao, Feras Fayyad, Jeremy Thomas, Lukas Moodysson, Ben Rivers, Michael Caton-Jones, Céline Sciamma, Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Sarah Gavron.


The BFI London Film Festival Awards celebrate the creative achievements of British and international filmmakers showcased in our Competitive sections, aiming to honour inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking across each of the four categories.

The winners in each competition are selected by festival juries, and, following last year’s reboot of the Awards format, will all be available for the public to book as an additional surprise screening. Preceding each will be the presentation of the award by BFI London Film Festival Director Tricia Tuttle and the Jury Chair to the winning filmmaker.

The Festival is delighted to make audiences a key part of the Awards celebration and increase their chances of seeing the very best new films on offer, all of which is vital to the Festival’s mission of inclusion and accessibility for all.

The Jury for each category will be announced ahead of the opening of the Festival.


As previously announced, the Best Film Award in Official Competition recognises inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking, and includes the following shortlisted titles:

• FANNY LYE DELIVER’D, Thomas Clay’s intoxicating 17th Century drama with Maxine Peake in the title role

• HONEY BOY, Alma Har’el’s artful and soul-baring examination of the lingering effects of emotional abuse, written by Shia LaBeouf, who stars alongside Lucas Hedges

• LINGUA FRANCA, a beautifully performed character study of a Filipino transwoman and undocumented  immigrant in Brooklyn, from writer/director Isabel Sandoval, who also takes on the lead role

• LA LLORONA, Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante’s taut genre-bending thriller about an elderly general haunted by a spectre of the past during his trial for genocide

• MOFFIE, Oliver Hermanus’ haunting examination of the violent persecution of gay men under Apartheid

• MONOS, a hallucinogenic, intoxicating thriller by Alejandro Landes about child soldiers high in the mountains of South America

• THE OTHER LAMB, Małgorzata Szumowska’s beguiling, genre-tinged English-language debut examining life in an otherworldly cult

• THE PERFECT CANDIDATE, Haifaa Al Mansour’s inspiring drama about a young doctor who becomes an  electoral candidate to challenge Saudi Arabia’s strict social codes

• ROSE PLAYS JULIE, an immersive and gripping drama from directing duo Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor about a young woman seeking her biological mother

• SAINT MAUD, the debut feature from director Rose Glass, in which a mysterious nurse becomes dangerously obsessed with saving the soul of her dying patient.


Titles in consideration for the Sutherland Award in the First Feature Competition recognising an original and imaginative directorial debut are:

ATLANTICS (Dir. Mati Diop). A hypnotic, genre-shifting portrait of a girl’s awakening. When Souleiman grows tired of labouring without pay on the gleaming towers of Dakar, he sets out across the sea with friends, leaving Ada to face impending marriage to another man. But as the women gather in the bar where the men used to drink, it seems that something has returned to them.

BABYTEETH (Dir. Shannon Murphy). A feverish Australian drama featuring a superb performance by breakout star Eliza Scanlen as Milla, a seriously ill teenage girl who falls madly in love with a young drug dealer. Milla’s infatuation with the dodgy-but-charming Toby leaves her parents, Henry (Ben Mendelsohn) and Anna (Essie Davis) faced with a tricky dilemma.

CALM WITH HORSES (Dir. Nick Rowland). Cosmo Jarvis gives a visceral performance in Rowland’s gripping feature debut as Douglas, the hired muscle for a crime family in rural Ireland. As he becomes embroiled in a violent pageant of retribution, the time soon comes for Douglas to choose sides.

HOUSE OF HUMMINGBIRD (Dir. Bora Kim). Announcing a bright new voice in South Korean cinema, Kim brings both humour and elegance to her autobiographical debut in this absorbing coming-of-age drama about teenager Eunhee and her dysfunctional Seoul family circa 1994.

INSTINCT (Dir. Halina Reijn). Carice van Houten plays respected clinical psychologist Nicoline, who after starting a new job at a penal institution finds herself flirting with danger in her sessions with inmate Idris. Soon, the boundaries between doctor and patient begin to blur as tensions escalate.

THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO (Dir. Joe Talbot). Jimmie dreams of reclaiming the beautiful late 19th-century home his grandfather built, before hard times and changing demographics forced his family out. He and best friend Mont scheme to make the dream a reality, in Talbot and writer-performer Jimmie Fails’s gorgeous, inventive meditation on art, architecture, black culture and gentrification in California’s Bay Area.

MAKE UP (Dir. Claire Oakley). A riveting psycho-sexual drama in which teenager Ruth travels to a seaside holiday park to stay with her boyfriend Tom, and one day finds evidence he might be cheating on her. As her desire to uncover the truth turns into an obsession, she begins to realise she might be looking for something else entirely.

RELATIVITY (Dir. Mariko Minoguchi). It is love at first sight when Nora and Aaron first meet on a rainy day in an underground station, but Aaron’s fate takes a dramatic turn and changes Nora’s life in an instant. Minoguchi’s debut is a romantic narrative of ambitious proportions, effortlessly looping between the present and past while making clever use of cinema as an unfurling emotional landscape.

SCALES (Dir. Shahad Ameen). A visually resplendent tale set in a small Gulf fishing village, where the population live in thrall to the otherworldly creatures of the sea. The inhabitants traditionally sacrifice female children to them until one of those girls, Hayat (meaning ‘life’ in Arabic), rejects her fate and fights against the patriarchal hegemony.


The Grierson Award in the Documentary Competition category recognises cinematic documentaries with integrity, originality, and social or cultural significance. This year the Festival is screening:

COLD CASE HAMMARSKJÖLD (Dir. Mads Brügger). This wild, stranger-than-fiction documentary depicts the most disturbing true-crime investigation to have been seen in recent years, in which Brügger attempts to solve the mysterious death in 1961 of second Secretary General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld.

COUP 53 (Dir. Taghi Amirani). The latest from award-winning documentarian Amirani is a decade-long investigation into the CIA/MI6-led coup of 1953 that removed Iran’s democratic Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh. What begins as an interrogation of the mystery still surrounding the affair develops into a taut thriller, exposing rigorous secrecy and underlining the ongoing ramifications of this pivotal political episode.

CUNNINGHAM (Dir. Alla Kovgan). This eye-popping 3D portrait of great American choreographer Merce Cunningham celebrates the centenary of his birth. An exquisitely crafted and artistically ambitious documentary, the film explores his creative process in the period between 1942 and 1972 when he rose from struggling dancer to become one of the most influential choreographers of the 20th century.

I AM (NOT) A MONSTER (Dir. Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian). Starting with the thoughts of political theorist Hannah Arendt, this thought-provoking and playful documentary sees Hayoun-Stépanian travel the world to ponder the means by which freedom of learning and innovative education can exist in contemporary times.

THE KINGMAKER (Dir. Lauren Greenfield). Imelda Marcos, matriarch of the Marcos dynasty, still hopes to see her maternal delusions validated and political power restored while Philippine activists fight for transparency and democracy. Her former peers, including the widows of governmental figures, tell the story of a woman scarred by an
emotional blow that transformed her into a bulletproof-bra-wearing megalomaniac, who now mythologises her mothering instincts.

MYSTIFY: MICHAEL HUTCHENCE (Dir. Richard Lowenstein). Capturing INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence’s rise to super-stardom and subsequent tragic fall, MYSTIFY gives remarkable insight into his life and a truth he took to the grave. A tapestry of voices and home movies animate Hutchence’s personality, kicking tabloid speculation into oblivion and letting his story emerge with emotional and revelatory depth.

OVERSEAS (Dir. Sung-A Yoon). Each year, hundreds of thousands of Filipino women train to become domestic workers abroad. Yoon reveals the personal stories, dreams and heartaches of these trainees, exposing at the same time the economic and familial pressures pushing Filipino women to accept jobs abroad, which can sometimes resemble modern-day slavery.

A PLEASURE, COMRADES! (Dir. José Filipe Costa). The patriarchal power relations and sexual taboos of post-dictatorship Portugal are laid bare in this humorous and sex-positive docudrama with a feminist soul, as an older generation travels in time to bravely and joyfully re-enact  the testimonies of those who lived through it.

WHITE RIOT (Dir. Rubika Shah.) This vital documentary blends fresh interviews with archive footage to profile punky reggae protest movement Rock Against Racism, from the movement’s grassroots beginnings in 1976 through to 1978’s huge antifascist carnival in Victoria Park featuring X-Ray Spex, Steel Pulse and The Clash, whose rockstar charisma and gale-force conviction took RAR’s message to the masses.


The Short Film Award recognises short form works with a unique cinematic voice and a confident handling of chosen theme and content. This year the festival is screening:
• IF YOU KNEW – Dir. Stroma Cairns


• WHITE GIRL – Dir. Nadia Latif

• FAULT LINE (GOSAL) – Dir. Soheil Amirsharifi • GUO4 – Dir. Peter Strickland

• IN VITRO – Dir. Larissa Sansour, Søren Lind

• ALGO-RHYTHM – Dir. Manu Luksch

• BETWEEN (ENTRE) – Dir. Ana Carolina Marinho, Bárbara Santos

• IN BETWEEN (NË MES) –Dir. Samir Karahoda

• CHILD – Dir. Talia Zucker



Additional filmmaking talent expected to attend for films in competition include:   Thomas Clay, Charles Dance, Freddie Fox, Tanya Reynolds, Zorana Piggott, Rob Cannan, Alma Har’el, Isabel Sandoval, Jhett Tolentino, Jayro Bustamante, Oliver Hermanus, Alejandro Landes, Małgorzata Szumowska, Raffey Cassidy, Denise Gough, Christine Molloy, Joe Lawlor, Ann Skelly, Orla Brady, David Collins, Rose Glass, Mati Diop, Shannon Murphy, Alex White, Rita Kalnejais, Andrew Commis, Nick Rowland, Bora Kim, Halina Reijn, Carice van Houten, Claire Oakley, Mariko Minoguchi, Julius Feldmeier, Shahad Ameen, Mads Brügger, Taghi Amirani, Alla Kovgan, Nelly Ben HayounStépanian, Lauren Greenfield, Richard Lowenstein, Sung-A Yoon, José Filipe Costa, Rubika Shah, Nadia Latif, Larissa Sansour, Søren Lind, Gunman Xuman, Mukul Patel, Ana Carolina Marinho, Bárbara Santos, Timothy Smith.

The Festival will announce its complete guest line-up for all sections in late September.


The Festival programme is organised in sections to encourage discovery and to open up the Festival to new  audiences. The strands are: Love, Debate, Laugh, Dare, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Create, Experimenta, Family and Treasures.

Here are some of the highlights to be found in these strands. Full details of all the films found in the strands, including late additions will be found on the Festival website.


Sweet, passionate, tough – Love is a complex and many-splendoured thing and this selection charts the highs and lows of many kinds of love from around the globe. The Love Gala, in association with Malta Tourism Authority, is the UK Premiere of Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson’s effortlessly charming buddy movie, THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON.

Family relations unravel to wonderfully excruciating comic and dramatic effect in HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Cédric Kahn’s ensemble drama starring Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Bercot and Vincent Macaigne. Director Shonali Bose (Margarita with a Straw, LFF 2014) returns to the Festival with THE SKY IS PINK, a compelling and emotionally devastating true story about a young couple (Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Farhan Akhtar) who will stop at nothing to save their sick daughter. Aki Omoshaybi’s earnest debut REAL explores the love between two people who work hard to keep their romance on track while struggling to manage personal hardship. Starring Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville, ORDINARY LOVE is an intimate and sensitively-handled drama about a couple dealing with breast cancer; directors Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn capture both the extremity and the everydayness, in this warm and thought-provoking drama. British actor-turned-director Tom Cullen’s feature debut PINK WALL covers six years in six scenes: from first sparks to the dying embers of a love affair, it’s an intense and deeply affecting relationship study. Anthony Chen returns following his Sutherland win for Ilo Ilo (LFF 2013), with WET SEASON, a hugely satisfying Singapore-set portrait of a woman on a journey to rediscover herself. And one of the most buzzed-about films from Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, AND THEN WE DANCED is set to delight fans of Call Me by Your Name as well as lovers of traditional Georgian dance.


Representing films that amplify, scrutinize and surprise, Debate thrives on conversation, which is never more  engaging than when the world outside the cinema is reflected back at us. This year’s Debate Gala is Gavin Hood’s  politically charged fable, OFFICIAL SECRETS.

THE AUSTRALIAN DREAM, Daniel Gordon’s thought-provoking drama about the Australian Rules football star, raises crucial questions about casual racism, drawing upon Australia’s colonial past and its treatment of the Aboriginal population. Celebrated director Terrence Malick returns to the festival with A HIDDEN LIFE, a Second World War-set true story that calls for grace as it explores the importance of unsung resistance. Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Tim Roth and Kevin Harrison Jr. lead the cast in Julius Onah’s LUCE, a gripping psychological thriller about subjectivity and codeswitching in modern America. THE REPORT by Scott Z Burns, starring Adam Driver, Annette Bening and Jon Hamm, is a politically urgent drama in which the American government take a hard look at itself. Acclaimed director Ciro Guerra follows Birds of Passage with WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS, an allegorical epic penned by JM Coetzee in an adaptation of his own literary masterpiece; starring Mark Rylance, Johnny Depp and Robert Pattinson. Benedict Andrew’s stylish drama, SEBERG, sees Kristen Stewart shine as the idealistic yet fragile ‘It’ girl Jean Seberg, who finds herself a target of J Edgar Hoover’s FBI when she becomes romantically involved with a Black Panther and flaunts her disregard for America’s misogynistic and racist institutions. James Norton stars as Welsh journalist Gareth Jones in Agnieszka Holland’s MR JONES, which traces Jones’ 1930s visit to Soviet Ukraine where he uncovered the truth of Stalin’s statesponsored famine, a visit that reputedly inspired George Orwell’s Animal Farm.


From laugh-out-loud comedy to dry and understated, Laugh celebrates humour in all its forms. This year’s Laugh Gala, THE DUDE IN ME from director Hyo-jin Kang, is a sassy body-swap comedy from South Korea.

The Festival will also present Manele Labidi Labbé’s debut feature ARAB BLUES, a provocative culture clash comedy, starring Golshifteh Farahani (About Elly, Paterson) as a Parisian psychoanalyst attempting to set up a practice in a postArab Spring Tunis. In bittersweet comedy AXONE, director Nicholas Kharkongor tells the story of immigrants in Delhi who are attempting to organise a wedding party, but soon find everything going wrong! The vertiginous ups and downs in two men’s friendship spans several years and outrageous events in the award-winning US indie comedy THE CLIMB, from director Michael Angelo Covino. The Inbetweeners star Simon Bird’s directorial debut DAYS OF THE BAGNOLD SUMMER is a funny, charming and wince-inducingly accurate adaptation of Joff Winterhart’s graphic novel about a single librarian trying to reconnect with her introverted, metalhead teenage son. Acclaimed Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman returns with another deadpan take on life in exile with the typically assured and moving IT MUST BE HEAVEN. Billie Piper stars in her own directorial debut RARE BEASTS, a no-holds-barred anti-romcom about a modern woman’s struggles in work and love. The European Premiere of THE LOST OKOROSHI, directed by Abba Makama, follows a man who wakes up to discover he has undergone a transformation and takes a revelatory journey to see if ancestral tradition has a place in modern life.


In-your-face, up-front and arresting films in Dare take you out of your comfort zone. The Dare Gala is Mirrah Foulkes’ audacious and brilliant first feature, JUDY & PUNCH.

Winner of the top prize at the Tribeca Film Festival, contemporary Southern gothic BURNING CANE heralds 19-year-old director Phillip Youmans as a serious new talent. DOGS DON’T WEAR PANTS is J-P Valkeapää’s playful dark comedy about a dominatrix offering an emotionally-paralysed widower an unexpected chance for sexual and psychological release. Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau return with DON’T LOOK DOWN, an elegant and intimate drama about love and revenge: in a high-rise apartment, a woman and five men gather to share their experiences of a man they have all been involved with, to their cost. Legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog is on thought-provoking form with his latest offering FAMILY ROMANCE, LLC, dramatising the work of a ‘rent-a-relative’ service in this Tokyo-set meditation on contemporary alienation. FIRE WILL COME, Olivier Laxe’s raw yet ravishing sensory experience telling the story of a pyromaniac who returns to his mother’s farm, is a visually jaw-dropping study of the Galician landscape, which the Festival is delighted to be screening in the BFI IMAX. Jérémy Clapin’s I LOST MY BODY, winner of the Grand Prize at the Cannes Critics’ Week, is a striking animation that follows a severed hand searching for its owner. Jessica Hausner’s first English-language feature, LITTLE JOE, is a pleasingly cool, witty and unsettling story of the pitfalls of placing too much trust in everyday science. ZOMBI CHILD is the latest provocation from Bertrand Bonello (Nocturama (LFF 2016)), splicing Haitian history and folklore with contemporary life at an elite girls’ boarding school in Paris.


The Thrill strand, in association with EMPIRE, features nerve-shredders that’ll get your adrenalin pumping and will keep you on the edge of your seat. This year’s Thrill Gala is Kleber Mendonca̧ Filho and Juliano Dornelles’ spellbinding BACURAU.

The Festival will present the World Premiere of Wash Westmoreland’s EARTHQUAKE BIRD; Alicia Vikander is astonishing in this dark thriller set in 1989 Tokyo, in which she plays a murder suspect at the centre of a tumultuous love triangle. Bangkok-born, Thai-Irish writer-director Tom Waller’s THE CAVE is the first film to dramatise 2018’s astonishing rescue of the Wild Boars football team from Tham Luang cave. David Thewlis excels in GUEST OF HONOUR, another typically complex and mischievous offering from Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan, about a punctilious food inspector dedicated to uncovering the secrets of restaurants high and low. Yaron Zilberman’s INCITEMENT is a chilling and urgent account of twisted ideology and religious obsession that carries a universal message and tries to fathom what drove a young law student to assassinate Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Lijo Jose Pellissery’s JALLIKATTU is a thrilling, nightmarish ride into the depths of human bloodlust, finding a rampaging buffalo hunted by a violent mob; slickly shot, paced and acted, this rollercoaster of a film compellingly explores the dark heart of human nature. A directionless call centre salesman gets more than he bargained for when he joins a local gym in MUSCLE, directed by Gerard Johnson; this testosterone-fuelled thriller is a meaty exploration (and critique) of amplified machismo, propelled by two extraordinary central performances from Cavan Clerkin and Craig Fairbrass. Nima Javidi nimbly reflects on notions of freedom and the fragile nature of authority in THE WARDEN, an ambitious follow-up to his awardwinning Melbourne. Javidi’s thrilling second feature is as astutely crafted as it is suave and seductive.


From the mind-altering and unclassifiable to fantasy, sci-fi and horror, in the Cult strand, the dark side is welcomed. This year’s Cult Gala is Robert Eggers’ masterful and terrifying maritime shocker, THE LIGHTHOUSE.

Quentin Dupieux presents DEERSKIN, which sees one man’s love for his designer jacket escalate to dangerous heights in what might just be the strangest serial killer film ever made. Johannes Nyholm returns to the festival with KOKO-DI KOKO-DA, the follow up to his extraordinary Sutherland-nominated film The Giant (LFF 2016): a phantasmagorical horror, pitch black comedy and searing psychodrama following a couple at breaking point who head to the great outdoors for a camping trip in the hopes of salvaging their fractured relationship – but unbeknownst to these unhappy campers, they are not alone in the forest. LITTLE MONSTERS by Abe Forsythe sees Lupita Nyong’o shine in a delirious zom-com that guarantees you’ll never listen to Taylor Swift in the same way again. Lorcan Finnegan presents VIVARIUM, in which Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg play a pair of first-time buyers who get more than they bargained for in this twisted fable about the horrors of suburban living. Adapted from Nathan Ballingrud’s novella ‘The Visible Filth’, Babak Anvari’s WOUNDS sees Armie Hammer and Dakota Johnson drawn into a bizarre nightmare, as they attempt to return an abandoned cell phone to its rightful owner. Richard Stanley, visionary director of horror classics Hardware and Dust Devil, makes a triumphant return with COLOR OUT OF SPACE, a dazzling adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s otherworldly tale, starring Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson; in this thrilling combination of absorbing family drama and outré sci-fi madness, the Gardners are looking forward to a new, happier chapter in life – but their plans are abruptly interrupted when a meteor crash lands on their property.


Whether it’s the journey or the destination, these films will transport you and shift your perspective. This year’s Journey Gala is THE TWO POPES, the thrillingly cinematic two-hander from Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener).

In director Hikari’s debut feature 37 SECONDS, a young woman with cerebral palsy strikes out for independence with the help of a sex worker; this sensational Japanese debut is a warm-hearted and clear-eyed exploration of the sexual experience of a person with disabilities. In THE CORDILLERA OF DREAMS, veteran documentarist Patricio Guzmán completes his trilogy about Chile’s troubled past, meditating on how the Andes shaped its sense of identity. After her 1930s-set Planetarium (LFF 2016), writer-director Rebecca Zlotowski returns to the present with the coming-of-age drama AN EASY GIRL, which investigates desire, the lure of the high life and the imagery of modern female sexuality, set in a sun-baked Cannes. Director Ga-eun Yoon’s rich and joyous THE HOUSE OF US proves her one of the world’s finest filmmakers at capturing contemporary childhood onscreen; performing the cinematic magic trick of immersing us in children’s perspective while allowing us to bring adult understanding to their experience. In Karim Aın̈ouz’s THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF EURIDICE GUSMAO, winner of Cannes’ Un Certain Regard prize, a sumptuous tale of two sisters cruelly separated by family and fate makes for deeply moving drama. In MONSOON, Hong Khaou follows Lilting (BFI Flare 2014) with this gorgeous drama that evokes the disorientation of returning to an unrecognisable homeland; Londoner Kit (Henry Golding, Crazy Rich Asians) travels to Vietnam to scatter his mother’s ashes and to connect with the place he departed from as a child, and finds that everything he knew has changed.


The Create strand channels the electricity of the creative process, celebrating artistic expression in all its forms.  This year’s Create Gala, WESTERN STARS, sees music legend Bruce Springsteen present his 19th studio album in this spectacular visual treat for music fans the world over.

Faders on stun: Hollywood sound editor Midge Costin’s directorial debut, MAKING WAVES: THE ART OF CINEMATIC SOUND, is an immersive, educational and hugely enjoyable documentary exploring the power of sound in cinema. Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Kim Longinotto’s SHOOTING THE MAFIA sketches a captivating portrait of defiant Sicilian photographer Letizia Battaglia, whose extraordinary work recorded the Mafia’s violent crimes. Stephen Kijak’s SID & JUDY documents Judy Garland’s life beyond the Yellow Brick Road, her post-MGM triumphs and tragedies vividly recalled in a revelatory documentary that utilises her impresario husband Sidney Luft’s memoirs. TALKING ABOUT TREES, a beautifully shot documentary by Suhaib Gasmelbari, follows four veteran members of the Sudanese Film Club as they aim to return cinema-going culture back to the country. Olivier Meyrou’s YVES SAINT LAURENT: THE LAST COLLECTIONS, withheld from release for nearly 20 years, is an exquisitely crafted and moving documentary observing the last few years in the company of style icon Yves Saint Laurent. Stanley Nelson’s MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL sees 20th century music’s trumpet-playing prince of darkness receive the candid documentary his controversial genius deserves. Starring Tim Roth and Clive Owen, François Girard’s THE SONG OF NAMES is a riveting musical odyssey and historical detective story set against the backdrop of the Holocaust. Mike Figgis’ enthralling documentary SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME follows the turbulent life and career of Ronnie Wood, legendary rock guitarist and long-time member of The Rolling Stones.


Experimenta features films and videos by artists that revolutionise and reshape our vision of cinema. The Experimenta Special Presentation is KRABI, 2562 by Ben Rivers and Anocha Suwichakornpong.

Nina Danino’s I DIE OF SADNESS CRYING FOR YOU, a meditation on Spanish popular copla songs and their mighty female singers, is an evocative and passionate film essay. Brad Butler and Noorafshan Mirza present RUPTURES, set in Turkey, in which an MP, a former Police Commissioner, a right-wing assassin wanted by Interpol and a woman named Yenge are all involved in a car crash. Roz Mortimer’s THE DEATHLESS WOMAN is an elegiac account of the Nazi genocide of the Roma community expressed through the supernatural myth of the ‘deathless woman’. Louis Henderson and Olivier Marboeuf’s OUVERTURES reflects on the legacy of Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L’Ouverture, and follows a collective’s process of translating Édouard Glissant’s play Monsieur Toussaint from French  to Creole. Los Angeles-based artist Mariah Garnett presents TROUBLE, a personal account of an estranged father set against the Northern Ireland conflict; this heart-breaking story interwines interviews and investigations which reveal the traumatic effects of political upheavals on Belfast communities then and now, as well as added queer playfulness featuring trans actress Robyn Reihill. Jeffrey Perkins’ GEORGE: THE STORY OF GEORGE MACIUNAS AND FLUXUS, executive produced by Jonas Mekas, traces the history of the Fluxus movement through rare footage, recreation of happenings and interviews with key figures in this portrait of artist George Maciunas.


Showcasing films for the young, as well as the young at heart, this year’s Family strand is, as always, an international affair. The Family Gala is the UK premiere of Jill Culton and Todd Wilderman’s ABOMINABLE.

Bears and humans just don’t get on! In this adaptation of Dino Buzzati’s classic story THE BEARS’ FAMOUS INVASION, we find out why; this children’s classic is joyously depicted by Lorenzo Mattotti, who presents a compelling story that works on different levels depending on the viewer’s age. In Edmunds Jansons’ JACOB, MIMMI AND THE TALKING DOGS, a sassy group of talking dogs give plenty of attitude to Jacob and his cousin Mimmi, but they also help out when a local park is threatened. This section also includes a programme of animated shorts for younger audiences which bring together eclectic, exciting and colourful films from all around the globe. In Pawo Choyning Dorji’s live-action drama LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM a teacher in Bhutan, struggling for inspiration, travels to the most remote school in the world, where it takes being so far away to understand the importance of his work…and to appreciate the value of yak dung! Fresh from its success in China, we will be presenting the visually ravishing animation WHITE SNAKE at the

BFI IMAX. Directors Amp Wong and Ji Zhao tells the story of a girl with magical gifts who embodies the Chinese legend of the White Snake in a jaw-dropping landscape of demons, serpents and delight!


The Treasures strand brings recently revived and restored cinematic classics and discoveries from archives around the world to the Festival in London.

John Hurt is exceptional in David Lynch’s THE ELEPHANT MAN; this compassionate immersion into the vicious world experienced by ‘freaks’ in 19th century London has undergone an exclusive 4K restoration process supervised by Lynch. THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH is an uncanny tale from the pen of Poe, directed by Roger Corman, shot by Nicolas Roeg, and starring Vincent Price – a match made in Heaven. Or Hell! Cameroonian feature MUNA MOTO is a welcome restoration of a classic social realist African masterpiece that champions the ideals of Third Cinema aesthetics. Budd Boetticher’s magisterial western, RIDE LONESOME, stars Randolph Scott as a haunted loner seeking vengeance in a bleak, elemental world full of dangerous strangers. SAY AMEN, SOMEBODY is an exuberant, joyous and deeply moving, critically acclaimed documentary that celebrates American gospel music, spotlighting giants of the business Willie Mae Ford Smith and Thomas A Dorsey. SWEET CHARITY sees Shirley MacLaine star as unlucky-in-love taxi dancer Charity Hope Valentine in Bob Fosse’s joyous adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. Nina Menkes’ critically acclaimed underground classic, QUEEN OF DIAMONDS, is one of the most subversive and originally independent films of the 1990s, set in a hallucinatory Las Vegas landscape. Following the story of disaffected Firdaus, a struggling Blackjack dealer, set between glittering casino lights and a deteriorating desert oasis, this is a remarkable and provocative masterpiece of American independent filmmaking, ripe for critical evaluation.



We’re delighted to welcome Rian Johnson to the BFI London Film Festival, to talk about his career and the making of his fifth feature KNIVES OUT: a wickedly witty and stylish murder mystery, which the Maryland-born filmmaker has described as “an attempt to capture the twisty fun of an Agatha Christie whodunit.” A graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Johnson debuted with 2005’s Brick, which ingeniously transposed the stylized tropes of Dashiell Hammett’s hardboiled detective fiction to a Californian high school setting. Made for just $500,000 and boasting a memorable lead performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this fresh take on neo-noir won the Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision at Sundance Film Festival. Three years later, Johnson showed his comedic verve with globe-trotting conman caper The Brothers Bloom, before reuniting with Gordon-Levitt (starring alongside Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt) for 2012’s time-travelling sci-fi thriller Looper. A critical and commercial hit which further displayed his dazzling command of genre, it enjoyed success which led this most inventive of Hollywood auteurs to both write and direct Star Wars: The Last Jedi. A fearlessly bold continuation of the beloved space opera saga, the latter became the highest grossing film of 2017 and one of the most successful movies of all time.


We’re delighted to welcome back Kim Longinotto to the BFI London Film Festival, to talk about her storied career and her new documentary Shooting the Mafia, an eye-opening profile of Sicilian organised crime photographer Letizia Battaglia. Longinotto has been blazing a trail for British nonfiction filmmaking for more than four decades. She debuted at LFF with 1976’s Pride of Place, an unvarnished look at her old boarding school which prompted Longinotto’s former headmistress to brand the young filmmaker ‘a class traitor’ (the school closed the following year). Frequently focusing on marginalized people and extraordinary women from around the world fighting oppression, her filmography includes such ground-breaking factual pieces as Shinjuku Boys (1995), which spotlighted Tokyo’s transgender club scene, and Divorce Iranian Style (1998), an arresting chronicle of Iran’s patriarchal court system. She won the 2008 World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival for the South Africa carers portrait Rough Aunties, and was the recipient of Sheffield Doc/Fest’s Inspiration Award in 2010. Longinotto explored 20th-century cinema’s depictions of sex and desire with 2014’s archival tapestry Love Is All, while continuing her avowedly feminist, globe-spanning work with the following year’s Dreamcatcher, about a Chicago charity which helps women leave the sex industry.


We’re delighted to welcome back writer-director Lukas Moodysson to the BFI London Film Festival, to talk about his career and the making of his first TV series Gösta. Set in rustic Småland, this loving satire about a kindly child psychologist (played by rising Midsommar star Vilhelm Blomgren) has been described by its creator as ‘a mix of comedy and Dostoevsky – as funny as possible and as serious as possible.’ Raised in provincial Sweden, Moodysson made an immediate mark on global cinema with 1998’s Show Me Love: a hugely acclaimed coming-of-age drama depicting the awkward romance between two teenage girls in a boring small town. His seemingly effortless blend of empathy and insight continued two years later with Together, a humorous portrait of an idealistic commune in 1970s Stockholm. The filmmaker took a darker turn with third feature Lilya 4-ever (2002), a drawn-from-real-life tale of sexual slavery, and the experimental porn exploration A Hole in My Heart (2004). He made his English-language debut with 2009’s Mammoth, starring Michelle Williams and Gael García Bernal, followed by a triumphant return to Swedish storytelling with 2013’s We Are the Best!, an exuberant adaptation of his wife Coco’s girl-punk graphic novel.


This year’s industry events programme will accent the Festival’s focus on the issues and debate that are urgent for industry and filmmakers, maximise opportunities for Industry delegates to access international delegates and filmmakers attending the Festival, augmenting the full benefits package available for Industry delegates.

The industry programme, supported by the Mayor of London, via Film London, includes access to the LFF CONNECTS strand which celebrates artists working at the intersection of film and other creative industries; the talent development programme BFI NETWORK@LFF; and a host of new format discussions, panels and networking events.

This year’s Festival marks the fourth year of the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI. At £50,000, the Bursary is the most significant of its kind in the UK, supporting exceptional new filmmaking talent.  The Bursary is eligible for emerging writers, directors and writer/directors resident in the UK, and premiering their first or second feature in the Festival. Last year’s winner was Richard Billingham (Ray & Liz) with Harry Wootliff (writer/director, Only You) and Nicole Taylor (writer, Wild Rose) shortlisted nominees. Previous recipients of the Bursary were writer/directors, Daniel Kokotajlo (Apostasy) in 2017 and Hope Dickson Leach (The Levelling) in 2016.

The Festival will host Press and Industry screenings at Vue West End, provide a Digital Viewing Library, delegate hubs, discounts at partner venues and at LFF Connects and Screen Talks, and numerous networking opportunities with delegates and filmmakers.

Details of the full industry programme will be announced in September. Industry delegate accreditation is open now and closes on Wednesday 11 September. Visit www.bfi.org.uk/lff/professional-delegates for further details

BFI LFF Education returns to this year’s Festival with a new offer for young people of all ages keen to engage with the wealth of film on offer throughout the BFI LFF programme. BFI LFF Education sets its sights to increase primary and secondary students’ access to the Festival and attending BFI LFF special guests, in partnership with Into Film. Additionally the Festival host a day dedicated to young aspiring filmmakers aged 16-25, offering transformational opportunities and exclusive access to filmmaking talent. The BFI LFF Critics Mentorship Programme returns for a second time, following a successful inaugural year in 2018. 16-25 year olds can also apply for Future Film Accreditation and take advantage of our 25 and Under £5 rush ticket offers.

The BFI London Film Festival Education programme is supported by funding contributors LaCie and The Sir John Cass’s Foundation and event delivery partners Into Film Festival

For further information visit bfi.org.uk/lffeducation url


The BFI London Film Festival experience can be enjoyed UK-wide on BFI Player, the BFI’s VOD service, featuring Festival collections showcasing films from previous years. BFI London Film Festival content will be a key attraction in the range of services on BFI Player – at player.bfi.org.uk/


We are delighted to welcome back American Express, our Principal Partner and Preferred Payment Partner. This is a very special year as we celebrate ten years of this extraordinary partnership.

We are thrilled to see the return of American Airlines as Main Sponsor and Official Airline. We’re delighted to have IWC Schaffhausen return as the Festival’s Official Time Partner and Headline Partner of our fundraising Gala LUMINOUS, where we will announce this year’s winner of the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI.

We give heartfelt thanks to The May Fair Hotel, who return as the Festival’s Official Hotel Partner.

We extend a very warm Festival welcome to our returning partners: LaCie who support our Future Film Day for young filmmakers and The Malta Tourism Authority who are partnering on our Love Gala and Love Strand.

We are delighted to welcome new sponsors who join us this year: Heart of London Business Alliance, Facebook and Nyetimber – our official sparkling wine partner.

The BFI London Film Festival is made possible thanks to support from DCMS and The National Lottery and many other cultural institutions and organisations. We are also delighted to be supported directly by the Mayor of London through Film London as a funding contributor.

The remastering and new score of the BFI Archive Gala film is supported by the Eric Anker-Petersen Charity. With additional support from the Michael Marks Charitable Trust and the John S Cohen Foundation. Films by the British Mutoscope and Biograph Company, Prestwich and Gaumont all restored in 2018 by the BFI National Archive in collaboration with EYE Filmmuseum and Haghefilm.

A huge thank you goes to the Festival’s generous in-kind Sponsors: returning photography sponsor Getty Images and cinema advertising partner Digital Cinema Media. Additionally, we would like to welcome back DDA and thank Audemus Spirits: Pink Pepper Gin, CPC London, Dalston’s Soda, Viña Pomal, Global, Harkness Screens, Impact Marketing, Picture Production Company and Newman Displays for their continued support.

Cinema partners returning this year are Ciné Lumière, Curzon, Empire, ICA, ODEON Luxe Leicester Square, ODEON Tottenham Court Road, Prince Charles Cinema and Vue.

We are delighted to welcome back returning Media Partners Evening Standard, Empire, Time Out, Sight & Sound, Screen International, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety and Little White Lies as well as valued Broadcast Partner BBC Radio London for continuing to provide invaluable media support.

The Festival would also like to give a huge thanks to returning sponsor Christie Digital.

Finally, the Festival would like to thank the many embassies and cultural institutes who support the Festival by helping to bring in filmmakers to present their work.