Bums on seats: the London Film Festival returns

Still from The Tragedy of Macbeth courtesy of Apple TV+

This autumn, cracking premieres, brilliant programming and top-notch talent are back in town.

The London Film Festival is back – and in a cinema near you.

After last year’s edition was forced to move largely online by the pandemic, the 65th BFI London Film Festival will take place across venues in the city from Wednesday 6th October to Sunday 17th October. And, announcing today the European premiere of Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth as the Closing Night Gala, the LFF said that there will be simultaneous preview screenings at partner cinemas across the UK.

Starring the mighty pairing of Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand – who won her third Best Actress Oscar for Nomadland, a highlight of last year’s LFF – Coen’s film is described as a bold and fierce adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic, a tale of murder, madness, ambition and wrathful cunning”.

For his part, Coen views his film, and its LFF bow, as a form of paying it back. Shakespeare belongs to the world but comes from Britain,” says the film’s writer, director and producer. Having borrowed your cultural patrimony, and having had the great good luck to work with a few of your most brilliant actors, I’m honoured to bring this movie to the London Film Festival for its European premiere.”

Announced last week was another equally heavyweight premiere. The American Express Headline Gala on 11th October is Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, the Oscar-winning filmmaker’s New Zealand-shot adaptation of Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel.

It stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee, with Cumberbatch playing Phil Burbank, a charismatic rancher who inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love.” Or, as Campion describes her leading man, Cumberbatch is the broken heart and dark soul of this story.”

Also already announced is the Opening Night film. Having watched the trailer for The Harder They Fall – which features a dream line-up of Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz (who we loved in Joker), Delroy Lindo, FACE cover star LaKeith Stanfield, Damon Wayans Jr., Regina King and Idris Elba – we’re counting down the days. A Western movie with the energy and style of Shaft, the obligatory (but not laboured) nod to Tarantino, a killer soundtrack and a producer in the shape of Jay‑Z, this Netflix film is right up our dusty main street.

As Netflixs description of their film puts it: When outlaw Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) discovers that his enemy Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) is being released from prison he rounds up his gang to track Rufus down and seek revenge. Those riding with him in this assured, righteously new school Western include his former love Stagecoach Mary (Zazie Beetz)… and a surprising adversary-turned-ally. Rufus Buck has his own fearsome crew, including Treacherous’ Trudy Smith (Regina King) and Cherokee Bill (LaKeith Stanfield), and they are not a group that knows how to lose.”

Sounds awesome, right? Watch this space for more details on the full programme (revealed on 7th September) and information on how to saddle up for screening tickets, which go on general sale on 20th September.

THE FACE is the official media partner of the BFI London Film Festival.

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