LONDON (Reuters) - British talent and some extraordinary feats of digital restoration are just a few of the highlights promised for this year’s BFI London Film Festival, due to run from 13th to 28th October.
The Festival, run by the British Film Institute, is in its 54th year and will include 197 feature films, and 112 shorts.
It will be opened by Mark Romanek’s “Never Let Me Go,” based on the novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro, and closed by Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours,” a film about the harrowing story of American mountain climber, Aron Ralston. Both films were produced in Britain.
On top of a group of 12 feature-length films promoting new British cinema, the Festival sees the British premiere of gritty realist Ken Loach’s new film, “Route Irish.” The Centrepiece Gala will be London-based Mike Leigh’s film, “Another Year,” a moving drama that follows a year in the life of a couple in their 60s, played by Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen.
The coup de grace, however, will be the world premiere of “The Great White Silence.” Since 1993, work has been undertaken on the footage shot by Herbert Ponting, the official photographer and cameraman on Captain Scott’s deadly expedition to the South Pole between 1910 and 1913.
Thanks to technological developments, the century-old negatives and film reel have been restored to full glory to bring the failed British Antarctic Expedition to a modern audience.
The film will be shown with a live musical accompaniment based on a newly composed score by Simon Fisher Turner, whose previous work includes “Caravaggio” and “The Croupier.”
The film is part of a set called Treasures from the Archive, all of whose films have been lovingly restored to bring old greats to today’s screens.
Offerings include David Lean’s epic “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” 1920s German classic “Pandora’s Box,” starring Louise Brooks, and a series of shorts capturing post-war London.
As ever, the BFI has also gone above and beyond to promote world cinema that might otherwise pass unnoticed in Britain.
Festival films have been produced in over 65 different countries all over the world: from Iran to Chile; Zimbabwe to Japan. According to Artistic Director, Sandra Hebron, there will be “films to engage, provoke, intrigue, infuriate, and enjoy.”
Gems include French director Jean-Luc Godard’s “Film Socialisme,” which is divided into three movements and discusses themes of humanity and childhood. Alejandro Gonzlez Irritu’s Mexican drama “Biutiful,” his first film in Spanish since the acclaimed “Amores Perros,” stars Javier Bardem.
Cannes Palme D’or Winner, “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” will also receive its British premiere. Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, it is a stunning Thai movie concerned with past lives and ghosts.
Consisting of 13 films, French Revolutions is a set dedicated to work from across the channel. Cinema Europa consists of a further 39 feature-length movies from throughout the continent, whilst World Cinema has 53 global offerings, as well as three shorts.
There will also be more mainstream movies shown, including “Black Swan,” starring Natalie PortmaTn, and “The American,” with George Clooney.
The film industry in Britain has faced uncertainty in the current economic climate. Hebron commented at the launch that, “the UK film landscape is experiencing significant turbulence,” but that “the festival will be as vibrant as ever.”
The government has promised to exclude Lottery Funds, which helps part-fund the BFI, from budget cuts. It has also said that it will try to protect the tax breaks that have allowed the film industry in Britain to continue to flourish and compete on an international level.
Amanda Nevill, Director of the Institute, said British audiences were still too conservative, and that a small percentage of the films released in Britain were responsible for a large amount of the revenue generated.
She added that British audiences must learn to take risks, otherwise they were in danger of having only the narrowest understanding of what cinema can be.
Along with numerous talks and special events, celebrities will be present in spades. From Julianne Moore and Colin Firth to Natalie Portman and Helena Bonham Carter, the Festival promises to bring an exciting few weeks of film to London.
Editing by Paul Casciato