The British Film Institute’s annual Film Festival is back this October, with tickets going on sale to the general public today 14th September. 243 films are being screened from across 67 different countries, with 29 world premieres, 8 international premieres and 34 European premieres from 4th to 15th October. For those not familiar with proceedings; the festival is organised into strands by genre and by country of origin, such as Love, Dare, Cult, Experimenta, each of which has its own headline gala screening a film from that strand.

Screenings this year are populated by the usual pioneers of mainstream and independent cinema alike; some big names in acting this year are Emma Stone, Steve Carrell, Matt Damon, Willem Dafoe, and Saoirse Ronan. Big directors include Richard Linklater, Lynne RamseyValerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton, and Paddy Considine making his directorial debut.

Andy Serkis will be kicking off the festivities at the Opening Gala with his directorial debut Breathe, an inspirational love story about a indomitable couple who defy the odds and pave the way for change. Starring Andrew Garfield, who recently appeared in the sell out National Theatre production of Angels in America, alongside Claire Foy, Hugh Bonneville, and Tom Hollander, the film is based on the true story of a whirlwind romance which takes an abrupt turn when sudden illness strikes. Already being signed off as ‘Oscar Bait’, Breathe is sure to be the one of the most talked about films of this years festival.

Oscar winner and BFI Fellow Cate Blanchett will be talking with international acclaimed artist Julian Rosefeldt about art, film, ideas, and expanding on their collaboration in 2015’s Manifesto. A major cerebral exercise, the 13-channel film that began life as an art installation, is a clever deconstruction of art manifestos – some mere one line maxims – from the 20th century onward. Blanchett plays each character, including a funeral-goer, a homeless man, and a dance teacher, dissecting a centuries worth of artistic discourse whilst demonstrating her own acting acumen. Elsewhere British author Ian McEwan will be talking on the subject of his latest book-to-film adaptation of his novel On Chesil Beach, which will be premiering at the Love Gala. Discussing the different disciplines of writing for the page and the screen and exploring why his fiction continues to have such enduring appeal for big screen storytellers, this is not one to missed.

 

Starring the poster kids of American Indie cinema Chloe Sevigny and Jason Schwartzman as middle class discontents, Golden Exits follows their lives when the beautiful and mysterious young Australian shows up in their lives. Another film by 33-year-old Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Phillip, Queen of Earth), his films are notoriously intelligent and highly critically acclaimed, although Perry has not had much success at the box office with his last two ventures. He doesn’t seem too bothered though, focussing more on the enjoyment of creating his films. “This movie was made for the sense of trying something new with a bunch of people I like working with,” he said. “I’m not relying on its commercial future for validation of whether or not the whole exercise was worth it.”

Václav Kadrnka‘s new psychological drama stars Karel Roden as a knight forced to confront his own deepest inner fears when his young son goes missing after running away from home. Inspired by stories of the crusades, this is the Czech director’s second feature length film, and has already won the Grand Prix on the closing Saturday of the 52nd edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Filmed in southern Italy, Little Crusader’s minimalist approach and impressive score help emphasise the theme of loss, and carry a journey in search of the ideal.

Under the ‘Cult’ category comes Marc Meyers‘ My Friend Dahmer, which made its premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival in July and was well received despite it’s controversial take on portraying its subject matter. Long before gaining notoriety as the Milwaukee Cannibal, American serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was another awkward high school kid battling through the difficulties of adolescence. But how, underneath the surface, did such a monster emerge, who went on to murder 17 young men in an uninterrupted streak over a 13 year period? Shot partly in Dahmer’s own childhood home, My Friend Dahmer is a humane dissection of teen psychosis and how serial killers are not born, but are made by society.

One of the most hotly anticipated films of the festival is Lynne Ramsay‘s You Were Never Really Here, starring Joaquin Phoenix as a tormented police officer who saves a young girl from sex trafficking. The film received a 7 minute standing ovation when it premiered at Cannes earlier this year, and Ramsey winning Best Screenplay and Phoenix took home Best Actor. Critically acclaimed across the board, and with a score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, it looks like the hype for this particular film is well deserved.

The ‘surprise film’ is one of the most anticipated moments of the entire festival each year, and as usual there are no leads about what, who, why and when. Sure to follow a line of extremely high profile films such as Silver Linings Playbook, No Country for Old Men and Birdman to name a few, it’s worth getting a ticket to be the first to see what will surely be an interesting watch and massive box office hit.

For a full schedule of events and to buy tickets head to the British Film Institute website