Drugs, Danes and donkeys: 10 London Film Festival highlights

With drama featuring donkeys, Noah Baumbach’s black comedy about family life and a rendition of Twin Peaks courtesy of Lars from Trier

The time of year that everyone is looking forward to is approaching: Christmas! But two months before that is the BFI London Film Festival 2022, which runs from October 5-16. As usual, the LFF (as you’ll find yourself calling it) rounds up the best movies from the coming months, plus some that may never receive distribution again or never play in theaters again. It’s also a rare chance to see a Hollywood A-lister walking down the halls of your local Vue and asking for directions to Screen 7 Cinema!

With tickets on sale to the public now, it’s your chance to see the best movies coming out in late 2022, 2023, and maybe even 2024 before all your friends. Not only is it the only way to see the Knives out sequel without the ending being spoiled, there are often filmmakers and actors hovering over to give presentations and Q&As.

And because members of the public can purchase tickets to red carpet gala events, you can walk alongside the stars and then find yourself seated behind them. For example, if you take the right seat for my policemanyou may find yourself within easy reach of Harry Styles.

Important: if you are between 16 and 25 years old, there is several movies where tickets are only £5. If you’re 26, well, maybe you can hide in the restroom a few hours before the movie starts and get in for free. (I laugh. Do not do that.) Otherwise, the festival screens 164 feature films (some will also be simulcast outside London), numerous short films and a handful of TV series. There will also be an Immersive Art and Extended Realities component – you’ll need to show up in person to see what Guy Maddin is done with augmented reality.

To save you the stress of having too many choices, we’ve selected 10 highlights from this year’s range. There is a drama starring donkeys, that of Lars von Trier twin peaksAnd much more.

The Belgian filmmaker’s queer coming of age brought everyone to tears at Cannes, then angered everyone when he didn’t win the Palme d’Or. Already favorite for the international feature film Oscar, close also gained a reputation for a shocking plot. For now, all you need to know is that it’s about two young boys, and you’ll want to see it untouched – its UK release will likely be in 2023.

At 84, the iconic Polish filmmaker has delivered what many consider his greatest achievement: a devastating drama in which a donkey is the protagonist. Contrary to Random balthazarthe winner HEY (titled after a bray) really puts the dark gray creature front and center. If you really need humans in your auteur cinema, there’s a cameo from Isabelle Huppert.

Cinema’s best brothers are back. As expected, the Dardennes created furious political drama with their over-the-shoulder camera style, this time following two young black teenagers facing massive injustice. After being smuggled from Africa to Belgium, Tori and Lokita pretend to be siblings in order to survive, but face other threats: they are exploited, face blackmail, and are coerced into crime. The Hollywood journalist speculated that it was the Belgian filmmakers’ “sadest film” to date.

If you were concerned about your sanity and looking for an excuse to fuck yourself up with hallucinogens, then become a plant is essential to watch (and chew). In April 2021, six dancers ingested a psilocybin mushroom called the Golden Teacher, ripped off their clothes, and choreographed nude performances to align their bodies with plants. With an original score by Gaika, the experimental film explores how we can escape the stresses of the modern world by embracing drugs and nature. Think of it as another form of touching grass.

With a title that will make you look really smart when you tell your friends about your weekend plans, De Humani Corporis Fabrica is a hypnotic and provocative exploration of the flesh and disorder that is the human body. By taking their cameras to hospitals, the filmmaking duo behind the 2012 films Leviathan provide close-ups of the brain, your gut, and all the other gross stuff inside you – but projected onto a disgusting screen.

After A white, white day, Pálmason was already identified as a name to watch. But Godland, according to Cannes critics, is one of the best of the year and a must-see on the big screen. At the end of the 19th century, a Danish priest was invited to travel to Iceland to build a church for the inhabitants and photograph the surroundings: the snowy landscapes, the volcanoes and even the decaying creatures. In doing so, he contemplates religion, colonialism and the role of the lens. According Sight and soundit is “a film of extraordinary craftsmanship and power”.

After 2014 A girl at my doorstep, the movie world was eagerly awaiting what July Jung would do next. Eight years later, she returns with a workplace drama loosely based on a disturbing real-life story. When a teenage girl, Sohee, commits suicide, an investigation reveals that the otherwise cheerful girl was exploited in a stressful call center. In addition to his topical exploration of toxic workplaces and how industries can improve, Next Sohee promises fine acting – it stars Doona Bae from The host and Linda Linda Linda.

A provocative Norwegian comedy about two edgelords trying to outdo each other, sick of me is like the competitive flirting scene in The worst person in the world – backwards. Set in Oslo, Borgli’s third feature features a male artist, Thomas, whose latest schtick is an installation of stolen chairs. Jealous of his underage notoriety, Signe (played by Kristine Kujath Thorp of baby ninja), his girlfriend, swallows pharmaceuticals to deliberately develop a Cronenbergian skin condition and gain media attention. You will observe through your fingers how it degenerates.

While you eagerly await Greta Gerwig’s book Barbiewhich she co-wrote with Noah Baumbach, there is Baumbach’s adaptation with Gerwig by Don DeLillo White noise — a talking drama that reportedly cost $140 million. Starring Adam Driver as a professor of Hitler studies, Baumbach’s dark comedy mixes the director’s signature observations on family life (Gerwig and Driver are married, thus living a Frances Ha fantasy) with the threat of a so-called airborne toxic event. Also look for Jodie Turner-Smith, Andre 3000 and a comeback song from LCD Soundsystem.

When the first two seasons of The kingdom aired in the 1990s, Lars von Trier openly called it his version of twin peaks. And like David Lynch’s television creation, The kingdom is back for a third season, decades later – and these LFF screenings might be the only chance to see it on the big screen. Set in a soapy, supernatural hospital in Copenhagen where staff can be impregnated by a ghost, Exodus from the Kingdom allows von Trier to be as ridiculous and controversial as he wants – this time with Willem Dafoe and Alexander Skarsgård joining the cast.

The BFI London Film Festival runs from October 5-16. BFI members can book tickets now. Tickets will go on sale to the public on Tuesday, September 13 at 10 a.m. More information can be found here

If you are 25 or under and want £5 tickets you will find more information here

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