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London Film Festival 2014

9 September 2014 Nick Chen

London Calling's Nick Chen gives you the lowdown on this year's BFI London Film Festival 2014

Attention, cinema lovers: Christmas is coming more than two months early. 78 days, to be exact. London Film Festival 2014 takes place 8th – 19th October with 248 films playing across 17 venues, and a whole bunch of talented people – Brad Pitt, Björk, Jon Stewart, among others – will be popping over for introductions and Q&As. You can catch Oscar winners months in advance, or find future cult classics that might never be seen on the big screen again. Just don’t miss this opportunity.

Firstly, here’s how to make the most of the festival

1. Turn up on time and stay to the end
LFF films start on time. That means no 20 minutes of trailers or unfunny Kevin Spacey adverts. Furthermore, the director – often accompanied with actors, screenwriters and producers – usually takes part in a Q&A afterwards, too, so don’t leave during the credits.

2. Avoid phones and popcorn
Festival audiences are less tolerant that a typical multiplex crowd, and will let you know if your texting or noisy munching is ruining the experience.

3. Actors and crewmembers often sit in the audience
When I saw Ti West’s The Sacrament last year, the director pointed out in his Q&A afterwards that the main villain – a terrifying cult leader who instructs killers – was in the audience. It was then I noticed he was sitting next to me.

4. Many of these films will never play cinemas again
It’s tempting to catch headline names, but bear in mind that obscurer titles might never find a UK distributor. This allows you to catch obscure foreign flicks or messed-up horrors in an unusually mainstream venue like Odeon Leicester Square.

5. You can still get into sold-out screenings
New batches of tickets often get released at unexpected times, and those who obsessively check each day will thus be rewarded. Alternatively, turn up 30 minutes early on the day for the standby queue – this has a far higher success rate than you’d guess.

Secondly, here’s how to buy tickets

BFI members can book from the LFF websitefrom September 11 onwards (and September 10, if a BFI Champion member). For everyone else, tickets go on sale September 18 at 10am. It’s allocated seating, book early.

Thirdly, there’s more than just films

There isn’t really more to life than films. But there is more to LFF than films. Numerous events are taking place, and here are three picks.

1. DreamWorks Animation: Taking Flight and Beyond
BFI Southbank, Oct 14 5:30pm
Director Dean DeBlois, producer Bonnie Arnold and Cressida Cowell (writer of How to Train Your Dragon) share their experiences with DreamWorks Animation and preview exclusive footage.

2. The Art of Documentary with Frederick Wiseman
BFI Southbank, Oct 12 3:30pm
Renowned documentarian Frederick Wiseman (At Berkeley, Crazy Horse) teaches a masterclass on his craft. He knows what he’s talking about.

3. Bennett Miller Screen Talk
BFI Southbank, Oct 17 6:30pm
The director of Capote and Moneyball is here at LFF with Foxcatcher (will probably win next year’s Best Picture Oscar) to discuss bringing a script to life – and possibly preview his acceptance speech.

Lastly, here are some recommendations

248 films, 12 days, your bank balance. Do the maths. You can’t see everything, but here are some highlights.

Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard)
BFI IMAX, Oct 13 6:30pm
That’s right, the French New Wave legend has a new film – in 3D at the IMAX. This year’s Gravity with subtitles?

Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
Odeon Leicester Square, Oct 15 7:15pm; Odeon West End, Oct 16 12:30pm; Hackney Picturehouse, Oct 18 8:45pm
Miles Teller is a prodigious jazz drummer who’s pushed to his limits – physically and psychologically –  by JK Simmons. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll involuntarily tap your toes.

Mr Turner (Mike Leigh)
Odeon West End, Oct 10 6pm; Odeon West End, Oct 11 11am
One of the most reliable British filmmakers returns to paint a cinematic portrait of Joseph Mallord William Turner – a role that earned Timothy Spall the Best Actor prize at Cannes.

Mommy (Xavier Dolan)
Odeon West End, Oct 16 6pm; BFI Southbank, Oct 19 8:30pm
Dolan’s nostalgic family melodrama is ambitiously shot in 1:1, an aspect ratio never seen outside of Instagram. He’s 25 and it’s his fifth film – if he found the time, then you can fit Mommy into your schedule.
 
Rosewater (Jon Stewart)
Odeon West End, Oct 12 6pm; Odeon West End, Oct 14 12:30pm; Odeon Covent Garden, Oct 16 8:30pm
The presenter of The Daily Show has made a movie and it’s not a comedy. Gael García Bernal stars in an adaptation of Maziar Bahari’s memoir about a London-based journalist who was detained in an Iranian prison for 118 days after filing a BBC report.

The Wonders (Alice Rohrwacher)
Vue West End, Oct 13 8:30pm; Hackney Picturehouse, Oct 15 8:45pm
Here’s a coming-of-age tale you haven’t seen before. One daughter becomes exasperated with her family’s rural lifestyle – running an Italian bee farm – and enters them into a TV talent show.

Men, Women & Children (Jason Reitman)
Odeon Leicester Square, Oct 9 7:15pm; Odeon West End, Oct 10 2:15pm; Rich Mix, Oct 11 9pm
This ensemble dramedy examines how the internet has changed the traditional family model, but is worth seeing for Adam Sandler trying to be taken seriously.

Love is Strange (Ira Sachs))
Odeon West End, Oct 15 6pm; Odeon West, Oct 17 1pm
John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are two Manhattanites whose loving 39-year relationship is unsettled when they leave New York.

It Follows (David Robert Michell)
Vue West End, Oct 11 9pm; Vue Islington, Oct 13 9pm
The teen horror genre is subverted with a new kind of slasher villain. Hint: you can’t see it, it’s metaphorical, and it’s more terrifying than Michael Myers.

Tokyo Tribe (Sion Sono)
Curzon Soho, Oct 9 9pm; Rich Mix, Oct 11 6:15pm
A vivacious Yakuza gangster thriller set in the future. Oh yeah, it’s a hip-hop musical. What’s not to love?

The 58th BFI London Film Festival takes place 8-19 October 2014. The full programme can be found here.

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