The Broke Girl’s Guide to the BFI London Film Festival

Whilst it may still feel like sizzling summer outside, we know that we are firmly into Autumn with the arrival of the BFI’s London Film Festival opening tonight.


Amma Asante’s A UNITED KINGDOM starring Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo marks the start of a star studded 10 days, but more significantly, the first time a black female director has ever opened the festival.

Now in it’s 60th year, the LFF brings creativity, film making talent and of course a little bit of glamour to the capital. Claire Beswick gives us a low-down of the ones to watch: A Broke Girl’s guide to the festival.



1. La La Land

Fresh from Toronto where it won the audience award, LA LA LAND is a homage to old school Hollywood.  It’s a musical, but don’t let that put you off.  Directed by Whiplash’s Damien Chazelle, this stars the delectable Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling; both can sing, both can dance.  But it’s the love story that we are looking forward to here, and being transported to a glamourous world of days gone by. Think West Side Story meet’s Mullholland Drive, starring today’s Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.



2. Nocturnal Animals

When Tom Ford debuted A SINGLE MAN people expected it to be stylish, but they didn’t expect it to be one of the most coherent and sophisticated directorial debut of recent times, netting a BAFTA for Colin Firth in the lead role. In NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, we combine a beautiful cast and striking cinematography with a haunting and uncompromising story-line. Expect sharp tailoring and sharp storytelling.  The Tom Ford supermodel is both beautiful and clever.


3. The Handmaiden

Park Chan-Wook, the director of OLD BOY presents a risqué and seductive vengeance period piece.  Based on Welsh novel The Fingersmith, we are transported back to Korea (after his last English language film, STOKER). This is sexy, stylish, and not for the fainthearted. Lust, obsession and revenge have never looked so good.  Catch this in the new outdoor location in Embankment Gardens.



4. American Honey

A sexy, carefree coming of age social realism drama.  Set on a cross country US road trip, Andrea Arnold showcases her grasp on socio-economic US divides and her immense film making talent with traces of Terence Malik idealism.  We follow Star on a route to finding herself, happiness and success to a soundtrack of urban beats and pop star naivety.  We experience the young, sun kissed late summer love that existed perhaps only in our memories; painfully identifying with Star despite being from a different world entirely.  This film makes you feel.  And that’s what it was supposed to do. Dividing critics in Cannes was inevitable – this film is too cool by far.



5. Neruda

In a year’s time, the name Pablo Larrain will be etched firmly in your memory as he directs Natalie Portman as Jackie Onassis.  But before that, he presents NERUDA, from his native Chile and starring Gael Garcia Bernal.  A wonderful cat and mouse thriller, based on the hunt for the diplomat and Nobel prized poet Pablo Neruda. This is inventive, funny, and compassionate to the core.  Expect the unexpected.