FILM REVIEW: Ultraviolence – The BFI London Film Festival 2020

Writer: Tariq Mehmood

Director: Ken Fero

Deaths by police action inflamed our summer, sparking the #BlackLivesMatter protests but while the most famous cases have happened in America, Ken Fero’s new film, Ultraviolence highlights the story of several UK families whose relatives have died in police custody after excessive force was used and their subsequent quest for prosecution. Unsparing in its anatomy of failures of the justice system, Fero’s film is

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FILM REVIEW: The Salt In Our Waters (Nonajoler Kabbo) – The BFI London Film Festival 2020

Writer and Director: Rezwan Shahriar Sumit

 In this film from Bangladesh, artist Rudro travels to a remote fishing village to work on his sculptures. But soon his city ways come into conflict with the village’s traditions, and when the expected shoals of fish fail to appear, the villagers accuse Rudro of offending Allah. What follows is a surprisingly one-sided battle between present day knowledge and parochial superstition.

The sculptures that

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FILM REVIEW: One Night in Miami – The BFI London Film Festival 2020

Writer: Kemp Powers

Directors: Regina King

This year’s London Film Festival has been particularly strong for debut movies and Regina King’s One Night in Miami is one of the best. With a screenplay by Kemp Powers based on his own play of the same name, this is a firecracker of a drama as three of the biggest sports and entertainment stars and the preacher Malcolm X debate black identity, activism

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FILM REVIEW:The Reason I Jump – The BFI London Film Festival 2020

Director: Jerry Rothwell

With the inclusion of the LFF Expanded series designed to create immersive visual and audio experiences, the digital programme of this year’s London Film Festival is one of the most inventive in years. Jerry Rothwell’s new documentary, in the main feature section, is based on Naoki Higashida’s book The Reason I Jump using film techniques to explore the experience of autism.

Written by Higashida when he was

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FILM REVIEW: Wolfwalkers – The BFI London Film Festival 2020

Writer: Will Collins

Directors: Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart

Cromwell’s Ireland was a dangerous place, filled with occupying soldiers, military rule and brutal massacres to subdue the population – not an obvious setting for a family-friendly cartoon. But Will Collins’ Wolfwalkers. directed by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, is a charming tale of childhood frolic, adventure, and the essential role of the landscape in Irish identity.

Robyn and her

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FILM REVIEW: Supernova – The BFI London Film Festival 2020

Writer and Director: Harry Macqueen

One way to achieve intimacy on screen is to cast actors who have known each other a long time, director Harry Macqueen explains, because it gives them a solid character foundation to build on. Friends for 20-years, the intimacy between Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth is essential to the understated and fragile tenderness at the heart of Supernova, one of a handful of films

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FILM REVIEW: Wildfire – The BFI London Film Festival 2020

Writer and Director: Cathy Brady

The Irish entries into the London Film Festival are always some of the most exciting in the programme and this year is no different with the excellent animation Wolfwalkers and resonant drama Herself providing female-led stories that have opened to much acclaim. But make some time for Cathy Brady’s powerful Wildfire about sisters confronting the effect and stigma of family tragedy.

Returning to a border

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FILM REVIEW: Mogul Mowgli – The BFI London Film Festival 2020

Writers: Bassam Tariq and Riz Ahmed

Director: Bassam Tariq

In the past few years, public discourses on British identity have been trying to shrink its definitions back to pillared buildings, lifeless statues and the selective memories of international warfare. But as Bassam Tariq and Riz Ahmed demonstrate in their blazing debut feature Mogul Mowgli, modern British identity is a living thing, expanding and changing every day as it absorbs

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FILM REVIEW: Undine -The BFI London Film Festival 2020

Writer and Director: Christian Petzold

Love me or die is an intimidating proposition, but one that protagonist Undine puts to Johannes in a quiet café in the first minutes of Christian Petzold’s new film. At this point you may be expecting a torrid psychodrama but Undine herself and the film that follows, with its touches of fantasy, is nowhere near as conventional as its opening frame suggests.

Abandoned by her

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FILM REVIEW: Honeymood – The BFI London Film Festival 2020

Writer and Director: Talya Lavie

No one sleeps in Jerusalem in this wry rom com from Tayla Lavie. It might be expected the two newlyweds in Honeymood would have good reason to stay awake on their wedding night, but sex is far from their minds as jealousies and misunderstandings force them out into the streets and into a series of strange encounters with other insomniacs.

Noam’s father has booked the

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FILM REVIEW: Eyimofe (This is My Desire) -The BFI London Film Festival 2020

 Writer: Chuko Esiri

Director: Arie Esiri and Chuko Esiri

There are many experiences of home, some, like Pinter, are sinister and fraught while others are celebratory and restorative. But for Mofe and Rosa, the protagonists in Arie Esiri and Chuko Esiri’s debut film Eyimofe (This is My Desire), showing as part of the London Film Festival, home is a place of strife and burden as the leads plan journeys

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FILM REVIEW: Time – The BFI London Film Festival 2020

Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

“Desperate people do desperate things” Sibil Fox Richardson explains at the beginning of Garrett Bradley’s documentary Time, but how long should a punishment really last? When her husband was sentence to an extreme 60-years in jail for armed robbery, Richardson was left to raise their six children alone, and Time examines the 20-years the family has spent fighting for a reduction in his sentence.

In a

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FILM REVIEW: 200 Meters – The BFI London Film Festival 2020

Writer and Director: Ameen Nayfeh

Dividing countries with a wall may be a populist political strategy for countries worried about immigration but it is the families and workers who must travel to both sides every day that pay a significant human cost. Ameen Nayfeh’s new film 200 Meters is about a family divided between the West Bank and Israel, a journey-film in which a group of strangers, each with their

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FILM REVIEW: Shadow Country – The BFI London Film Festival 2020

Writer: Ivan Arsenyev

Director: Bohdan Sláma

Many Second World War films end as the Allies arrive and as peace is declared. However as Primo Levi examined in his memoir The Truce, peace is a messy and brutal process. Although Czech film Shadow Country begins at the start of the war, its second half, set after 1945, is more interesting as it tells a very unfamiliar story.

Set in a

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FILM REVIEW: Bloody Nose Empty Pockets -The BFI London Film Festival 2020

 Directors: Bill Ross and Turner Ross

When we think of modern America and particularly Las Vegas we see corporate influence, and a country fractured by its political system. But what we rarely see is that for ordinary citizens barely anything has changed for the better in decades. Bill and Turner Ross’ new documentary Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets explores this in their stark but hopeful presentation of a day in the

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FILM REVIEW: Shirley – The BFI London Film Festival 2020

Writer: Sarah Gubbins (based on Susan Scarf Merrell’s novel)

Director: Josephine Decker

The life of Gothic novelist Shirley Jackson is reimagined as a slice of the Gothic itself in this sumptuous looking film starring Elisabeth Moss in the lead role. Looking just like Jackson, this must be the best role Moss has had since starring in The Handmaid’s Tale and it seems, thankfully, a million miles from The Invisible Man

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FILM REVIEW: The Relic – The BFI London Film Festival 2020

Writer: Natalie Erika James and Christian White

Director: Natalie Erika James

This new Australian horror begins with one of the genre’s most familiar trope: the overflowing bath tub. It’s such a common scene that it’s a wonder that any woman runs a bath in a house that has signs of eerie goings-on. One of the best examples of the scary bath is in the underrated What Lies Beneath, Robert

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FILM REVIEW: Kajillionaire -The BFI London Film Festival 2020

Writer and Director: Miranda July

The hustler movie has been undergoing some changes in recent years, broadening its perspective to include female protagonists and even the wider consequences of their crimes. Miranda July’s latest comedy Kajillionaire showing as part of the London Film Festival adds a family dynamic as the Dynes attempt a series of small-scale frauds.

Theresa, John and their adult daughter Old Dolio subsist on petty larcenies such

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FILM REVIEW:Mangrove -The BFI London Film Festival 2020

 Writers Steve McQueen and Alastair Siddons

Director: Steve McQueen

Opening the London Film Festival for the second time in two years is a rare achievement, especially for a director with only four previous full-length features to his name. But Steve McQueen is no ordinary filmmaker. Part of the Small Axe series created for the BBC to be shown later in the year, Mangrove is the culmination of everything he has

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TV REVIEW: A Day Off of Kasumi Arimura- The BFI London Film Festival 2020

 Writer: Sakura Higa

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Despite its name, The London Film Festival has often been the place to see a new television series, screening a couple of or sometimes all the episodes back-to-back, with previous screenings including Sky’s Doll and Em and the BBC’s Little Drummer Girl. Now Hirokazu Kore-eda premieres Episode One of his sitcom-drama A Day Off of Kasumi Arimura which extends the director’s interest in

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