16 Films You Won't Want To Miss At The BFI London Film Festival

As London's biggest film festival kicks off this week, ELLE picks out the best ones to watch

Brie Larson Fire Fly

With the fashion week merry-go-round almost over, it's time to cast our eyes onto the world of film, as the BFI film festival kicks off this Wednesday. Featuring over 380 films and shorts from across 74 countries to choose from, here's a quick guide to our top picks of the bunch:



Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

Staring: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny

What's it all about: Elle is Paul Verhoeven's first full-length feature in over 10 years and follows the astonishing story of Michele leblanc (played by Isabelle Huppert), the director of a video game company who is raped in her own home by a masked intruder and reacts in a surprising way. Eschewing the police and authorities, Huppert begins her own pursuit of the attacker, and even when she learns of her attacker's identity, goes about her daily life ostensibly unscathed. A warm, funny and very thought-provoking approach to a serious issue, Elle is a portrait of a woman totally in command, against all odds.

Showing: Saturday 08 October 2016 20:40, Embankment Garden Cinema - Sold Out

Tuesday 11 October 2016 11:30, Embankment Garden Cinema


Directed by: Ava DuVernay

Staring: Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick

What's it all about: DuVernay's timely documentary draws on the connection between the US Constitution's 13th Amendment and the disproportionate criminalization of African Americans. It opens with a speech by Barack Obama, where he shockingly states how America has almost 5% of the world's population but 25% of the world's prisoners. The documentary mixes archival footage with contemporary testimonies from a mix of activists, politicians and formerly imprisoned men and women, to highlight the institutional racism in the US criminal justice system and the corporations and businesses that have profited from this mass incarceration. Powerfully incendiary and hugely relevant in tracing the history from slavery to #BlackLivesMatter, The 13th is essential viewing.

Showing: Thursday 06 October 2016 18:00, BFI Southbank, NFT1

Thursday 06 October 2016 20:45, BFI Southbank, NFT2



Directed By: Ben Wheatley

Staring: Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor

What's It All About: Ben Wheatley, who has been hailed as one of the UK's hottest cinematic talents of the moment, returns with a high-voltage action comedy thriller set in Boston in the era of 1970s Americana. Brie Larson plays Justine, who brokers a deal between two Irishmen and a gang led by Vernon (Copley) and Ord (Hammer), who intend to sell them a stash of guns. But when shots suddenly get fired, mayhem ensues and the film turns into a Tarantino-esque bloody brawl and game of survival. Although falling short of being a seriously convincing shootout comedy, it should hopefully provide enough blood and gunshots to sate the action thriller fans among you.

Showing: Sunday 16 October 2016 19:00, Odeon Leicester Square – sold out!

Sunday 16 October 2016 20:00, Embankment Garden Cinema


Directed by: Benedict Andrews

Staring: Rooney Mara, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed

What's it all about: Adapted from David Harrower's prize-winning play Blackbird, and starring Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn, Benedict Andrews' cinematic debut explores the relationship between a woman, Una (Mara) and Ray (Mendelsohn) the man who sexually abused her as a child, after she turns up and confronts him years later. Una explores the psychology of abuse, and the marks it bears on its victim long after. 

Showing: Sunday 09 October 2016 20:45, Embankment Garden Cinema – Sold out!

Monday 10 October 2016 14:15, Embankment Garden Cinema

Thursday 13 October 2016 21:00, Curzon Mayfair Cinema, Screen 1



Directed By: Olivier Assayas

Staring: Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger, Sigrid Bouaziz

What's It All About: Kristen Stewart plays Maureen, a spiritual medium who works in Paris as a personal shopper to the stars. Bored to death by her job, Maureen commits herself to reaching the spirit of her recently deceased twin brother, who died in the Parisian house they grew up in. Just when Maureen feels her pursuit is unfruitful, she begins to get strange text messages from an unknown source. This genre-bending part fashionista drama and part supernatural murder mystery features some hypnotic acting from Kristen Stewart, and is definitely on our watchlist.  

Screenings:  Monday 10 October 2016 18:00, Vue West End Cinema, Screen 7

Tuesday 11 October 2016 21:00, Picturehouse Central, Screen 1

Thursday 13 October 2016 12:15, BFI Southbank, NFT1


Directed By: Antonio Campos

Staring: Rebecca Hall

What's it all about: Antonio Campos directs the real-life horror story of the news anchor, played by Rebecca hall, who achieved fame in the 1970s for killing herself on live TV. Christine is an eerie and complex character study of a woman struggling against depression, incredibly acted by Hall.

Screenings: Oct 19, 2016 - 6:20 pm, BFI Southbank, NFT2

Oct 20, 2016 - 8:55 pm, BFI Southbank, Studio

Oct 23, 2016 - 8:30 pm, BFI Southbank, NFT3



Directed By: Kenneth Lonergan

Staring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges

What's It All About: One of the films which has garnered the most buzz within the festival, Lonergan's long-delayed Manchester by the sea sees Affleck playing a handyman with a knack for picking fights in bars who unwittingly finds himself the legal guardian of his teenage nephew after the death of his older brother, which forces him to return to his hometown and confront his skeletons. A profound and emotional study of a dysfunctional family, which deals with the hackneyed themes of grief and redemption in a nuanced way.

All screenings- Sold Out!


Directed By: Damien Chazelle

Staring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, JK Simmons
USA 2016

What's It All About: Set against the backdrop of present-day Los Angeles and paying homage to the golden era of Hollywood musicals, La La Land is a cinematic injection of sunshine and magic on your dreary grey English afternoon. Directed by Damien Chazelle, mastermind behind the exhilarating rollercoaster of a psycho-drama, Whiplash, La La Land journeys through all the stages of a blossoming romance by way of free jazz and catchy showtunes. Emma Stone, who plays the aspiring actress Mia, and Ryan Gosling, who plays the unsuccessful pianist Sebastian, make a fabulously sugar-sweet and convincing pairing. One of the most hyped films of the season, this is one you don't wanna miss.

Screenings: Friday 07 October 2016 18:00, Odeon Leicester Square

Saturday 08 October 2016 10:30, Odeon Leicester Square

Sunday 16 October 2016 20:30, Curzon Mayfair Cinema, Screen 1



Directed By: Garth Davis

Staring: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, Nicole Kidman, Sunny Pawar

What's It All About: Davis' adaptation of Saroo Brierley's memoir, A Long Way Home is a moving drama about a man, played by Patel, who uses Google Earth to track down his childhood residence in an impoverished rural township in India, having been adopted by an Australian couple. His quest sees him withdrawing from his adoptive parents and his girlfriend, played by Rooney Mara. It explores the complexities of growing up in an adopted family and themes of racial identity, and features captivating and emotional performances from Patel and Kidman, as well as beautiful cinematography of the Indian and Australian landscapes it's set in.

Screenings:Wednesday 12 October 2016 19:15, Odeon Leicester Square

Thursday 13 October 2016 11:15, Odeon Leicester Square

Saturday 15 October 2016 14:45. Hackney Picturehouse, Screen 1


Directed By: Tom Ford

Staring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer

What's It All About: Fashion darling Tom Ford has already proven his credentials as a director with his debut, A Single Man, but this time, he is reaching for the Oscars with his metafictional thriller adaptation of American author Austin Wright's book, Tony and Susan. The film stars Susan (played by Amy Adams), who is struggling in a disintegrating marriage, despite the high-trappings of wealth and success as an LA gallery director, and soon finds herself the central character of a horrifying chain of events after receiving a surprise manuscript from her revenge-seeking ex husband. Exploring the themes of intimacy, secrecy and guilt, it's a neo-noir that promises to be both chilling and every bit as stylish as Ford's debut.

Screenings: Friday 14 October 2016 18:00, Odeon Leicester Square

Saturday 15 October 2016 11:30, Odeon Leicester Square

Sunday 16 October 2016 15:30, Cine Lumiere

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