As the woman in charge of the London Film Festival Clare Stewart knows pretty much everything there is about this season's films. In fact, she tells us, she watches up to 600 of them a year in preparation for the festival.
So who better to ask which films we should add to our watch list this autumn...
Carol, out November 27
Clare says: ‘I’m delighted we are awarding Cate Blanchet with fellowship this year. In this film about two women, she plays Carol [alongside Rooney Mara], who fall in love. It’s a truly romantic film, and a genuine love story.’
Room, out January 15
Clare says: ‘We’re really thrilled, of course, that Lenny Abrahamson’s new film ‘Room’ which stars Brie Larson has had such a fantastic response out of Toronto, and that we’re doing the European premiere [at LFF]. Brie is a really stunning talent, and she’s got quite a few credits to her name, but I think this is going to be her real breakout.'
Brooklyn, out November 6
Clare says: ‘Saoirse Ronan who did such a stunning performance in ‘Brooklyn’ has, of course, been on the screen for many years now – she got wide attention in ‘Atonement'. We’re thrilled that she’s doing a screen talk during the festival. ‘Brooklyn’ I think represents a new phase in her career, very sophisticated, nuanced performance as the mature young woman. A fabulous film that is an adaptation of Nick Hornby’s screenplay.
The Lady in the Van, out November 13
Clare says: ‘There’s also some really sarcastic, deeply experienced talent in the festival. We’re also able to continue to shine a light on the work of these terrific actresses who’ve been thrilling us for so many years. We have Maggie Smith coming in for this brilliant film.’
Suffragette, out now
Clare says: ‘One of the things I find incredibly powerful about ‘Suffragette’ is the fact that in choosing to structure the film, rather than focus on the characters from the period like Emmeline Pankhurst, the film centres on a character who represents the every woman. Carey Mulligan just gives such a nuanced and fabulous performance. A woman who has grown up working in a laundry and factories from a very early age, who’s world view is very closed, who opens up through her encounters particularly with her fellow worker Violet Miller, played by Anne Marie Duff. What’s so important about Carey’s luminous performance is that she manages to embody strength and fragility at the same time. She is a very warm character that we can all relate to, someone who is going through an extraordinary transition and becomes emboldened by her anger and sense of injustice. It’s a really stunning, strong performance. Also a very important and inspiring character for young women who may not even be familiar with the fact that this only happened a hundred years ago. It will give them the opportunity to really relate to that central character, to understand the importance of this heritage, and to recognise that we have still got to keep the fire burning.’
5 MORE FILMS FROM LFF
Queen Of Earth
A beautiful study of female best friends – played by Elisabeth Moss and Katherine Waterston – who come together to retreat to a lake house together.immediately following one of their father’s suicides and her being dumped by her boyfriend.
He Named Me Malala
Malala Yousafzai’s remarkable and warm story with beautiful animated sequences.
A searing, no-holds-barred look at a group of women in Morocco make a living as prostitutes in a culture that is very unforgiving toward women in that profession. The central character is feisty Noha (Loubna Abidar) who looks after a group of girls that service a rich clientele.
My Love, Don't Cross That River
Jin Mo-Young's beautiful love documentary of a 76-year marriage in South Korea.
A group of women - including a bride-to-be, a pregnant woman, a divorcée, and a devout woman - come together in a beauty salon in Gaza. But their day is disrupted when gunfire breaks out across the street.