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2018 London Film Festival - it's here!

Naziha Arebi's Freedom Fields

10th October 2018

We’re fastening our seatbelts in London today as the London Film Festival gets ready to open its doors for the 62nd time later tonight - and British Council’s Film team will be getting involved across the programme.

Tomorrow night we’re honoured to be hosting a reception here at British Council’s London HQ to welcome all the Festival’s international filmmakers and delegates, where we’ll be kicking off their visit in style and helping them make connections with some of the UK’s industry.

Our new Shorts Programmer Manager, Jo Duncombe, will be hosting a delegation of international shorts programmers joining us from Tribeca, Sundance and Locarno Film Festivals, as part of Network@LFF. Here to view UK short films, the delegation will also be joining a panel at the Hospital Club this weekend, and attending a dinner on Saturday evening.

We’re proud to partner Screen and the Festival in launching the 2018 Screen Stars of Tomorrow this week, and our Director Film, Briony Hanson, is looking forward to hosting an intimate dinner where the Stars will be choreographed table-hopping between courses in order to meet many of the international talent in town for the event, alongside a group of senior industry figures from the UK.

We’re thrilled to cheer on Naziha Arebi, who unveils her documentary feature Freedom Fields this week. Some of us have already had a sneak preview of the extraordinary story of the Libyan Women’s football team, and are so impressed that it’s not just a beautiful portrait of the colourful characters at its heart, but also a perceptive picture of a country moving on despite huge conflict.  We’re thrilled to note that Naziha is an alumni of our Stories programme which has worked with two cohorts of Libyan filmmakers to date. She met her producer, Flore Cosquer, while attending our workshop back in 2012 – and the rest is history!

Another British Council programme alumni is George Clarke whose Jatiwangi short screens as part of the LFF Experimenta strand. A playful collaborative portrait of the village arts community of Jatiwangi in West Java, the film was sparked when George undertook a residency as part of the British Council’s UK/Indonesia season. The project continues at the Village Video Festival, an exchange between Jatiwangi and Marsden, West Yorkshire.

Programme Managers Jemma Desai and Christine Bardsley are even more involved in the festival than the rest of us, as both also act as Programme Advisors for the LFF alongside their British Council roles.

Jemma, as one of the Festival’s Programme team, will be hosting filmmaker Q&As with many international filmmakers and talent including Maggie Gyllenhaal repping The Kindergarden Teacher, Behnaz Jafari repping Three Faces, Hafisa Herzi repping This Teacher and is particularly excited to host Xialou Guo whose film Five Men and a Caravaggio is a special UK highlight. She’ll also be interviewing Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump, the team responsible for Sightseers, High Rise and Free Fire for LFF Network and introducing an educational screening of Madeline’s Madeline.

Xialou Guo's Five Men And A Caravaggio

Alongside her, Christine, who is also a Documentary Advisor for the Festival, will be busy hosting with Q&As including Russian director Victor Kossakovsky, whose UK-German film Aquarela is a Special Presentation, and UK-born filmmaker Irene Lusztig for Yours In Sisterhood.

Rowan Woods, our new Programme Manager for Festivals, joined the team just this week in time for LFF. She'll be watching a number of the films that she worked on in her previous role at BBC Films including Georgia Parris' Mari and Orlando von Einsiedel's Evelyn - which both have their world premieres at LFF. Rowan will also be moderating conversations with directors David Lowery and Isabella Eklof as part of the LFF Network programme. These valuable sessions provide the participants with intimate access to world class filmmakers who are incredibly generous and open in discussing their craft and careers with the next generation of UK filmmakers.

We'll all be tweeting throughout @British_Film and highlighting our top picks  from the Festival as we go. Meanwhile the whole Film Team already has their eyes on selected highlights, among them including:

Christine is really looking forward to seeing Freedom Fields herself.

Jemma can’t wait to attend the Experimenta Debate: Representation & Praxis which features many UK artist film talents - and is really looking forward to watching Rachel Maclean’s Make Me Up.

Gary Thomas wants to see Doozy (Richard Squires UK, 2018), an experimental feature -length doc about Paul Lynde, who voiced some of Hanna-Barbera’s greatest villains, and promises to delve deep into hidden Hollywood and the suppression of its queer stories.

Briony is looking forward to hosting 'STORY OF MY LIFE: LIFE STORY RIGHTS', an LFF Industry panel focussing on films about real people prompted by the fact that this year’s Festival features a large number of films about real lives. She’ll be asking Jeff Pope (writer of Stan & Ollie, Philomena, Cilla), Simon Chinn (producer of Whitney and Man on Wire) and Asif Kapadia (Oscar-winning director of Amy, Senna, and the  upcoming Maradona) to delve behind the ethics and legalities of putting real lives on the big screen.

Fran Carr, recently joined as our Film Team Co-ordinator, is really looking forward to seeing our 2018 Berlinale Shooting Star Michaela Coel in Been So Long, a musical set in our very own London and also Peter Strickland’s In Fabric, which she is sure has many visual treats in store for us.

The LFF is Rowan's favourite time of the year, not least because she can catch up with some of the films that she has missed on the festival circuit -  this year that includes The Favourite, and Ray and Liz. She's also really looking forward to finally seeing Harry Wootliff’s debut Only You, having been tracking for the past few years.

And Jay Arnold has already beaten the Opening Night crowds to see Widows - which he loved.

This year's BFI London Film Festival includes 225 features from 77 countries. There are just 12 days to catch them. And we're off!