FILM FESTIVALS

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BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL
Il Buco

Il Buco – Immerses you in the speleologist’s journey of discovery

BFI London Film Festival presents Il Buco, coming soon to cinemas. In the great lexicon of films, there is a vast array. There is the high-concept thriller, the low-concept character drama and the superhero flick. These get us to care about their worlds and invest in those characters. We find ourselves chomping at the bit at how these stories will unfold, and we hope that they’ll end just as well as they started. Then some films are less about the

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Dashcam – The most insane and entertaining horror ride of the year

BFI London Film Festival presents Dashcam, coming soon to cinemas nationwide. Nobody is offering us modern found footage horror like Rob Savage. His debut feature Host perfectly integrated the pandemic zeitgeist of the Zoom party while haunting it with a dreadful supernatural affliction. In Host, Savage delivered what many, for example, Unfriended’s Levan Gabriadze, had failed to do by horrifying the internet generation. Since Host, we’ve seen several HTTP horrors find their footing, for example, Eugene Kotlyarenko’s Spree. Here, Kotlyarenko and Savage have clearly understood

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The Lost Daughter

The Lost Daughter – A directorial debut that quickly loses its audience

BFI London Film Festival presents The Lost Daughter in selected cinemas and on Netflix on December 31st. Directorial debuts are always fascinating to watch unfold. They can be fantastic and launch a director into the cinematic stratosphere, like Julia Ducournau’s Raw or Jeymes Samuel’s The Harder They Fall. But, they can also be terrible, like Rick Rosenthal’s Halloween II or the Strause Brothers’ Alien Vs Predator: Requiem. It’s often easier to make a debut with an original idea rather than a pre-established world or the adaptation of

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Last Night in Soho

Last Night in Soho – A neon-lit love letter that never quite finds its horror voice.

BFI London Film Festival presents Last Night in Soho; in cinemas nationwide from October 29th Edgar Wright has dabbled in horror for a long time. For example, Shaun of the Dead is a valentine to the zombie genre, while Hot Fuzz is a part-slasher part-Wicker Man journey. However, Wright has never fully embraced the genre due to a postmodern, self-aware style that has prevented any genuine scares or shocks. Therefore when Wright announced his first post-Baby Driver project to be a horror, many of

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Benediction

Benediction – Just like Sassoon’s body of work, Davies movie is beautiful, vibrant and sad

BFI London Film Festival presents Benediction, coming soon to cinemas nationwide. “Good-morning, good-morning!” the General saidWhen we met him last week on our way to the line.Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead,And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine.“He’s a cheery old card,” grunted Harry to JackAs they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack. But he did for them both by his plan of attack. The General – Siegfried Sassoon Director Terrance Davies

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Great Freedom

Great Freedom – The best LGBTQ+ drama of the year and one of the most important of the past decade

BFI London Film Festival presents Great Freedom, coming soon to cinemas and MUBI. The year 2000 would see a stunning documentary premiere at a range of film festivals worldwide. Directed by the Oscar-winning duo Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, Paragraph 175 would give voice to the experiences of gay men and women as it explored the persecution of Europe’s gay community during Hitler’s rule. This groundbreaking documentary interviewed survivors of the gay Holocaust while studying the effects of Paragraph 175

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The French Dispatch

The French Dispatch – An ode to journalism and a love letter to the weekly magazine

BFI London Film Festival presents The French Dispatch; in cinemas on 22nd October. Sunday 10th October 2021 Reporter – Neil Baker It is an unusually warm October day as I arrive on the Southbank in London. Disembarking my Thameslink train as it arrives at Blackfriars station, the smell of the Southbank immediately hits me. It’s a strange and unique smell that I have never quite been able to explain; tidal water mixed with a range of perfumes, coffee and roasted

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The Sadness

The Sadness – A waterfall of gore and an avalanche of viscera

The Sadness is currently awaiting a UK release date 21st Century horror has largely moved away from gore in recent years, pivoting back to psychological, internal horror through, Get Out, The Lighthouse, Saint Maud and Censor. Of course, these are all great titles that serve us a stellar commentary on social themes. However, there will always be that craving for the gritty grindhouse movie and the shock of films like The Driller Killer or Cannibal Holocaust. Sometimes, we horror fans want to be drenched

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Ultrasound

Ultrasound – A gargantuan and mind-bending puzzle box

Ultrasound is currently awaiting a UK release date. A lot of sci-fi films are relatively cut-and-dry. Perhaps there’s an evil alien invasion or a giant monster consuming inhabitants of a sleepy town. Or maybe it’s about time travel or parallel universe jumping. These are familiar, comfortable tropes and stories to us; there is a level of familiarity and expectation that we can tap into to process what we’re watching. However, science fiction is at its best when confronting you with

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sound of violence

Sound of Violence – A conductor of cruelty, and musical maestro of murder

Sound of Violence is available to rent or buy now. Sound has always been instrumental in making good horror. Some of our scariest memories come from hearing something at night. Was that someone breaking in? Is there someone walking around upstairs when the house is supposed to be empty? But, it is also the backbone of some of the most horrific scenes in horror history. For example, imagine watching Michael Myers gruesomely butchering sexed-up teens without the noise of the slashes and

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The Advent Calendar

The Advent Calendar – A devilishly brilliant festive horror that writhes with tension

Frightfest and Shudder present The Advent Calendar, coming soon to Shudder. Once upon a time, a beautiful antique wooden advent calendar sat waiting for a new owner in a German Christmas market; this calendar was full of small locked boxes, hidden compartments and delicious sweet treats. But, etched on the back of the box was something strange and eerie “Schmeiß es weg und ich werde dich umbringen”. In English, this translates to “Dump it, and I’ll kill you”, the name

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The Found Footage Phenomenon – A brilliantly crafted documentary

Frightfest presents The Found Footage Phenomenon; book festival tickets here. If you’re a fan of the found footage genre, you no doubt have a cherished title that started your fascination. Maybe it was The Blair Witch Project; perhaps it was Paranormal Activity – for some, it was Rec; for others, it was Troll Hunter. Hell, it may even be Cloverfield or Chronicle. Its gritty and authentic cinematic style sucking you in, almost as though you have found the footage yourself. Found footage is undoubtedly one of the most

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Slapface – A haunting and harrowing journey into childhood trauma

Frightfest and Shudder present Slapface, coming soon to Shudder. Book festival tickets here. If A Monster Calls (2016) showed us the healing power of an invisible monster in the life of an angry young boy, Jeremiah Kipp’s complex and harrowing Slapface demonstrates the dangers. Based on his self-penned 2018 short film of the same name, Kipp further builds on the themes of isolation, childhood trauma and emotional repression found in his short. The result of which is an exceptional feature-length

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Mad God

Mad God – A never-ending underworld of human creation

Fantasia presents Mad God; book festival tickets here. Thirty years in the making, it’s a rare honour nowadays to spend an hour and a half in the presence of a stop motion genius like Phil Tippett. After all, this is the man who helped bring us the luscious model effects of Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Willow and Indiana Jones, to name but a few. His award-winning career in visual effects, a veritable feast of blockbusters that continue to find praise

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#Blue_Whale

#Blue_Whale – Zaytseva opts for popcorn horror over psychological terror

Fantasia presents #Blue_Whale; book festival tickets here. On 22 November 2015, a teenage girl from south-east Russia posted one last selfie online before taking her own life. Her tragic suicide soon found itself the subject of comment and analysis in a series of online blogs. Within these blogs and chatrooms, many teenagers began to lace gossip, opinion and stories together into a toxic tapestry of fact and fiction. Here, Reality was kept firmly at bay as stories were embellished and

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Glasshouse

Glasshouse – A serene yet horrifying Garden of Eden

Fantasia presents Glasshouse; book festival tickets here. Over the past year, there has been no shortage of pandemic themed films. However, it would be fair to say the quality of these has varied dramatically, from the interesting but flawed Songbird to the dire Final Days and the divisive Tyger Tyger. The problem with many of these pandemic themed dramas, thrillers and horrors is their inability to dig into the psychological effect of a pandemic. Instead, they often opt for tried

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The Last Thing Mary Saw

The Last Thing Mary Saw – A claustrophobic prison of human emotions and desires

Fantasia presents The Last Thing Mary Saw; book tickets here. To fully understand the puritanical new world of Edoardo Vitaletti’s atmospheric religious horror, we need to take a trip back to England around 1650. Here, Charles I of England lies rotting in a grave, his head unceremoniously detached from his body following the English Civil War. The country held firmly in the grip of a Lord Protector named Oliver Cromwell. But, Cromwell was not merely interested in early concepts of

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THE RIGHTEOUS

The Righteous – A thrilling, complex and undeniably brilliant debut feature

Fantasia presents The Righteous; book tickets here. Over the years, I have had the honour of reviewing some truly exceptional directorial debuts, from Saint Maud to Eighth Grade and Summerland. As a critic, I find nothing more satisfying than seeing a new vision come to life, a fresh perspective committed to celluloid. These films are the very thing we critics live for, as directors announce their arrival within a blaze of creativity. Their movie either defying or redefining genre boundaries,

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Pleasure – An unflinching exploration of the porn industry’s dark heart

Pleasure is showing at Sundance London on the 31st July, book tickets here. Is the world’s attitude to sex work changing? In recent years we have seen its inclusion in all manner of film and TV genres, from the cam-girl horror Cam to the popular teen-drama Euphoria and documentaries like After Porn Ends and Hot Girls Wanted. It’s a positive, if only slight, shift that seems to be having a snowball effect. It’s an underestimation to say we’re only scratching the surface, given sex work

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Misha and the Wolves

Misha and the Wolves – Hobkinson dismantles the very genre he embraces

Misha and the Wolves is showing at Sundance Film Festival on 31st July, book tickets here. The notion of ‘truth’ is a complicated one. After all, while it can be defined objectively, people often disagree when you whittle down the concept. For example, some would say seeing is believing, while others suggest that we can feel the truth. Then there’s doublespeak, where you don’t lie, but you’re also hiding a secondary meaning in your words; you have been truthful, but

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Human Factors

Human Factors – A story splintered into strands that have little connection

Human Factors is showing at Sundance London on the 1st August, book tickets here. Picture this. A middle-class family escape to their holiday home for some rest and relaxation, only for a break-in to interrupt their idyllic retreat. Only the mother sees it, and then it’s down to the family to compare their perspectives, only they’re contradicting one another. Was there really a break-in? If that sounds quite riveting, perhaps something in a similar vein to Haneke’s Cache, then you felt

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Sweetheart – An assured, creative and undeniably enjoyable debut picture

Sweetheart is now showing at BFI Flare; book tickets here Quick read reviews offer our readers short, large copy reviews with a high level of readability. While I sat watching Marley Morrison’s debut feature, Sweetheart, I could not help but be taken back to one of my last family holidays as a teenager. The place was a remote cottage in Scotland, and I believe I was around 15 years old. My lasting memory of that holiday is not the beautiful countryside, the

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Poppy Field – Bravely and boldly explores themes of internal and external homophobia

Poppy Field is now showing at BFI Flare; book tickets here Quick read reviews offer our readers short, large copy reviews with a high level of readability. Let me start by taking you back to the London Film Festival 2017, where the stunning 120 BPM was about to receive its UK premiere. As I sat in my seat full of expectation, I gave little thought to any barriers the film may face world-wide. I was certainly not alone in this; after

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Trans Trailblazers – BFI Flare 2021

Cowboys, Rūrangi and No Ordinary Man are showing at BFI Flare now; book tickets here Join us as we take a look at three Trans Trailblazers from this year’s BFI Flare Festival, each movie and documentary continuing to build trans representation onscreen. While furthering public discussion and understanding of the journey, every trans kid and adult takes in becoming the person they were destined to be. Q April features Cowboys, Rūrangi and No Ordinary Man. Cowboys (United States) Director: Anna Kerrigan

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Short Films Selection – BFI Flare 2021

The following short films are available until 28th March 2021 on BFI Player free of charge BFI Flare is renowned for championing short films alongside its feature-length programme, each new year bringing us thought-provoking, challenging and humorous reflections on LGBTQ+ experience from around the globe. This year is no exception, with many superb short films to choose from, each one available for free via BFI Player. While at the same time, Five Films for Freedom continues to find a global

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Dramarama – As one chapter ends, another begins in this delightful, tender and vibrant movie

Dramarama is showing at BFI Flare now; book tickets here Thinking back to when I was 17, one thing is clear; my friends were my world; our day trips into London, small cosy house parties and trips to the cinema full of laughter, debate and joy. However, nothing is more certain in life than the reality that friendships change over time. And for many of us, the biggest change comes as we pack our bags and head to college or University.

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BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2019

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