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Keep up with all the action and buzz from this year’s Festival.

Good morning, and welcome to day nine of the Festival.

Steve Coogan, Dame Judi Dench, Stephen Frears, Philomena Lee, Sophie Kennedy Clark and Martin Sixsmith attend the American Express Gala screening of Philomena during the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon Leicester Square.

Steve Coogan, Dame Judi Dench, Stephen Frears, Philomena Lee, Sophie Kennedy Clark and Martin Sixsmith attend the American Express Gala screening of Philomena during the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon Leicester Square.

We’re a slimmer beast today, having moved into a new webpage for the live blog. If you’re looking for coverage of all the excitement from the first eight days, you can find it all archived here.

But then come back here – because we’ve got loads still to come.

For some film fans, today is the most anticipated of all the days of the Festival – the day of the Surprise Film.

It’s always fiercely speculated upon, with every festival-goer having one theory or other.

We’ll be rounding up some of the best guesses later on today, as well as hearing from one LFF-goer who’s managed to get tickets for 17 consecutive Surprise Films – no mean feat, as these are some of the most sought-after seats in the Festival.

We’ll also be looking forward to today’s Festival Gala: Ralph Fiennes’s second film as director, The Invisible Woman, starring Fiennes himself as Charles Dickens.

Before we get started, let’s look over some video highlights from yesterday evening’s American Express Gala, Stephen Frears’s Philomena.

It was an emotional evening, not just because Philomena is such a heartbreaker, but because its real-life subjects Philomena Lee and journalist Martin Sixsmith were there on the red carpet with its stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.


Read days 1-8 of our Festival liveblog.

Before we move on today’s Festival offerings, let’s have a quick scoot around the Twittersphere for reactions to some of yesterday’s screenings…

Well, this is a treat.

Ahead of our grand unveiling of the BFI National Archive restoration of Gaslight this evening, we’ve dug out this vintage press book from the time of its 1940 release.

It’s for the original British version of Patrick Hamilton’s atmospheric novel about a husband in Victorian London attempting to drive his wife mad – a film which has never had the recognition it truly deserves.

For one thing, MGM quickly remade the film for a much better-known 1944 version, directed by George Cukor and starring Ingrid Bergman. The American studio actively suppressed prints of the earlier film to avoid comparisons being made.

Now director Thorold Dickinson’s version, starring Anton Walbrook as the husband, is restored to its full glory, everyone can judge for themselves which is top dog.

Jesse Eisenberg on Night Moves

It’s the last chance to see our Debate Gala film, Kelly Reichardt’s eco thriller Night Moves, at 3pm this afternoon. We put some questions to its star Jesse Eisenberg, one of the actors of the moment.

Jesse Eisenberg attends a screening of The Double during the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon West End.

Jesse Eisenberg attends a screening of The Double during the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon West End.

You work with some fantastic talents, with Dakota and Peter in front of the camera and Kelly behind the camera. Tell us about that experience.

Kelly is a really interesting woman. She creates these very tense scenes from the monotony of everyday life but in this movie the monotony is about the characters building a bomb or working on a farm. She builds these very tense scenes out of what are otherwise very day to day activities.

The film is of course about protest. Has it changed your opinion towards protest, especially this kind of violent protest?

Obviously it’s great to feel passionate about something. My character obviously goes to an extreme length to display his passion by bombing a dam. There’s been great successes with protesting and calling attention to important issues. Whether or not attacking a dam is the right means it is not for me to really think about I guess.

This is in the Debate strand here. What sort of thoughts and questions would you like viewers to take away from this film?

Well it’s a really wonderful movie but I don’t think it tells the audience what to think. It presents these really complicated issues and allows you to draw your own conclusions. For me as one of the characters in it, I think about what he does and the moral implications but I don’t think the movie says one way or the other. 

Interview: Chris Fennell

A festival gem

Our programme describes Salvo as “an intelligent, distinctive spin on the gangster thriller”. Chris Fennell is impressed.


One of the most astonishing technical feats of any film at the festival so far (including Gravity) comes at the beginning of impeccably made Italian anti-thriller, Salvo.

In one long, continuous take, shot from low angles with expansive off-screen sound and an impressionistic use of camera point of view, Saleh Bakri’s eponymous Sicilian gangster searches the house of a man he is sent to kill and then comes across his target’s blind younger sister, Rita (Sara Serraico).

Screening in the First Feature Competition, writer-director duo Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza display a command of their craft which belies their experience. Like Paolo Sorrentino in The Consequences of Love, they take the conventions of the Italian thriller as a framework for a more sensorial exploration of guilt and salvation.

Also recalling Gomorrah (2008) in its evocation of abused Italy, this is a remarkably assured and confident debut with considerable energy and complexity.

Moodysson is the best!

A film that’s really gone down a treat with Festival audiences is We Are the Best!, Lukas Moodysson’s new film about 13-year-old music lovers forming a punk band in the early 1980s.

In case you missed our Sonic Gala screening, here’s the director himself taking to the stage to answer questions from the audience.


‘Tonight’s Surprise Film is my 17th year’

There’s just a few hours to go before we’ll all know what this year’s Surprise Film will be.

It’s the Festival’s best-kept secret.

For festival-goer Matthew Thrift, who hasn’t missed a Surprise Film for 17 years, it’s also one of the undoubted highlights.

For as long as I can remember, there’s always been one priority when it comes to LFF ticket booking – one film that, year on year, is guaranteed to sell out ahead of any other.

Before online booking became the norm, the Surprise Film was the one event at the top of any serious LFF’er’s postal booking form.

I say postal, but if you really wanted a shot at getting a ticket back in the day, it meant a trip to the NFT (as it was known before its BFI Southbank rebranding) to drop your booking form off in person the day the programme launched.

Whether it ultimately made any practical difference to one’s chances of getting a ticket I’ve no idea, but it certainly felt reassuring in the days before the fastest-finger-first approach to ticket-nabbing.

The Wrestler (2008)

The Wrestler (2008)

Tonight’s Surprise Film is the 17th consecutive year I’ve lucked out with a ticket, and I’m as excited this time round as any other. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve sat through some clunkers – the Johnny Mnemonics and Hearts in Atlantises – but that was back before the Surprise Film became what it is today.

Despite being as popular then as it is now, expectations were certainly less fevered, with the emphasis of the event seemingly more centred on the element of ‘Surprise’ than it was ‘Film’ (apologies to both of you Mnemonic fans).

That said, Michael Mann turning up to present The Insider back in 1999 proved an especially unexpected treat.

The Insider (1999)

The Insider (1999)

In recent years, the event has been upscaled to accommodate films that could ordinarily occupy a gala slot in the main programme – so less Meet the Fockers, more No Country for Old Men – often with directors and cast members in tow.

Who can forget the raucous on-stage Q&A with Mickey Rourke and Darren Aronofsky after 2008’s The Wrestler? A tough act for any Surprise Film to follow.

So speculation is once again at fever pitch as to what tonight’s film is likely to be, with Twitter throwing up suggestions of everything from Spike Jonze’s Her (yes please!) to the new Malick (you wish!).

Ridley Scott’s The Counsellor seems to be cropping up a lot on people’s wish lists, as does the starry adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer-winning play, August Osage County.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

There are a few mentions of David O. Russell’s American Hustle, which would be quite the surprise given that he took the slot last year with Silver Linings Playbook. Although it’d represent quite the coup for the Festival if it did screen as a world premiere. Likewise George Clooney’s Monuments Men. I’m sure there’s an unwritten rule somewhere that every LFF has to screen at least two Clooney pictures, and with Gravity last week, well…

If I’m going to make a guess myself, my money’s on Dallas Buyers Club. It’s just a hunch obviously, and I always get this wrong, so it’ll probably be The Butler.

Excuse me, I mean Lee Daniels’ The Butler.

Twitter is on fire with speculation about that Surprise Film. Here’s some of the buzz and some best guesses…

‘Born to play Dickens’: Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes has arrived down on the square for our Festival Gala of his opulent new costume drama, The Invisible Woman. We’ll have images from the red carpet anon.

First, let’s hear from the man himself, holding forth about the genius of Charles Dickens at a press conference a short while ago. Paul O’Callaghan was there to report.

Ralph Fiennes attends a press conference for The Invisible Woman (2013) during the 57th BFI London Film Festival.

Ralph Fiennes attends a press conference for The Invisible Woman (2013) during the 57th BFI London Film Festival.

Ralph Fiennes’s second directorial effort is a nuanced, impeccably performed adaptation of Claire Tomalin’s book The Invisible Woman, which tells the true story of Charles Dickens’s secret mistress Nelly Ternan.

Having initially planned solely to direct, Fiennes eventually decided to take the role of Dickens for himself. Speaking to the press today, Claire Tomalin declared that she was thrilled by this decision.

“I said to Ralph very early on ‘you were born to play Dickens’, because he’s got that ambivalence – he can do exactly what Dickens could do. He could go from being the jolliest, most convivial, most witty, entertaining person in the room, to being extremely black and difficult. Not that he’s ever been black and difficult with me!”

Ralph Fiennes filming The Invisible Woman (2013)

Ralph Fiennes filming The Invisible Woman (2013)

Fiennes, on convivial form, speculated that the events depicted in the film would most likely play out very differently in the present day:

“I have a theory that in Victorian times, people didn’t want scandal. Generally it was uncomfortable for everyone. I have a feeling that wherever people could stop there being a scandal, they would. So if you had things going on in your private life which were socially unacceptable, as long as they were never socially present, it was ok.”

“But I think today that does not exist. I think that there is a dangerous vicarious curiosity that we have now become addicted to as part of the way we think. We want to know about people’s private lives, and over the decades the media have led to this expectancy that we have the right to know.”

Ralph Fiennes filming The Invisible Woman (2013)

Ralph Fiennes filming The Invisible Woman (2013)

Fiennes also confessed that he hadn’t read much of Dickens’s work prior to the project, but explained that he has since become an ardent fan:

“I think he’s a genius – his portrayal of different kinds of characters, his stories, his portrayal of England, his use of prose, his sense of drama. He’s a brilliant storyteller, a man who knows how to keep his audience waiting, a master of character and suspense.”

“I know some people say that he doesn’t write the interior lives of his characters as a modern novelist might do, but I slightly beg to differ. I sense the interior lives of his characters when I read. But most of all the power of his description just blows me away.”

And this year’s surprise film is...

“A kick-ass martial arts movie” (Harvey Weinstein)

Join us tomorrow for a roundup of what the audience made of Wong Kar-Wai’s The Grandmaster.

Daniel Radcliffe attends a screening of Kill Your Darlings (2013) during the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon West End.

Daniel Radcliffe attends a screening of Kill Your Darlings (2013) during the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon West End.

Sore eyes yet?

It’s Friday 18 October, and our extraordinary smorgasbord of cinema is gearing up for its tenth daily course.

None other than Ralph Fiennes and Daniel Radcliffe were down at Leicester Square last night, as their latest offerings, Fiennes’s Dickens romance The Invisible Woman and the Beat poet drama Kill Your Darlings, had their first Festival screenings.

There was also the small matter of the Surprise Film. More on that in a sec.

First, a quick reminder of what we’re looking forward to today.

Already an Oscar favourite, 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen’s powerful new slavery drama is our Accenture Gala this evening. The press are sat down to watch it as we write, and we’ll be bringing you some of their reactions anon.

There’s also real-life drama in our Archive Gala, The Epic of Everest.

The BFI’s restored version of this historic film of the tragic 1924 Everest expedition receives its world premiere on the same night that it’s released around the country – not to mention that, from 6.30pm this evening, you can watch it from home on the brand new BFI Player.

Our triple-gala Friday feast culminates with Stranger by the Lake, which top-lines our Dare strand with a story of sex and murder in the south of France.

A stacked day.

While we wait for things to get going, here’s a reminder of who was treading the red carpet last night…

‘A kick-ass martial arts movie’

The cat is now out of the bag, and it looked like a butt-kicking martial arts master.

Matthew Thrift was in the audience to see Harvey Weinstein unveil this year’s Surprise Film: Wong Kar-Wai’s The Grandmaster.

“For all of you expecting a nice arthouse, Iranian or British movie, get your ass out the cinema, this is a kick-ass martial arts movie.”

So there we have it. Harvey Weinstein’s on-stage introduction to last night’s Surprise Film. Of course, half the room had already guessed they’d be spending the next couple of hours in the company of The Grandmaster, but only after Festival Director Claire Stewart had strolled up to announce a video introduction from director Wong Kar-Wai.

“This is perhaps the biggest clue that’s ever been given before a Surprise Film,” she said, before Wong appeared on screen to introduce the film himself.

It certainly put the element of surprise back into the event, with not a single member of the audience calling it during the usual guessing game that precedes the unveiling each year.

How did The Grandmaster play to the crowd? Well, the Twitter reactions post-screening speak for themselves.

The film may have garnered a great deal of press on its US release as a result of Harvey Scissorhands’ considerable trimming of the longer Chinese theatrical cut, but it appeared to matter little to an audience for the most part unfamiliar with the minutiae of the various domestic/Berlin/US edits.

So where better for one of Hong Kong cinema’s greatest auteurs to host the UK premiere of a martial arts epic seven years in the making?

The film taking the slot was surprise enough in itself, but Wong’s reconditioning of the Ip Man legend to his singular aesthetic vision ultimately proved the biggest, and most welcome, surprise of the night.

Closing gala Saving Mr. Banks to screen across the UK

The news is out that our world premiere of Saving Mr. Banks will be screening simultaneously in 20 towns and cities across the UK and Ireland on Sunday 20 October, with a live satellite link to the Closing Night Gala screening at the 57th BFI London Film in partnership with American Express®.


The untold story of how Mary Poppins was brought to the big screen, it stars Emma Thompson as the book’s author P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. Both Thompson and Hanks will be on the red carpet, along with director John Lee Hancock, co-writer Kelly Marcel and co-stars Colin Farrell and Ruth Wilson.

All the glamour from the red carpet at London’s Odeon Leicester Square will be beamed into Odeon cinemas around the country from 7:00pm followed by the world premiere itself.

The 20 Odeon cinemas taking part across the UK will be: Basingstoke, Birmingham Broadway Plaza, Bracknell, Braehead, Cardiff, Dorchester, Dunfermline, Huddersfield, Hull, Lee Valley, Lincoln, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Preston, Stoke, Tunbridge Wells, Taunton, Warrington, and Wimbledon.
You can find all the details on participating venues and how to get tickets here.

A British highlight tonight – away from the Everest-scaling drama of our Archive Gala – is the first feature by Destiny Ekaragha, Gone Too Far!

Gone Too Far! (2013)

Gone Too Far! (2013)

Destiny impressed with her 2008 short Tight Jeans, and was able to secure support from the BFI Film Fund for her debut feature.

We checked in with Lizzie Francke, the Film Fund’s senior production and development executive, to ask what she saw in the project:

This is an exuberant collaboration between first time director Destiny Ekaragha (whose various shorts including the hilarious Tight Jeans marked her as a name to watch in the last couple of years) and Royal Court alumna Bola Agbaje.

It is based on Agbaje’s award-winning play that pivots on the reunion of two estranged siblings – the cool Peckhamite teenager Yemi and brother Iku who flies in from Nigeria to be with his long lost family.

We loved the humanity and humour of the project that deals deftly with the more serious subject of cultural tensions that underpin the story while creating an astutely observed  portrait of South London.

12 Years a Slave for Greatest Films poll

It’s over an hour since critics stumbled out onto Leicester Square after this morning’s press screening of 12 Years a Slave – which screens to the public this evening as our Accenture Gala.

The tweets are still coming thick and fast. And never mind the Oscar buzz – people are already talking 2022 Sight & Sound critics’ poll!

Looks like the journos will have lots to ask director Steve McQueen when he arrives for a press conference late this afternoon.

We’ll have coverage of that right here later on.

This has to be one of the strangest images from this year’s Festival.

Just what is going on here?

5 Metres 80 (2013)

5 Metres 80 (2013)

It’s from the short film 5 Metres 80, directed by Nicolas Deveaux and part of tonight’s Bizarre Ride shorts programme.

The LFF programme says it’s about a herd of giraffes who embark on “a series of acrobatic high dives at a deserted Olympic swimming pool” – which does indeed sound bizarre, but barely explains why one is hanging upside down!


8 songs that inspired my film

“If I was asked what Luton looks like,” writer-director Michalis Konstantatos tells us, “I’d describe it with music, not movies.”


While writing the script, he told Georgia Korossi, he was listening to Radiohead’s ‘Like Spinning Plates’, from their album Amnesiac, on loop for 12 hours a day.

Screening in the Festival’s First Feature Competition, the young director’s Luton is a tour de force about the dissatisfied lives of a high-school student, a trainee lawyer in her 30s and a 50-year-old family man. The film follows their routine with a repetitive rhythm, so it’s not surprising that Konstantatos found his inspiration in music.

What other music fired his imagination?

Dubstep, techno, avant-classical and lots and lots of Radiohead.

He gave us this eight-song playlist:

‘Like Spinning Plates’ – Radiohead


‘Cymbal Rush’ – Thom Yorke

‘The Gloaming’ – Radiohead


‘New Error’ – Moderat


‘Archangel’ – Burial


‘Melancholia’ – Einstürzende Neubauten

‘Polymorphia’ – Krzysztof Penderecki


‘Video Tape’ – Radiohead

Just don’t call it a found-footage movie!

Prolific young horror director Ti West has been at the Festival to tout The Sacrament, writes Paul O’Callaghan.

The Sacrament (2013)

The Sacrament (2013)

A faux documentary about a cult clearly modelled on Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, it builds to a harrowing climax worthy of producer Eli Roth. But the film as a whole arguably owes more to the likes of Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene. It’s certainly a far cry from your standard ‘found footage’ horror film, as West was keen to establish when I spoke to him this week.

Stylistically it’s much more of a documentary than it is a found footage movie, and while that sounds like semantics, nobody calls Christopher Guest movies found-footage movies – they’re mockumentaries. But if you call a horror movie a mockumentary it sounds weird because the term implies comedy.”

But it’s a documentary that was made after the events depicted, with music and titles. The characters in the movie are video journalists, and one of them’s a director of photography, so we’re not saying that this is raw footage we just found on a tape.’

I wanted to make a documentary and I didn’t have anything to make a documentary about, so I made a fictional documentary!

As this is something with no supernatural elements whatsoever, unlike my previous film, it made sense to me to have lead characters who were journalists. Before the Jonestown suicide, NBC was there reporting on it. I figured that this new breed of video journalists might be there to document the events I was describing.

I made them Vice Network journalists specifically because I think what they’re doing in the real world is pretty cool. They produce very unique, modern-age video journalism, and they’re not doing it from the right or left – they’re doing it from what feels to me like an honest, subjective perspective. There’s not a lot of media outlets, particularly in the States, that do that.

If I could see anything from the Festival programme, it would be Night Moves. Kelly Reichardt’s is kind of responsible for me having a career, plus I like all of her films!

She introduced me to Larry Fessenden who paid for my first two movies, and is one of the most influential people in my life – I wouldn’t know him if it wasn’t for Kelly! 

Festival quiz: which films star Daniel Radcliffe and Ralph Fiennes?

Answer: Most of the Harry Potter series, of course.

Oh, and our daily Festival highlights video from last night’s red carpet events.


Beat this! Daniel Radcliffe on Allen Ginsberg

Festival-goers are currently getting their second chance to see Kill Your Darlings down at Leicester Square, after its premiere last night.

Daniel Radcliffe plays a young Allen Ginsberg, with Dane DeHaan as his volatile friend Lucien Carr, in director John Krokidas’s highly original Beat-poet drama – a contender in the Festival’s First Feature Competition.

We sat down with the two stars to talk Beat poetry and playing Ginsberg in his pre-beard years.


Not long to go now until our Archive Gala screening of The Epic of Everest.

The Epic of Everest (1924)

The Epic of Everest (1924)

This is the world premiere of our restoration of a film long considered to be one of the jewels of the BFI National Archive: Captain John Noel’s record of the 1924 Everest expedition that ended in the deaths of mountaineers, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine.

There’s not much excuse for missing this one, as it’s released in cinemas around the UK today, as well as being available to watch at home from 6.30pm on our spangly new BFI Player.

This is a film that was brought down from the mountain by yak, has been lovingly preserved by the BFI, and is now available for everyone to see – with an atmospheric new score composed by Simon Fisher Turner.

If you’re interested to know just how one goes about restoring a nearly-90-year-old film like this to its right and proper visual glory, this blog by curator Bryony Dixon talks us through the process.

Meanwhile, The Guardian’s Pamela Hutchinson reviewed the film yesterday, saying:

For all its historical significance, The Epic of Everest feels more like an art film than a documentary, thanks to the restoration of the original tinted sequences and a new and richly textured, often sinister score by Simon Fisher Turner. Modern viewers may squirm at the contrast between Noel’s reverent approach to the mountain and his condescension toward the Tibetan locals. But it’s the chill grandeur of his images, and the mystical note in his rueful conclusion, that will linger in your mind.

Alex Gibney vs Lance Armstrong

The Armstrong Lie is the second film that Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney has made about cyclist Lance Armstrong, says Matthew Thrift.

Not that we’ll ever get to see his first.

The Armstrong Lie (2013)

The Armstrong Lie (2013)

The film was in the latter stages of post-production when what had begun as a series of rumours about the possibility of the sportsman’s use of performance-enhancing drugs, quickly transformed into an avalanche of untold truths.

A tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey followed, and Gibney’s near-completed film was suddenly old news…

I was pissed off. Not so much that I’d been lied to – I’d certainly been lied to before – but I felt that I’d been used, that I’d been used as a prop in a promo campaign…

For a long time, Lance responded as he always had, which was to deny it all. I was pissed off, but I can’t say I was shocked.

It meant going back to the drawing board to begin the film from scratch.

It was hugely challenging. I realised that the only way it was going to work was for me to become a character in the film. I had to become the person to whom this had happened, so that I could explain it all on its many levels.

Also, I stood in for the fans and the cancer survivors who felt that they had invested so much in this myth that Lance had created, and were now so disappointed.

From a filmmaking perspective it was hugely complicated because it involved fracturing the narrative – going back and forth in time – it was a very complicated story in that sense, and the only way possible to make it was by telling it in the first person.

So how does The Armstrong Lie compare with its earlier draft?

It was a different film, but this one is much more layered, and frankly fits with the themes of a lot of my other films. In that sense, while I was hoping to do something different, I ended up being back at base camp for me as a filmmaker.

Director Steve McQueen and Chiwetel Ejiofor are in the house to answer questions about their much-heralded new film 12 Years a Slave. Full report coming shortly…

Time for some time-lapse

There’s 10 minutes to go until the world premiere of The Epic of Everest – at the LFF, in cinemas around the country, and on the BFI Player

Time to squeeze in an Instagram teaser, with some red-tinted time-lapse footage of the majestic mount.


‘A huge hole in the canon of film’

An hour and a bit to go before Steve McQueen and Chiwetel Ejiofor sidle up the red carpet to our Accenture Gala screening of 12 Years a Slave – by all accounts a serious Oscar contender.

A short while ago, both actor and director joined the press to discuss their extraordinary new film, which finally brings the reality of slavery into its brutal, devastating context. Chris Fennell was there to report.

Director Steve McQueen attends the 12 Years a Slave (2013) press conference during the 57th BFI London Film Festival.

Director Steve McQueen attends the 12 Years a Slave (2013) press conference during the 57th BFI London Film Festival.

“Either I’m making a film about slavery or I’m not”, said McQueen. “If you make a film about slavery you have to understand why people were incarcerated in this way for 400 years: it was through mental and physical torture. It’s a huge hole in the canon of film.”

It’s adapted from the 1853 autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free man from New York who was abducted and sold to slavery. Chiwetel Ejiofor was quick to point out the importance of capturing the violence of Northrup’s experiences on film.

“There was just no other way of telling the story. I knew Steve would go to all the places you had to go to. You can’t tell the story of slavery unless you tell it. It’s a strange handicap if you can’t talk about violence in a film about slavery. You’re not going to do justice to any of the people involved. It’s like telling a story about the Second World War but you can’t shoot anybody.”


For McQueen, “there was always only one actor who could play the role and it was Chiwetel.”

“There’s some kind of stature, there’s a class, a dignity to him which I needed and which Solomon needed. He needed to be controlled in that way because that was Solomon Northrop.”

“[Chiwetel] reminds me of Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier. It was a one in a million.”

“It didn’t come that easily to me though,” said Ejiofor, who said it was only when he approached the book as the story of a man rather than the story of slavery that it truly clicked for him.

“The book became very revealing in terms of his character, his world view and the way he approached these circumstances. It’s because of his reflex of survival, love of life and absence of hatred that he is able to continue through it. He gets rid of anything that’s not useful to his survival physically and mentally.”

That’s all for the live blog tonight. 

But we’ll be back tomorrow and throughout the weekend.

Tomorrow, after all, brings awards night.

Not to mention that Sir Christopher Lee will be getting his BFI Fellowship.

And we wouldn’t miss that for the world.

See you in the morning.



This is the moment last night when Steve McQueen’s powerful new slavery drama got a standing ovation from the audience at Odeon Leicester Square.

It seems the critics weren’t joking and 12 Years a Slave is truly a film to be reckoned with. 

Yesterday, Tim Robey at The Daily Telegraph went so far as to call the Oscar race over:

The truth of the matter is that Oscar-prognosticating types are currently divided into two camps: those who have seen Steve McQueen’s slavery drama 12 Years A Slave, and therefore can’t imagine any other film winning, and those who haven’t, and therefore bristle at the idea of the race being called over when there’s so much left to watch.

Let’s take a look at Steve McQueen and actor Chiwetel Ejiofor arriving on the red carpet for their special moment in the spotlight, in our daily video highlights video.

Also featured: Tom Hardy on his new car-bound drama Locke, and BFI curator Robin Baker introduces our Archive Gala screening of The Epic of Everest.


Tom Hiddleston talks vampires and Jim Jarmusch

On to today’s big films.

This afternoon has seen the unveiling of the two final films in our Official Competition: Ahmad Abdalla’s Rags and Tatters, set in the early days of the recent Egyptian revolution, and Ritesh Batra’s Mumbai love story The Lunchbox (the latter just under way at Odeon West End).

The awards themselves will be announced at a star-studded ceremony this evening, where we’ll be live-blogging our hearts out for the duration. If our posts are a little sporadic this afternoon, it’s because we’re gearing up to take you through the evening, bringing you the results as they happen.

Meanwhile, our Cult Gala, in association with Sight & Sound, is Jim Jarmusch’s elegant modern-day vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive, starring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton. We’ll be dipping out of our awards coverage to bring you the buzz from the red carpet.

But we don’t need to wait till then to hear from Tom Hiddleston: here he is talking to us recently about his latest role as a reclusive musician with a taste for blood.


Tonight’s big star Tom Hiddleston had his two first big-screen roles in the sharply observed family dramas of Joanna Hogg: Unrelated (2008) and Archipelago (2010).

Hogg is back at the Festival tonight with her third film, Exhibition, sans Hiddleston and with a bit of a change of direction.

Exhibition (2013)

Exhibition (2013)

Lizzie Francke, senior production and development executive at the BFI Film Fund, talks us through the director’s bold new project:

With her first two critically acclaimed features Unrelated and Archipelago, both exploring the vicissitudes  of the British bourgeoisie, Joanna Hogg has made a very distinct mark.

On paper Exhibition was a very elegant conceit – the proposition was to explore the relationship between an artist couple and the house they have shared for nearly 20 years and are poised to sell.

The result is a portrait of a marriage but also a ghost story of sorts with the house haunted by unspoken loss and longing.

Hogg has a highly refined and compelling sense of the cinematic in her exploration of the spaces – both literal and metaphoric between people.

And the nominations are...

It’s four hours to go until we start revealing the winners of this year’s Festival Awards.

Time to remind ourselves what’s up for grabs and which films are competing.

Remember, each section is open to international and British films, with the Best Film Award being handed out to one of the films in the Official Competition, the Sutherland Award to one of the films in the First Feature Competition, and the Grierson Award to a film in the Documentary Competition.

Here are this year’s nominations in full:

Official Competition

Catherine Breillat’s Abuse of Weakness
Richard Ayoade’s The Double
Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Like Father, Like Son
Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox
Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s Of Good Report
Peter Landesman’s Parkland
Ahmad Abdalla’s Rags & Tatters
Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant
David Mackenzie’s Starred Up
Xavier Dolan’s Tom at the Farm
John Curran’s Tracks
Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin

First Feature Competition

Chika Anadu’s B for Boy
Daniel Patrick Carbone’s Hide Your Smiling Faces
Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo
John Krokidas’ Kill Your Darlings
Alphan Eseli’s The Long Way Home
Michalis Konstantatos’s Luton
Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza’s Salvo
Chloé Robichaud’s Sarah Prefers to Run
Rob Brown’s Sixteen
Vivian Qu’s Trap Street
Fernando Franco’s Wounded
Tom Shoval’s Youth

Documentary Competition

Jessica Oreck’s Aatsinki: The Story of Artic Cowboys
Alex Gibney’s The Armstrong Lie
Frederick Wiseman’s At Berkeley
Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxer
Mark Cousins’s Here Be Dragons
Nicolas Philibert’s La Maison de la radio
Greg Barker’s Manhunt
Rithy Panh’s The Missing Picture
Paul-Julien Robert’s My Fathers, My Mother and Me
Vitaly Mansky’s Pipeline
Matt Wolf’s Teenage
Kitty Green’s Ukraine Is Not a Brothel

Best British Newcomer

1. Conner Chapman – actor, The Selfish Giant
2. Shaun Thomas – actor, The Selfish Giant
3. Destiny Ekaragha – director, Gone Too Far!
4. Rob Brown – director, Sixteen
5. Jack Fishburn & Muireann Price – producers, Love Me till Monday
6. Jonathan Asser – screenwriter, Starred Up

‘The cinema is my only language’

Let’s hear from some of the filmmakers competing tonight. First up, Egyptian director Ahmad Abdalla, whose film Rags and Tatters is in the running for Best Feature and had its first Festival screening this afternoon.

Chris Fennell met up with him to ask how this affecting portrait of recent Egyptian history came about.


I just had a lot of questions after the last two or three years in Egypt. And most of my questions weren’t answered. The cinema is my only language. The only thing I can do is make a film. So I made this film about some events I witnessed. I just wanted to raise all these questions to the people and see what happened. This is why we have almost no dialogue. I didn’t even have any specific words to say.

You’ve been heavily associated with the revolutionary spirit in Egypt. How did you go about capturing this?

I was participating in Tahir Square. I spent 18 days sleeping there. When I wanted to make Rags and Tatters, I was going through stories I heard from real people I met and we had the backbone of the film based on that.

How does it feel having your film in the Official Competition at the LFF?

I feel perfect because after making this film, after losing all this money, it’s great to have a light of hope.

‘In Nigeria, feminism is a dirty word’

B for Boy is the highly accomplished debut feature from Lagos-based writer-director Chika Anadu, writes Paul O’Callaghan.

The Sutherland Award-nominated B for Boy is centred around Amaka, a middle class woman nearing 40 who is under immense pressure from her husband’s family to conceive a male child. I spoke to its director this week about the film’s strong feminist message and her cinematic influences.

In Nigeria, like a lot of places, feminism is a dirty word. People often ask me ‘are you a feminist?’ like that’s an accusation. Luckily I’m not afraid to admit what I am! Some people (in Nigeria) try to fight for women’s rights but it’s done in a very hush hush manner, because you don’t want to be accused of trying to break up the family unit. People always quote the Bible at you, so it’s not easy – it takes a particular type of character. My way of fighting for women’s rights is through my films.

There are two main themes I explore in the film. One is an uneasy sense of traditional and modern culture coexisting in Nigeria, and the second is injustice against women, perpetuated and sustained by other women. The victims become the victimisers, so to speak. I think it derives from anger on the part of women who put up with this inequality – who are you to balk at tradition?


I’m influenced by cinema that takes its time and is visually pleasing, and understands that film is visual storytelling. And I like films that just allow the scenes to be – where’s the rush? I love Steve McQueen – I don’t have the words to express how much I loved Shame!

And I’m a huge fan of Paul Thomas Anderson. The camerawork in my film is very much influenced by There Will Be Blood – I often leave the camera in one place, and don’t show the faces of everyone in the scene. I like to allow the audience to work a little mentally, and just immerse the viewer in the feeling and emotion of a scene.

In terms of female filmmakers, I especially admire Susanne Bier. What I love about her is her focus on family drama. I find it fascinating that your family are people that are supposed to protect and love you, but because they know you so well they can do you the most harm. I have a family I’m very close to, but the most hurt I’ve felt has been because of them.

The stars of this evening’s Festival Awards have started to arrive, including juror Saoirse Ronan and filmmakers Destiny Ekaragha (a possible Best British Newcomer for Gone Too Far!) and Clio Barnard, whose The Selfish Giant is a contender in the Official Competition.

Punk on Broadway

Back at Leicester Square, away from the Awards excitement, the Sonic strand sees the international premiere of Broadway Idiot at 9pm this evening.

It’s a new kind of putting-on-a-show musical, following the production of a stage-musical version of Green Day’s hugely popular 2004 album American Idiot. Chris Fennell bent the ear of documentarist Doug Hamilton, who followed the project from its inception.

Broadway Idiot (2013)

Broadway Idiot (2013)

It’s a highly original project. What drew you to it?

I’ve worked in theatre for years as a still photographer and I’m interested in the process by which theatre shows come together. I heard about this show happening and it just seemed a really interesting situation to me: you have one of the biggest bands in the world and they’re known as a punk band, coming into Broadway which certainly isn’t know for this kind of music. It just felt like something interesting was going to happen.

There are some great concert movies out there already. What influenced you?

I love sort of process films that show someone’s creative process. There’s a beautiful film called Dancemaker about American choreographer Paul Taylor and you really understood him, how he worked, and you understood the company, you got the sense of what it’s like to be inside. I think it’s best if film takes you some place you don’t always get to go. No one gets to go into the rehearsal room and see how all that comes together and to go inside the mind of a big rock star so that’s what I was after.

Did you consult with Green Day at all?

The band was approached about making the theatre piece. That wasn’t their idea. The director of the theatre piece is the one who had the idea after listening to American Idiot many times. It was his favourite album of the period and he just kind of imagined the show.

Green Day was interested and liked what he had done and so they were willing to go step by step but there wasn’t in the beginning a complete sign off. One of the things the film does is show some of those steps. There’s a scene that’s kind of tense where Green Day comes in to see what  they’ve been working on for a while and they weren’t sure whether Green Day would like it or not.

Are you excited to have your film at LFF?

I’m very excited to have it here. This is our international premiere. It’s a fantastic festival and Green Day are big here. People respond to them and I hope people respond to the film too.

This year’s Festival Awards are just 10 minutes away… 

We’re under way at The Banqueting House, Whitehall, with the 57th BFI London Film Festival Awards.

A glittering guest list, including Miranda Richardson, Rodrigo Prieto, Stephen Dillane, Saoirse Ronan, Susanna White, Jim Broadbent, Colin Salmon, Lone Scherfig, Deborah Moggach and Joanne Froggatt, have dined sumptuously and now await the opening of the envelopes.

In competition at the 57th BFI London Film Festival

In competition at the 57th BFI London Film Festival

Up for grabs this evening are the Festival’s Award for Best Film, the Sutherland Award for Best First Feature, the Grierson Award for Best Documentary, and the Best British Newcomer Award.

Not forgetting, of course, that Sir Christopher Lee is present to receive the BFI’s highest honour, a BFI Fellowship. Someone very special will be greeting Sir Christopher on stage to present that award. More on that very soon…

Back in the media room, the assembled press has itself lavishly dined on pizza and coke, and we’re geared up to bring you all the announcements minute by minute.

Our host for the evening is Joanna Lumley, who strides onto the stage after an introduction from LFF Festival Director Clare Stewart.

The first to be announced will be the Best British Newcomer Award, presented to an emerging writer, actor, producer or director.

Juror Saoirse Ronan is here to announce the nominations…

They are…

Conner Chapman – actor, The Selfish Giant
Shaun Thomas – actor, The Selfish Giant
Destiny Ekaragha – director, Gone Too Far!
Rob Brown – director, Sixteen
Jack Fishburn & Muireann Price – producers, Love Me Till Monday
Jonathan Asser – screenwriter, Starred Up

And the winner is:

Jonathan Asser, screenwriter, Starred Up.

Jury President Amanda Posey introduces him on to the stage, saying: “Starred Up is an original story told with an individual and authentic voice, at once moving, provocative and always gripping. The material, even from a new screenwriter, was intelligent and distinctive enough to attract very high quality filmmaking talent and actors, and to help illicit extraordinary work from all involved. The whole jury felt Jonathan Asser brought a fresh, resonant and surprising perspective to a classic conflict”.

Writer Jonathan Asser and director David MacKenzie attend a screening of Starred Up (2013) on day two of the 57th BFI London Film Festival.

Writer Jonathan Asser and director David MacKenzie attend a screening of Starred Up (2013) on day two of the 57th BFI London Film Festival.

The jury also commends the performances of nominees Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas for their roles in The Selfish Giant.

Says Posey: “The whole jury was blown away by these two performances and we could not separate them as together they are the heart of the film. These are two outstanding talents and we wanted the opportunity to recognise that with this joint commendation.”

Time to announce the Grierson Award in the Documentary Competition, recognising documentaries with integrity, originality, and social or cultural significance.

Jury President Kate Ogborn is on stage to count them down…

Jessica Oreck’s Aatsinki: The Story of Artic Cowboys
Alex Gibney’s The Armstrong Lie
Frederick Wiseman’s At Berkeley
Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxer
Mark Cousins’ Here Be Dragons
Nicolas Philibert’s La Maison de la radio
Greg Barker’s Manhunt
Rithy Panh’s The Missing Picture
Paul-Julien Robert’s My Fathers, My Mother and Me
Vitaly Mansky’s Pipeline
Matt Wolf’s Teenage
Kitty Green’s Ukraine Is Not a Brothel

And the winner is…

Paul-Julien Robert’s My Fathers, My Mother and Me.

My Fathers, My Mother and Me (2013)

My Fathers, My Mother and Me (2013)

“As a jury we would like to recognise the bravery of Paul-Julien Robert for taking us on such a personal journey with My Fathers, My Mother & Me,” says Ogborn.

“It is a thought-provoking and disturbing film, intimate whilst also raising larger questions of power, parental responsibility and abuse. The incredible archive footage combined with the personal journey of a mother and son left us disturbed, angry and feeling that this is a film that deserves to be seen by a wider audience”.

In case you missed it, here was the Festival’s on-stage Q&A with Robert.


Also commended by the jury in the Documentary Competition is Cutie and the Boxer for the original and creative way in which the filmmakers crafted an intimate portrait of a relationship, as well as Greg Baker’s compelling Manhunt which gave the audience extraordinary access to usually unreachable secret intelligence operatives.

The exquisite cinematography of Pipeline also got a special mention.

Best British Newcomer Jonathan Asser celebrates backstage with jurors Saoirse Ronan and Amanda Posey.

Next up is the BFI Fellowship, which Joanna Lumley calls “the cinematic equivalent of a knighthood.”

This year it’s for Sir Christopher Lee, who Lumley recalls acting with back in 1973 on The Satanic Rites of Dracula.

Time for an awards-ceremony montage of some of the many peaks of Lee’s screen career: The Wicker Man, Hammer horrors, The Lord of the Rings, The Man with the Golden Gun, the Star Wars series – they’re all here.

We’re about to find out who will be presenting the award…

Depp has welcomed “the inimitable Sir Christopher” to the stage, calling him “a true gentleman. He is a national treasure and he is a genuine artist. I love you.”

Paraphrasing conductor Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Christopher elicits ripples of laughter by claiming to have tried everything once except “incest and folk dancing”.

Huge applause from the audience after an emotional speech from the great actor, also paying tribute in return to his friend Depp, saying he’s “one of the very few young actors on the screen today who is truly a star.” 


Moving on to the Sutherland Award for First Feature, recognising an original and imaginative directorial debut.

The nominations are…

  • Chika Anadu’s B for Boy
  • Daniel Patrick Carbone’s Hide Your Smiling Faces
  • Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo
  • John Krokidas’ Kill Your Darlings
  • Alphan Eseli’s The Long Way Home
  • Michalis Konstantatos’ Luton
  • Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza’s Salvo
  • Chloé Robichaud’s Sarah Prefers to Run
  • Rob Brown’s Sixteen
  • Vivian Qu’s Trap Street
  • Fernando Franco’s Wounded
  • Tom Shoval’s Youth

Documentary Competition winner Paul-Julien Robert pictured backstage…

The First Feature Competition winner has been announced…

It’s Anthony Chen for Ilo Ilo.

Ilo Ilo (2013)

Ilo Ilo (2013)

“The startlingly assured direction and screenwriting of the winning film surprised us all,” says jury president Elizabeth Karlsen.

“Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo also chose a domestic canvas, but the imaginative and innovative voice of this filmmaker elevated the film technically and narratively, and made us wonder at the fragile nature of family life in this modern Singapore tale”.

It’s getting tense now. 

There’s just one award left. Yep, it’s Best Film time.

Let’s remind ourselves of the nominations.

The Festival’s second-ever Official Competition line-up, recognising inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking, includes the following:

  • Catherine Breillat’s Abuse of Weakness
  • Richard Ayoade’s The Double
  • Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida
  • Kore-eda Hirokazu’s Like Father, Like Son
  • Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox
  • Jahmil X.T Qubeka’s Of Good Report
  • Peter Landesman’s Parkland
  • Ahmad Abdalla’s Rags & Tatters
  • Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant
  • David Mackenzie’s Starred Up
  • Xavier Dolan’s Tom at the Farm
  • John Curran’s Tracks
  • Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin

Jury president and veteran film critic Philip French is coming up to announce the winner…

It’s Pawel Pawlikowski’s night for Ida!

Ida (2013)

Ida (2013)

“The jury greatly admired Ida,” says French, “the first film made in his native Poland by a director who came to prominence while living in Britain. We were deeply moved by a courageous film that handles, with subtlety and insight, a painfully controversial historical situation – the German occupation and the Holocaust – which continues to resonate. Special praise went to his use of immersive visual language to create a lasting emotional impact.”

Pawel Pawlikowski is on stage making his thank you speech, giving a special mention to Clare Stewart for including Ida in the Festival.

In case you missed it, here’s our on-stage Q&A with the director.


The winners are...

That’s all for the prizes folks.

A quick recap of tonight’s winners…

Pawel Pawlikowski takes Best Film for Ida, his Polish homecoming film after a series of acclaimed films over here.

Ilo Ilo, directed by Anthony Chen, is named Best First Feature.

Paul-Julien Robert’s My Fathers, My Mother and Me wins the Documentary Competition with My Fathers, My Mother and Me.

And Jonathan Asser is named Best British Newcomer for his screenplay for prison drama Starred Up.

‘I have the best luck and the worst luck’ – winner Anthony Chen

Chris Fennell talks to Anthony Chen, tonight’s winner of the Festival’s Sutherland Award for Best First Feature.

Ilo Ilo (2013)

Ilo Ilo (2013)

You capture the 1990s so evocatively in your film. How did you manage to do this and what made you decide to do this?

I think it was a very natural decision. I was born in the 80s and spent so much of my childhood in the 90s. I think the motivation for this film was very simple. It was very pure – it wasn’t for the festivals or the box office – I just wanted to make a very sincere and honest film about my childhood. And I wanted to create a very authentic version of that period.

So in terms of the cinematography and the art direction it wasn’t about a stylised set or showing what I could do with the camera, I just wanted something which was very genuine. So I was very particular about the hair, the fabric, colour – it was how I imagined and remembered the past. I was very adamant about fabrics and textures and it was about getting it right. It wasn’t about romanticising or creating a nostalgic version of the past.

For me it was an incredibly mature debut. In less capable hands, I thought the film could have lapsed into melodrama but it never does. It has faith in the everyday actions of ordinary people. How did you achieve this?

I spent a long time casting. We went to 21 schools, saw 8000 children, auditioned 2000 formally, then I ran a workshop for 150 of them at weekends. It was a very gruelling process trying to nail down the right kid.

I wasn’t interested in casting an actress or a star. It was about creating a family, something genuine, finding a real father, a real mother and a real kid. Apart from the kid, all of them are actors. I wanted to strip away their stardom. It was very much not about getting the performances completely right but about creating a real sense of family. In fact, I think even now, the kid [Jia Le] is still calling them Mummy and Daddy.

We’ll be back tomorrow for the very last day of the Festival, with coverage of our Closing Night Gala screening of Saving Mr. Banks, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, and lots more besides.

For now, we leave you with this wonderful image of Sir Christopher Lee with Johnny Depp at tonight’s ceremony.

See you on day 12.

Sir Christopher Lee with Johnny Depp

Sir Christopher Lee with Johnny Depp

The end is nigh. It’s the last day of this year’s LFF – the day that Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson bring the curtain down on proceedings with our Closing Night Gala screening of Saving Mr. Banks.

The morning press show is coming to an end right now – but as the journalists are sworn to secrecy until tonight, we’ll hear not a word of reaction until this evening’s Gala.

Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson will, however, be allowed to talk about the film, and will do just that at a press conference this afternoon. As ever, we’ll have a report right here.

Truth be told, we’re a little bleary-eyed this morning after all the fun of last night’s Festival Awards.

You’ll know by now it was the year that Pawel Pawlikowski won Best Film for Ida, and that Johnny Depp arrived to present Sir Christopher Lee with a BFI Fellowship Award. The Grierson Award for Best Documentary went to My Fathers, My Mother and Me by director Paul-Julien Robert, the First Feature Competition was won by Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo, and screenwriter Jonathan Asser picked up Best British Newcomer for Starred Up.

You can catch up with who said what and who thanked who in our video highlights reel:


One of last night’s big winners was Austrian filmmaker Paul-Julien Robert, who – despite competition from non-fiction big-hitters Alex Gibney, Nicolas Philibert, Mark Cousins and Frederick Wiseman – walked away with the Grierson Award for Best Documentary. 

His film My Fathers, My Mother and Me is an examination of Friedrichshof, the famous sex commune set up by the radical Otto Muehl in the 1970s. 

In case you missed it, here’s Robert talking about his award-winning film and his own childhood in the commune:


Haunting the Festival

While Sir Christopher Lee was receiving his BFI Fellowship last night, up town at Leicester Square the atmospheric ghost story Blackwood was staking a new claim to the British horror tradition.

Its debuting director Adam Wimpenny spoke to Chris Fennell.

Blackwood (2013)

Blackwood (2013)

What were your influences on Blackwood?

When we set out to make the film, we were talking about ghost stories we liked and we kept coming back to films from the 60s and 70s, films like “Don’t Look Now”, Rosemary’s Baby etc. We were looking at films almost from a mood point of view. There’s something about horror films from that era which have their very own style and pace.

We wanted to try and capture that with this film. I think it sets itself up as a ghost story but I hope when audiences come out of the film we have managed to play with their expectations somehow.

You’re very experienced in TV. How did you find the transition towards feature film?

I really enjoyed the experience. I’ve been wanting to make a feature film for a long time but no one ever comes knocking on your door offering you one! It’s always a struggle to try and find the money and put the whole thing together but in the end we did it on a micro-budget. The end result punches above its weight because we had some really skilled people working on it. But you never get the perfect storm working on a film.

The horror genre seems to really work on a low budget. What do you think it is about horror that makes this possible?

There’s a simplicity to horror and to ghost stories. First of all you’ve got one or two key locations and then you’ve got a small collective or cast of people. So from a filmmaker point of view it just makes a lot of sense to try and make your first film as contained as possible so you don’t spread your resources too thin. It lends itself very well to low budget filmmaking. There’s something quite earthy and gritty about low budget horror films which give them a certain veneer.

What’s it like having your film at the LFF?

For me, I grew up in Yorkshire and I moved down to London because I knew this is where I’d have to be to make films. So to finally have your film playing in Leicester Square, where for years I’ve been going to watch my favourite movies, is a huge deal and I’m very proud to be part of it. It’s a great lineup this year and to even be under that umbrella is great for us.

Enjoying this sleek Instagram of Tom Hiddleston on the red carpet for last night’s screening of Jim Jarmusch’s modern-day vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive.


Your roving reporter ducked into the post-screening party held by the film’s UK distributor Soda Pictures, where a masked surgeon was doing the rounds with an IV bag full of blood (actually a somewhat lethal sambucca and tequila concoction).

That we don’t have an Instagram of our own to prove it must be considered a dereliction of professional duty.

This embargo on tweeting about or reviewing Saving Mr. Banks till tonight is killing us.

We’ll have to wait a few more hours to find out what critics and the audience make of it.

In the meantime, we’ve got ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ going round and round in our heads.

With Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers, will John Lee Hancock’s new film take its place in the growing pantheon of movies about the making of classic movies?

Ps. Some lunchtime reading: the 1964 Mary Poppins was one of our 10 great films based on classic children’s books.

‘Sometimes the way to be artistic is to be the least artistic you can be’

Still to come this evening, away from our glittering Closing Night Gala, is another chance to catch Gloria, a Chilean comedy about the romantic escapades of a disco-loving fiftysomething.

It was a critics’ favourite at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, and is already cropping up on some LFF-goers’ best of the fest lists.

We spoke to its director, Sebastián Lelio.


Gloria has been in many film festivals. What is different for you about the London Film Festival?

It’s exciting because it’s not always been easy for Chilean films to get into the London Film Festival. The film is going to be distributed here soon so this is the first step.

It’s a really vivacious, funny film, focusing on a type of character who is so often ignored in cinema…

In a way I saw an appeal in that, in getting my hands dirty with materials that don’t belong to high culture. You can turn anything into cinemas. Sometimes the way to be artistic is to be the least artistic you can be. So playing with feelings, cheesy pop, romantic songs, a 50-year-old lady – it doesn’t sound like real cinema, but says who?

I’ve also been waiting to work with Paulina Garcia for years and this was finally the opportunity.

What was that like? Her performance has received so many accolades.

In a way the film is like a secret love letter to her. The bet of the film in a way was all or nothing: I mean if she had failed, the film would have sunk with her because it’s all about Gloria; they are inseparable. It’s really interesting when people say “the film is great but the performance is fantastic”. And I’m like “is this separable?”.

But in a way I think it’s almost flattering because people have this illusion that Gloria was almost something that comes out of the film, as if she really existed. That’s really something because film is just a projection of lights and shadows, there’s nothing in that.

What do you make of the overwhelmingly positive reactions to the film?

It’s hard for me to process because you cannot programme something like this. The unanimity of the audience and critics is really good. But I guess if you plan that you would be paralysed.

When I was doing the film I was really paralysed about the problems of the film, the artistic problems, to make it work, to make it be alive. I had an intuition: I always said this was going to be my pop film. I would have been really happy with much less.

Interview: Chris Fennell

Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson and Colin Farrell have just wrapped up talking to the press ahead of tonight’s Closing Night Gala screening of Saving Mr. Banks. Full report coming shortly.

‘I didn’t have a single dream in my head’

Just over an hour to go to till our Closing Night Gala kicks off.

We’ll be welcoming Saving Mr. Banks stars Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell and Ruth Wilson, director John Lee Hancock, producer Alison Owen and screenwriter Kelly Marcel to the red carpet for this grand finale to this year’s Festival.

This afternoon the cast and crew spoke to the press conference. Ashley Clark was in the media throng to bring us these nuggets.

Producer Alison Owen, actors Colin Farrell, Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Ruth Wilson, director John Lee Hancock and screenwriter Kelly Marcel attend the photocall for Saving Mr Banks during the 57th BFI London Film Festival at The Dorchester

Producer Alison Owen, actors Colin Farrell, Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Ruth Wilson, director John Lee Hancock and screenwriter Kelly Marcel attend the photocall for Saving Mr Banks during the 57th BFI London Film Festival at The Dorchester

Tom Hanks  

On being in LFF for opening and closing films

I’ve been sleeping in a sleeping bag behind a tea shop behind the Serpentine Gallery for the last week and a half. The rain almost killed me!

On playing Walt Disney

There was a responsibility. It’s quite a gauntlet to throw down. Walt Disney was as big an influence in our lives as Uncle Sam, the President of the United States and Mickey Mouse himself. I had not a clue of how to begin [for research] except outside my own memories. There’s a lot of audio out there, but it’s mostly Walt Disney performing as Walt Disney. I wanted to find those moments where he’s just talking in his natural cadence, and I had some access to that thanks to Diane Miller Disney, his daughter, and the fantastic museum establishment in San Francisco.

In this case I was a hired gun. I didn’t say anything that wasn’t in the script. I asked a few questions. I thought there was some Americanisms that needed to be put in. But it was all OK. We treated the script like the Gutenberg Bible! It was a beautifully constructed sweater and I wasn’t about to start pulling the thread.

On his early acting aspirations

I didn’t have a single dream in my head. I operated like a communist. If I built a decent tractor I could build another tractor. I didn’t have a five-year plan, I was just stumbling around.

Colin Farrell

Anytime you step into the fiction of another person’s skin and you are objectively perusing the script and the characters it’s a departure. This does feel a little bit more unique. As soon as you read things [normally] you become very analytical and you think about the characters and the situation. This defied any kind of analysis. It was just moving from start to finish. It’s really nice to be part of things that work, the the whole becomes more than the parts that make it.

Emma Thompson

On playing P.L. Travers

I just let out my inner prickly pear. I was my true self… difficult, cantankerous. I only hide that for effect because you get on better and you’re given more stuff. So, I let it all hang out! I’ve got to tell you its such a relief to be rude without any repercussions whatsoever!

Can you imagine it? “I don’t want to come to your f*****g press conference because I’m bored of them!” “I don’t want to come to your birthday party!” If you could just come out with these things…. and she did! She said what she meant.

Travers had this theory later on in life that women’s lives were divided into three main phases: a nymph, mother and crone, and it’s great. It’s interesting and there’s something that’s true about that. We wanted to put some of each bit of that in her.

Kelly Marcel, writer

On composer Robert Sherman

He’s the biggest, jolliest fellow you could ever meet. He’s like a cartoon character. He’s just incredibly wonderful, and meeting him was kind of a beautiful experience. When we met him he was crying. He was bitter about the experience [with Travers], he was saying “I didn’t know she had that childhood and now I can forgive her”.

A nice touch down on the red carpets for Saving Mr. Banks tonight…

Cherry trees line the way.

Magical scenes down at Leicester Square as Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson arrive for the Closing Night Gala screening of Saving Mr. Banks.

We’ll be winding up the Festival live blog tomorrow morning with some snaps and video highlights from tonight’s event, as well as rounding up the highlights from this year’s Festival.

Join us then. Good night for now.


Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks attend the Closing Night Gala screening of Saving Mr. Banks during the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon Leicester Square.

Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks attend the Closing Night Gala screening of Saving Mr. Banks during the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon Leicester Square.

The fun’s all over.

Last night saw a suitably magical close to the 57th LFF with Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell and the cast and crew of Saving Mr. Banks arriving on a red carpet lined with cherry trees for our Closing Night Gala world premiere.

We’ve video highlights from the evening right here.


The film itself seems to have gone down a treat (we hesitate to say ‘like a spoonful of sugar’) with the audience.

It’s been a star-studded 12 days, with over 670 filmmaker guests attending the Festival. A total audience of 151,000 film-goers enjoyed 235 fiction and documentary features, including 22 world premieres, 12 international premieres, 29 European premieres, 20 archive films, and 134 live action and animated shorts. Films came from a total of 74 different countries.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the show.

It’s time to wind down our live blog for now, and hopefully get some sleep.

Till next time.

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