LFF Official Competition spotlight: 120 BPM (Beats per Minute)

Get up to speed with the films playing in competition at this year’s BFI London Film Festival. Today’s pick: Robin Campillo’s 120 BPM.


What’s it about?

Robin Campillo (writer of Laurent Cantet’s Palme d’Or-winner The Class) puts across the story of the French branch of the AIDs activism group ACT UP with force and passion. It’s the late 1980s and a gang of campaigners embark on a series of protests highlighting the plight of gay people facing a newly prevalent disease without support from the state or the drug companies. At the heart of the film is a love story between Sean, a smart and outspoken guy living with an HIV-positive diagnosis, and Nathan, a new recruit devoted to the cause.

Who made it?

Campillo, who is a former member of ACT UP, worked as screenwriter and editor on Cantet’s The Class and Time Out before making his directorial debut with the existential zombie drama They Came Back. After sharing the César Award for best adaptation for his work on The Class, he directed Eastern Boys, about a relationship between a Chechnyan refugee and his older French lover. 120 BPM is his third film as director.

What people are saying

“The fact that BPM finds the time to deliver no fewer than three very good sex scenes tells you what sort of film it is: measured, generous, radical and queer … The miracle of BPM is that in depicting a time of great tragedy it deploys not just righteous anger but a bustling and vibrant visual language and a wickedly irreverent tone. The film is truly funny – not just sometimes and not wryly, but often and riotously.”
— Caspar Salmon, Sight & Sound

Why we’re excited

“Robin Campillo’s incisive and gripping film, which is about both the act of protest and the impact of HIV on the LGBT community, has just been selected as France’s entry in the Foreign Language category at the Academy Awards. We are passionate about this film, not only because of its enthralling filmmaking, but because as a team, we also programme the BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival, and this is one of the most important and dazzling LGBT films ever made.”
— Clare Stewart, Festival Director

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