London Film Festival: An Alternative Guide

Big stars and big movies will be at the London Film Festival this month, but let's not forget the little (crazy) ones

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Brad Pitt is helping close the London Film Festival with World War II armour drama Fury (out on general release on 24 October), while Benedict Cumberbatch opens it as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game (out 14 November).

But let's face it, the chances of you having tickets for either of those is rather slim.

Which isn't, of course, to say LFF isn't for you. On contrary, for real film lovers the joy is in finding the less famous but-no-less-interesting gems hidden in the schedule. Here, we pick seven of the best.

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1 |  The gritty British thriller: ’71 (above)

In Yann Demange’s nail-biting chase movie, British squaddie Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell) gets abandoned in Belfast and begins a long, terrifying night looking for help from a hostile, fearful population. O’Connell cements his one-to-watch status, despite having no more than a handful of spoken lines. 

On general release 10 October.


2 | The ultraviolent Japanese musical: Tokyo Tribe

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Expunge all thoughts of West Side Story from your head, even though Shion Sono’s super-nutty rap musical (aka, our new favourite film genre) does share some structural similarities pitting rival adolescent gangs – and close friends – against each other. Not sure the Sharks ever resorted to cannibalism, however.


3 | The bleak Chinese tearjerker: Dearest


When Tian Wen-jun’s three- year-old son Pengpeng went missing, he made videos, sang on street corners, and dealt with blackmailers, in his desperate attempts to find him. In Peter Ho-Sun Chan’s dramatisation of the case, which explores China’s child abduction problem, his anguish is painful and palpable.

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4 | The creepy Austrian doc: In The Basement

After the abhorrent acts conducted in an Austrian basement by Josef Fritzl, controversial film-maker Ulrich Seidl meets others of his fellow countrymen and women in theirs, to interview them about their subterranean habits. Snakes, latex and Nazi memorabilia are involved.


5 | The highfalutin French fantasy: Mėtamorphoses

 
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If you’re au fait with Ovid’s Mėtamorphoses – his telling of the transformation myths usually involving unwitting humans and rapey gods – you’ll chin-stroke your way through writer-director Christophe Honoré’s daring modern retelling, where Jupiter is a truck driver and Narcissus travels by skateboard.


6 | The subtle Danish horror: When Animals Dream (above)

 
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Not since Maxim from The Prodigy have freaky contact lenses been used to such effect as they are in director Jonas Alexander Arnby’s chilly, elegant debut about a young girl in a remote fishing village who starts to develop werewolf traits (you think Michael J Fox had an issue with chest hair…).


7 | The daring Ukrainian arthouse: The Tribe

Don’t be put off by this daring debut from Ukrainian Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy being performed in sign language – unhelpfully, with no subtitles. It depicts the illicit activities at a boarding school for young deaf people – less debagging and tuck shop raids, more prostitution and robbery.

The London Film Festival runs from 8–19 October at various London locations. See bfi.org.uk/lff for exact screening times and venues


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