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The 61st BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL In Partnership With AMERICAN EXPRESS® Announces Full 2017 Programme

8/31/2017 12:00:00 AM

The 61st BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® today announces its full programme, featuring a diverse selection of 242 feature films from both established and emerging talent. This 12 day celebration of cinema illustrates the richness of international filmmaking, with films to delight and entertain audiences, and also films that probe and interrogate issues of significance.

The Festival is the UK’s leading and most prestigious film festival, representing one of the first opportunities for audiences – both the UK public and film industry professionals - to see the very best new films from across the globe, alongside an events programme with some of the world’s most inspiring creative talents. This year, the Festival will host 28 World Premieres, 9 International Premieres and 34 European Premieres and will welcome a stellar line up of cast and crew for many of the films.

The 242 feature programmes screening at the Festival include: 46 documentaries, 6 animations, 14 archive restorations and 16 artists’ moving image features. The programme also includes 128 short films, and 67 countries are represented across short film and features.

Each evening of the Festival sees a Headline Gala presentation at Odeon Leicester Square. Films in Official Competition and Strand Galas are once again presented at the 820-seat Embankment Garden Cinema following a successful inaugural year in 2016, with audiences and filmmakers alike praising its quality of cinema experience. This temporary venue, constructed to the highest technical specifications, brings the festival to even more people and connects screenings in the West End with the BFI’s home cinema at BFI Southbank.

Alongside the Galas, Special Presentations and films in Competitions, the Festival will show a thrilling range of new cinema in sections Love, Debate, Laugh, Dare, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Experimenta and Family – which provide pathways for audiences to navigate the programme. In 2017, the LFF presents a new strand, Create, featuring films that celebrate artistic practice in all its channels and forms the electricity of the creative process, reflecting London’s position as one of the world’s leading creative cities.

Audiences have the opportunity to hear some of the world’s creative leaders through the Festival’s acclaimed talks’ series LFF Connects, which features artists working at the intersection of film and other creative industries, and Screen Talks, a series of in-depth interviews with leaders in contemporary cinema. Participants this year include Julian Rosefeldt & Cate Blanchett, David Fincher, Demis Hassabis, Nitin Sawhney, Johan Knattrup Jensen, Ian McEwan and Takashi Miike.

As one of the few film festivals in the world to be staged in a production capital, the Festival takes its place as a jewel in the crown of London’s cultural calendar, channelling the excellence of one of the world’s most vibrant cultural cities, and highlighting the enormous wealth of talent working in film today, both behind and in front of the camera. Alongside the industry programme and Awards, the Festival proudly acts as a launch pad for new as well as established voices, and supports filmmakers throughout their career aiming to interrogate how film and filmmaking reflects – and reflects on – our society.

The BFI London Film Festival each year provides a vibrant forum for the exchange of ideas, with films stimulating debate and shining a light on pressing social and political issues. This year a number of ‘talking points’ ripple through the Festival programme, including:

• LBGT – In the year of the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, the Festival presents a powerful LGBT line-up.

• Immigration and Social Division – Two of the defining themes of our times are explored by filmmakers who are committed to telling powerful and complex stories about borders – both real and psychological.

• Black Star – Following the BFI’s landmark season celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors in film, recent world events give new urgency to questions of opportunity, and basic human rights.

• Visionaries – Cinema remains one of the most exhilaratingly kinetic and visually potent storytelling forms, and many filmmakers this year impress with the singularity and power of their vision, with keen imagination and dazzling style.

• Thrill – It’s a very strong year for global thrill seekers at the Festival, with a particularly strong showing from East Asia, which comes as the BFI embarks on the UK-wide season BFI Thriller, exploring how the genre reflects societal upheavals, fears and anxieties.

• Strong Women – The Festival continues to shine a light on strong women behind and in front of the camera. At this year’s Festival, 61 women directors are represented in the feature film selection, approximately 25% of the programme.

• Deafness and disability – Both feature with marked prominence in this year’s Festival programme, though the film industry still has a long way to go in terms of representation for disabled people. The Festival’s industry programme will include a partnership event on equality of opportunity and expression for deaf and disabled people working in film & television.

The Festival takes over screens at fifteen venues across the capital, from the West End cinemas – Vue Leicester Square and the iconic Odeon Leicester Square; central London venues – BFI Southbank, BFI IMAX, Picturehouse Central, the ICA, Curzon Mayfair, Curzon Soho, Empire Haymarket, Prince Charles Cinema and Ciné Lumière; and local cinemas – Hackney Picturehouse , Rich Mix in Shoreditch and Curzon Chelsea. Special screenings will also be held at the National Gallery and the Barbican, and several key events will also be cinecasted to cinema venues around the UK.

“It is a delight to welcome some of the most thrilling storytellers from across the world to the Festival – we love to watch and engage with the extraordinary conversations that the Festival brings to our doorstep with every edition,” comments Amanda Nevill, Chief Executive, BFI. “London has a big heart and this year we are again reminded of the generosity and freedom of this awesome capital city of ours which so readily embraces this multiplicity of cultures and new voices. This creativity is reflected across the UK and the engine that is enabling filmmaking to thrive, supported by a favourable fiscal environment, outstanding skills and talent and ever expanding infrastructure and facilities.”

“In these globally tumultuous times, filmmakers around the world have increasingly urgent stories to tell and more reasons than ever to reimagine our reality,” comments Clare Stewart, Festival Director. “This year’s BFI London Film Festival programme is rich with opportunity – to stay informed, be challenged, feel the pleasure of escape and see the world differently.”

Whether it’s short films or documentaries, live action or animation, audiences should find a film to suit their passions - and with a range of ticket options, including family ticket prices and £5 rush tickets for under-25s, the Festival will bring the vibrancy of the world’s film industry to as many people as possible, offering an unparalleled experience to see the films that everyone will be talking for months.

GALAS

OPENING & CLOSING NIGHT GALAS
As previously announced, the Festival opens with the European Premiere of BREATHE, the directorial debut of Andy Serkis, on Wednesday 4 October. Adventurous and charismatic, Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield) has his whole life ahead of him when he is paralysed by polio whilst in Africa and given just months to live. Against all advice, Robin’s wife Diana (Claire Foy) brings him home from hospital where her devotion and witty determination inspire him to lead along and fulfilled life. Together they refuse to be limited by expectations, dazzling others with their humour, courage and lust for life. A live cinecast brings all of the excitement from Leicester Square to simultaneous screenings taking place at cinemas across the UK.

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Forget It, Jake, It’s Metrograph’s ‘Imagining Chinatown’ Series

Daniel Maurer

8/22/2017 12:00:00 AM

After paying tribute to Fire Island, Metrograph is looking a little closer to home with its newly announced series, “Imagining Chinatown.” The series, opening Sept. 27, aims to show how Hollywood has depicted Chinatown as a “hyperbolic fantasy space,” where one “partakes in copious amounts of opium” and “crime and sin are believed to go unpunished,” per a press release.

Needless to say, Roman Polanski’s Los Angeles-set Chinatown is in the mix, as is Chinatown Nights and San Francisco-set Big Trouble in Little Chinatown. If you missed Gremlins when Anthology reunited the film’s cast or when Alamo Drafthouse busted out the Stripe tiki mugs, well then you can see that Chinatown classic as well– just steps away from where Hanksy orchestrated his “No Mogwai Sold Here” prank.

There are some less expected picks as well: Woody Allen shot part of Cafe Society in Chinatown, but it’s Alice that gets play here, since the titular character visits a Chinese herbalist. Other New York-set films include Gangs of New York and The Bowery, a 1933 film set in the Gay Nineties that Metrograph assures us “has something to offend end literally everyone.”

Here’s a look at the full lineup.

The international Chinatown, accessed through red lacquered gates bearing formidable dragon motifs, has been a vital aspect of both history and myth- making in the West for over 200 years and counting. At once a place of yearning for the far-flung homelands of an ever-growing pan-Asian population abroad and a locale onto which the West’s collective fantasy of the Orient can be projected, the exotic exteriors and supposedly mysterious, vice-ridden corridors of Chinatown have never failed to stir the imagination of Hollywood. Chinatown has been rendered as a hyperbolic fantasy space where anything—even Mogwais— can be bought and sold; where one partakes in copious amounts of opium from what a Broken Blossoms intertitle calls “the lily-tipped pipe”; where crime and sin are believed to go unpunished because the locals play by their own rules and “Forget it, Jake—it’s Chinatown.” While far too often trafficking in insidious stereotypes, these were among the first films to create roles—albeit caricatured ones—for pioneering Chinese-American actors (when not featuring white actors). Metrograph pays tribute to the complex tradition of Chinatown on film, beginning Wednesday, September 27.

Alice (Woody Allen/1990/102 mins/35mm)
A lesser-known but wholly delightful entry from the heyday of Allen’s collaboration with the wizardly cinematographer Carlo di Palma, this magic realist spin on Alice in Wonderland stars Mia Farrow as a coddled Manhattan housewife whose tidy existence is upended when she begins to fantasize about handsome stranger Joe Mantegna. She seeks help from a Chinese herbalist, Dr. Yang (Keye Luke, Gremlins’ Mr. Wing and “Number One Son” to Warner Oland’s Charlie Chan), in Woody’s world a mystical version of an Upper West Side analyst.

Big Trouble in Little China (John Carpenter/1986/99 mins/35mm)
Hop on the Jack Burton Pork-Chop Express! Long before Hollywood descended on Hong Kong to cannibalize its cinema, director Carpenter was attuned to the vibrations coming across the Pacific, as evidenced in his cult classic which has local boy Dennis Dun and honky buddy Kurt Russell penetrating the catacombs of San Francisco’s Chinatown to take on supernatural overlord Lo Pan. Shades of Sax Rohmer, but the joke is on Russell’s outsider, doing his best John Wayne impersonation and playing the archetypal all-American blowhard.

The Bowery (Raoul Walsh/1933/92 mins/DCP)
Wallace Beery plays Chuck Connors, the legendary self-proclaimed “White Mayor of Chinatown,” here a slovenly unprincipled oaf whose prime preoccupation is getting the better of fellow showboat Steve Brodie (George Raft). Walsh was a true democrat who loved the feisty racial jibing of city life, and appropriately his rabble-rousing pre-Code imagining of New York in the Gay Nineties has something to offend end literally everyone.

Broken Blossoms (D.W. Griffith/1919/90 mins/35mm)
Perhaps the most famous Chinese character in early American cinema was embodied by one Richard Barthelmess, cast against racial type as the lone friend of Lillian Gish’s poor wastrel, ceaselessly hounded by her bestial father in the slums of London’s Limehouse. Among Griffith’s best and most beautiful films, which finds the master of spectacle and sprawl forgetting his epic ambitions to work with rare delicacy and emotional intimacy.

Chinatown (Roman Polanski/1974/130 mins/35mm)
“Chinatown” doesn’t play a major role in Polanski’s film of dirty dealing in 1930s Los Angeles, but it does a whole lot of metaphorical heavy lifting in the film’s famous kicker line, symbolic of a place where the rules and the language are beyond comprehension. We might mention that it’s a masterpiece, too, with Faye Dunaway as the woman in trouble, Jack Nicholson as nosey guy detective Jake Gittes, and John Huston as the vilest plutocrat in all of cinema.

Chinatown Nights (William Wellman/1929/83 mins/35mm)
Four years before The Bowery, Wallace Beery played another uncouth variation on his “White Mayor of Chinatown,” here named Chuck Riley, in this pre-Code rabble-rouser (a/k/a Tong War) for hell-raising director “Wild Bill” Wellman. With the omnipresent Oland as the overboss of a sinister, opium smoke-wreathed Chinatown which tempts white rubberneckers like society gal Florence Vidor to come downtown, and a show-stopping shootout at a Chinese theatre.

Gangs of New York (Martin Scorsese/2002/207 mins/35mm)
Fired by the spirits of Sam Fuller, Sergio Leone, and Walsh’s The Bowery, Scorsese drew from Herbert Asbery’s collection of underworld folklore to produce this rip-snorting epic of love and revenge in the time of the Draft Riots, with Daniel Day-Lewis as nativist Know-Nothing strongman Bill “The Butcher” Cutting and Leonardo DiCaprio as his sworn foe. For the shoot, Scorsese and production designer Dante Ferretti built their own Five Points at the Cinecittà studios in Rome, including a cavernous Chinatown club—this despite the fact that 1864 Manhattan lacked a large Chinese population.

Gremlins (Joe Dante/1984/106 mins/35mm)
In American popular cinema, Chinatown has always been the place to go to find strange and exotic items, items such as—a pet mogwai? (That’s Cantonese for “monster,” by the way.) Joe Dante’s black-comic horror romp starts innocently enough, but when Gizmo’s new owners don’t heed the sage advice of Mr. Wing, there’s hell to pay for the residents of the little hamlet of Kingston Falls—and their Christmas decorations.

Jade (William Friedkin/1995/95 mins/35mm)
A wild car chase through a Chinatown parade is the identifiable high-point of this sleazy-sexy little number courtesy Friedkin, who knows a thing or two about vehicular chaos, here contributing to the erotic thriller craze by way of a screenplay from subgenre godfather Joe Eszterhas. San Francisco detective David Caruso’s investigation of a millionaire’s murder puts him on the trail of a mysterious prostitute called “Jade,” who may or may not be lovely Linda Fiorentino, last to see the victim alive.

Once Upon a Time in America (Sergio Leone/1984/229 mins/35mm)
Leone, known best for his sprawling Westerns, took on another distinctly American genre at the end of his career—the gangster picture. Moving back and forth along a timeline that spans from Prohibition to the late ‘60s, Leone’s rich, sad film, which manages to evoke both Proust and Fitzgerald, follows the character of Robert De Niro’s gangster Noodles from rags to riches and back again, as he considers his life from a palette in a Chinatown opium den—or is it all just a hop-head dream?
Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory in association with Andrea Leone Films, The Film Foundation, and Regency Enterprises. Restoration funding provided by Gucci and The Film Foundation.

Outside the Law (Tod Browning/1930/70 mins/35mm)
Browning, lover and discoverer of Anna May Wong, here auto-remakes a title he first touched in 1920, starring Edward G. Robinson (before his Little Caesar break) as Cobra Collins, an aristocrat of the underworld who sets his eyes on tableaux vivant model Mary Nolan, who can’t disguise her disgust when she learns that Cobra has a Chinese mother. After an opening full of patented Browning grotesquerie, Outside the Law settles into a surprisingly sweet story about the vicissitudes of domestic life.

Year of the Dragon (Michael Cimino/1985/134 mins/35mm)
After years in the wilderness post-Heaven’s Gate, director Cimino came barreling back with this passionate policier, which finds Polish Greenpoint-raised cop Mickey Rourke pounding a new beat, trying to clean up a gang-ridden NYC Chinatown run by suave crime kingpin John Lone. Vigorously protested at the time of its release, it stands today as a showcase for Cimino’s rich, baroque style, a vintage neighborhood snapshot, and the only movie whose closing credits roll over curtain call film of Teresa Teng singing “Tian Mi Mi.”

“Anna May Wong: Empress of Chinatown” Begins October 7

Born in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, Anna May Wong’s early days of working for her father’s laundry made her meticulous about dressing. Since her father wanted a boy, she watched her sister wear masculine clothes to appease him, and this would in time inspire her androgynous onscreen presence, a quality she shared with Marlene Dietrich, with whom she would be glamorously paired in Josef Von Sternberg’s Shanghai Express. Thanks to her preternatural beauty, Wong was modeling fur coats by the age of ten, and by the time she was a teenager she had broken into the movie business—not a time exceedingly receptive to screen testing Asian faces. Throughout her career Wong would bridle at the exoticized roles she was handed, even taking o for Europe when Hollywood disappointed her, but she approached every lm with incredible grace and dignity, and what remains of her through the years is a seductive, incredibly chic, and startlingly modern screen presence. Titles include Toll of the Sea (Chester M. Franklin), Old San Francisco (Alan Crosland), Daughter of the Dragon (Lloyd Corrigan), Shanghai Express (Josef von Sternberg), and Anna May Wong Visits Shanghai, a newsreel restored by UCLA, all in 35mm.

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Night of the Living Dead 4K Restoration Opens in New York this October

Chris Alexander

8/16/2017 12:00:00 AM

New York’s Film Forum to screen Night of the Living Dead 4K restoration this October

Due to a copyright snafu with its distributor, George A. Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead lapsed into what was presumed to be the public domain, with every pirate alive then bootlegging and distributing poor quality versions of the film all over the world. Now, Janus Films will unleash NOTLD’s first-ever major restoration, opening on October 13 at New York’s Film Forum, followed by a national rollout. No more dump-bin, skid-row dupes of this groundbreaking 1968 classic ever again, thanks…

Shot outside of Pittsburgh at a fraction of the cost of a Hollywood feature by a band of filmmakers determined to make their mark, Romero’s masterpiece is one of the great stories of independent cinema: an ultra low-budget midnight hit turned box-office smash that became one of the most influential films of all time. A deceptively simple tale of a group of strangers trapped in a farmhouse who find themselves fending off a horde of flesh-eating ghouls newly arisen from their graves, Romero’s claustrophobic vision of a late-sixties America (literally) tearing itself apart rewrote the rules of the horror genre, combined gruesome gore with acute social commentary, and quietly broke ground by casting a black actor (Duane Jones) in the lead role. Now, you can finally see this immaculately-crafted film in glorious, monochrome shape, thanks to a new 4K restoration, scanned from the original camera negative and supervised by Romero himself. Stark, haunting, and more relevant than ever, Night of the Living Dead is back.

Night of the Living Dead was restored by The Museum of Modern Art and The Film Foundation. Funding was provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation and the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation. The restoration was overseen by George A. Romero and Image Ten — most especially, Gary Streiner, Russ Streiner, and John Russo — with restoration work done by Cineric Inc, NYC, and Audio Mechanics, Burbank, CA.

We can’t wait to see this film on the big screen in this sort of superlative shape. How about you?

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Martin Scorsese's plan to archive Africa's cinematic treasure

Nadia Neophytou

8/13/2017 12:00:00 AM

The legendary director has teamed up with the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers and Unesco to restore and preserve our continent's cinema

Almost 50 years ago, in a New York City cinema, Martin Scorsese went to see La Noire de... (titled Black Girl in English), a film by the grandfather of African cinema, Ousmane Sembène. The film about a young woman who leaves her home in Senegal to work as a servant in France left an impression on the director, then in his 20s, and introduced him to another kind of cinema.

"It had such an impact on me. It was so haunting, so ferocious," he said. "A door had opened in the West, and for the first time, we could feel a truly African voice in the cinema."

We know very little about African cinema, and that what we do know is still filtered through our own narrative and our own reference points
Director Martin Scorsese

The legendary director, in partnership with the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers and Unesco, is now trying to fling that door open wider with the launch of an initiative to restore and preserve films from Africa, the African Film Heritage Project.

"I'm aware now more than ever that we know very little about African cinema, and that what we do know is still filtered through our own narrative and our own reference points," Scorsese said.

About 50 films are being earmarked for restoration and are to be shared with film fans in Africa and the rest of the world. The first of them, Soleil Ô, was made in 1970 and showed at the Cannes film festival this year. The work of Mauritanian director Med Hondo, it shares much in common with the recent Oscar-nominated documentary on writer James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro.

Soleil Ô tracks the story of a black immigrant who attempts to find work in Paris and highlights issues of race, discrimination and colonialism.

Aboubakar Sanogo, North American regional secretary of the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers, said it was "imperative" for the continent's filmmakers to be in touch with the pulse of the times.

"All the challenges and issues Hondo identified in the '70s are still relevant now ... We are in the era of the immigrant, and that is what Hondo's film speaks to. We are far from solving all the challenges and issues Soleil Ô identified, in a contemporary setting.

"[The film] spans the test of time, making it relevant beyond its location. It's a gift from Africa to the rest of the world that can and should be shared with the rest of the world."

The process of deciding which African films will be restored as part of the project is still under way, but it is hoped that over the next two years five films, including Soleil Ô, will have been preserved.

 

7 MUST-SEE AFRICAN MOVIES

1. LA NOIRE DE ... (BLACK GIRL)

The first feature film from Africa's godfather of cinema, Ousmane Sembène, centres on Diana, a young Senegalese woman who moves from Dakar to Antibes to work for a rich French couple.

TSOTSI

Directed by Gavin Hood and adapted from Athol Fugard's book, it won South Africa's first Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

WATCH the trailer for Tsotsi

2. FINYE (THE WIND)

Photographer-turned-director Souleymane Cissé tells the story of a love affair between two teenagers, illuminating the clash between ideas of modernity and tradition.

3. DISTRICT 9

Neill Blomkamp's Joburg-set low-budget film made the movie world sit up, earning four Oscar nominations and a place on Spike Lee's list of essential movies for directors to watch.

4. RESTLESS CITY

Lagos-born Andrew Dosunmu's take on the American dream, from the point of view of New York's West African immigrant community.

5. TOUKI BOUKI

Widely considered one of the most important African films ever made. Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambéty was influenced in part by the French New Wave, but based the 1973 film on his own fantasy-drama script and black and white style.

WATCH Martin Scorsese introduce Senegalese film Touki Bouki

6. SOLEIL Ô (OH SUN)

A pillar of African cinema, Med Hondo used a documentary-fiction style that shines in this look at neo-colonialism.

7. TIMBUKTU

Abderrahmane Sissako's 2014 insightful drama is lauded for its breathtaking images, as it teeters between hope and despair, showing how Mali's people have been traumatised by war. 

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