Wonderland.

7 WONDERS: BFI FILM FESTIVAL

We pick our favourites from BFI’s 60th London Film Festival.

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Still from American Honey.

The annual BFI London Film Festival is a must for Londoners  and this year’s diverse line-up promises not to disappoint. The renowned festival serves as a creative platform for the UK’s best up-and-coming filmmakers, with this year marking the exciting launch a £50k bursary award. The festival continues charting progressive territories by representing female filmmaking talent, showcasing 114 films directed or co-directed by women.

The festival runs from the 5th-16th of October boasting a selection with something for everyone, from potent, politically charged dramas to visually striking coming of age art-house films. The festival line-up features over 245 films, so here at Wonderland we’ve rounded our top seven picks of the films you will not want to miss out on… Lights, camera, action!

Nocturnal Animals 

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‘When you love someone you have to be careful with it. You might never get it again.’ This glossy, metafictional thriller is the newest release from designer turned writer/director Tom Ford, adapted from late American novelist Austin Wright’s 1993 book Tony and Susan. The film stars Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal as a divorced couple uncovering dark, twisted secrets about one another. The stylish noir explores ideas of intimacy, guilt, and violent revenge leaving us wondering how well we can know anyone, even ourselves.

American Honey

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Acclaimed British filmmaker Andrea Arnold returns with this arresting, emotional feature, part atmospheric millennial odyssey part social commentary on America. We’re immersed in Star’s world (Sacha Lane), a teenage girl who leaves her Mid-Western home to hit the road with a group of nomadic youths selling magazine subscriptions, managed by Jake (Shia LaBeouf). This is a dreamy story of pain, empathy, and ultimately hope.

Layla M

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Director Mijke de Jong gives us a subject that couldn’t be more politically relevant given the recent controversial banning of the ‘burkini’ on the beaches in France and the spread of anti-Islamic sentiments across Western Europe. The film tells the troubling story of Moroccan/Dutch teenager Layla (Nora El Koussour), who, having become radicalised by the rise of Islamophobia in her country, marries a jihadist and moves to an Islamic community in the Middle East where she finds herself even more marginalised. The film gives voice to an experience of Muslim femininity and explores the vulnerability and disillusionment of youth.

 

Wild

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While walking to work Ania (Lillith Stagenberg) locks eyes with a wild wolf, and in a fit of epiphany, decides to abandon her life of monotonous modern conformity and assumes a new identity through nature, that of a hunter. She embarks on a life of sexual freedom and anarchy. This German drama directed by Nicolette Krebitz is a unique story of liberation that questions the very essence of civilisation.

The Levelling

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With her debut feature film Director Hope Dickson Leach weaves a grief stricken tale of familial ruin set in rural Somerset against the floods of 2014. Clover Catto (Ellie Kendrick) returns home after her brother’s suicide. Leach explains that ‘the Somerset floods happened largely because the rivers had gone undredged which felt like a perfect metaphor for a family that doesn’t communicate.’ The way the locals came together and railed for change serves as an example for the way the family must learn to communicate with each other rather than burying and repressing pain.

All This Panic

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Shot by director Jenny Gage and her cinematographer husband Tom Betterton over a period of three years, this intimate documentary chronicles the adolescence of a group of teenage girls in Brooklyn as they manoeuvre the turbulent waters of mental health, high-school, family, and sexuality. The film is punctuated by the young women’s impressive display of wisdom beyond their years and self -awareness.

Park

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Set in the Olympic Village in Athens 10 years after the 2004 Games, director Sofia Exarchou’s debut feature depicts the identity struggle of a lost generation, the teenage kids of working-class Athenian families who inhabit the free housing on the property. In imagery reminiscent of Harmony Korine’s Gummo meets Larry Clark’s Kids, the teens are shown to wander the ruins, playing at Olympic games and organising dog mating for money.  The film engages with the wider issues of contradiction between Greece’s ‘glorious past’ and the modern social problems the country faces.

The BFI London Film Festival runs from the 5th-16th October

Words: Elly Arden-Joly

7 WONDERS: BFI FILM FESTIVAL

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