London Movie Competition welcomes audiences again to the flicks | Leisure information
By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press
LONDON (AP) – Films from 77 countries will be screened at the 2021 London Film Festival as Britain’s premier cinema showcase welcomes mass audiences back to cinemas after a year of pandemic disruption.
The festival program announced on Tuesday includes 158 films, up from 225 during its last pre-pandemic 2019 edition. Festival 2020 was a limited collection of 58 films, most of which were shown online.
This year, full-capacity mask-wearing spectators will be able to attend gala screenings at London’s Southbank Center on the riverside, with many of the premieres being shown simultaneously in cinemas across the UK
About 37% of the feature films are directed by women – not yet equally, but compared to a quarter of four years ago and “in the right direction”, said festival director Tricia Tuttle.
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The festival opens on October 6th with the world premiere of “The Harder They Fall” – a western by British director Jeymes Samuel with a cast by blacks – and closes on October 17th with the European premiere of Joel Coen’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth, “With Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand as Shakespeare’s murderous Scottish royals.
The line-up includes 21 world premieres alongside award winners and headline-makers from the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals, including Jane Campion’s Montana set western “The Power of the Dog” and Edgar Wright’s swinging 1960s horror trip “Last Night in Soho, “, Both of which premiered in Venice this month.
Also on the program are the techno sex thriller “Titane” by French director Julia Ducournau – winner of the main prize in Cannes, the Palme d’Or – Paul Verhoeven’s lesbian nun drama “Benedetta” and Wes Anderson’s bizarre “The French Dispatch”, both of which are also on the program premiered at the festival on the French Riviera.
Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Elena Ferrante adaptation “The Lost Daughter” will also be shown at the London Festival; Reinaldo Marcus Green’s “King Richard,” in which Will Smith stars as the father of Venus and Serena Williams; Kenneth Branagh’s homage to his hometown “Belfast”; Jacques Audiard’s “Paris, 13th District” and Todd Haynes’ musical documentary “The Velvet Underground”.
Another highlight is “Spencer” by the Chilean director Pablo Larrain – a film whose first advertising shot of Kristin Stewart as Princess Diana was enough to trigger anticipation.
“I don’t think there is a living fanatic who doesn’t want to see this movie after it has been released,” said Tuttle.
The festival encompasses both television and cinema and also shows the first two episodes of the third series of the media dynasty drama “Succession”.
Festival organizers are still unsure how the coronavirus pandemic will affect plans for premieres and red carpet parties. Four fifths of UK adults are fully vaccinated and there are few restrictions on social life. But infections remain high and are expected to increase as children go back to school.
Tuttle says some films on the lineup explicitly deal with the pandemic, including Matthew Heineman’s documentary “The First Wave” and “7 Days,” a coronavirus romcom about a couple hooked up after a disastrous first date.
“We were careful about getting too deep into the pandemic,” Tuttle said. “We have just selected films that have enchanted us or that seemed too urgent to not be included in the program.”
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