​london film festival unveils full programme

Strong women, maverick men and two wild transsexual hookers light up the capital's annual festival.

by Colin Crummy
01 September 2015, 2:12pm

The London Film Festival unveiled its programme today, trumpeting its strong female perspective. The festival, which runs 7th - 18th October in venues across London opens with Suffragette, about the birth of the women's right movement in Britain starring Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep.

The thread runs across the festival's many strands to first features like Eva Husson's Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story), about a group of Biarritz high school students who start a private orgy society, and which is told from a specifically female point of view. In short films, the role of young women in contemporary society is explored in a collection under the banner Last Man Standing is a Girl.

Other galas with a strong female presence include Todd Haynes' lesbian romance Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara and Brooklyn, which sees Saoirse Ronan as a young Irish woman forced to emigrate to the U.S. in the 1950s.

Maverick men get a look in too. The closing night gala is the Danny Boyle directed, Aaron Sorkin scripted Steve Jobs starring Michael Fassbender as the Apple CEO. Director Ben Wheatley follows up Sightseers with High Rise, an adaptation of J.G. Ballard's savage satire of 60s social idealism and warped human morality starring Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller and Elizabeth Moss.

Award winners are well represented: Hou Hsiao-Hsien won the best director gong at Cannes for The Assassin, set in 19th Century China and which follows a deadly female assassin Nie Yinniang. The Jury award winner at Cannes, Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster - about a near future where singledom is outlawed - is also screening.

There are plenty of fresh films to watch out in LFF's official competition too: Lenny Abramson (Frank, What Richard Did) directs Room, adapted by Emma Donoghue from her 2010 bestseller and starring Brie Lawson as a young woman imprisoned in a 11-square-foot room with her young son. Agyness Deyn is back on the big screen in Sunset Song, about a young woman with an independent streak in early 20th century rural Scotland.

And very present day is Sean Baker's Tangerine, his Christmas story of two transsexual hookers on Santa Monica Boulevard which he shot on iPhone 5c, a move that gives L.A.'s roughest quarters a certain charm in a belter of a film.

Other noteworthy films addressing LGBT themes include Gayby Baby, Maya Newell's documentary which follows four Australian children whose parents are all gay; Nasty Baby, which Sebastian Silva directs and stars in as a one half of a gay couple preparing to have a baby with their best friend, played by Kristen Wiig; Chemsex, Vice's documentary about the use of hard drugs in group sex sessions on London's gay scene; and Grandma, a road trip comedy about a lesbian poet [Lily Tomlin] who heads out on the road with her granddaughter [Julia Garner].

Booking opens for BFI members 10 September and to general public 17 September with more information on tickets and the festival line up at bfi.org.uk/lff

London Film Festival