Whilst the cinematic world has all-but stood still for the majority of 2020, as restrictions begin to loosen up, international film festivals around the world have found a way to carry on, opening the industries creative floodgates, albeit virtually. The Venice Film festival currency has its doors wide open, while soon Toronto will follow suit and, earlier this week, the London Film Festival released their lineup. And what a lineup it is too…
The big highlights are Steve McQueen’s Mangrove opening the festival’s proceedings, and Francis Lee’s Ammonite closing it, the former of which dealing with a social justice theme that will be prevalent throughout the duration of the festival. Though despite the lack of red-carpet sensation, this years lineup is full of exciting releases from some of the most promising and diverse names in the industry.
From Chinese director Chloé Zhao comes Nomadland, following Francis McDormand through the American west after the devastation of the great recession of 2007-2009. Though look further afield and you’ll find similar cinematic delights, like Israel’s Honeymood and the Italian-Swiss comedy Bad Tales.
For our own picks of the one’s to watch at LFF 2020, we’ve compiled 5 of the most promising, unique and intriguing films in the schedule…
5 London Film Festival Highlights:
Another round (Druk) – Thomas Vinterberg
From one of Denmark’s finest directors, Thomas Vinterburg, Another Round follows the journey of four high school teachers who embark on a great theory to test whether their lives would improve if they were constantly, marginally, drunk.
It’s a wild concept that should hopefully be smart, slick and devilishly hilarious if Vinterburg is able to capture the same bite of his 1998 classic Festen. Last appearing in the director’s previous 2012 gut-punch The Hunt, Another Round, sees the return of Mads Mikkelsen in the leading role, though this film seems to be an altogether lighter affair.
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets – Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross
Documentarians and brothers, Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross bring small-town America to the big screen in Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets, following the last days of a Las Vegas dive bar named ‘The Roaring 20s’.
This looks to be a deeply humanistic journey into the depths of the American west, addressing the physical loss and cultural transition since, the roaring twenties. Big, bold and bloody, the trailer shows off some larger than life characters, grounding the film in a reality heard but rarely visualised.
David Bryne’s American Utopia – Spike Lee
A powerhouse of American filmmaking meets one of the most unique voices in new-wave rock, as Spike Lee and David Bryne come together for American Utopia.
Going by the same name as his latest studio album, this latest release is a recording of his broadway show, put together by Lee in a close and personal fashion that harks back to the classic Stop Making Sense. It’s already received some rapturous responses from across the creative industry, with many critics naming it ‘the best musical experience on the planet’.
If it really is this good, then we wait with bated breath.
Never Gonna Snow Again – Malgorzata Szumowska, Michal Englert
This one grabs us for its concept alone.
From Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska and co-director Michal Englert, Never Gonna Snow Again follows a masseur in a gated Polish community who becomes a guru-like figure for the local community. This comedy looks to add to the continuing variety of films that director Malgorzata Szumowska impressively immerses herself within, having recently completed horror The Other Lamb and being known for provocative drama such as 2012’s provocative Elles.
This surreal looking satire has already accumulated some early buzz as Szumowska’s best film to date, so it looks as though its impressive concept could meet its high expectations.
Possessor – Brandon Cronenberg
David Cronenberg, one of cinema’s most unique, bizarre and creative directors, has been quiet of late, ever since his comparatively understated Hollywood satire, Maps to the Stars. Step in Brandon Cronenberg, son of the legendary director who himself worked on the special effects for 1999’s Existenz, and directed his own debut feature in 2012 with Antiviral. But Possessor seems bigger, bolder and more mature.
Starring Andrea Riseborough ans Jennifer Jason Leigh, the film follows the innately ‘Cronenberg’ concept of an agent working for a secret organisation who use brain implants to inhabit other peoples minds. With the trailer showing off some rudimentary, unpolished technology, working in tandem with Cronenberg’s trademark body horror, if Brandon is anything like his father, Possessor should be a riot.