Film4 Scores Three Gala Slots At BFI London Film Festival Capping Busy Autumn Film Festival Season

Six Film4 productions will receive their UK premieres as part of the BFI London Film Festival, which unveiled the line-up for its 62nd edition this morning. UK audiences can look forward to their first glimpse of new work from regular Film4 filmmakers Steve McQueen, Yorgos Lanthimos and Mike Leigh, following prestigious berths elsewhere on the autumn festival circuit.

Academy Award® winner Steve McQueen’s Widows, a complex thriller about a group of women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities, had already been announced as the Festival’s Opening Night Gala. The film’s star-studded cast includes Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Robert Duvall and Liam Neeson. Widows receives its World Premiere as a Gala Presentation at the Toronto Film Festival and is Film4’s fourth collaboration with McQueen following Hunger, Shame and the multi-award-winning 12 Years a Slave.

The Favourite, directed by Academy Award® nominee Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, had already been announced as this year’s American Express Gala. Film4’s third collaboration with Lanthimos following The Lobster and last year’s LFF Headline Gala The Killing of a Sacred Deer receives its World Premiere on Thursday 30th at the Venice Film Festival and has also been selected at Telluride and as Opening Night Gala of the New York Film Festival.

Newly announced this morning as the LFF’s Festival Gala is Wild Rose. Featuring a star-making turn in the lead role from Jessie Buckley, alongside Julie Walters, Sophie Okonedo and James Harkness, the film from director Tom Harper and writer Nicole Taylor tells the story of Rose-Lynn Harlan, a wannabe country singer fresh out of jail balancing her dreams of stardom with the needs of her young family. Wild Rose receives its World Premiere at Toronto.

Also announced this morning is the World Premiere of Been So Long, a neon-soaked, modern-day musical set on the streets of Camden Town starring Michaela Coel and Arinzé Kene. Directed by BAFTA winner Tinge Krishnan and based on a stage play by Ché Walker and Arthur Darvill, the film features a diverse soundtrack of RnB and Nu Soul music and a supporting cast that includes Ronke Adekoluejo, Joe Dempsie, Luke Norris and George MacKay. The film is a LFF Special Presentation.

Mike Leigh’s Peterloo had already been announced as the LFF’s first ever premiere outside London. The UK Premiere (Special Presentation) will take place at HOME in Manchester on Wednesday 17 October, followed by a Q&A with Leigh and members of the cast which will be simulcast to cinemas around the UK, offering audiences in Manchester and nationwide the opportunity to preview a major release with Manchester’s history at its forefront. Film4’s ninth film with Mike Leigh screens at Venice, Telluride and Toronto en route to London.

Finally from Film4, short film Naptha from writer/director Moin Hussain will premiere in the festival’s London Calling strand. The film tells the story of Faraz, who lives and works in a petrol station with his ageing father Malik, whose increasingly bizarre behaviour is causing them to drift apart.

Director of Film4 Daniel Battsek comments: “We’re incredibly proud to see these films, which embody so much of what Film4 stands for, selected in prominent slots by the prestigious autumn film festivals. We look forward to supporting our filmmakers through the festival season and onwards towards release.”

Three films commissioned by Channel 4’s experimental short form strand Random Acts have also been selected to screen at the BFI London Film Festival: Entitled, a fantasy documentary from director Adeyemi Michael starring the director’s mother Abosede Ajao screens in the festival’s CREATE short film programme; Right Place, Wrong Tim from writer/director Eros Vlahos starring Asa Butterfield, Adam Buxton and Ella Purnell will show in the CULT section; and Taking Stock from Duncan Cowles, about the perils of freelance filmmaking will play in LAUGH.

The final Film4 production on the autumn festival circuit is Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War. Fresh from its Best Director win at the Cannes Film Festival and a huge box office success already in Poland, the film has been selected to screen at Telluride, Toronto and the New York Film Festival. Cold War opens at UK cinemas tomorrow through Curzon.