Social justice films at heart of BFI London Film festival line-up

Films focusing on social justice will be at the centre of a “different kind of” BFI London Film Festival, it has been announced.

The line-up of 58 films includes new projects by directors Spike Lee, Miranda July and Garrett Bradley.

They will be part of the festival’s expanded online presence and regional screenings, prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and concerns over accessibility.

Some 13 of the films will screen in cinemas around the country, and at the BFI Southbank in London, including opening night offering Mangrove, part of Sir Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology for the BBC; and closing night film Ammonite, Francis Lee’s follow-up to God’s Own Country, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan.

Other films will receive virtual premieres on the BFI Player, and the public will also be able to access free talks with the filmmakers and stars.

Other films on the line-up include Supernova, starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci as a couple grappling with the quick progression of dementia; the new Pixar film Soul, featuring the voice of Jamie Foxx; Shirley, starring Elisabeth Moss; and Mogul Mowgli, starring Riz Ahmed, who also co-wrote the script; as well as Chloe Zhao’s eagerly anticipated Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand.

Also on the line-up is Lee’s American Utopia, a concert film adaptation of David Byrne’s American Utopia, which will screen for free on the BFI Player.

July will unveil her film Kajillionaire, about a family of con artists, staring Evan Rachel Wood, Debra Winger, Richard Jenkins and Gina Rodriguez, and Bradley will premiere her prize-winning film Time, a documentary about a woman fighting for the release of her husband who is serving a 60-year prison sentence.

Tricia Tuttle, director of BFI Festivals, promised it will be “a different kind of festival this year”, adding: “Social justice is a strong theme throughout the programme.”

She continued: “We are going to go big and hope to reach lots of people.”

The festival has already announced a new dedicated strand of XR (extended reality) and immersive art, called LFF Expanded.

It will include virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality and live immersive performance.

There will be a virtual museum space called The Expanse, which will be virtually accessible using VR headsets, as well as a physical space for people to visit at the BFI Southbank.

The BFI London Film Festival will run from October 7 to 18.

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