REVIEW: The BFI London Film Festival 2014

Our resident film buff Mari Jones went along to the BFI London Film Festival recently for sneak previews of upcoming films and get inspiration from top filmmakers. Here is her review of the weekend…

Last weekend marked a first for me: a visit to the 58th BFI London Film Festival – the first ever film festival I’ve had the chance to attend. As an aspiring filmmaker and all-round lover of films of any kind it was an opportunity to see many productions that won’t be released for a while, or even at all if they are unlucky enough not to get picked up for distribution. It was also great to be in an environment with other film enthusiasts, something that made for an overall electric and exciting atmosphere.

Never one to stick to just one film genre, I decided to mix it up and watch as many different styles as possible. From heart-breaking melodrama (Susanne Bier’s A Second Chance (2014)), to chilling horror (It Follows (2014)), to Australian portmanteau (The Turning (2013)), there were plenty of amazing films on show during my time there.

The clear highlight of the festival for me was the wonderful 10.000 Km (2014), a Spanish/English language production directed by Carlos Marques-Marcet. Funny yet also devastatingly sad, it shows a couple’s long-distance relationship as it plays out through the use of technology (Skype, Facebook, etc.). It is also one of the most realistic portrayals of a relationship I’ve ever seen on film.

One particular delight for me was the opportunity to hear directly from the filmmakers during Q&A sessions after the screenings. Writer-director Carol Morley talked exuberantly about her latest fiction feature The Falling (2014), a film about a mysterious fainting illness that takes over an all-girls school. David Robert Mitchell talked about making It Follows (one of the most terrifying and refreshingly original horrors I’ve seen in a while) and I got the chance to hear writer-director and all-round funny guy Angus Sampson (the human equivalent of a grizzly bear – but a cuddly one) discuss his hilarious and dark Aussie film The Mule (2014).

My one and only regret about the festival was that I didn’t get the opportunity to stay longer. I could have happily stayed there for the whole 12 days to try and catch as many of the 248 films being shown as I possibly could! Still, there’s always next year…

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