The BFI London Film Festival returns for 2019 with a packed programme of the best in recent international cinema. As usual the lineup includes an impressive selection of East Asian hits including Takashi Miike’s Cannes crowd pleaser First Love and sensitive Busan breakout House of Hummingbird.
- Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom – a frustrated teacher is dismayed to learn he’s being sent to a remote mountain outpost but is eventually won over by the kids.
- So Long, My Son – Beijing Bicycle‘s Wang Xiaoshuai returns with a chronicle of the Chinese family from the ’80s reforms to the present day.
- To Live To Sing – the leader of a struggling Sichuan Opera troupe tries to stave off eviction through impressing a local bureaucrat.
- White Snake – beautifully animated “prequel” to the classic Lady White Snake folktale. Review.
- Lucky Grandma – A Chinese-American grandma gambles away her life savings and ends up in the middle of a gang war after unwittingly stealing from Chinese gangsters!
- 37 Seconds – a manga artist with cerebral palsy sets out to claim her independence through embracing her sexuality.
- First Love – a boxer with a brain tumour falls for a trapped sex worker in the latest anarchic crime thriller from Takashi Miike.
- To the Ends of the Earth – Kiyoshi Kurosawa reunites with recent muse Atsuko Maeda as a lost TV presenter goes searching for herself while filming in Uzbekistan.
- Family Romance, LLC – Tokyo-set drama from Werner Herzog revolving around a rent-a-relative business.
- Earthquake Bird – Alicia Vikander stars as a Tokyo-based translator in bubble-era Tokyo who finds herself at the centre of a series of murders.
- Öndög – a local herdswoman is brought in to take care of a wolf when the police discover a dead body.
- Overseas – Yoon Sung-a’s documentary exploring the lives of Filipina women working overseas.
- Wet Season – Ilo Ilo’s Anthony Chen returns with a monsoon tale in which a Mandarin language teacher is drawn to one of her students.
- The Dude in Me – body swap comedy in which a jaded gangster gets a second chance to set things right when he swaps bodies with a mild-mannered teen. Review.
- Heart – the latest from Bitch on the Beach‘s Jeong Ga-young in which she stars as a filmmaker who tracks down a married former lover for some additional advice about extra-marital affairs.
- House of Hummingbird – a teenage girl from a problematic home finds inspiration in her enigmatic Chinese teacher in Kim Bora’s beautifully observed debut. Review.
- The House of Us – Yoon Ga-eun’s The World of Us followup in which a young girl trying to get her parents to patch things up becomes a big sister figure to two other kids.
- Maggie – surreal drama narrated by a catfish in which a conflicted nurse explores the interplay of truth and trust. Review.
- The Cave (Thailand) – dramatisation of the international rescue operation of a team of young football players trapped in a Thai cave.
- Hope Frozen – documentary following the parents of a little girl who died of a brain tumour as they try to reconcile their decision to opt for cryogenic preservation with their Buddhist beliefs.
- Krabi, 2562 – Anocha Suwichakornpong and Ben Rivers team up for an unusual portrait of the Thai tourist town.
The BFI London Film Festival takes place at various venues across the city from 2nd – 13th October 2019. Full details for all the films as well as screening times and ticketing information are available via the official website. Priority booking opens for Patrons on 3rd September, for Champions on 4th September, and Members 5th September, with general ticket sales available from 12th September. You can also keep up to date with all the latest news via the festival’s Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram, and YouTube channels.