The BFI London Film Festival returns (mostly) to cinemas for 2021 with some titles also streaming online via BFI Player and/or playing select regional venues. This year’s East Asia selection includes two films by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, a world premiere of a new Lav Diaz, and a hotly anticipated Korea/Thailand horror co-production.

Drive My Car (ドライブ・マイ・カー, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2021)

Curzon Soho: Saturday 09 October 2021 17:05

BFI Southbank, NFT1: Thursday 14 October 2021 20:00

Also screening: Chapter Cardiff, Edinburgh Filmhouse, Glasgow Film Theatre, HOME Manchester, Showroom Cinema Sheffield, Tyneside Cinema Newcastle, Queen’s Film Theatre Belfast, and Watershed Bristol.

A stage actor and director (Hidetoshi Nishijima) attempting to come to terms with the death of his unfaithful wife casts her lover in his upcoming multi-lingual production of Uncle Vanya while developing a relationship with the reticent young woman driving his car in Hamaguchi’s adaptation of the Haruki Murakami short story.

Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (偶然と想像, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2021)

ODEON Luxe West End: Sunday 10 October 2021 17:20

BFI Southbank, NFT2: Monday 11 October 2021 17:50

Streaming: Sunday 10 October 2021 18:30 to Monday 11th October 18:30

A triptych of romantic tales from Ryusuke Hamaguchi in which a young woman realises her friend is unwittingly dating her ex, a student attempts to seduce a professor, and two women connect through an instance of mistaken identity.

Belle (竜とそばかすの姫, Mamoru Hosoda, 2021)

BFI Southbank, NFT1: Thursday 07 October 2021 17:50

BFI Southbank, NFT1: Sunday 10 October 2021 14:15

Curzon Mayfair, Screen 1: Sunday 17 October 2021 12:00

Mamoru Hosoda reinterprets Beauty and the Beast as a grieving young woman becomes an in-app idol star but is also threatened by the presence of a mysterious dragon.

Humidity Alert (습도 다소 높음, Ko Bong-soo, 2021)

ICA, Screen 1: Wednesday 06 October 2021 21:00

BFI Southbank, NFT3: Thursday 07 October 2021 12:30

Indie comedy from Ko Bong-soo set in a cinema at the height of summer 2020 where the premiere of a new film is set to take place while the cinema’s sole employee attempts to deal with spotty air con, COVID protocol, and industry divas.

Historya Ni Ha (Lav Diaz, 2021)

ICA, Screen 1: Tuesday 12 October 2021 18:30

In Lav Diaz’ contemplation of the transformative power of art, ventriloquist Hernando returns home to get married only for the engagement to fall apart. Heartbroken he makes the decision to communicate only through his puppet and accompanies a sex worker and a teenage boy on a treasure hunt to a remote island.

Hellbound (지옥, Yeon Sang-ho, 2021)

BFI Southbank, NFT2: Friday 15 October 2021 20:20

Prince Charles Cinema, Downstairs Screen: Sunday 17 October 2021 12:45

First three episodes of the TV drama coming to Netflix later this year in which people start receiving text messages telling them they’re going to hell and at a specific date and time. You’d think it was spam, but then the demon does indeed arrive at the appointed hour to drag the afflicted to the afterlife. While the police investigate, a shady cult milks the atmosphere of anxiety in Train to Busan director Yeon Sang-ho’s adaptation of his own webtoon.

The Medium (ร่างทรง, Banjong Pisanthanakun, 2021)

Prince Charles Cinema, Downstairs Screen: Wednesday 06 October 2021 20:55

ODEON Luxe West End: Friday 08 October 2021 20:40

Korea/Thailand co-production scripted and produced by The Wailing’s Na Hong-jin and directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun in which a documentary team meet shamaness Nim who acts as a conduit for goddess Ba Yan. Having accepted the role after her sister refused it, Nim is unsurprised when her niece begins exhibiting symptoms of shamanistic awakening, but soon fears something darker may be at hand.

White Building (ប៊ូឌីញ ស, Kavich Neang, 2021)

Kavich Neang makes his fiction debut with a film focussing on the same subject as his earlier documentary Last Night I Saw You Smiling in which the residents of Phnom Penh’s iconic White Building prepare for its demolition.

Money Has Four Legs ( ြေလေးချောင်း, Maung Sun, 2021)

ICA, Screen 1: Wednesday 06 October 2021 18:15

BFI Southbank, NFT2: Thursday 07 October 2021 15:40

Contending with money issues, an unreliable crew, and increasing government censorship, an aspiring director turns to crime in order to complete his film in Maung Sun’s timely black comedy.

Ripples of Life (永安镇故事集, Wei Shujun, 2021)

ICA, Screen 1: Monday 11 October 2021 20:45

BFI Southbank, NFT2: Tuesday 12 October 2021 12:20

A local waitress, leading lady returning to her hometown, and the director and screenwriter each from Beijing attempt to shoot a film in small-town rural China in Wei Shujun’s followup to Striding into the Wind.

Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash (Seperti Dendam, Rindu Harus Dibayar Tuntas, Edwin, 2021)

An impotent hitman living for nothing but violence falls for a female bodyguard after she effortlessly defeats him in Edwin’s genre hopping adventure romance.

Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2021)

Southbank Centre, Royal Festival Hall: Saturday 16 October 2021 17:30

Also screening: Chapter Cardiff, Edinburgh Filmhouse, Glasgow Film Theatre, HOME Manchester, Showroom Cinema Sheffield, Tyneside Cinema Newcastle, Queen’s Film Theatre Belfast, and Watershed Bristol.

Shooting outside Thailand for the first time, the latest from Apichatpong Weerasethakul stars Tilda Swinton as a woman visiting her sister in Colombia and becoming captivated by the local soundscape.

Wood and Water (Jonas Bak, 2021)

BFI Southbank, NFT3: Wednesday 13 October 2021 20:45

ICA, Screen 1: Thursday 14 October 2021 21:00

Travelogue in which a German woman travels to visit her son living in Hong Kong and wanders through the city in the midst of the pro-democracy protests.

The BFI London Film Festival takes place at various venues across the city from 6th – 17th October 2021, with some titles also streaming online or screening at various partner cinemas throughout the UK. 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 10th September, for Champions on 13th September, and Members 14th September, with general ticket sales available from 20th 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.

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