Lots to look forward to at London Film Festival (LFF) this year including four South Asian films and new work by Asif Kapadia…
By Mamie Colfox and Sailesh Ram
AWARD-WINNING director Asif Kapadia’s new film ‘Creature’ will screen at the BFI’s 66th London Film Festival this year, which runs from October 5-16 and takes places in over 10 different venues.
The Academy Award, BAFTA and Grammy winning director collaborated with Lawrence Olivier Award winning dancer and choreographer, Akram Khan, to bring a film that explores Artificial Intelligence, with themes of human connection, compassion and desire.
Kapadia told www.asianculturevulture.com at the launch this morning, that the film depicted a “beautiful, dystopian environment” in which the world is controlled by people who really don’t care much for it.
He told acv that while he had known Khan for some years and there had been casual talk about collaborating, the work had come about through lockdown and the opportunities it had inadvertently afforded. It was made in just 10 days. We will have more from the filmmaker in another story about today’s (September 1) launch later.
Set in a dilapidated research centre in the Arctic, the Creature has been enlisted by the army as an experiment. Run by a Doctor and a Captain, they oversee how he adapts mentally and physically to extreme emotions and temperatures: cold, isolation and homesickness. There is a love triangle between the army’s leader, Major, Creature and a cleaner, Marie, as well.
Anyone who has seen Khan’s English National Ballet (ENB) 2021 collaboration of the same name will have some sense of this work for the big screen but there is no dialogue and the film is shorter in length at 90 minutes. (See link below for Khan’s ENB ‘Creature’)
For South Asian film fans, there is a strong line-up of what looks like four meaty selections – two of these have been covered before on acv.
The Indian environmental bird documentary – ‘All that Breathes’ which first featured at Sundance and the directorial debut of Pakistani Saim Sadiq with his narrative fiction, ‘Joyland’, which had its world premiere in Cannes – both come to the UK for the first time.
‘All That Breathes’ won both the Golden Eye award at Cannes Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year and we saw it (remotely) and have a video interview with director Shaunak Sen which we will put out ahead of its first LFF screening on October 7.
Tricia Tuttle, BFI Festival director, told acv this morning that Sen’s documentary is “exquisite” and suggested it shouldn’t really be missed – and we concur.
The fly-on-the-wall documentary follows two Muslim brothers living in Delhi, Nadeem and Saud, as they nurse back to life birds who have been disorientated by pollution. The documentary also serves as a backdrop to Delhi’s smoggy skies, the ecological system breakdown and rising social tensions. (You can read more about it in the link below)
‘Joyland’ is a brilliant, courageous, and moving film about a married man trying to find himself and assert his own identity amidst a patriarchal and socially limiting dominant culture. Head over to the ACV Youtube if you want to know more – interviews with director Sadiq, leading transgender actor Alina Khan and star Sarwar Gilani from Cannes. (See links below).
The other two films acv identified from today’s launch are ‘Faraaz’ by LFF returnee, Hansal Mehta and ‘The Cloud Messenger’ (‘Meghdoot’) by Rahat Mahajan. It looks like Mahajan’s LFF debut and it appears in the Love strand of the festival, which is divided into more than a dozen themed strands.
Kalpana Nair from LLF, describes it in the LFF programme brochure, launched today: “Mahajan has created a bold, resonant, and visually dazzling cinema whose play with form only adds to the film’s richly satisfying emotional tone”. A romance between two students, it blends myth, reincarnation and ancient Indian storytelling into a powerful concoction by the looks of things. Acv has not seen it.
Mehta is one of India’s best established independent cinema directors and came to LFF with ‘Aligarh’, made in 2015. About a professor whose homosexuality upsets his university employers, this new film is based on the real-life terror incident when in 2016 a violent group inspired by extremist ideas hijacked an upmarket bakery cum cafe in Dhaka, and ended up murdering more than 20 people. The film is centred around Faraaz who finds himself at the cafe and is from a well-to-do politically connected family. It screens at LFF for the first time on Saturday, October 15.
Opening the festival for its world premiere is Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical, which features comedian-cum-actor Sindhu Vee, as the Librarian, Mrs Phelps, along with Emma Thompson as Miss Trunchbull, Lashana Lynch as Miss Honey and Alisha Weir as Matilda.
Tuttle expressed her excitement at an earlier press briefing (under embargo): “It is a film for all ages. We are thrilled about it”.
This year’s Closing film is ‘Glass Onion’: A Knives Out Mystery’, starring Daniel Craig and Kate Hudson. It will have its European premiere and is a sequel to director Rian Johnson’s 2018 ‘Knives Out’. Craig returns as Detective Benoit Blanc as he uncovers a mystery in Greece.
This year LFF 66/2022 showcases 164 features and eight new series, with 15 theme strands and six Screen Talks, available digitally. There are 23 world premieres, six international, and 15 European premieres.
What’s to come on LFF shortly: Asif Kapadia on ‘Creature’, more LFF filmmakers and Tricia Tuttle more on themes and South Asian selections.