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London Film Festival 2021 : Opens with African-American cowboy caper, ‘The Harder they fall’ and look out for these…

London Film Festival 2021 : Opens with African-American cowboy caper, ‘The Harder they fall’ and look out for these…

Our final preview before the 65th BFI London Film Festival begins tomorrow – more than 150 feature films will be screened and there are also opportunities to watch many outside London and virtually too…

LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (October 6-17) raises its curtain tomorrow with the world premiere of a black cowboy film, which has an all-star cast.

Idris Elba is among the leads in ‘The Harder They Fall’ by black Londoner and debutant filmmaker Jeymes Samuel. Alongside Elba is Lakeith Stanfield, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors and Zazie Beetz.

Inspired by real life stories of African American cowboys, it’s described as an “explosive and stylish Western, quite unlike any other”, according to the BFI LFF promo blurb.

Tomorrow’s (October 6) Gala Opening Red Carpet Evening’s screening at the Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre is sold out but it returns to the big screen in the capital on Sunday (October 10) and will play in partner theatres up and down the country (see listings below for other venues).

Further afield and in addition to the films we spotlighted earlier – ‘Encounter’, ‘Laika’, ‘Ali & Ava’, Indian films, ‘Two friends’ and ‘Pedro’, there are also two films that splashed at Cannes that we have already covered and are coming to the UK for the first time.

Ali & Ava

Selected for the Un Certain Regard section in Cannes was the Bangladesh film, ‘Rehana’ about a woman medical professor battling the authorities and patriarchy. (Cannes video review).

Made by Abdullah Mohammad Saad, it’s available for both online and in person screenings. (See links below for listings).


Also enjoying its world premiere in Cannes in July was the environmental film, ‘Invisible Demons’. Made by Rahul Jain, it featured in an inaugural section there dedicated to films about the climate crisis facing the world. (Cannes video review). Also coming to the festival is Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s ‘A Hero’ (review) and Israeli Nadav Lapid’s ‘Ahed’s Knee’ (review), which also premiered in Cannes.

Two friends

In ‘Two Friends’ (‘Dostojee’) issues around the destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh in 1992, form the backdrop of this story about two eight-year-old boys from across the religious divide. This is director Prasun Chatterjee’s first feature and is in Bengali.

Natesh Hegde’s first film is an examination of village life and a rumination about the demons it can conjure when the central character Pedro (played by the director’s father Gopal), a local drunk, inadvertently kills a cow and sets off a “revelatory chain” of events. Set in rural Karnataka and in the Kannada language.

Riz Ahmed in ‘Encounter

Riz Ahmed is the star of ‘Encounter’- where he as an ex-military man, he looks to save his sons from what he believes is an alien invasion – and ‘Encounter’ is described as a “gripping fusion of speculative science fiction, paranoid thriller and unconventional road movie” and “surprising” and “unpredictable” at every turn. Directed by Michael Pearce whose ‘Beast’ made a splash in 2017.

Also coming to the festival and UK audiences for the first time and which acv saw virtually at Sundance and the winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize there is ‘Flee’. (Our Sundance coverage including a review is here).

Asif Kapadia’s ‘Laika’ which is a short Virtual Reality and Immersive film is available throughout the festival. It is about the real dog Laika that was first taken into space by the Soviets and is adapted from Nick Abadzis’ 2017 graphic novel of the same name – see listings below.

For reviews of Titane, Memory Box, and The Alleys go here


All –

Use search to book and check times

The Harder They Fall (130 minutes)
Wednesday, October 6 7pm Southbank Centre, Royal Festival Hall – sold out
Thursday, October 7 2.15pm Southbank Centre, Royal Festival Hall
Friday, October 8 11am – sold out

Ali & Ava (95 mins)
Wednesday October 13 9.20pm Southbank Centre, Royal Festival Hall
Thursday October 14 3pm Southbank Centre Royal Festival Hall

Rehana (107 mins)
Sunday 10 October 2021 8.45pm – Curzon Mayfair, Screen 1
Monday 11 October 2021 2.45pm – BFI Southbank, NFT2
Tuesday 12 October 2021 7.30pm – 7.30pm, Wednesday, October 13
BFI Player

Invisible Demons (70 mins)
Friday, October 15 – BFI SOuthbank NFT2 6.05pm
Saturday, Ocotber 16 – ICA Screen 1 6.30pm

A Hero (127 mins) (currently sold out but there are rush tickets)

Ahed’s Knee (109 mins)
Sunday 17 October 2.50pm – ICA, Screen 1 Sold out!
Friday 15 October 2021 9.10pm – Curzon Mayfair, Screen 1

Pedro (108 mins)
Thursday, October 14 – 9pm Curzon Soho Cinema 1
Friday, October 15 – BFI Southbank NFT2

Flee (83 mins)
Friday, Octobe 15 8.40pm – BFI Southbank NFT1
Friday October 15 9pm-9pm October 16 on BFI player
Saturday, October 16 11.15am Curzon Soho Cinema 3 sold out
Sunday, October 3pm Curzon Mayfair Screen 1

Encounter (108 mins)
Friday, October 8 8.50pm Curzon Mayfair screen 1
Saturday, October 9 5.45pm – Prince Charles Cinema Downstairs screen – sold out
Thursday, OCtober 14 2.30pm BFI Southbank NFT1

Laika (15 mins)
Check listings


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Written by Asian Culture Vulture