Ava DuVernay’s The 13th and new episodes of Black Mirror will premiere at the 2016 BFI London Film Festival this October, with Amazon’s Chi-Raq competing for the red carpet spotlight.
Netflix and the BFI event first joined forces in 2015, with the premiere of Beasts of No Nation, starring Idris Elba, ahead of its Netflix premiere. Now, they are teaming up once again for the premiere of The 13th, which will screen in the Festival as the Documentary Special Presentation. A look at the history of racial injustice in the US, the fiml will go on to premiere on Netflix on 6th October.
The screening marks a major focus this year upon diversity, as the BFI builds up to its corresponding BLACK STAR season, the UK’s biggest ever celebration of the range, versatility and power of black actors. BLACK STAR is a galvanizing focus for this year’s Festival, reflected through the festival programme and forming the centrepiece of a Global Symposium event that will ask searching questions around the continued under representation of black actors on screen. Ava DuVernay will be taking part in the Festival through a virtual postscreening Q&A.
“We are proud to present Ava DuVernay’s The 13th as the Documentary Special Presentation at this year’s Festival. Ferocious in its commitment and coolheaded in its unrelenting logic, DuVernay’s new documentary methodically dissects the history of race relations in the US and provides urgent, essential viewing for our time,” says Clare Stewart, BFI London Film Festival Director.
The festival opens on 5th october with the European Premiere of Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom, starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike. Asante returns to the Festival for a second time with a film that tells the true story of Seretse Khama, King of Bechuanaland (modern Botswana), and Ruth Williams, the London office worker he married in 1947 in the face of fierce opposition from their families and the British and South African governments.
The American Express Gala is Garth Davis’ feature debut Lion, starring Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham and Nicole Kidman. Adapted from Saroo Brierley’s engrossing memoir A Long Way Home, it tells the true story of how a wrong train takes a five-year-old Indian boy hundreds of miles from home and family.
The Birth of a Nation, which won the Sundance Jury and Audience Awards, will also receive its European Premiere as a Headline Gala. Directed by Nate Parker, it’s a grueling account of the life of an enslaved African-American who led a slave revolt in Virginia in 1831, and stars Parker himself alongside Armie Hammer, Aunjanue Ellis, Aja Naomi King and Gabrielle Union.
The Virgin Atlantic Gala is the European Premiere of Queen of Katwe, Mira Nair’s vibrant, powerful true life tale of one girl’s determination to escape from poverty in Uganda by becoming a chess champion. The film stars newcomer Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o.
Other gala screenings include Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival, Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, J.A. Bayona’s A Monster Calls, Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, Oliver Stone’s Snowden and Lone Scherfig’s Their Finest. The European Premiere of Ben Wheatley’s high octane Free Fire will close the Festival on Sunday 16th October.
Alongside The 13th, other special presentations include Andrea Arnold’s American Honey and Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World, as well as Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden and Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson. The latter two were acquired by Amazon for exclusive release in the US, both in cinemas and on Amazon Prime Video.
They are joined by a third Amazon original title: Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, which was released by Amazon in the US last year but has not been screened in the UK before (it will later be distributed by Vertigo Releasing). Another Amazon acquisition for its US streaming service is Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea (distributed by Studiocanal in the UK), which will receive its European Premiere as one of the LFF’s Headline Galas.
While Amazon’s presence can be fleetingly detected, though, Netflix is the streaming service in the spotlight this October, with the streaming service also offering a sneak peek at its new series of Black Mirror as part of the series of “LFF Connects” events.
Co-creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones will discuss the latest series alongside Joe Wright, who directed one of the new episodes, Nosedive, which screens prior to the discussion. The talk on 6th October will be followed by an exclusive double-bill of two more episodes: San Junipero and Shut Up and Dance, all of which screen as a European premieres at LFF.
The growing presence of Netflix at the London Film Festival takes place as the BFI also places an increasing emphasis upon its own VOD service, BFI Player. Audiences will be able to enjoy the BFI London Film Festival experience UK-wide on the site, which will feature a Festival digital channel showing regular red carpet action and filmmaker interviews.
For the full festival line-up, visit www.bfi.org.uk/lff