bfi London Film Festival Movies + Tokyo Winners

Considering the sheer number of films – between 200 and 300 – being screened, in addition to their variety and scope, the two-week bfi London Film Festival, now in its 52nd edition, must be one of the best film festivals in the world. Quite possibly the best.

On the festival's website, there are plenty of festival images, information on the screening films, and several interviews with film personalities, among them Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, Nandita Das, Albert Serra, and Barry Jenkins.

Below are four films being screened on Sunday, October 26. Those represent only a small sample of what will be available to Londoners every day until October 30.

Schedule and synopses from the bfi website.

Information on screening venues.

Lee Bowman, Anne Shirley, Edward Ellis in A Man to Remember

A Man to Remember

11:00 a.m. BFI Southbank 1

A telling demonstration of the true value of film archives is the recent discovery, in the Netherlands Film Museum, of a unique surviving print of the debut feature of Garson Kanin, who later found greater success as a writer (Born Yesterday, Adam's Rib), but whose directorial skills are manifest in this delightful small gem of a movie made at the Citizen Kane studio, RKO. Perhaps because it was branded a B-movie, Kanin's film became lost and long-forgotten until a search by Turner Classics unearthed the Dutch print: and Dutch it is and remains in this restored version, which carries indelible Dutch subtitles and written inserts.

Happily, these do not detract a jot from the ageless charm, wit and humanity which underpin the film's gentle, unambiguously liberal story of a small-town doctor who puts his patients before his pocketbook and earns the respect and affection of all his fellow citizens bar a few grasping businessmen. The film opens with a beautifully cadenced funeral procession, the prelude to a series of nicely judged flashbacks recalling the life and generous deeds of the good doctor. The centrepiece is a wonderfully naturalistic performance by Edward Ellis – not a name to be found easily in any movie reference book, but who deserves more than a footnote in cinema history on the evidence of his screen presence here: a man to remember, indeed. Clyde Jeavons

Johnny Mad Dog by Jean-Stephane Sauvaire

Johnny Mad Dog

14:15 RITZY Screen 2

In an unnamed African country, 15-year-old Johnny Mad Dog (Christopher Minie) heads a platoon of soldiers who are younger than he is. They're armed to the teeth, sporting a variety of bizarre outfits (odd headgear, angel wings, a wedding dress) and have adopted names you suspect weren't given to them by their unseen parents, such as No Good Advice, Captain Dust to Dust and Chicken Hair. Charged with taking over a city in an attempt to unseat the government, Johnny leads this band of killers on a murderous rampage toward their destination, leaving mayhem in their wake. Meanwhile, the studious Laokolé (Daisy Victoria Vandy), lives with her young brother and disabled father and dreams of a better life, until Johnny's hurricane of destruction comes her way. As Johnny advances, Laokolé flees her home.

Filmed in Liberia, with a great young cast, a number of whom lived through the horrors of conflicts similar to those depicted here, Johnny Mad Dog is a visually dazzling modern war film that presents thrilling, occasionally surreal action, while acknowledging the hellish plight of children involved in warfare with poignancy and pertinence. Impressively directed and scripted by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, adapted from the novel by Emmanuel Dongala, the film was produced by Mathieu Kassovitz and Benoît Jaubert. Michael Hayden

Three Monkeys by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Three Monkeys (Üç Maymun)

6:30 p.m. ODEON WEST END

Further evidence that he is one of the finest film-makers currently at work, [Nuri Bilge] Ceylan's fifth feature is arguably his most ambitious yet. A politician involved in a car accident asks his driver to take the rap – probably a short jail sentence – in return for a tempting financial reward. It's just the first of many lies; inevitably, the driver's wife and son are also affected by the conversation's outcome, which soon finds all four trapped in a tangled web of fear, desire, doubt and guilt.

Almost Dostoyevskian in its astute psychological insights and its dark sense of moral and dramatic irony, Ceylan's film combines his characteristic dry humour with a brooding intensity that is new to his work's emotional palette. It's essentially a development on Climates, extending that film's bracingly frank look at male-female dynamics in couples to study how they operate within an entire family and its acquaintances, and taking its pioneering exploration of digital camerawork still further: Ceylan's compositions – often evocative of late Ozu in their deployment of colour – are quite extraordinary in their painterly beauty and eloquence. Geoff Andrew

Moritz Bleibtreu in The Baader Meinhof Complex

The Baader Meinhof Complex (Der Baader Meinhof Komplex)

9:00 p.m. ODEON WEST END 1

With films such as Downfall and The Lives of Others, recent German cinema has been celebrated while confronting dark periods in the country's history. The Baader Meinhof Complex continues that trend, as it deals with the Red Army Faction, the left-wing militant group formed by radicalised children of the Nazi generation, who fought an international terrorist campaign opposing American imperialism and the West German establishment throughout the 1970s.

Moritz Bleibtreu and Martina Gedeck, as Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof respectively, lead an exceptional cast of young German actors, while Bruno Ganz puts in a reliably strong turn as Horst Herold, the head of the German police force charged with bringing the Faction to justice. While the action sequences are undoubtedly thrilling, the film dodges accusations of sensationalism, deftly dealing with the contradictory mentality of a group prepared to murder innocents in the name of democracy and justice. Based on Stefan Aust's definitive book about the group, adapted by Downfall screenwriter Bernd Eichinger, and directed by veteran helmer Uli Edel (Christiane F., Last Exit to Brooklyn), The Baader Meinhof Complex is a film of considerable class and authority. Michael Hayden

2008 Tokyo Film Festival Awards

2008 Tokyo Film Festival: October 18-26, 2008

Set in the arid steppes of Kazakhstan, Sergei Dvortsevoys Tulpan chronicles one young mans struggle to prove himself worthy of a wife. In the meantime, he has to cope with his sisters family, a reluctant bride-to-be, sand storms, and illness in the familys sheep herd all that while listening to "By the Rivers of Babylon" on a falling-apart car radio.

Best Film: Tulpan, Sergei Dvortsevoy

Special Jury Prize: Cztery noce z Anna / Four Nights with Anna, Jerzy Skolimowski

Best Actress: Félicité Wouassi, Aide-toi, le ciel taidera / With a Little Help from Myself

Best Actor: Vincent CasselLennemi public n°1 and Linstinct de mort

Best Artistic Contribution Award: François Dupeyron, With a Little Help from Myself

Asian Film Award Special Mention: Muallaf Yasmin Ahmad

Earth Grand Prix: The Meerkats, James Honeyborne

  bfi London Film Festival Movies + Tokyo Winners © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
Text NOT to be reproduced without prior written consent.

Leave a comment about “bfi London Film Festival Movies + Tokyo Winners”

NOTE: Comments are moderated before publication. *Thoughtfulness* and *at least a modicum of sanity* are imperative. Abusive/bigoted, trollish/inflammatory, baseless (spreading misinformation), spammy, and/or just plain deranged comments will be zapped. Links found in comments will generally be deleted.

*