One of the perks of being a film student in London is regularly being exposed to the best films of the world. The city lives for cinema. The biggest highlight of the year for all cinema aficionados is undoubtedly the BFI London Film Festival (LFF).
This year, the festival ran from October 10-21 with visits from several renowned directors and famous Hollywood superstars. Now, in its 62nd year, LFF screened 225 feature length films from 75 different countries encompassing a variety of films from different genres and styles. LFF has several different strands for selecting films, which makes the festival very comprehensive. The festival often tends to foreshadow which films will do well in the upcoming award season as well.
Most of the screenings take place at the British Film Institute (BFI) itself, or at state-of-the-art cinemas in West End. The biggest attraction among the venues, however, is undeniably the Embankment Garden Cinema. A minute’s walk from Charing Cross and overlooking the Thames is Victoria Embankment Gardens. This tranquil lush green park, designed by the Duke of Buckingham in 1626, turns into one of the most picturesque venues of the festival. The park, for 12 days, flawlessly transforms into a stunning modern cinema with seating of 800, 4K projection and 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound. The experience was mind-boggling.
One of the highlights at the festival was the UK premier of the Coen Brothers’ new film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. The film, produced by Netflix, is an anthology of 6 stories set in the Wild West. Although it does not live up to their previous films such as Fargo or No Country For Old Men, there were two chapters (All Gold Canyon and The Gal Who Got Rattled) which are worth mentioning.
Each year, the LFF awards the best film of the official competition strand and this year the award went to Austrian film Joy. Directed by Sudabeh Mortezai, the story deals with two important topics in today’s world – prostitution and sex trafficking. However, my personal three favourite films were not in official competition and they are (in no particular order) Roma, Dogman, and Three Faces.
Although standing in queues for close to an hour for delegate tickets for each film can be a little taxing, it is also a very good opportunity to meet some of the other delegates who were attending the festival. LFF lures film lovers from all over the world, some of whom travel to London specifically for the festival. This is why certain films like Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite and, director Barry Jenkin’s If Beale Street Could Talk was impossible to get into for most of the delegates, myself included.
As the curtain went down at LFF, I could not help but feel a little empty. A rollicking 12 days of watching remarkable films and meeting people from all over the world came to an end. I was however saddened that no Bangladeshi film was selected this year as I would have looked forward to that the most. But with the quality of Bangladeshi films improving every year, there is enough reason to believe that one day Bangladesh can be regular participants at prestigious festivals such as this one.
-Ariq Anam Khan
Source: thedailystar, 27 October 2018

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