Highlights from the 2022 London Film Festival

17 Oct 2022 in Film Features

7 mins
Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical © SONY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical © SONY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The 66th edition of BFI London Film Festival took place in venues across the capital and in towns across the United Kingdom earlier this month. With over 160 feature-length films, including World Premieres of major upcoming British cinema releases, as well as international award-winning titles from Cannes, Venice and Toronto, the festival showcased the power of cinema to tell relevant, important, and dazzling stories capable of broadening horizons.

Ever on the lookout for films that can inspire and wow young audiences, our Curation Team have selected their top picks from this year's festival that educators may find interesting to engage young people with. From musical extravaganzas with anti-bullying messages to inspiring documentaries about perserverence and inclusion, discover some of the educational and entertaining film gems hitting cinemas in the next 12 months.

Joe - Curation Manager

She Said (14+)

It is now five years since the depraved actions of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein were disclosed to the world following a forensic investigation by two New York Times journalists, helping to create a global movement that saw countless women of all backgrounds come forward with their experiences of sexual abuse in the workplace, often using the hashtag #MeToo. This riveting drama covers the painstaking work of those journalists, Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey, as their story developed from rumour and speculation into one of the most profoundly significant pieces of journalistic work of our times. The film opens with the experiences of a young runner in Ireland entering the film world with a sense of exhilaration and possibility, only to have that destroyed by the actions of Weinstein and the embedded culture of a Hollywood system that allowed men like him to get away with it. Resisting sensationalism, the film is a sensitive account of such women's experiences, rooted in compassion and humanity. It is also a moving portrayal of the world of journalism that may just inspire other young women to follow where the likes of Kantor and Twohey have led.

If you like the sound of this... you may also like Promising Young Woman on Into Film+. Also starring Carey Mulligan, this Oscar winning drama is a dark, razor-sharp comment on contemporary society's treatment of women, particularly in relation to victim-blaming, predatory behaviour, and sexual assault. 

Michael - Senior Curation Coordinator

Close (16+)

13-year-olds Léo and Rémi are the best of friends who are near-enough inseparable. When they start high school, a new set of classmates brings unexpected questions, with one of their peers innocently asking whether the two boys are in a relationship. Afterwards, Léo becomes self-conscious of his behaviour and his friendship with Rémi - which slowly changes the dynamic between them. Without warning the friendship abruptly ends, leaving Léo feeling confused about the new direction his life has taken and lamenting the closeness he used to share with Rémi. This Belgian drama is a beautifully shot, emotional story about growing up and experiencing grief. 

If you like the sound of this... you may also like The Way He Looks on Into Film+. This LGBTQ+ Brazilian coming-of-age romance sees the friendship between a blind teenage boy and his female best friend upended when a new boy arrives at school who they are both attracted to.

My Father's Dragon (5+)

A young boy named Elmerfinds himself living in a new city with his mother who is struggling to makeends meet. After displaying an act of kindness towards the neighbourhood cat, Elmer finds himself transported to Wild Island, which is home to an array ofcolourful and curious beasts, including a dragon. Elmer discovers that all isnot right on the island, however, with some of the animals using the dragon fortheir own needs, and so he sets out to rescue and befriend the fire-breathingbeast. This vibrant animation from Irish studio Cartoon Saloon is adapted froma classic children's novel and celebrates themes including courage andfriendship.

If you like the sound of this... you may also like Pete's Dragon on Into Film+. This live-action adaptation of the popularchildren's book sees a young boy growing up in the forest alongside hisonly friend, a huge green dragon. 

Maria - Curation Officer

Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical (7+)

The highly anticipated adaptation of the West End play, and our opening film at Into Film Festival 2022, is a joyous sing-a-long that will appeal to new and loyal fans of the tale of a neglected and extraordinary girl. Close to Roald Dahl's book, the film is set in small, rural English town, and sees some welcomed diverse casting for some of the much-loved characters. Featuring an array of catchy songs that will undoubtedly charm young audiences, this is a delightful story all about the importance of education, community and believing in yourself.

If you like the sound of this... you may also like The Personal History of David Copperfield on Into Film+, a comedic adaptation of Charles Dickens' rags-to-riches novel about an orphaned boy who tries to find his way in the world. 

Joyland (16+)

This debut feature by director Saim Sadiq became the first Pakistani film to take the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival and it's easy to see why. Compellingly exploring the ways patriarchy steep into every part of our personal lives, the film follows a family as their unit is upturned when they step outside their expected gender roles. Chaos ensues when the youngest son, Haider, who ridiculed by his father for his role as the housekeeper of the house, becomes romantically involved with a transgender performer when he accepts a job as her back-up dancer. Beautifully shot and with an astounding ensemble cast, the film is an absorbing, often comedic, look at how conservative social codes stifle interpersonal relationships.

If you like the sound of this... you may also like Pariah on Into Film+, the story of a lesbian teenager on a journey to be her authentic self while living in a conservative household. 

Charlotte - Curation Officer

Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio (11+)

A beautifully crafted stop-motion animation, and arguably the best adaptation of the Italian fable in recent years, Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio lives up to the darkly magical quality that the Pan's Labyrinth director has become known for, while offering an introduction to his signature storytelling style to younger audiences. Restaged against a backdrop of Italy under fascism, the story follows the misadventures of Pinocchio, the wooden boy puppet lovingly crafted by a grieving father, brought to life by a blue fairy, and guided through the moral quandaries of life by a jaunty cricket. The film includes mesmerising musical numbers and heartfelt explorations of parent-child relationships, cautions against coercive behaviour and a bit of healthy rambunctious disobedience.

If you like the sound of this... you may also like A Monster Calls on Into Film+, a dark fantasy drama also adapted from a novel, about a boy who is visited by a monstrous tree spirit intent on guiding him through the difficulties of his family life.

One Fine Morning (14+)

Acclaimed French director Mia Hansen-Løve offers a soulful story of love and anticipatory grief. Léa Seydoux is exquisite in the role of Sandra, a Parisian language interpreter who cares for her 8-year-old daughter and her father Georg, an esteemed professor succumbing to a degenerative disease. With emotions seeping through her numb surface, Sandra starts a passionate affair with a married friend, Clément. As Georg is shuffled between care homes and the extramarital affair turns complicated, Sandra is awakened and distraught, lost and found in love. Inspired by the director's own experiences caring for her father who also had Benson's Syndrome, this beautifully paced film sensitively explores dealing with what is beyond our control.

If you like the sound of this… you may also like Amélie on Into Film+. This French-language film is the charming story about a young woman who, in spite or perhaps because of her own loneliness, makes it her mission to spread happiness in other people's lives.

Steven - Curation Officer

Name Me Lawand (11+)

This documentary focuses on a young Deaf Kurdish boy who, along with his family, makes the perilous journey from war-torn Iraq to the city of Derby, situated in the heart of England, where he begins to attend a school for deaf children and meets others like himself for the first time.The film's sound magnificently draws us into Lawand's inner world, emphasising the uphill battle that he faces in his quest to thrive as a Deaf refugee. Highlighting the obstacles faced not just by its subject but by all Deaf people, this is a moving reminder of the importance of a support system both locally and internationally.

If you like the sound of this... you may also like Dad on Into Film+, the story of a young boy living on a Welsh coastalresort who comes across a refugee who has been living on the beach and mustlearn how to communicate with him.

Nayola (14+)

In recent years, films such as The Breadwinner and Persepolis have used animation to offer new visual perspectives on stories of war across the world. Nayola focuses on the region of Angola and three generations of women whose lives were forever altered by the conflict which devastated the country from following the war of independence. Nayola herself is a woman searching across the unpredictable landscape for her lost husband in 1995 whilst in 2011 her mother must nurture Nayola's teenage daughter who looks to change Angola's future through the power of political music.A wonder of animation, switching between hand-drawn and computer-generated images depending on the time-period, this film is so striking and innovative that it will leave viewers astounded whilst its drives towards a conclusion that is unsurprisingly moving.

If you like the sound of this… you may also like The Breadwinner on Into Film+, an Afghanistan-set animation in which a young girl disguises herself as a boy to provide for her family after her father is unjustly arrested.

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