Bridget Arsenault on what to see at the London Film Festival

29th September 2015

Nova Scotia native Bridget Arsenault (left) holds a Master's Degree from Oxford University. A long-time journalist, she is the Associate Editor, Print and Digital, at Vanity Fair UK and the London Correspondent for vanityfair.com. A major film enthusiast, in 2013 alongside her friend Fatima Martinez (right), Bridget co-founded the Bright Young Things Film Club, a film club that supports and features the work of young and up-and-coming actors and filmmakers. BYT host glamorous and well-organised evenings that have the feeling and impact of a Hollywood red carpet premiere, while also being affordable, accessible and fun.

As the co-director of a London-based film series, I spend a lot of my spare time watching films, talking about films and thinking about films. The Bright Young Things Film Club, which I co-founded with my friend Fatima Martinez-Moxon at the end of 2013, supports up-and-coming filmmakers by screening their work at the glamorous May Fair Hotel. We try and help promote exciting new films that might otherwise never get shown beyond the odd film festival.

Beyond BYT, I simply love films: the things they make us think about and the way a film can make us feel. It’s electric. It’s exciting. This year the BFI London Film Festival (October 7-18) is heading into its strongest year yet, with 283 films from 71 countries being screened around London over 12 days. Here follows my most-anticipated films of this year’s programme:

It’s a top year for glitzy Gala Screenings. The festival opens with Suffragette, Sarah Gavron’s (Brick Lane) star-spangled (Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham-Carter, Carey Mulligan) survey of the women’s liberation movement. And there’s no stopping the crescendo of excitement, as the festival closes with the much-anticipated Steve Jobs—a serious flex of movie muscle—directed by Danny Boyle, written by Aaron Sorkin and starring Michael Fassbender as Jobs and Seth Rogen as Steve Wozinak.

We’ve got High-Rise on our to-see list, directed by Ben Wheatley (Sightseers, A Field in England) and starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and Elizabeth Moss: a stylized take on J.G. Ballard’s 1975 thriller of the same name. Colin Farrell, Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly and Ben Whishaw all star in The Lobster—a satire, dystopian adventure, and an absurdist romp that won’t be for everyone because, well, it’s weird, very weird! Luca Guadagninio’s I am Love starring Tilda Swinton tiptoed towards mainstream approval when it was released in 2009. Guadagnini’s follow-up, A Bigger Splash stars Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson—and it’s seduction at every corner. Everything with Cate Blanchett is worth seeing (she also stars in the Todd Haynes’ 1950s lesbian drama Carol) and Truth is no exception. Blanchett plays 60 Minutes producer Mary Meyes opposite anchor-man Dan Rather, portrayed by Robert Redford, and the film follows the 2004 drama that unfolded between Rather, CBS and the Bush administration over whether George W. Bush was given preferential treatment in avoiding the Vietnam draft.

The first-feature category is an exciting one to explore and is a great way to seek new inspiration from some highly vetted young talent. Krisha won the Grand Jury prize at SXSW and Wedding Doll has been getting buzz at TIFF, and both are worthy of the attention. Moving from fiction to fact, a timely release (with this year’s blockbuster Everest starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley, Jason Clarke, Robin Wright and Josh Brolin), is Jennifer Peedom’s documentary Sherpa, which is being hailed for its beauty, poignancy and insight.

Take some time and look through the schedule as it’s swelling with world-class films, and, to lean on a cliché, there certainly is, something for everyone. Go to: BFI London Film Festival.