London Film Festival 2020 Round Up
The 2020 BFI London Film Festival ran from Wednesday 7 October and ended on Sunday 18 October. In usual circumstances, I would hop on a train to London and make a weekend of it, getting as many tickets as I could fit into a short schedule.
This year, for obvious reasons, there was a need to innovate. The usual programme was split across physical showings at Southbank, joint screenings in cinemas across the UK and virtual premieres on the BFI Player. I opted for the latter, watching three brilliant – though vastly different – films. The experience was convenient, safe and easy, and I was more than happy to say goodbye to dashing across London to get to the different venues in time!
Another positive: some of the films I would have liked to have seen are also showing at regional festivals that I will be able to support in the near future. Additionally, for all the films that I didn’t get to see that I’m hearing great things about, it’s given me something to get excited about and look forward to!
Here is a round up of what I watched as part of #LFF2020...
All I knew about Honeymood when I booked it was that it was written and directed by Talya Lavie, an Israeli filmmaker. It turned out to be a well-paced dark comedy about a newly married couple who spend their wedding night bickering. The issues snowball quickly and the longer they spend away from the hotel, the more ridiculous it gets. It’s a film that is oddly enjoyable to watch considering how frustrating the characters are. Lavie did a brilliant job with the writing because by the end I really liked the bride and the groom, but as individual people, not as a married couple. Together they were infuriating! Allowing the audience to come to that conclusion while building so much tension is quite a skill and I am very interested to see what Lavie does next.
I purposely avoided reading anything about this film to avoid spoilers. I wanted to watch it with a clean slate and I’m glad I did. Mogul Mowgli is really profound. It joins together heritage, identity, music, illness, racism, isolation and family in a compelling story starring Riz Ahmed who shines in the lead role. Even though it is sensitive to history and generational differences, it is very much a film of today. There are some rap battle scenes where this is most prevalent; they left me completely stunned because the lyrics are piercing and the performance is so intense. There are some surrealist scenes too, which are uncomfortable and jarring, but you experience them with the protagonist, who is already struggling. When it ended, I felt exhausted. This film isn't necessarily an easy watch, but an important one. I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets lots of awards attention. If it doesn’t, it would be a real shame. The Q&A with director Bassam Tariq and Riz Ahmed at the end of the screening was really enlightening and it really enhanced my experience of the film. I definitely want to watch it again. It's released in the UK on Friday 30 October so I recommend seeking it out if you are comfortable going to your local cinema at the moment.
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
This film was part of the ‘Journey Strand’ of the festival and was shot in and around a bar in Las Vegas having its final send off before closing down. Most of it is constructed in a fly-on-the-wall style so that we are privy to every conversation the punters of the bar have – from the mundane to the completely absurd… and the very, very drunk nonsense, which were obviously the best bits. Spending 98 minutes with these people as they had their last hurrah in their favourite watering hole was very funny, a little sad and a great substitute for all the bars I’m not going to at the moment - they did all the drinking and dancing for me! It did make me want my very own jukebox though. And I have concerns about where some of the people in the film are now. I probably won’t go back to it to watch it again, but I would love to see a ‘where are they now’ follow up, but that’s probably just because I get attached to people on my TV screen far too easily.