The Movie Waffler 10 Movies You Must See at This Year’s BFI London Film Festival | The Movie Waffler

10 Movies You Must See at This Year’s BFI London Film Festival

Our picks of this year's fest.

Words by Eric Hillis

The BFI London Film Festival returns this year on October 7th with 12 days of screenings, both in cinemas across the UK and online through BFI Player. Booking opens September 21st, and you can find the full lineup at Meanwhile we've selected 10 movies that we consider must-sees at this year's fest.

ammonite kate winslet saoirse ronan

Writer/director Francis Lee follows up his acclaimed 2017 debut God's Own Country with period romance Ammonite, and has enlisted the star duo of Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. Winslet plays Mary Anning, a real life 19th century fossil collector whose discoveries helped shaped our knowledge of dinosaurs. Lee's film imagines a romance between Anning and a young woman (Ronan) charged to her care. This one has been selected as this year's closing film.

another round mads mikkelsen

Another Round
Last year we attended a special event thrown by distributor Studiocanal, at which they showed us trailers for their 2020 roster. The trailer that got the biggest reaction was for Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg's tale of drunken debauchery, Another RoundThe film stars Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe and Magnus Millang as four middle-aged teachers who experiment with the theory that humans who maintain a high level of alcohol in their blood streams can function on a higher level than those around them. Needless to say, the experiment gets out of hand.

the intruder argentinian film

The Intruder
Hot on the heels of Crystal Eyes comes another Argentinian thriller infused with Giallo sensibilities. Director Natalia Meta's adaptation of C.E. Feiling's novel 'El Mal Menor' stars Érica Rivas (Wild Tales) as a voice actor who comes to believe she may be possessed by a malevolent entity when her recordings display inexplicable vocal distortions. Reports suggest this one boasts outstanding sound design and cinematography, which combine to bolster its eerie atmosphere.

mangrove letitia wright

It's surprising that the LFF is only featuring one of the five movies from Steve McQueen's 'Small Axe' project, which tells five separate stories set in London's West Indies diaspora, while the New York Film festival is screening three of the features. Anyhow, LFF opens with Mangrove, the story of Notting Hill's Mangrove restaurant, which became a site of resistance in the late 1960s, leading to the arrest of a group of activists who came to be known as "The Mangrove Nine" during an infamous trial.

new order michel franco

New Order
Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco (After Lucia; Chronic) may not get the attention of his more illustrious compatriots Cuarón, del Toro and Iñárritu, but he's one of the more interesting Latin American filmmakers currently working. His latest, New Order, is a class conscious drama set amid a society wedding that erupts in violence when a former employee of the bride turns up looking for an urgent loan to pay for a vital medical procedure for his wife.


With her sophomore feature The Rider, Chinese filmmaker Chloé Zhao delivered one of the most affecting observations of working class American life. It's a milieu she's returning to with Nomadland, which stars Frances McDormand as an aging woman forced through poverty to take to the road in a camper van. On her journey across America she meets other modern nomads, as once again Zhao gathers a cast of amateur performers playing fictionalised versions of themselves.

relic movie

This Australian horror from first time writer/director Natalie Erika James stars Emily Mortimer and Bella Heathcote as a mother and daughter who find themselves coming to the realisation that sinister forces may be at play in the home of their senile mother/grandmother (Robyn Nevin). James' film combines elements of the body-horror and body-snatching sub-genres, but for most of its running time the true nature of its horror is kept ambivalent, making Relic a humanistic look at the aging process.
Read our review

rose a love story

Rose: A Love Story
Editor Jennifer Sheridan's directorial debut is the latest movie to infuse horror elements (in this case vampirism) into British social realist cinema. Sophie Rundle and Matt Stokoe play Rose and Sam, a young couple living an isolated existence in the woods. When an uninvited guest arrives, Rose's previously quashed bloodlust begins to rise to the surface.

shirley elizabeth moss

Author Shirley Jackson is best known to horror fans for her novel 'The Haunting of Hill House', adapted for the big screen by Robert Wise as 1963's classic The Haunting, a not so classic 1999 remake, and more recently as a Netflix series. With Shirley, director Josephine Decker, who recently impressed us with Madeline's Madeline, puts Jackson (Elizabeth Moss) into a nightmarish, fictional scenario when she and her husband (Michael Stuhlbarg) play host to a young couple (Odessa Young and Logan Lerman). Released in the US earlier this year, the film has won plaudits for Moss's central performance.

siberia abel ferrara

Abel Ferrara currently has no less than three completed movies awaiting release - his nostalgic documentary The Projectionist and a pair of collaborations with actor Willem Dafoe, Tommaso and this drama in which Dafoe plays an American who has retreated from his life to run a remote bar in Siberia. When he visits a nearby cave, the film takes a surreal turn as he experiences a series of hallucinations that force him to confront the life he's sought to bury.