The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

The 55th London BFI Film Festival

12th-27th October 2011

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When people talk about an event an international of cultural importance in London these days, they’re almost certainly referring to the 2012 Olympics. An event which should bring our country together, not just England but the home nations too, with a sense of cultural understanding and a message relevant to our times – some damned good entertainment, too. But for those of you who that this does not thrill, maybe you should look to the London BFI Film Festival.

This year’s festival says it ‘Comes at a time when national news and international events suggest that film has never been more needed – whether to help us make sense of our lives or to offer us temporary escape’. Well this bold statement certainly defines the role of British film in 2011 as well. Whether Colonel Gaddafi’s looting a shop in London or Boris Johnson’s compound is being bombed, cinema is needed more than ever, not only as escapism, but also as an inspiration to (not to mention analysis of) our modern society.

Tinge Krishnan’s first feature length film Junkhearts is being tipped as the one to watch this festival, his previous short triumphing at the BAFTAs. Junkhearts deals with big contemporary problems such as drugs, alcoholism and homelessness, and follows three people’s attempts to find some redemption. It confronts a vision of life in the 21st century (and, in fact, life in general) that is wracked with horrific truths, and is billed as ‘sophisticated’.

If you’re looking for something a bit more avant-garde, and even humorous, to escape the increasing feeling of dread and disgust you have to deal with every day, then watch out for the films of Gabriel Brante (and collaborators). They explore conventional issues through unconventional methods, and the results are quite often very interesting. But whatever your cup of tea, there is sure to be something here to suit you, and if you, like me, are too devoid of money, time and proximity to London in the next few months to go, then watch out for their imminent DVD releases. So forget about the Olympics, get a gold medal in watching films.