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Lenny Abrahamson to Head London Film Festival Jury

World Premiere of Ben Wheatley's "Happy New Year, Colin Burstead" Among Ten Films Announced for Official Competition Section

Lenny Abrahamson
Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock

Irish filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson will chair the jury of this year’s 62nd BFI London Film Festival, it was announced Wednesday. Abrahamson and his panel will oversee an official competition section of 10 titles – half of them directed or co-directed by women – including the world premiere of British filmmaker Ben Wheatley’s “Happy New Year, Colin Burstead” and the latest films from Karyn Kusama, Peter Strickland, Alice Rohrwacher and Zhang Yimou.

“I am delighted to continue my relationship with the BFI London Film Festival,” said Abrahamson, who received an Oscar nomination for best director for his 2015 film “Room.” “It’s an honor to be this year’s jury chair and I very much look forward to deliberating with my fellow jurors on what is sure to be some of the most exciting, thought-provoking and original work in this year’s selection of films.”

The winner will receive the festival’s Bronze Star of London, which will be presented in front of a public audience for the first time. Members of the public will be able to buy tickets to the award presentation, followed by a screening of the winning film.

Wheatley’s “Happy New Year, Colin Burstead” is receiving its world premiere at the London Film Festival. The director is a regular at the festival. His last film, “Free Fire,” closed the 60th edition two years ago. Tricia Tuttle, the festival’s artistic director, said “Happy New Year, Colin Burstead” represented a “different style” for Wheatley.

The films in competition by female directors are Karyn Kusama’s “Destroyer,” starring Nicole Kidman; Alice Rohrwacher’s “Happy as Lazarro,” which world premiered in Cannes; Sudabeh Mortezai’s “Joy”; Dominga Sotomayor’s “Too Late to Die Young”; and “Birds of Passage,” co-directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra.

Rounding out the competition lineup are Strickland’s “In Fabric”; David Lowery’s “The Old Man and the Gun,” starring Robert Redford in his final role; Zhang’s “Shadow”; and Laszlo Nemes’ “Sunset.” The last two will world premiere in Venice next week.

The 10 competing films represent the U.S., U.K., China, Italy, Hungary, Chile and Colombia.

Tuttle said the titles selected represented “a tantalizing range of styles” telling “stories from around the globe.” “These works are by turns, socially and politically urgent, muscularly thrilling, evocatively personal, spectacular, kinky and wildly inventive,” said Tuttle. “It’s also a real pleasure to see that half of these films come from female directors.”

The festival’s full program will be unveiled Thursday.

All 10 official competition titles will screen at the Vue Leicester Square. The 62nd BFI London Film Festival runs Oct. 10-21.