Female Filmmakers Dominate London Film Festival Competition Lineup

Works by female directors dominate the lineup for the BFI London Film Festival’s official competition section, it was revealed Wednesday. Six of the 10 films set for the main competition of the festival’s upcoming 63rd edition are directed or co-directed by female filmmakers, including Alma Har’el’s Sundance title, “Honey Boy,” and Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Venice competitor, “The Perfect Candidate.”

The competition selection, announced ahead of the unveiling of the festival’s full program Thursday, represents productions and co-productions from 16 countries. Titles from the Venice Film Festival also dominate, with four out of the 10 selected films having their world premieres in Venice.

Written by and co-starring Shia LaBeouf, and based on his own life, “Honey Boy” will receive its European premiere in London. The film world premiered at Sundance in January and will play in Toronto next month. “The Perfect Candidate,” from Saudi filmmaker Al-Mansour, will have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday, with its U.K. premiere coming in London.

World premieres featured in the competition lineup include Thomas Clay’s period drama “Fanny Lye Deliver’d,” starring Maxine Peake and Charles Dance, and Irish adoption drama “Rosie Plays Julie,” co-directed by Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor.

Rose Glass’ debut feature, horror film “Saint Maud,” will also receive its European premiere in London.

Isabel Sandoval will be the first transgender director to compete in London with her drama “Lingua Franca,” which receives its world premiere in Venice Days, the independent strand of the Venice Film Festival.

Other competition titles, all receiving U.K. premieres at the festival, include Jayro Bustamante’s “La Llorona,” also debuting in Venice Days; Oliver Hermanus’ “Moffie,” which debuts in Venice’s Horizons section; Alejandro Landes’ “Monos,” which premiered at Sundance; and Malgorzata Szumowska’s “The Other Lamb,” which will premiere in Toronto next month.

Festival director Tricia Tuttle said the 10 films respresented “the best in global filmmaking,” with their makers inviting viewers “to probe and ponder, to be changed – either subconsciously or wildly and irrevocably – by their work.”

“These filmmakers each have unique and distinctive voices and their films by turns reveal truths about human existence; explore stories we haven’t seen before or examine familiar ones in new ways; address pressing social and political issues, and make audiences feel and think. It’s striking that so many of the filmmakers here are telling strongly political stories, but never dogmatically so,” said Tuttle.

The winner will be selected by an official jury and will once again be revealed at a public awards presentation and surprise screening, following the sellout success of this format introduced at the 2018 festival by Tuttle. This year will also see the winner presented with a commemorative 35mm print of their winning film for the first time, provided by festival sponsor CPC London.

The award was first established in 2009, when it was won by Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet.” Last year’s winner was sex-trafficking drama “Joy,” from Austrian-Iranian director Sudabeh Mortezai.

The first feature and documentary competition strands will be announced Thursday alongside the festival’s full program. The BFI London Film Festival runs Oct. 2-13.

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