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Sam Mendes’ ‘Empire of Light,’ Starring Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Colin Firth, Sets London Film Festival Gala Screening

Empire of Light
Photo courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light,” starring Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward and Colin Firth, will be this year’s American Express Gala at the 66th BFI London Film Festival.

Written, produced and directed by Oscar and BAFTA winning filmmaker Mendes, the film also stars Toby Jones, Tanya Moodie, Tom Brooke and Crystal Clarke.

Set in an English seaside town in the early 1980s, the film is about human connection and the magic of cinema. It marks Mendes’ first solo credit as screenwriter and reunites him with Oscar winning cinematographer Roger Deakins (“1917,” “Skyfall”).

The film is produced by Mendes and Pippa Harris’ Neal Street Productions, in partnership with Searchlight Pictures. The film will release theatrically in the U.S. on Dec. 9 and in the U.K. on Jan. 13. It is showing at the Toronto International Film Festival as a special presentation in September.

“Empire of Light” will have its European premiere as part of the London Film Festival on Oct. 12, with Mendes, Harris and key cast expected to attend.

Mendes said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be included in this year’s BFI London Film Festival as the AMEX Gala screening. ‘Empire of Light’ is a very personal movie for me, and I can’t wait to show it in my home town.”

Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival director, said: “Mendes is a masterful storyteller and here vividly captures a sense of the South coast of England, in the 1980s. ‘Empire of Light’ explores the importance of community, the power of storytelling and of the movies, specifically the thrill of watching a film in a dark cinema, and the tactile pleasures of celluloid.”

As previously revealed, “Matilda the Musical” will open the festival and “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” will close it. The festival runs Oct. 5-16.