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Ammonite
Photograph: BFI London Film Festival

Francis Lee’s ‘Ammonite’ to close the BFI London Film Festival

Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet star in the romantic drama

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This year’s BFI London Film Festival has a closing night gala and it’s ‘Ammonite’, writer-director Francis Lee’s keenly awaited follow-up to ‘God’s Own Country’.

The film, which stars Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, will bring the curtain down on the new-look fest on October 18, with simultaneous screenings at cinemas across the UK and a virtual introduction from the cast.

Set in Dorset in the 1840s, ‘Ammonite’ is the story of Mary Anning (Winslet). She’s a struggling paleontologist whose life force is rekindled by the arrival of Charlotte Murchison (Ronan), a young woman recovering from a personal tragedy. Love – and, no doubt, high-class performances from two of the best actors of their respective generations – will ensue.

‘It’s wonderful to see this film about intimacy, love and hope getting its UK premiere at LFF,’ says Lee.

‘Francis has the ability to place love stories of breathtaking intimacy within a rich socio-political context, always with a delicate touch,’ says festival director Tricia Tuttle, ‘and here offers reflections on class difference and the erasure of women from scientific history.’

The news follows hot on the heels of the announcement that Steve McQueen’s race drama ‘Mangrove’ will get the festival underway on October 7. Starring Letitia Wright, it tells the story of the Mangrove Nine, a group of Black activists whose participation in a 1970 protest march in west London ended in arrest and then a game-changing court battle.

Instead of the traditional 12-day feast of movies mainly screened in West End venues, the streamlined London Film Festival will be a predominantly virtual event between October 7 and 18. It will take in cinemas across the UK for the first time in its 63-year history: alongside ‘Ammonite’ and ‘Mangrove’, there will be 11 other previews available to cinemagoers, to accompany more than 50 films that will be available via VOD.

London cinemas hosting this closing-night screening include Ciné Lumière, Curzon Mayfair, Curzon Soho, ICA, Prince Charles Cinema and, of course, BFI Southbank. Head to the official festival site for the full list of participating cinemas nationwide. Tickets go on sale to the public from September 21.

Looking to support your local film house through this difficult period? Buy a membership to one of London’s independent cinemas.

A free audio movie tour is coming to Leicester Square.

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