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Sam Mendes’s ‘Empire of Light’ is coming to the London Film Festival

The James Bond director is back with a seaside ‘Cinema Paradiso’

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

Sam Mendes’s latest film, period romance ‘Empire of Light’, is the latest big release to be added to this year’s BFI London Film Festival programme. 

‘Empire of Light’ will be the festival’s AMEX gala, a European premiere that will see Mendes joined on the Royal Festival Hall red carpet by stars Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Tanya Moodie, Tom Brooke and Crystal Clarke. 

Directed and written by Mendes – his first solo screenwriting credit – and shot by his ‘1917’ and ‘Skyfall’ cinematographer Roger Deakins, ‘Empire of Light’ is set in a cinema in an English seaside town in the early ’80s. It promises ‘a powerful and poignant story about human connection and the magic of cinema’.

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

‘[The film] 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,’ adds LFF festival director Tricia Tuttle, ‘and these are themes so close to our hearts at the BFI’.

Empire of Light
Photograph: Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved‘Empire of Light’

This year’s LFF opens on October 5 with ‘Matilda the Musical’ and comes to a close on October 16 with Rian Johnson’s murder-mystery ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’, starring Mendes’s old 007 Daniel Craig.

The full festival programme is announced on September 1. Festival tickets go onsale to the public on September 13, with BFI members able to buy tickets from September 7.

‘Empire of Light’ will be out in UK cinemas Jan 13, 2023.

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