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Grime Kids
Photograph: London Film Festival

10 great new London movies to catch at this year’s LFF

From ‘Poor Things’ to ‘The Kitchen’, the Big Smoke is starring on the big screen

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

This year’s BFI London Film Festival is just around the corner, with a wealth of new movies, shorts, talks, Q&As and other shindigs for film-loving Londoners to get stuck into over 11 days. And not just Londoners, because the LFF takes in cities across the country, too, with simultaneous screenings at UK-wide cinemas like the Broadway in Nottingham, Watershed in Bristol and Queen’s Film Theatre in Belfast. 

But – and we’re allowed to say this – it’s mostly about London. It’s not often we get to smugly enjoy the sight of the city we know and love on the big screen in quite so many exciting, explosive, dramatic ways. And this year there’s a host of options to do exactly that, from Daniel Kaluuya’s urban dystopia in ‘The Kitchen’ to the kooky Victoriana of Yorgos Lanthimos’s ‘Poor Things’. Here’s 11 hometown heroes to check out the fest.

Photograph: BFI London Film Festival

1. Hoard 

This award-winning, exuberantly strange coming-of-age drama set in south east London feels like it runs off some kind of extraterrestrial energy source, such is its alien intensity and syncopated rhythms. It’s the work of brilliant newcomer Luna Carmoon and it’s a girlhood memoir that takes real-life inspiration and twists its into a jittery, urgent tale of a troubled teenager, her mum and a mysterious young man (‘Stranger Things’ Joseph Quinn). 

8.30pm, Mon Oct 9
3.20pm, Sun Oct 15

Photograph: BFI London Film Festival

2. Scala!!!

Co-directors Jane Giles and Ali Catterall celebrate a legendary London venue with their new doc ‘Scala!!! Or, the Incredibly Strange Rise and Fall of the World’s Wildest Cinema and How It Influenced a Mixed-up Generation of Weirdos and Misfits’. And you have to ask: is three exclamation marks even enough to capture the wildness, weirdness and wonderment of this legendary King’s Cross cinema? To help, the two ex-Time Out-ers have assembled filmmakers like Ben Wheatley, Peter Strickland and John Waters to share their memories of feasting on kung fu, cult classics and queer classics in the shadow of King’s Cross Station.

8.45pm, Sat Oct 14
12.30pm, Sun Oct 15

All of Us Strangers
Photograph: Searchlight Pictures

3. All of Us Strangers

‘45 Years’ director Andrew Haigh blurs the line between modern-day London and its analogue 1980s counterpart, in an urban ghost story of sorts that takes Andrew Scott’s lonely screenwriter, Adam, back into his own past. Adam’s brand-new apartment block in south east London is an eerie, semi-deserted Ballardian space where everything is slightly off-kilter, including Paul Mescal’s hunky, mysterious neighbour. 

6pm, Sun Oct 8
3pm, Mon Oct 9
9.15pm, Tue Oct 10

The Kitchen
Photograph: Netflix

4. The Kitchen

Camden’s own Daniel Kaluuya gets a homecoming with his directorial debut, a sci-fi he made with fellow Londoner Kibwe Tavares. It’s topical slice of urban dystopia with a powerful social conscience, set in London in 2040 where social housing has been removed and Izi (Kane ‘Kano’ Robinson) and Benji (Jedaiah Bannerman), two residents of The Kitchen, a community refusing to go quietly, take the fight to gentrifying forces. It’s billed as ‘Afrofuturism meets “Blade Runner”’, so expect to see a whole new side to the Big Smoke.

7.15pm, Sun Oct 15 
9pm, Sun Oct 15

Poor Things
Photograph: Atsushi Nishijima

5. Poor Things

Shifting Alasdair Gray’s sci-fi picaresque from Glasgow to Victorian London and unpacking a host of marvellous eccentricities, Yorgos Lanthimos’s Golden Lion winner could be the buzz film of the fest. Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe and Mark Ruffalo are all a treat, and London – looking a lot like the foggy, slightly sinister metropolis of Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes films – vies with Lisbon and Paris as the film’s best supporting city. 

5.30pm, Sat Oct 14
10.30am, Sun Oct 15
7.50pm, Sun Oct 15

The End We Start From
Photograph: London Film Festival‘The End We Start From’

6. The End We Start From

Catastrophic future Londons are big at this year’s LFF. In Mahalia Belo’s apocalyptic survival drama, it’s a huge flood that throws a spanner in the works for Jodie Comer’s new mum and her baby, forcing her to flee the city in search of sanctuary, ‘28 Days Later’-style. The ‘Killing Eve’ star was spotted filming on the roof of the Hard Rock Cafe on Piccadilly last year. Pretty big flood, then.

6pm, Fri Oct 13
11.30am, Sat Oct 14

Grime Kids
Photograph: London Film Festival

7. Grime Kids

The LFF isn’t just about films, as this boisterous grime origin story from ‘Rocks’ screenwriter Theresa Ikoko proves. It’s a loose adaptation of DJ Target’s non-fiction book about the scene’s early days that follows five young, wannabe grime artists trying to cut through on pirate radio. Catch the first two episodes on the LFF big screen, then take a month or two to gloat to your mates about it before it hits the BBC later this year.

9pm, Fri Oct 13

The Pigeon Tunnel
Photograph: Des Willie/Apple TV+

8. The Pigeon Tunnel

London’s always had a dark, covert side – a place where an ordinary park bench might once have been a Cold War-era dead drop and spies used to poke each other with poison-tipped umbrellas. That’s the seamy side to the city Errol Morris’s portrait of one-time spy and world-renowned espionage novelist John Le Carré will take in. Expect sinister goings-on in familiar corners of the city as the spymaster shares his secret past.

8.55, Wed Oct 11
12pm, Sat Oct 14

Peeping Tom
Photograph: BFI London Film Festival

10. Peeping Tom

The LFF isn’t just about new films. Michael Powell’s London-set answer to ‘Psycho’ is freshly restored and returns to London cinemas 63 years on. It was too dark for its time – it pretty much finished off Powell’s filmmaking career – but as a horrifyingly voyeuristic journey into the headspace of a serial killer (Carl Boehm), it’s only as confronting as it needs to be to make its point. Fitzrovia has never looked so unsettling.  

12.30pm, Sat Oct 7
8pm, Sat Oct 14

LOKI, Season 2
Photograph: Gareth Gatrell/MarvelGugu Mbatha-Raw explores historic London in ‘Loki’

And one TV show...

Loki season 2, episodes 1 and 2

The LFF has been embracing the smaller screen for a few years now, and this year brings a sneak peek at the latest Marvel series, ‘Loki’. The first two episodes of season 2, starring Londoner Tom Hiddleston as the God of Mischief, are screening as part of ‘LFF For Free’ – that’s right, it won’t cost a sausage – in an event introduced by director Dan DeLeeuw. Look out for Covent Garden and other locations, as the MCU heads back to ye olde London. 

11am, Thu Oct 5

🎟️ 12 great movies at the London Film Festival to book tickets for now
📍Everything you need to know about this year’s London Film Festival

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