BFI London Film Festival 2019: Five must-see highlights at this year’s event

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One of the most prestigious events in the UK film calender is back, with the BFI London Film Festival taking place from October 2-13.

Fans can expect a fantastic selection of movies, star-studded premieres, and an all-out celebration of the UK’s film industry in the heart of the city, with screenings taking place in Leicester Square.

Forty per cent of the films being screened at this year’s celebrations are directed or co-directed by women – a relative triumph for diversity, given only two films were directed by women were featured at the recent Venice Film Festival.

With more than 200 films on, there’s no shortage of screenings to get stuck into. Here are five of the best. 

The Personal History of David Copperfield

One of the UK’s greatest comedic minds, Armando Iannucci, is back with new film The Personal History of David Copperfield. The movie – a new take on the Dickens novel – receives its European premiere in Leicester Square, and is being screened as part of the Opening Gala on October 2. Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw and Gwendoline Christie all star in the movie, which marks Iannuci’s first since the brilliant Death of Stalin. 

Knives Out

Detective Daniel Craig leads an investigation into the death of a famous crime writer, found dead at his home following his 85th birthday. Chris Evans, Ana De Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Colette and Katherine Langford all star in the film, and it’s up to Craig to find the killer among them. Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson is at the helm.

Marriage Story

Mumblecore icon Noah Baumbach’s latest is another one to watch out for, with many calling it his best film since 2005’s The Squid and the Whale. Marriage Story is, contrary to the title, a gruelling look at the divorce process, and promises fantastic performances from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. The Standard’s critic David Sexton called it “a fearsome cautionary tale, long and painfully detailed, a divorce horror story to put alongside Kramer vs. Kramer.”

Jojo Rabbit

The European premiere of Taika Waititi’s oddball World War Two film Jojo Rabbit is taking place at the festival, and it’s one of the quirkiest movies to play there in recent years. Director Waititi – best known for his work on Thor: Ragnarok and What We Do in the Shadows – brings his signature eccentricity to the project, which tells the story of a young German boy and his imaginary friend Hitler. Together, they discover his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in their home during World War Two. 

The Irishman

Martin Scorsese teams up with Robert De Niro for the ninth time, delving into the real criminal underworld of post-war America (again) in his new gangster epic, The Irishman. The film is being shown at the closing night gala on October 13, before its theatrical release on November 8. The Netflix production follows the relationship between hitman Frank Sheeran (De Niro) and union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino), who were close friends, examining Sheeran’s ties with the Bufalino crime family and involvement in Hoffa’s disappearance in the mid-70s.

For more information about the BFI London Film Festival, head here.