The Hope Lies Guide To The London Film Festival – Part 4

Here’s the fourth part of our preview of this years London Film Festival. In this piece we take in the French Revolutions strand, and the World Cinema section. French Revolutions in particular took some summing up, so we’ve essentially had to narrow down out choices to ten recommendations!

One final preview piece on the Treasures From The Archives section of the festival will follow later in the week.  

French Revolutions

The Screen Illusion

Mathieu Amalric follows up the superb Tournee with this bold take on a classic French theatrical production. Jonathan Romney compares the film to Godard’s Destective, a film which he notes as offering a “fitting rethink of the French dramatic heritage”. Colour us intrigued.

17 Girls

The debut feature from sister directing team Delphine and Muriel Coulin, 17 Girls takes the well-respected and well-worn coming of age subgenre and gives it a feminine spin. We’re hopeful that 17 Girls will echo Maurice Pialat’s À nos amours in its representation of youth from a female perspective, with the premise itself inspired by the infamous Massachusetts pregnancy pact from 2008, which in itself is an intriguing scenario from which to hang a tale.

Early One Morning

Executive workplace culture is a side of life that we rarely see on film, or at least its an area of cinema that is rarely exported outside of the country, so its with that in mind that we approach Early One Morning with a keen eye.


Mathieu Demy, the son of Jacques Demy and Agnes Varda here presents his own take on an upbringing that fell at the most exciting time in French cinema. This is his first work as a director, having cut his teeth as an actor. The film is said to draw inspiration from the work of Demy’s father, from which one could easily surmise that we’re to expect an intensely personal insight in to a notable cinema family.

The Fairy

The follow-up to Rumba, which was something of a success on the 2008 festival circus, The Fairy sees Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon working together again, on a film which promises to be as acrobatic an experience as their previous work together.


Vincent Garenq’s film is based upon a notable news story from 2001, in which a married couple was wrongly arrested for their involvement in a paedophile ring. Truly a nightmare scenario, which, if done well, might just capture the hell that many of us would imagine that being caught up in such a situation would bring with it. We’re thinking L’argent via way of A Prophet here.

Low Life

Robert Bresson’s The Devil, Probably is cited as a reference point for the latest collaboration between Nicolas Klotz and Elisabeth Perceval, a pair probably best known to international audiences thanks to the Mathieu Amalric vehicle Heartbeat Detector.

The Monk

Vincent Cassel (friend of Hope Lies…) returns to the festival following a barnstorming year at the event last year promoting Black Swan. Premise wise Dominik Moll’s film couldn’t be more different, with Cassel portraying the titular character in a tale which blends thriller with the surreal.

Last Screening

Peeping Tom, Brian de Palma and Cinema Paradiso sit alongside one another in the official programme entry for Laurent Achard’s latest film, which looks set to excel him in to the mainstream of world cinema.  This looks to be the perfect re-evaluation of the state of the cinema on the eve of the death of celluloid.


Mathieu Kassovitz here presents his most promising sounding work for some time. While the likes of The Crimson Rivers were fine, high budget international cinema, Kassovitz has never really hit the heights that his debut work, La Haine, suggested he one day might. An accomplished actor, Kassovitz also steps in front of the camera here, with a film that hints at being a much more personal project than much of his recent output.

World Cinema


Alms Of The Blind Horse

A better understanding of the Indian national cinema is something which I had secretly vowed to earlier this year, yet have so far not really followed up on. With Gurvinder Singh’s Alms Of The Blind Horse that may all change though.


A very different slice of Indian cinema to Alms Of The Blind Horse, with a film which references Bruce Lee and modern rap culture in a story of sex and bastard children.

The Dish And The Spoon

Firmly rooted in the current independent American cinema, The Dish And The Spoon stars Greta Gerwig and Brit-teen Olly Alexander in a dysfunction relationship drama.

Natural Selection

Another American independent feature, this time focusing on a warped faux-maternal road-trip, as a middle-aged American woman heads out to find the children that her husband may have fathered during his years as a sperm donor. A cast of relative unknowns lead a film that has been compared to early Coen Brothers, such is the sense of humour and route of plot.


Based on the plot alone Darwin reminds of the fantastic Bombay Beach, a film we praised to high heaven earlier this year after seeing it at DocFest Like Bombay Beach, Darwin is a documentary charting the lives of a bunch of people who live on the fringes of American society, with the setting of Death Valley sure to provide an ample background for some grand tales.

Better This World

An American documentary charting the concept of domestic terrorism. Sounds great.

The Day He Arrives

South Korean filmmaker Hong Sangsoo’s latest film looks to be a beautifully shot tale, hinged on comedy and social drama. The reputation of the director himself is enough to draw our attention towards the film.


While the mainstream cinema of 2011 has undeniably been dominated by the Superhero genre, it is an area of cinema that, to date has had relatively little impact on the film festival circuit. Superheroes, an American documentary from Michael Barnett tells the story of real people that get dressed up in costume and head out to fight crime on a nightly basis. While its an area that’s been covered before, it isn’t one that’s been done justice. Pun intended.

Hard Labour

Film festivals are all about taking chances on films that you may never hear of again, or on movies that you might not ordinarily give a shot. It was with that in mind that Brazil’s Hard Labour caught my attention. Obvious works aside Brazilian cinema is a gaping hole in my personal cinema knowledge, hopefully Hard Labour will go someway to rectifying that.

This Is Not A Film

Perhaps the most important new work screening at this years London Film Festival, This Is Not A Film is incarcerated Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s cinematic response to his treatment by his country’s government. For little over one hour Panahi talks about his situation, outlines his now outlawed films and reacts to his circumstances in the only way he knows how to.

Our complete preview of the London Film Festival 2011 can be found here.


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