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Oscar Contenders Headline Sweeping BFI London Film Festival

Oscar Contenders Headline Sweeping BFI London Film Festival

BFI London Film Festival Director Clare Stewart today announced the full program (or rather, “programme”) for the fest’s 58th incarnation, which runs October 8-19.

This year’s festival will include 245 feature films–among them 16 world premieres and nine international premieres–as well as 148 shorts, both live action and animated.  The twelve days of screenings will take place across London, and will be screened live across the UK in local theaters.  Here’s a look at some of the highlights.

Opening the BFI London Film Festival this year is “The Imitation Game,” director Morten Tyldum’s portrait of Alan Turing, the forefather of modern computing who cracked the Nazis enigma code during World War II but committed suicide at age 41 after being prosecuted for homosexuality by the British government.  “The Imitation Game” premiered at Telluride to glowing reviews for Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the troubled genius.

Other films set to receive gala treatment in London include Bennett Miller’s wrestling drama “Foxcatcher,” “Whiplash,” the Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons-starring film about a young drumming prodigy and his nigh-abusive instructor, Jason Reitman’s “Men, Women & Children,” Mike Leigh’s “Mr. Turner,” which stars Timothy Spall as British artist J.M.W. Turner, Reese Witherspoon-starrer “Wild,” Jon Stewart’s “Rosewater,” and the world premiere of “Testament of Youth,” based on Vera Brittain’s memoir of World War I.

Cannes titles include Xavier Dolan’s “Mommy,” which played Telluride and will here get the Gala treatment, Godard’s 3D “Goodbye to Language,” Argentine “Wild Tales,” “The Salvation” starring Mads Mikkelsen and Eva Green, David Robert Mitchell’s indie horror “It Follows” and Palme d’Or winner “Winter Sleep,” which is Turkey’s submission for the Foreign Language Oscar. Quite a lineup.

From Sundance we’ll see “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,” “Appropriate Behavior,” “Jamie Marks Is Dead” and Shailene Woodley-starrer “White Bird in a Blizzard.”

At last, Susanne Bier’s late-arrival “Serena” starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, which was shot two years ago but is only just now premiering, will bow inconspicuously out-of-competition.

Last but not least, David Ayer’s “Fury”–starring Brad Pitt as an American army sergeant in command of a five-man tank crew on a mission behind enemy lines–will close the festival.

British cinephiles, get your credit cards ready.  It’s gonna be a good October. More on the lineup here.

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