As the 62nd BFI London Film Festival commences, one of the biggest challenges for movie lovers attending the 12-day event is choosing which of the 225 features they’re going to watch. We’ve shared our pick of the big hitters, now let’s take a look at some hidden gems screening at this year’s festival.
The RaftThink Big Brother, in the 1970’s, on a raft. There are grand statements on world peace, understanding human behaviour and deconstructing where violence comes from. But the man who is running the experiment, choosing to place young, attractive people in his company, on an isolated vessel in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean may have ulterior motives. This documentary speaks to the living members of the experiment and reconstructs the raft as a space to discuss and reflect. Tabloids dubbed it a “Sex Boat”, but profound sentiments are to be found in The Raft. These volunteers share moments of elation and frustration, which manifests itself in all sorts of ways – and we see it all in old Super 8 footage.
The GuiltyOn his final shift working the phones at a police station, Asger (Jakob Cedergren), receives a call from a woman claiming to have been kidnapped. Asger leaps into action, but the more he investigates, the more it becomes apparent that things are a lot more complicated than they initially appeared. Though it is set entirely in a police call centre, The Guilty is a nerve-shredding, thoughtful, skillfully-directed thriller. Perhaps most impressively, it dares to deconstruct the myth of the ‘renegade hero’ that has pervaded action movies for time immemorial.
Happy As LazzaroAlice Rohrwacher’s third film sees her return to rural Italy. There we meet Lazzaro (Adriano Tardiolo), a kind-hearted peasant boy whose good nature is often taken advantage of by both his fellow sharecroppers, and the owners of the land he works. A botched kidnapping ploy and a rogue wolf set in motion a magical series of events that leave us wondering if there’s more to Lazzaro than meets the eye. Winner of the Best Screenplay prize at Cannes this year, Happy As Lazzaro is a masterwork of poetic realism that never quite goes where you expect. Adriano Tardiolo, in his first feature, is definitely an actor to watch.
Dream AwayEgypt and Sharm el-Sheik are quiet. Sharm el-Sheik in particular used to be a thriving tourist destination while now you can’t fly there direct from the UK. The Arab spring and a terrorist threat has destroyed the industry and the employees of the hotels and the locals who left homes and families to soak up the sun and make money are left with nothing. This is a surreal exploration of the people who are waiting for the tourists to return. Taxi drivers, DJs, dancers and room cleaners talk to a monkey about their intentions and we overhear conversations on their hopes and dreams. A unique, engaging film, Dream Away is an interesting, creative observation on a world that seems to have vanished.
U: July 22The horrific massacre on the island of Utøya, where Anders Behring Breivik massacred 77 people in 2011, is the basis of U: July 22. The film follows Kaja (Andrea Berntzen), who gets separated from her sister as the shooting begins, and her desperate struggle to find her. Shot in real time, in one long take, U: July 22 is a very hard movie to watch. There have been understandable reservations about the massacre being turned into a feature film, but director Erik Poppe treats it with sensitivity. He doesn’t linger on the violence or the bloodshed; in fact, throughout the movie, you only ever see one person getting shot. Instead he sits with Kaja in her terror, as she does her best to keep herself together. It’s a gruelling watch, but a worthwhile one.