BFI London Film Festival 2020 full line-up, dates, opening and closing galas, virtual screenings

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The biggest film festival in the UK is set to make its comeback in a very different London this year due to both Covid-19 and a very politically-charged period in history.

As such, it is no surprise that BFI London Film Festival 2020 will be looking very different with an extensive set of virtual premieres but also a selection of films being shown in cinemas across the UK – some of which for free.

Directors set to bring their films to the event include Sir Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame, 12 Years a Slave), Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman, Da 5 Bloods, Do The Right Thing), Brandon Cronenberg and Francis Lee (God's Own Country)

So, when does the festival take place and what can fans expect to see?

Here’s everything you need to know about BFI London Film Festival 2020.

BFI London Film Festival 2020 dates

BFI London Film Festival 2020 will take place between Wednesday, October 7, 2020 and Sunday, October 18, 2020.

The Festival runs for 12 days in total and this year the majority of screenings will be virtual due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Announcing the new format earlier this year, Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival Director, said: “Like many other live events around the world, we’ve had to make changes to our plans in response to a global pandemic, factoring in safety concerns and restrictions – some known, some still unclear.

“But as we’ve undergone this planning we’ve also witnessed historical international protests, an urgent reminder of just how much we need to do to combat racism and inequality.

“This year has also given us an opportunity to think creatively about how we make the Festival more accessible.

Pixar's Soul starring Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey will appear at the festival
(Image: Pixar/Youtube)

“It was vital to us that we get back to cinemas, and are looking forward to working with independent and cultural venues across the UK who are such an essential part of our film ecosystem.

“The Virtual LFF programmes and these cinema screenings take the Festival out across the UK, giving people opportunities to engage in different ways.

“It’s a pleasure each year to speak with audiences who share the ways filmmakers have made them laugh, think, weep, or shifted their way of seeing.

“Through a number of partnerships and platforms, we can’t wait to share many of this year’s extraordinary new films – from around the world, from artists of different backgrounds and with many bold distinctive filmmaking voices.”

We can’t wait!

BFI London Film Festival 2020 full line-up

Here is a list of the feature films showing at the festival.

The film's director, country of origin, year of release and whether they are available virtually (V) or in cinemas (C) are shown.

180° RULE | Farnoosh Samadi | Iran | 2020 | Debate | V

200 METERS | Ameen Nayfeh | Palestine | 2020 | Debate | V

A COMMON CRIME | Francisco Márquez | Argentina, Brazil, Switzerland 2020 | Dare | V

A DAY-OFF OF KASUMI ARIMURA | d. Hirokazu Kore-eda | w. Sakura Higa | Japan 2020 |Journey (Series) | V

AFRICAN APOCALYPSE | Rob Lemkin | UK 2020 | Debate | V

AFTER LOVE | Aleem Khan | UK 2020 | Love | V + C

AMMONITE | Francis Lee| UK 2020 | Closing Film | C

ANOTHER ROUND | Thomas Vinterberg| Denmark 2020 | Journey | V + C

BAD TALES | Fabio D'Innocenzo, Damiano D'Innocenzo | Italy 2020 | Dare | V

BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKET | Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross | USA 2020 | Journey | V

THE CHEATERS | Paulette McDonagh | Australia 1929 | Treasures | V

THE CHESS GAME OF THE WIND | Mohammad Reza Aslani | Iran 1976 | Treasures | V

CICADA | Matt Fifer and Kieran Mulcare | USA 2020 | Love | V

DAYS | Tsai Ming-Liang | Taiwan 2020 | Love | V*

DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA | Spike Lee | USA 2020 | Create | V + C


THE DISCIPLE | Chaitanya Tamhane | India 2020 | Create | V

FAREWELL AMOR | Ekwa Msangi | USA 2020 | Love | V

FRIENDSHIP'S DEATH | Peter Wollen | UK 1987 | Treasures | V

GENUS PAN | Lav Diaz | Philippines 2020 | Journey | V

GOLD FOR DOGS | Anna Cazenave Cambet | France 2020 | Journey | V

HERSELF | Phyllida Lloyd | UK 2020 | Love | V + C

HONEYMOOD | Talya Lavie | Israel 2020 | Laugh | V

I AM SAMUEL | Pete Murimi | Kenya 2020 | Journey | V

IDENTIFYING FEATURES | Fernanda Valadez | Mexico-Spain 2020 | Journey | V

IF IT WERE LOVE | Patric Chiha | France 2020 | Love | V

INDUSTRY | d. Lena Dunham, Tinge Krishnan, Ed Lilly | w. Mickey Down, Konrad Kay | UK 2020 | Journey (Series) | V

THE INTRUDER | Natalia Meta | Argentina-Mexico 2020 | Dare | V

KAJILLIONAIRE | Miranda July | USA 2020 | Laugh | V

LIMBO | Ben Sharrock | UK 2020 | Journey | V

MANGROVE | Steve McQueen | UK 2020 | Opening Film (Series) | C

MOGUL MOWGLI | Bassam Tariq | UK 2020 | Dare | V + C

NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN | Małgorzata Szumowska, Michał Englert | Poland-Germany | Laugh | V

NEW ORDER | Michel Franco | Mexico 2020 | Dare | V

NOMADLAND | Chloé Zhao | USA 2020 | Journey | C

NOTTURNO | Gianfranco Rosi | Italy-Germany-France 2020 | Journey | V

ONE MAN AND HIS SHOES | Yemi Bamiro | UK 2020 | Debate | V

THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF | Benjamin Ree | Norway 2020 | Create | V

POSSESSOR | Brandon Cronenberg | Canada-UK 2020 | Cult | V

THE REASON I JUMP | Jerry Rothwell | UK 2020 | V

RELIC | Natalie Erika James | Australia-USA 2020 | Cult | V

ROSE | Jennifer Sheridan | UK 2020 | Cult | V

THE SALT IN OUR WATERS | Rezwan Shahriar Sumit | Bangladesh-France 2020| Journey | V

SHADOW COUNTRY | Bohdan Sláma | Czech Republic 2020 | Debate | V

SHIRLEY | Josephine Decker | USA 2020 | Dare | V + C

SIBERIA | Abel Ferrara | Italy-Germany-Mexico 2020 | Dare | V

SOUL | Pete Docter, Kemp Powers | USA 2020 | Family | C

SOUND FOR THE FUTUR E | Matt Hulse | UK-China 2020 | Experimenta | V

STRAY | Elizabeth Lo | USA 2020 | Journey | V

STRIDING INTO THE WIND | Wei Shujun | China 2020 | Create | V

SUPERNOVA | Harry Macqueen | UK 2020 | Love | V + C

THIS IS MY DESIRE (EYIMOFE) | Arie Esiri, Chuko Esiri | Nigeria 2019 | V

TIME | Garrett Bradley | USA 2020 | Debate | V + C

ULTRAVIOLENCE | Ken Fero | UK 2020 | Debate | V

UNDINE | Christian Petzold | Germany 2020 | V + C

WILDFIRE | Cathy Brady | UK-Ireland 2020 | Dare | V

WOLFWALKERS | Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart | Ireland-Luxembourg-France 2020 |Family | V

ZANKA CONTACT | Ismaël El Iraki | France-Morocco-Belgium 2020 | Create | V

*Days will have a single cinema screenings at ICA and BFI Southbank

BFI London Film Festival 2020 opening gala

The film to open the festival this year is part of the BBC and Amazon’s new anthology series from director Sir Steve McQueen, Small Axe.

The film is entitled Mangrove, starring Black Panther’s Letitia Wright, Shaun Parkes, and Malachi Kirby.

Mangrove tells the true story of the Mangrove 9, fifty years on from the events themselves.

Small Axe: Mangrove will air this autumn on BBC One
(Image: BBC)

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The story follows a group of black activists who clashed with London police during a 1970 protest march and the highly publicised trial that came after.

The proceedings were the first judicial acknowledgment of racially motivated behaviour by the Metropolitan Police.

A thoroughly timely and politically-charged piece to open the festival.

Mangrove director Steve McQueen said: “I couldn’t be happier that Mangrove will open this year’s BFI London Film Festival. Although the themes are universal, Mangrove is a London story. It may have happened 50 years ago, but it’s as relevant today as it was then.”

BFI London Film Festival 2020 closing gala

Finally, closing the Festival is the new film from God’s Own Country director Francis Lee, Ammonite.

Set in the 1840s, the film follows paleontologist Mary Anning ( Kate Winslet ), whose most acclaimed career is in its twilight years and who now lives a solitary life in Lyme Regis.

Saoirse Ronan (left) and Kate Winslet star in Francis Lee's Ammonite
(Image: See-Saw Films / Lionsgate UK / Neon)

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However, when Mary comes to be a companion to the young and depressed Charlotte ( Saoirse Ronan ), a striking new connection emerges between them.

Director Francis Lee said: “I’m thrilled Ammonite has been chosen to close the BFI London Film Festival.

“In these incredibly difficult times, it’s wonderful to see this film about intimacy, love and hope getting its UK premiere at LFF.”

The film will premiere in multiple cinemas across the U.K. with a virtual Q and A with the director and cast.

Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan? Count us in!

Will you be attending screenings for BFI London Film Festival 2020 this year, virtually and/or in person? Let us know in the comments below.

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