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Killers of the Flower Moon leads the way in bumper 2023 BFI London Film Festival schedule

Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio co-star in a Martin Scorsese picture for the first time  (handout)
Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio co-star in a Martin Scorsese picture for the first time (handout)

A gala premiere of Martin Scorsese’s much-anticipated epic Killers of the Flower Moon heads up a star-studded line-up for this year’s BFI London Film Festival.

Other headline galas include David Fincher’s The Killer, Bradley Cooper’s Maestro, May/December by Todd Haynes, along with Hiyao Miyazaki’s latest and (last) movie The Boy and the Heron in a special presentation.

New festival director Kristy Matheson and her programming team have announced a wide-ranging programme of 235 titles (of which 98 are by female or non-binary directors), from across 92 countries and featuring some 79 languages.

The 12-day festival, centred around the BFI theatre on the South Bank but also involving cinemas across London and the UK, kicks off on October 4 with the world premiere of Saltburn, the latest movie from English filmmaker Emerald Fennell who made waves with her debut feature Promising Young Woman.

David Fincher’s The Killer is much anticipated (Courtesy of Netflix)
David Fincher’s The Killer is much anticipated (Courtesy of Netflix)

The 67th festival will include 29 world premieres (14 features, 2 series and 13 shorts), seven international premieres (six features and one short) and 30 european premieres (22 features, one series and seven shorts).

It will close with The Kitchen, the directorial debut of Oscar-nominated British actor Daniel Kaluuya, set in a near-future London where the poor are forced to live in outlying slums.

Also part of the programme are Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest, Yorgos Lanthimos’s Poor Things, Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla, All of us Strangers (starring Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott) and Steve McQueen’s documentary about Amsterdam under Nazi occupation, Occupied City.

But it is Killers of the Flower Moon, by Oscar winner Scorsese, that is likely to attract the most interest. The film, adapted from a non-fiction bestseller about the systematic killing of oil-rich Osage Indians in Oklahoma, earned glowing reviews coming out of Cannes and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Lily Gladstone and Jesse Plemons.

Festival organisers will have to contend with the chance the ongoing actors’ strike will not be resolved by October and the red carpets will be absent of stars such as DiCaprio, Mescal, Emma Stone (Poor Things) and Bradley Cooper, who is director and actor on the Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro.

The ongoing actors’ strike may stop red carpets such as this (PA Wire)
The ongoing actors’ strike may stop red carpets such as this (PA Wire)

Matheson said: “In preparing this 2023 festival, my colleagues and I have been endlessly buoyed by the artistry, ideas and talented individuals and communities that have come into our orbit.

“It’s now time to share all this wonder and we can’t wait for audiences to experience it all this October here in London and across the UK with LFF on Tour and online at BFI Player.”

Ben Roberts, chief executive, BFI said: “Cinema has reclaimed its status as a cultural force, an art-form that can spark a conversation around the world, and which will resound loudly through the wide-ranging line-up of essential cinema that our 67th edition of the BFI London Film Festival will offer.

The Matt Smith-starring Starve Acre will premiere at the LFF (BFI LFF)
The Matt Smith-starring Starve Acre will premiere at the LFF (BFI LFF)

“I am particularly excited that the Festival will be sharing the exhilarating experience of new work from global filmmakers alongside so many debut features from the UK this year.

“I congratulate Kristy on her first LFF programme and the talented team who continue to find creative ways to reach new audiences, including through our free programme.

“We couldn’t do it without our loyal supporters, including our principal partner of 14 years American Express, so huge thanks to them and our many other sponsors, funders, partners, including the UK Government and the UK’s National Lottery players who do so much to enable both the Festival and our work throughout the year.”

Headline Galas:

- Opening Night Gala – Saltburn (UK, dir.-scr. Emerald Fennell)

- Closing Night Gala – The Kitchen (UK, dir. Kibwe Tavares, Daniel Kaluuya)

- American Express Gala – One Life (UK, dir. James Hawes)

- All of us Strangers (UK, dir.-scr. Andrew Haigh)

- The Bikeriders (USA, dir. Jeff Nichols)

- The Book of Clarence (USA, dir.-scr. Jeymes Samuel)

- The Mayor of London’s Gala – Chicken Run: The Dawn of the Nugget (UK, dir. Sam Fell)

- Cunard Gala – The Holdovers (USA, dir. Alexander Payne)

- The Killer USA, dir. David Fincher)

- Killers of the Flower Moon (USA, dir. Martin Scorsese)

- Maestro(USA, dir. Bradley Cooper)

- May December (USA, dir. Todd Haynes)

- Nyad (USA, dir. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin)

- Poor Things (UK, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)

Special Presentations:

- Cobweb (South Korea, dir. Kim Jee-woon)

- The Boy and the Heron (Japan, dir. Hayao Miyazaki)

- BFI Patron’s Special Presentation - The End we Start From (UK, dir. Mahalia Belo)

- Fallen Leaves (Finland, dir.-scr. Aki Kaurismäki)

- Foe (Australia, dir. Garth Davis)

- Series Special Presentation – Grime Kids (UK, dir. Abdou Cisse)

- Hit Man (USA, dir. Richard Linklater)

- BFI Flare Special Presentation – Housekeeping for Beginners (North Macedonia-Poland-Croatia-Serbia-Kosovo, dir.-scr. Goran Stolevski)

- Les Indesirables (France-Belgium, dir. Ladj Ly)

- Memory (Mexico-USA-Chile, dir.-scr. Michel Franco)

- Occupied City (UK-Netherlands, dir. Steve McQueen)

- Priscilla (USA-Italy, dir.-scr. Sofia Coppola)

- The Zone of Interest (USA-UK-Poland, dir.-scr. Jonathan Glazer)

The 11 films screening in the Official Competition are:

- Baltimore (Ireland-UK, dir-scr. Christine Molloy, Joe Lawlor)

- Dear Jassi (India, dir. Tarsem Singh Dhandwar)

- Europa (Austria-UK, dir-scr. Sudabeh Mortezai)

- Evil Does Not Exist (Japan, dir-scr. Ryusuke Hamaguchi)

- Fingernails (USA, dir-scr. Christos Nikou)

- Gasoline Rainbow (USA, dir-scr. Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross)

- I am Sirat (Canada, dir. A collaboration between Deepa Mehta and Sirat Taneja)

- The Royal Hotel (Australia, dir-scr. Kitty Green)

- Self Portrait: 47km 2020 (China, dir. Zhang Mengqi)

- Starve Acre (UK, dir-scr. Daniel Kokotajlo)

- Together 99 (Sweden-Denmark, dir-scr. Lukas Moodysson)

The Evening Standard is a Media Partner of the 67th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express

Tickets go on general sale on September 12 with BFI members getting advance access from September 6.