This year’s London Film Festival already received a pat on the shoulder for gender representation, and it is time for us to applaud it, too. So far 2018 has produced some wonderful New East titles that LFF has intelligently programmed for the British audience. Showcasing over a dozen films from the region, this year’s festival spreads wide across the New East territories, featuring titles from Slovenia to Ukraine, from Romania to Serbia and Russia to Kazakhstan. Topics are as diverse as the backgrounds of their respective creators, sometimes emerging from the European festival circuit, but sometimes catching us by a pleasant surprise. And to all of you looking to catch up with the latest New East works, we have created a guide to the gems that you can see at LFF this year.
Dir Timur Bekmambetov, USA-UK-Cyprus-Russia
Intentionally crafted to seem as a documentary, Profile is the New Media thriller to see this year. Broke freelance journalist Amy accepts a job as an undercover journalist for an article on the illegal channels through which Western women are smuggled to Syria and then sold as brides to ISIS soldiers. Shapinghis story to seem shot from a web cam, Russian-Kazakh director Timur Bekmambetov applies the tricks he has leant in Hollywood to present us with a thrilling and realistic look at the dangers undercover journalists are often exposed to.
Profile will screen as part of LFF on 15, 16 and 18 October.
dir. Vitaly Mansky, Latvia-Switzerland-Czech Republic
One of our favourite New East filmmakers Vitaly Mansky (Under The Sun, Close Relations) returns with another documentary that promises the same bravery and controversy as his previous work. Based on Mansky’s own archival footage from 1999-2000 of Yeltsin, Gorbachov and Putin, Putin’s Witnesses offers an insightful look at the people and politics that brought Vladimir Putin to power.
Putin’s Witnesses will be screened as part of the Documentary Competition on 16 and 17 October.
dir. Kirill Serebrennikov, Russia
After The Student (which you can see at our film season Generations:Russian Cinema of Change), Kirill Serebrennikov returns with Leto, a musical biopic about the counterculture scene of 1980’s Russia. Although not the only biopic made about Victor Tsoy this year, Leto is doubtlessly the most acclaimed, as it received a Palm d’Or nomination at Cannes Film Festival. Leto has already secured its special place in film history, Serebrennikov finished it while under house arrest on embezzlement charges (which the director remains in to this day).
Leto will be screening at LFF on 14 and 15 October.
dir. László Nemes, Hungary
After running In Competition at LFF and then proceeding to win Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards with Son of Saul in 2015, the Hungarian director László Nemes is returning to LFF’s competition section with another period piece. Set in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the wake of World War I, Sunset follows Írisz Leiter (Juli Jakab), a young woman returning to Budapest after years of mysterious absence, as she tries to revive the family hat-making business. Unfolding dark secrets within the sensitive frames of DP Mátyás Erdély, Nemes promises an emotional journey around the beauties of an Empire that has scarcely been shown on screen.
Sunset will be screened at the In Competition section on 15 and 16 October.
Touch Me Not
Dir. Indira Pintilie, Romania-Germany-Czech Republic-Bulgaria-France
Provocative and style and subject matter, Touch Me Not comes to LFF after it won the hearts of the jury at Berlinale and went home with a Golden Bear earlier this year. Balancing between fiction and documentary, Romanian director Indira Pintilie takes us on a road less travelled exploring the sexuality of people with disabilities. Offering an empathic and intimate take on the subject, Touch Me Not’s bold aesthetics and radical subject is a piece of cinema whose existence is necessary in 2018.
See Touch Me Not at LFF on 16 and 17 October.
dir. Olmo Omerzu, Czech Republic-Slovenia-Poland-Slovakia
When overwhelmed by boredom, even running away from home in the midst of winter seems like a good idea. Travelling through foggy landscapes in an old Audi, Winter Flies is a coming-of-age on-the-road movie about a few boys growing up in the New East. Told through flashbacks and dressed up in the aesthetics of realism, Olmo Omerzu’s story unveils the fundamental truths of adolescence.
Don’t miss to see Winter Flies on 15 and 17 October at LFF.
Treasures: LFF’s Retrospective Programme:
Fragments of an Empire
dir. Fridrikh Ermler, Russian Federation
As part of its Treasures programme, LFF offers its guests a rare glimpse at the cinema of 1929’s Russian Federation with Fridrikh Ermler’s Framgments of An Empire. After a decade of absence, an amnesiac soldier returns to 1920’sRussia to find it completely changed. Having missed the Revolution of 1917 and stuck in 1914’s Tsarist past, is a rare critique of the regime at the time, and a fascinating exploration of memory.
A rare and unmissable gem, Fragments of an Empire will be showcased as part of LFF’s retrospective programme on 19 October.