Kristen Stewart’s performance as Diana, Princess of Wales in Spencer, Sir Kenneth Branagh’s autobiographical movie Belfast and the European premiere of the third series of Succession will all screen at the BFI London Film Festival in 2021.
The festival will return in person this year with an expanded list of television entries, after going largely virtual last year due to the pandemic.
It will feature 159 films from around the world, including 21 world premieres. A number of titles will screen at cinemas around the UK, while more than 25 features will have timed premieres online to allow audiences to join in from home.
It was previously announced that The Harder They Fall, starring Idris Elba, will open the festival with a world premiere, while The Tragedy Of Macbeth, starring Frances McDormand and Denzel Washington, will be the closing film and The Power Of The Dog, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, will be the American Express headline gala event.
Also joining the line-up is King Richard, starring Will Smith as the father of Venus and Serena Williams; Edgar Wright’s new film Last Night In Soho, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, and Mothering Sunday, starring The Crown actors Olivia Colman and Josh O’Connor.
Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, starring Timothee Chalamet, Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton, and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut The Lost Daughter, starring Colman, Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson, is also on the line-up.
Stewart’s highly anticipated turn as Diana in Spencer, which recently screened at the Venice Film Festival, will also be unveiled in the capital, alongside the black-and-white movie Belfast, starring Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe.
The festival will include more television than ever before this year, including the first two episodes of the third series of Succession and the premiere of opiate drama Dopesick.
Festival director Tricia Tuttle said she hopes to “remove geographical barriers” with events at 10 cities across the UK and include “greater access and more free ways to engage,” with free talks and short films available online for free on the BFI Player, as well as a programme of immersive art and XR (extended reality) as part of LFF Expanded.
Tuttle said in programming the festival they have “purposefully not gone too heavy on the pandemic”, but added: “There are definitely pandemic stories.
“We were very wary of going too heavy into the pandemic but we are screening First Wave, a documentary about the first wave of the Covid pandemic and how the first responders handled it, and Seven Days, a comedy about a couple forced to quarantine together after a disastrous first date.”
It is not yet known how many directors and cast members will fly into the UK for the festival, especially from the United States, but Tuttle said they are moving towards having cinemas at full capacity, with mask-wearing expected.
Tuttle said: “We are inviting filmmakers but we are also following Government guidelines and they are following their own country’s recommendations.
“We are expecting US-based talent, but that could change. This year there is a lot we won’t announce until late.”
It was previously announced that gala premieres will move from Leicester Square to the London’s Royal Festival Hall this year.
The BFI London Film Festival runs from October 6 to 17.