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BFI London Film Festival 2023: when is it, what’s on and how to get tickets?

Carey Mulligan and Bradley Cooper in Maestro  (Jason McDonald/Netflix)
Carey Mulligan and Bradley Cooper in Maestro (Jason McDonald/Netflix)

October is, somewhat unbelievably, just weeks away which means that the BFI London Film Festival is also just around the corner.

Opening for its 67th edition on October 4, the city’s jam-packed 11-day film festival returns with 252 titles – comprising features, shorts, series and XR (new technology) works – which come from an astonishing 92 countries.

This year’s line-up also boasts 29 world premieres, 30 European premieres and 47 debut features, while all the features and series on the roster are screening to UK audiences for the first time. 39 per cent of the works in this year’s programme have been made by female and non-binary filmmakers.

“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,” said BFI’s CEO, Ben Roberts.

“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.”

But the most exciting part about LFF is that, unlike Cannes, it’s open to the public, and Londoners are more than invited to get in on the action. So cinephiles, here’s everything else you need to know about London’s major film festival opening next month.

When and where is the BFI London Film Festival?

Ramy Youssef and Emma Stone in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things (Photo by Yorgos Lanthimos. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved)
Ramy Youssef and Emma Stone in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things (Photo by Yorgos Lanthimos. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved)

Opening and closing with works from British directors, the festival launches on October 4 with Oscar-winning Emerald Fennell’s sizzling thriller Saltburn, which stars Jacob Elordi as Felix, an aristocratic student who invites his working-class friend Oliver (Barry Keoghan), to stay at his family’s country estate for a summer.

The festival will then close on October 15 with Daniel Kaluuya and Kibwe Tavares’ The Kitchen, a dystopian drama which explores inequality, gentrification and resilience and stars Top Boy’s Kane ‘Kano’ Robinson.

The LFF is located at the BFI Southbank and The Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, but some of the films on this year’s programme are screened at other cinemas and venues in and around central London. The festival also extends across the UK, with films being shown at nine partner cinemas across the country.

What films will be shown?

Kane ‘Kano’ Robinson as Izi and Jedaiah Bannerman as Benji in The Kitchen (Chris Harris / Netflix)
Kane ‘Kano’ Robinson as Izi and Jedaiah Bannerman as Benji in The Kitchen (Chris Harris / Netflix)

LFF’s packed line-up includes some of this year’s biggest film releases, including Martin Scorsese’s Western epic Killers of the Flower Moon, Bradley Cooper’s biopic about Leonard Bernstein, Maestro, Yorgos Lanthimos’ black comedy Poor Things, David Fincher’s latest thriller, The Killer, and Sofia Coppola’s biopic, Priscilla.

Garth Davis’ science fiction drama Foe, which stars Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal, and Hayao Miyazaki’s final animation The Boy and the Heron, are just a few of the exciting films in this year’s special presentation category.

Meanwhile, official competition films include Starve Acre, a horror from Daniel Kokotajlo starring Matt Smith and Morfydd Clark; Kitty Green’s thriller The Royal Hotel, which stars Julia Garner as a young backpacker working in the Australian outback; and Christos Nikou’s science fiction romance drama Fingernails, with Jessie Buckley, Riz Ahmed and Jeremy Allen White.

Other films to look out for include Andrew Haigh’s romantic comedy All of Us Strangers, starring Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal, Claire Simon’s extraordinary documentary Our Body, Wim Wenders’ Perfect Days, and Noora Niasari’s highly-praised mother-daughter drama Shayda.

The programme is once again broken down by themes in an effort to encourage discovery. This year these strands are Love, Debate, Laugh, Dare, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Create, Experimenta, Family and Treasures.

Find a comprehensive breakdown of all of this year’s titles and events here.

How to get tickets

Morfydd Clark in Starve Acre (BFI London Film Festival / Handout)
Morfydd Clark in Starve Acre (BFI London Film Festival / Handout)

LFF is open to everyone, and tickets start from as little as £5 for under-25s.

Booking for both the films and events opened on September 6 for BFI members, and will open up to non-members on Tuesday September 12 at 10am – so ready your diaries.

BFI London Film Festival, October 4-15; whatson.bfi.org.uk