Comedian Simon Amstell’s second film in the director’s chair follows a socially awkward filmmaker suffering from crippling anxiety due to the imminent world premiere of his second film. And if this didn’t already feel dangerously close to autobiography, Amstell’s second directorial outing has just had its world premiere at this year’s London Film Festival, just like the embarrassingly personal film directed by the title character of his latest effort, Benjamin.
So much attention has been devoted to the controversy surrounding Rafiki, the first LGBT film produced in Kenya, that discussions on the film itself have been something of an afterthought. To put it simply, the Kenyan censorship board didn’t have the same rapturous response to the film as audiences at Cannes (where it premiered earlier this year), effectively banning it – only to upturn the ban, submit the film as their entry for the foreign language Oscar, and premiere it to sold out audiences upon opening in Kenya.
The Favourite is something of a change of pace for Lanthimos. Not only is it the first time he’s adapted a screenplay he didn’t pen himself, with a comparatively muted surrealism compared to his previous films, it’s also the closest he’s got to crafting something that could be described as emotionally sincere.
Outside of its documentation of gender fluidity and same sex relationships during a period where they were scorned by society, Colette still remains a breath of fresh air amongst a field of stuffy costume dramas. The film is often hysterically funny (Westmoreland co-wrote the screenplay with his late partner Jonathan Glatzer), with Dominic West giving an entertainingly histrionic performance in the lead.
Less a documentary and more an unflinchingly personal essay, director Arshad Khan’s Abu: Father is moving and harrowing in equal measure. Utilising home video footage he has amassed since his childhood in Pakistan in the seventies, as well as scenes from the pop culture that played a pivotal role throughout the important stages of his life, Khan’s film deals with his lifelong struggle with his own sexuality and his relationship with his religiously conservative family.
Receiving its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, A Moment in the Reeds is the first ever Finnish LGBT romance film, following in the footsteps of some of the best gay love stories of recent years to forge a believable tale of two men thrown together by chance, forging an instant, deep connection with each other across the space of a few days.
On paper, the storyline to The Cakemaker sounds every bit as elegantly twisted as The Talented Mr Ripley, as a German baker integrates himself in to the life of his deceased lover’s wife in Jerusalem, building a deep connection with her while never disclosing the truth about his relationship with her other half.
My first acquaintance with Argentinian filmmaker Marco Berger goes back to spring 2014 when his exquisitely understated gay romance Hawaii screened at the BFI Flare, London LGBT Film Festival. Fair warning: if you’ve seen that film and found the whole “will they/won’t they” tension a bit frustrating, you might have a hard time stomaching Taekwondo’s incredibly protracted relationship tease. Berger in fact reprises the same kind of core tension in this newest effort, albeit the story and the whole context that feed such tension are rather different.
The Pass spans 15 years through the rise and fall of a closeted footballer: it starts off on the cusp of his career breakthrough, follows him across the glory period where his personal troubles threaten to compromise his success and eventually, as the past catches up with him, finds him bound to face the consequences of his life choices.