Why You Should See It: Documentary maker Sergei Loznitsa strays into fact-blurring fictional territory with this Ukraine-shot drama. It’s based on the real-life experiences of people Loznitsa has encountered during his travels – and should prove fun attempting to figure out just where the facts begin and the fiction ends.
Where And Where You Can See It: Mon 25th, 12:45, Vue Screen 6 – online booking here
Better Than: Becoming a Russian spy.
Why You Should See It: Ken Loach is best known as the social realist who likes to examine things on street level. So this Iraq drama should prove a fascinating about turn for the director, as he delves into the war on terror and the people who get caught in the crossfire.
It’s been heralded as one of Loach’s darkest works yet. Boy, do we believe it.
Where And Where You Can See It: Mon 25th, 15:00, Vue Screen 7 – online booking here
Better Than: Reading the news - why's it always so depressing?
A Novel Idea: Adapting Books for the Screen
Why You Should See It: With so many novels being plundered for big screen adaptations, it’s small wonder that the BFI are basing an entire seminar around the subject.
Not only has the festival hosted numerous adaps this year alone ( Let Me In, Never Let Me Go (above) and Miral ), but numerous other adaps are being fostered across the globe as we sit and read (need we mention The Hobbit ?). Here, you can hear what Richard Ayoade, Joe Dunthorne, Thomas Vinterberg, Eyad Zahra and François-Olivier think about it all, and perhaps get some invaluable tips.
Where And Where You Can See It: Mon 25th, 18:15, NFT2 – online booking here
Better Than: Attempting to finish that novel you’ve been working on for 15 years.
Why You Should See It: Thanks to the BP spillage, watery conglomerate issues are still very much on everybody’s lips (ick, not literally). This documentary from Risteard Ó Domhnaill should add fuel to the fiery debate, as we follow one man’s attempts to derail Shell’s endeavours to feed a pipe into the Irish village of Rossport in order to siphon off natural gas.
Could their plans result in a land-based retread of the BP disaster? We await the answer with bated breath.
Where And Where You Can See It: Mon 25th, 13:15 , NFT2 – online booking here
Better Than: Camping outside BP stations for the third week running.
Why You Should See It: Coming-of-age films never get old. And this one from Greece is here to prove it, with the tale of 23-year-old Marina, who’s refusing to grow up. Obsessed with David Attenborough (hence the misspelt title), she’s discovering herself piece by piece – with a little help from friend Bella.
Oh, and it’s from the director of Dogtooth . Need we say more?
Where And Where You Can See It: Tue 26th, 12:45, Vue Screen 6 – online booking here
Better Than: Building a time machine and becoming a teenager again.
Why You Should See It: Because there just isn’t enough surrealist animation in the world these days, so when something as odd and amazing as this comes along, you just have to see it.
Directed by Jan Švankmajer (the man behind weird-flicks Alice and Little Otik ), Surviving Life is all about what happens when your dream life is more real than your waking one. (Don’t worry, Leo’s not in this one.)
Where And Where You Can See It: Tue 26th, 14:45, Vue Screen 5 – online booking here
Better Than: Watching Inception again.
Let Each One Go Where He May
Why You Should See It: Scream was the pillar post-modern slasher flick. How about a post-modern documentary? This could be it.
Director Ben Russell branches out into full-length features after crafting Suriname-based shorts, here crafting a documentary that does just that – deconstructing the authenticity of fact flicks while delving into the lives of Benjen and Monie Pansa as they retrace their ancestors’ steps.
Where And Where You Can See It: Tue 26th, 20:45, NFT3 – online booking here – or Thu 28th, 13:00, NFT3 – online booking here
Better Than: Going to a post-modernism lecture held in a room dressed to look like a lecture hall inside a building dressed to look like a university...
Why You Should See It: Her new film The Kids Are All Right is already fully booked at the fest (hence its absence from this list), but who better to hear talking about it than the woman whose life it’s based on?
We called director Cholodenko’s film “a funny, moving and insightful study of bittersweet family dynamics”. It’s tipped for much recognition from the Academy next year – so here’s the inside scoop.
Where And Where You Can See It: Tue 26th, 21:00, NFT1 – online booking here
Better Than: Staying at home with your own wretched family.
Why You Should See It: One name; Vincent Gallo. Whether it’s turning Christina Ricci into a buxom blonde, or getting controversially filthy with The Brown Bunny , Gallo always delivers something way left of centre.
Here, he plays a man kidnapped in Afghanistan, and is directed by the equally masterful Jerzy Skolimowski. Expect oddness by the bucketload.
Where And Where You Can See It: Wed 27th, 12:30, Vue Screen 7 – online booking here – or Wed 27th, 18:15, Vue Screen 5 – online booking here
Better Than: Anything. In the world. Ever. Vincent Gallo rules.
The Sleeping Beauty
Why You Should See It: It’s a weird looking thematic sequel to Catherine Breillat’s very weird, fairytale obsessed Bluebeard . Here, the director explores the roles of myth in childhood, as princess Anastasia re-enacts the tale of sleeping beauty, with a spin(dle).
Yeah, we’re in dream territory again, as Anastasia's whisked off to an adult-evading unconscious world filled with visual wonders and dream logic. Breillat’s style is unmistakable – if Alice In Wonderland wasn’t your bag, check out this instead.
Where And Where You Can See It: Wed 27th, 15:45, NFT1 – online booking here
Better Than: Waiting for Tim Burton to have a stab at Maleficent.
Life, Above All
Why You Should See It: What did we just say about book adaptations? This one’s being heralded as one of the most powerful dramas of the fest, as South African director Oliver Schmitz translates Allan Stratton's bestselling tome Chanda's Secrets to the big screen.
The plot follows a 12-year-old girl who fights prejudice in her village when small-minded community members rally against her family. A guaranteed eye-opener.
Where And Where You Can See It: Wed 27th, 12:45, Vue Screen 6 – online booking here
Better Than: Anything EastEnders ever dreamed up.
Why You Should See It: It’s bagged awards aplenty already (in its native Russia, which whiffs of obvious bias), but this murky tale could end up being a festival biggie. Worth checking out just in case.
Egor just wants to find himself a bride, but when he returns to his hometown, he discovers that most of the people he left behind have resorted to lives of crime. We know how he feels.
Where And Where You Can See It: Wed 27th, 14:00, NFT3 – online booking here
Better Than: [Insert another Russia joke here]
Why You Should See It: Chatroom may have won few fans when it debuted at Cannes earlier this year, but Kaboom (another teen creepfest hidden away in a midnight screening) earned itself a place in the hearts of many.
Sarah Connor Chronicles lead Thomas Dekker plays a student who may or may not have witnessed a murder while high on cookies. The ensuing thriller is both racy and clever, with director Gregg Araki on fine form.
Where And Where You Can See It: Thu 28th, 12:15, Vue Screen 5 – online booking here
Better Than: Watching Chatroom . Duh.
Why You Should See It: It’s an oldie but a goodie. Forget the name-sharing Meryl Streep starrer, this classic from acclaimed director Elia Kazan has Montgomery Clift!
He plays a TVA agent who has to shift an 80-year-old dear from her home to make room for a new dam. Restored and revitalised for the big screen, this is proof that a true classic never dies.
Where And Where You Can See It: Thu 28th, 16:15, NFT1 – online booking here
Better Than : Watching that beaten up old VHS you refuse to throw out.
Why You Should See It: Here’s a chance to celebrate John Lennon’s 70th birthday in style. Just a year after Aaron Johnson played him in Nowhere Boy , director John Epstein takes a look at one of the later chapters of Lennon’s life, examining how he fared after The Beatles broke up.
The rare archive footage on display should warrant the ticket price alone for Lennon aficionados.
Where And Where You Can See It: Thu 28th, 20:45, Vue Screen 6 – online booking here
Better Than: Sitting in your bedroom having to, uh, Imagine you’re watching the doc.