BFI London film festival 2013

Posted on October 22, 2013 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

October is a month full of cultural activities in London, not only there is a dozen or so art fairs for art lovers, but there is also the London film festival for film lovers. With so many films to choose from, it was almost impossible to choose just a handful... after spending hours/ days going back and forth, I finally picked several feature films and documentaries that brought me to India, Poland, Russia, Germany and Laos ( all in a week's time).

Interestingly, out of the five films I picked, two of them won the best film ( Ida) and documentary ( My fathers, my mother and me) awards at the festival, so I guess the hours spent on studying the brochure paid off!

Here are the five films I saw at the festival:



Siddharth is film inspired by a true event in India directed by Canadian director, Richie Mehta. It tells a moving tale of a man searching for his 12-year old son who went missing after he was sent to work ( by the father) as a child labour in another city. The film reveals many social issues in India today: poverty, child labour, abducting and trafficking of children etc, and the saddest part is that we all know that this man's tale is not the first and will not be the last. A very well acted, well paced and genuine film.



My personal favourite at the festival was The Rocket, directed by Australian director ( also a documentary maker), Kim Mordaunt. Set in Laos, the film is about a 'cursed' boy's adventures after him and his family were evicted because of a new dam project. It is a very heart-warming story that I find quite inspiring, and the setting of Laos makes the film even more special. It was also intriguing to hear the director spoke about his casting choices and experience filming in Laos at the Q & A afterwards.



"Ida" is one of the most beautifully shot film that I have seen for years! Set in Poland during the 60s, the film was shot entirely in black and white, which worked amazingly well with two sensitive subject matters: religion and the Holocaust. Directed by U.K.-based Polish director, Pawel Pawlikowski, the film is sublime, well-acted, subtle and yet powerful, a well-deserved best film winner.



"My fathers, my mother and me" examines the controversial sex commune in Friedrichshof founded by Austrian artist Otto Muehl in 1972. The documentary’s director, Paul-Julien Robert spent 12 years of his childhood there and in the documentary, he revisits his former "home", interviews his childhood friends, potential and biological fathers and confronts his own mother. Some of the footage from commune's archive is quite shocking. It is a courageous, horrific and devastating documentary, and the Q & A with the director after the screening brought more insight to the whole saga and its effect had on the victims.



"Pipeline" is a documentary directed by Vitaly Mansky, focusing on Russia’s Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhhorod pipeline, which transports gas from Western Siberia to Western Europe. The film has no real narrative, it simply follows and examines different people/ communities on route. Although the subject is interesting and the cinematography is impressive, it was difficult to engage fully and sit through it for over two hours ( some even walked out of the cinema). A slightly disappointing one out of all the films I saw at the festival, despite its well intention.



I really wanted to see "Like father like son" at the festival, a film directed by Hirokazu Koreeda who is regarded as one of the best Japanese directors working today. But knowing that it is going to be shown right after the festival, I waited and watched it afterwards, and I was completely blown away by it. Aside from sobbing away at various moments during the film, I also felt quite emotional after the viewing. The only flaw of the film is that it is slightly too long, otherwise, it would be almost flawless ( though I am aware that this film is not everyone's cup of tea). It is subtle, insightful, sensitive, heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time, and the acting is natural ( the kid Keita is just too adorable) and convincing.

I would include this in my top four favourite films of the year, along with The Rocket, Before Midnight, The act of killing and Go Grandriders. If you have not seen it, go and see it, but be sure to bring some tissue with you.


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