It’s back. It’s nearly November, and that means it’s time to grab a copy of the film festival programme, a pencil and comfy chair. It’s time to start picking out the films to get excited about. It’s time to start working out quite how long it takes to get from the city centre up to the Hyde Park Picture House. It’s time to buy some tickets!

The programme launch, with its compilation trailer reel shown on a big screen in Vue has whetted the appetite, so now I’m diving into the list of films and trying to work out what I can see. The plan here is to do a post on each of the major strands, taking a look at what I’m excited about. In this post, I’ll start with the official selection. Let’s go!

Opening and Closing

The big name pictures that bookend the festival are reliably interesting. I’m definitely excited to see Poor Things, the latest from Yorgos Lanthimos. I’ve loved a lot of his films. Dogtooth and Alps are probably due a rewatch - I remember enjoying them, but not a lot about them. The trio that followed (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer and The Favourite) are all certified bangers. Each very different and bonkers in their own ways but utterly compelling. The trailer for Poor Things looks pretty promising. A good pick for an opener.

All of which leaves closing film, Slow, with rather a hard act to follow. It sounds interesting enough but I’m not wildly excited about it. But I’ve misjudged a lot of small romances in the past. Sometimes the films that look a little bit dull on paper turn out to be memorable worlds that drag you in. We’ll see…

Poor Things

The rest of the selection…

I’m not going to look at every film, so much as pick out a handful that are calling to me loudly. And there’s a trio of films that are shouting the loudest. Anatomy of a Fall, Palme d’Or winner, looks like my kind of thriller. Meanwhile, Monster is the latest film from Hirokazu Kore-eda - I loved both Shoplifters and Broker (both at previous LIFF screenings!) so am very excited for this one. Rounding out my top three is Sultana’s Dream: I din’t know anything about the director or the source material (though a 1905 sci-fi feminist text certainly has me interested!) but the trailer was jaw-droppingly beautiful.

After that, we move into a mix of the enjoyable, the interesting and the downright weird. Both The Queen of My Dreams and The Holdovers look pretty approachable. I don’t think I’m expecting anything particularly new or exciting from either but they look like they could be sa lot of fun.

After that we’ve got All of Us Strangers (Andrew Scott in a relationship with Paul Mescal from Aftersun!), The Breaking Ice (I’m a sucker for a story about small lives in China) and Kiddo (a chaotic law-breaking mother-daughter road-trip). And my picks are rounded out by a couple of seriously weird looking choices: Chronicles of a Wandering Saint (staged miracles in an attempt to be more saintly than the other members of your church) and Sweet Dreams (a Dutch colonial tale set in Indonesia. The trailer looked weird).

In short…

It’s an exciting looking selection. The main strand can occasionally be a little bit earnest and heavy. This year though, there’s a good mix and plenty that’s calling me loudly.