entertainment

From Ammonite to Supernova: LGBTQ films to check out at BFI London Film Festival 2020

Here's what not to miss at this year's festival, which runs 7-18 October.

2020-10-06

Words: Jamie Tabberer

What's autumn without a harvest of unmissable prestige cinema from the BFI London Film Festival? And thankfully, despite the coronavirus pandemic, the BFI LFF's 2020 programme's as strong as ever.

Indeed, this year's fest - taking place from Wednesday 7-18 October, combining virtual and physical screenings - has some high profile films under its belt. Including a handful with prominent LGBTQ characters and themes.

Here's our pick of what to look out for...

Days

Director Tsai Ming-liang’s trademark minimalism is back in force in this intimate study of two lost souls whose paths cross in a Bangkok.

Days was selected to compete for the Golden Bear at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival and won the fest's LGBT-themed Teddy Award.

Cicada



A bisexual New Yorker coming to terms with a history of trauma enters into an interracial relationship in this emotive and erotic drama.

Inspired by personal experience, Matthew Fifer writes, directs and stars in the film, while Kieran Mulcare co-directs.

Kajillionaire



Evan Rachel Wood, Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger play a scruffy, kooky family of LA-based swindlers in this surreal-looking love story from director Miranda July.

Wood plays Old Dolio (while giving us serious Avril Lavigne-meets-Kevin the Teenager vibes) who yearns for change when the crew takes in a beautiful new recruit (Gina Rodriguez).

Shirley

In times gone by, Elizabeth Moss was best-known for TV shows like Mad Men and A Handmaid's Tale. But with memorable recent turns in Us and The Invisible Man, she's moved firmly to movie star territory.

In this tense psychodrama, she plays a fictionalised version of iconic horror writer Shirley Jackson, who gets the inspiration she needs for a novel - about the disappearance of a local girl - when two young newlyweds come to stay. The trailer suggests explosive same-sex tension.

Supernova



Wherever you stand on the debate around straight actors playing gay, it's hard to imagine a more convincing (or low key handsome) on-screen couple than Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci.

In this gentle take on the road movie motif, the guys play long-term boyfriends Tusker and Sam, who fight to find love and humour in the face of devastating illness.

The Human Voice

Pedro Almodóvar spoke to gays everywhere with his profoundly affecting - but, as per, gloriously colourful - 2019 drama Pain and Glory.

Expect more of the same in this short starring We Need To Talk About Kevin's Tilda Swinton. Filmed post-Covid-19 in July 2020, the story follow a woman in an improbably large dress nervously waiting on a call from her lover. (We've all been there).

Ammonite

Alright my lover... is that a curiously heavy West Country accent we hear? The follow up to director Francis Lee’s gay-love-on-a-farm masterpiece God’s Own Country, Ammonite is set on the Dorset coast in the 1940s, and is a fictionalised and sober-looking portrait of Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) the 'mother of paleontology'. (Hence the name; a type of fossil).

Saoirse Ronan broods as Anning's apprentice-turned-love interest Charlotte, and the four-time Oscar nominee might just be due a fifth, as Ammonite's trailer - with its perky bonnets and soaring strings - just screams awards bait. Ammonite closes the BFI LFF on 17 October.

The BFI London Film Festival 2020 runs 7-18 October. The Awards (ceremony taking place 18 October) will be audience voted and there is no jury.