Demolishing London Film Festival 2023
Wow oh wow what a week! I feel like I've sunk deep into the arteries of the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall and now they can't get me out.
It's been absolutely out of this world to attend London Film Festival 2023 and have the phenomenal opportunity to see a wealth of brand spanking new premieres at the wide array of Galas and Special Presentations. Kristy Matheson curated a truly exceptional line-up of high quality cinema that left me dazzled, thunderstruck, heartbroken and transformed.
And that's the key, cinema and drama in general should be a transformative space. When we tell stories it's always with intention, and for a story to succeed you want that intention to land and create difference: in thought, in action, in empathy. With a culture that's sometimes too caught up in making money, it's very easy to get sucked into the short but empty highs of blockbuster spectacle. It's why I'm so thankful incredible organisations like the BFI are ensuring independent cinema and arthouse darlings get the huge scale treatment they deserve.
Seeing colossal films like Maestro or NYAD on the big screen -- arguably one of the biggest in the UK as the Royal Festival Hall sits 2,700! -- gives these stories the space to catapult us into their worlds. It's heartbreaking that both will get such a short release window as they'll be heading straight to Netflix to stream. While there's certainly stories that fit perfectly into the streaming model, I fear many will have a far poorer experience streaming these at home rather than achieving the full immersion the filmmakers have created for cinemas.
It's been a super rejuvenating week diving into so many films. Across the 11 screenings I was so kindly invited to, I felt overjoyed seeing such wildly varied and ambitious artistry being so highly rewarded. My creative spirit feels full and inspired. I have the utmost congratulations for every film and artist involved in the making of said films across the entire festival. I hope they're filled up with the most immense pride. I'd also like to thank the BFI for offering me the chance to see all of these films in advance, it's so greatly appreciated and has profoundly nurtured my own directorial eye. I couldn't be more grateful.
We're in for a real treat over the coming months with all the brilliant work that'll be hitting cinemas near you. I've popped together a list of my favourites below, but as is the case with all reviews and criticism, it's personal! Don't take my word for anything, go and see all of these films for yourself and make up your own mind!
Supporting your local cinema couldn't be more vital, so this winter take a trip out and get the biggest popcorn you can to tuck into these incredible works of dramatic art.
Zennor's Top Picks:
Poor Things, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos starring Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe & Ramy Youssef [Review]
Maestro, dir. Bradley Cooper starring Carey Mulligan, Bradley Cooper, Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke & Gideon Glick [Review]
Priscilla, dir. Sofia Coppola starring Cailee Spaeny, Jacob Elordi & Ari Cohen [Review]
NYAD, dir. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin starring Annette Bening, Jodie Foster & Rhys Ifans [Review]
The End We Start From, dir. Mahalia Belo starring Jodie Comer, Katherine Waterston, Joel Fry, Gina McKee, Mark Strong, Nina Sosanya & Benedict Cumberbatch [Review]
Full List available here: https://boxd.it/pFLw2
In other news
I'd love to say I've been doing a hundred and one other things this week but eleven films is A LOT!
We closed A Space to Reflect at Tara Theatre on Friday last week which was a melancholic bittersweet moment. While it feels like a door is closing, it's been so heartwarming to see so many people stop by the building and leave their notes to Abdul. The tree we set up was overladen with outpourings of love by the end, exactly how it should be. I miss Abdul's presence, he had a cheeky, unpredictable energy as well as abundant artistic vision. I wish I'd had more time with him. I learnt so much in a brief window and will thank him forever for his impact on me. I hope he rests easy.
In terms of daily woes and wins, woes I'm overcoming include:
1. the onset of the bitter winter cold
2. the untameability of my hair at the minute
3. what the next stage of grief looks like
4. working out what my upcoming acting / directing / writing schedule's going to look like this winter
5. doubts and writer's block on the steroid play (pre-emptively titled ROIDZ: a primal scream)
Meanwhile, wins I'm celebrating:
1. red carpet experiences
2. huge successes in cleaning up our dressing room
3. lots of castings sent through to self-tape for
4. smashing my gym goals, making huge progress in upping my weights
5. getting to see Poor Things!!!
Before I sign off, what do we think about a blog? I'm experimenting with media and forms to challenge me to write and document more of my process more. If this post is a yay, drop a rating, leave a comment, let me know what you like, what you don't like, what you'd like to see more of, open and willing to try things out until the right glove fits.
Until next time: sleep, eat, be happy friends 🍒🍷