London Film Festival announces full line-up

We take a look at some of the highlights coming to the capital this October.

by Amber Wilkinson

The Imitation Game
The Imitation Game
The full line-up of the 58th edition of the London Film Festival has been announced, featuring 245 features, including 16 world premieres. With just over a month to go until the festival kicks off on October 8, we're taking an early look at some of the highlights to help you plan your schedules.

The festival will kick-off with the European premiere of Benedict Cumberbatch starrer The Imitation Game. Morten Tyldum's film, which premiered at Telluride, recounting the story of maths genius Alan Turing and his work on cracking the Enigma Code, is one of several in this year's programme that are set against the backdrop of the First or Second World Wars.

Intimate emotions on a epic scale in Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Winter Sleep.
Intimate emotions on a epic scale in Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Winter Sleep.
As 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War and 75th anniversary of the start of the Second World War, it is no surprise that it has focused the minds of production companies around the world and London will bookend its festival with the war theme, when it closes on October 19 with the European premiere of David Ayer's action drama Fury, set in the last days of WWII. It stars Brad Pitt as a hardened veteran Wardaddy, who takes his tank team behind enemy lines.

Other films concerning the wars are spread through the programme, including the world premiere of James Kent's Testament Of Youth - which recounts the true story of life in the war for British feminist Vera Brittain - and post-war documentary German Concentration Camps Factual Survey, which has recently been restored by the Imperial War Museum. Stepping back into the First World War, are films including Walter Summers' silent film The Battles Of Coronel And Falkland Islands - about key moments in the conflict - and Belgian classic Damn The War! (Maudite Soit La Guerre), which tells the tale of friends who find themselves on opposing sides of the fight.

As always, there's a chance to see some of the films that have been causing a stir elsewhere on the festival circuit. Among them are the Palme d'Or winning Winter Sleep, from Bilge Ceylan, Sundance audience and jury favourite Whiplash, directed by Damien Chazelle and starring young US name-to-watch Miles Teller, and Berlin Golden Bear winner Black Coal, Thin Ice, directed by Diao Yinan.

Star quality also abounds, from Timothy Spall's award-winning turn as artist Joseph in Mike Leigh's Mr. Turner to Steve Carell's compelling performance in Foxcatcher, which explores ideas of money and power through a true story in the world of wrestling.

New Directors/New Films opening selection A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
New Directors/New Films opening selection A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night "speaks volumes politically about Iran and other things"
There's also plenty for genre fans, from classy horror including It Follows and the European premiere of slasher throwback Kristy to Jacob Cheung's wuxia The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom and Sion Sono’s unlikely sounding mash-up of Yakuza gangster action and hip-hop musical Tokyo Tribe.

The main competition section, while only offering one world premiere - Carol Morley's follow up to Dreams Of A Life, the Sixties-set The Falling - looks to be a strong field. Among the contenders are the latest films from Berberian Sound Studio's Peter Strickland (The Duke Of Burgundy), Celine Sciamma's latest search for female identity Girlhood and François Ozon’s The New Girlfriend. Also lining up are Christian Petzold's latest film Phoenix - which sees him reteam with Nina Hoss (Barbara, Yella), Iranian-set vampire tale A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, directed by Ana Lily Amirpour and Timbuktu, the latest from Bamako director Abderrahmane Sissako.

We'll be bringing you coverage throughout the festival and you can read early reviews here.

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