It's coming home: London shot films at BFI London Film Festival
Date posted: 08.10.2014
It's that time again! The 58th BFI London Film Festival is here, bringing with it a packed 11-day programme of films to delight, move and fascinate audiences across the capital. While the festival casts the net far and wide to seek out the best in today's cinema, many of the programme's highlights were shot right here in London. Here, we take a look at some of the London locations you'll spot on screen in this year's line-up.
The capital on the red carpet
The action kicks off tonight with the festival's Opening Gala, Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the famous mathematician and Enigma codebreaker. One scene follows Turing as he cycles through a bombed-out central London street; this involved a 48-hour weekend road closure which was secured with the help of Westminster and the Corporation of London Film Offices, along with Filmfixer representing Camden Council. "80 tons of rubble was dropped onto Chancery Lane and thousands of sandbags covered the Law Society buildings and others," explained David Broder, the production's location manager.
This Friday is the UK premiere of Mike Leigh's highly anticipated Mr. Turner, a biopic which follows the artist as he travels the country in search of inspiration for his work. The shoot found its way to the capital, using locations including Westminster's Lord North Street to stand in for London in the early 19th Century.
This year's Centrepiece Gala, sponsored by the Mayor of London, is Testament of Youth, which sees Games of Thrones' Kit Harington acting alongside rising star Alicia Vikander in an adaptation of Vera Brittain's well-loved memoir. The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich served as a perfect backdrop for one scene; location manager Charlie Thompson said it "provided a great setting for period London streets and were a delight to deal with."
Alan Rickman turns his hand to directing with this year's Love Gala, A Little Chaos, which stars Kate Winslet as a landscape gardener who is given an insight into the court of Louis XIV when she is contracted to work at the Chateau de Versailles. Searching for a match for the opulence and grandeur of the era, location manager Jonah Coombes was spoilt for choice: "Finding 17th Century France here in London and the South East was certainly a challenge, but the wealth of beautifully preserved historic interiors within reasonable reach made for a wonderful architectural landscape for the film." Richmond's Ham House proved a perfect double for the Chateau.
Rosewater, this year's Debate Gala, tells the true story of London-based journalist Maziar Bahari (played by Gael Garcia Bernal), who is arrested by the Revolutionary Guard when reporting for the BBC in Iran. The shoot made use of Tower 42, the former NatWest Building, for their crucial newsroom scenes.
Film London alumna Debbie Tucker Green will see her film Second Coming screened in the First Feature Competition strand. Following a successful London couple (Idris Elba and Nadine Marshall) whose world is rocked by an unexplained immaculate conception, the production used a host of London locations, including Tooting High Street.
Legendary documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman turns his lens to one of London's greatest institutions in The National Gallery, screening in the Documentary Competition. Nick Penny, director of the National Gallery, said of the film: "While showing some of what happens behind the scenery and in the engine room of a great institution, much of it surveys the ways in which the paintings are presented (and present themselves) to every age and background and origin."
Short but sweet
You can catch seven shorts from some of the capital's most exciting new filmmakers in London Calling, a showcase of work supported by Film London's London Calling and London Calling Plus short film schemes. This includes London Calling Jury Award winner Some Candid Observations on the Eve of the End of the World, in which a young man is convinced an alien invasion is imminent. Producer Cecilia Frugiuele explains how she chose the location for one key scene: "We were looking for a location from which our protagonist could "enjoy" and film the imminent alien attack. What better place than a rooftop in Soho - with London at your fingertips ready to be destroyed."
And that's not all...
The Thrill Strand proves a perfect fit for Andrew Hulme's Snow in Paradise, which is based on the true story of a Hoxton gangster who leaves his old life behind to convert to Islam. East London provided the backdrop for the film, with locations including Boundary Street in Tower Hamlets, the Woodberry Down Estate and the London Islamic Turkish Association Mosque on Shacklewell Lane.
Other London-shot films in the programme include: Electricity, a drama starring Agyness Dean as an epileptic girl looking for her lost brother; Night Bus, a light-hearted look at the comings and goings of late-night public transport; War Book, a tense political thriller from Tom Harper; Honeytrap, a Brixton-set drama about a young girl who falls in with the wrong crowd; Björk: Biophilia Live, shot in Alexandra Palace; and artist archive documentaries 72-82 and Marc Quinn: Making Waves.