Since Venice played host to the World’s first film festival in 1932 they’ve danced around the globe at a sensational speed. These days, a breath-taking amount of events are plaguing the public and it’s nigh on impossible to keep up. Recent highlights in the festival calendar include the gloriously independent Branchage in Jersey with its pitch perfect programme, and San Sebastian’s annual parade of Basque beauties, which was drenched in a surprise downpour this year. Now London looms as the BFI are gearing up for their 55th year of frantic organisation. Despite Leicester Square being in a constant state of disrepair throughout the summer, it seems the builders will up and leave to make way for reams of red carpet, which is a shame – it would have been nice to see George Clooney in a hard hat.

Something of a celebratory fortnight, this year’s event will be a victory lap for British film. We’ve seen gems in every genre but it’s been comedy that’s arguably shined the brightest,  with The Inbetweeners nabbing all the treasure and sailing off into the sunset and Submarine impressing greatly, or at least not sinking without a trace.

Elsewhere, Attack the Block showed swagger and ingenuity can mix at the same party, as Harry Potter finally reached its crushingly boring crescendo. Yes, all in all Britain has excelled both artistically and commercially this year, and the listings for this year’s London Film Festival show us there’s more to come.

It was 2002 when Lynne Ramsey released the fiercely underrated Morven Callar. We’ve had to wait nine years for the Scotswoman’s follow up, as We Need to Talk About Kevin get its London airing this month. Lionel Shriver’s 2003 Orange Prize winning novel is charged in controversy as it is. Add a tour de force from Tilda Swinton and an astounding supporting cast (John C. Reilly) and you’ve got a serious Oscar contender on the cards.

Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist (it’s not British but it’s sure to cause a flutter at the festival this year) is a daring take on the silent movie genre that’s a fitting homage to Tinseltown in the twenties and it’s not just a love letter to the period. More a celebration of film itself, we follow movie star George Valentin (played with empathy and humour by Jean Dujardin who picked up Best Actor at Cannes) whose fame is threatened by the talkies and new Hollywood’s movers and shakers. Pushed by the Weinstein’s and lauded by every festival it’s screened at so far, The Artist will no doubt light up London throughout October.

Also sat alongside The Artist will be David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method. The ever-interesting director has enjoyed a career in pseudo-science himself and now he takes a look at its history with Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender starring as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung respectively. Keira Knightley and Vincent Gallo also make appearances in what completes a promising line up in London. Well, I say complete: there are hundreds of films showing so get involved. The BFI London Film Festival runs until October 27th.

By Ian Roebuck

Originally published in issue 32 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. October 2011.