It was lights, camera and most definitely action for the capital once more, as the 58th BFI London film Festival turned in a star-studded performance.
Over 12 days, 17 venues were witness to no less than 248 features. If you add to that the 148 shorts and 540 guests, it would be fair to say that October 8-19 surpassed all expectations.
Getting things off to a flyer on night one was current leader of the Brit pack, Benedict Cumberbatch, who was there to watch the European premiere of wartime flick The Invitation Game, in which he plays computer pioneer Alan Turing. The actor also managed to brave that most British of institutions, namely the rain, which did little to dampen the euphoria around the red carpet.
This year’s jury certainly had its work cut out in picking winners from the many outstanding nominees, but one recipient who richly deserved his accolade, in the form of a BFI fellowship, was director Stephen Frears. John Hurt, who starred in Frears’ first smash film, 1984’s The Hit, said: “He made some wonderful things for the BBC even before he was making things for the big screen.” What Auntie wouldn’t give for a return to those days.
Yet if ever there was a case of saving the best for last, it was right there on the festival’s closing night. A certain Brad Pitt showed up for the European premiere of Fury, declaring “war is hell” whilst being interviewed prior to the screening. Joining him was one of the film’s adviser’s, 90-year-old World War II tank veteran Peter Comfort. Director David Ayer said: “It brings great closure to the process. One year ago to the day, we were shooting some of these very battle scenes.”
As touching as it was triumphant, the record-breaking 2014 BFI bash proved itself to be much more than just a film festival.