If you didn't get the ticket to that glitzy red carpet premiere you were after at the BFI London Film Festival, there are loads of alternative film festivals on this month to make up for it. Best of all, many of the screenings are free. Here's our run-down of what's happening where plus, our pick from each programme.
South Norwood and Thornton Heath Free Film Festival, 9-18 October
The brilliant, community-led free festival initiative is rapidly growing across the capital with ten different districts now taking part. There are two this month, one south, one north (see below for the latter in London Fields). For this one, the programme includes two films with roller discos, a gospel film night, a northern soul night, an animation day for kids and a Billy Wilder double header. Also worth mentioning in the same area is Stanley's Film Club, which starts this week.
Highlight: Xanadu + Roller Disco (find something silver to wear and set your hair dryer on bouffe)
Native Spirit Film Festival, 12-18 October
This anthropologically-themed festival focuses on the stories of indigenous peoples around the world. It’s run by Mapuche artist and filmmaker Freddy Treuquil whose vision is inspired by this prophecy (which may or may not refer to the cinema on show): “When the Condor of the South meets the Eagle of the North, the warriors of the rainbow will be born. When the tears from these birds are merged, the warriors of light will be born.” Exactly. Donations at the door of £5-10 are suggested.
Highlight: Okpic’s Dream, the story of a man and his sled dogs as they prepare for the Ivakkak — a 600km race across the Canadian Arctic (be sure to wrap up warm).
SSEES Centenary Film Festival, 12 October-17 December
A total of 23 Eastern Europe films will be screened to mark 100 years of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies. Taking place at the Bloomsbury Theatre, each film will be introduced by an academic who'll put the subject in context. There are several classics on the list with directors like Béla Tarr and Emir Kusturica well worth making a detour to see. Tickets are free and available now on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Highlight: Director Miklós Jancsó is a genius and The Red and the White from 1967, a take-down of the Russian Civil War, is one of his best.
Let's All Be Free Film Festival, 16-18 October
Now in its second year, this well-regarded festival at Shoreditch’s Motel Studios will screen a diverse selection of short fiction and documentary work all loosely connected to the theme of liberty. There'll be spoken word artists, panel discussions and a filmmaking masterclass too. Day tickets for the festival are £5.
Highlight: Anonymous: A Million Men which charts the build up to the so-called Million Mask March (there were a few thousand people) which took place on 5 November in London last year.
Love BFI, 19 October-31 December
This one is a whopper with around 1,000 film events taking place across the UK, all revolving around matters of the heart. There are three strands: The Power of Love, Fools For Love and Fatal Attractions which feature both screenings and Q&As with actors and directors. A few of the London-y ones to look out for are: Stephen Frears and Gordon Warnecke talking about My Beautiful Laundrette on its 30th anniversary; John Maybury and Derek Jacobi on their biopic of Francis Bacon, Love Is The Devil; and Mike Newell on why his film Four Weddings And A Funeral was such a big hit.
Highlight: A new restoration of Dr Zhivago goes on theatrical release to coincide with the festival.
London East Asian Film Festival, 23-25 October
This is the very zen-sounding 0th edition which basically means a taster for the full version of the festival in 2016. It’s a small showcase but includes a couple of big titles including opener Veteran which pits a hyperviolent cop against a sociopathic billionaire. It's followed by a Q&A with South Korean director Ryoo Seung-wan.
Highlight: Everyone loves a Chinese organ transplant actioner, so why not try SPL2: A Time For Consequences, featuring Muay Thai master Tony Jaa.
London Fields Free Film Festival, 23 October-1 November
Nothing to do with the disastrous recent Martin Amis adaptation, this week-long event aims to show the real London Fields. There are nine screenings in unusual locations including a local chapel and a fitness studio. And since the end of the festival coincides with Halloween, there’ll be two days of alternative horror flicks, all starring women and chosen by The Bechdel Test Festival under the banner Horror Hareem.
Highlight: The Man Who's Mind Exploded, a doc about an eccentric man who once modelled for Salvador Dali and hung out with the Stones but who can no longer make new memories.
BBC Arabic Film Festival, 30 October-2 November
There'll be 20 directors presenting films and documentaries that depict the changing — and often volatile — Arabic world. Each screening is followed by a panel discussion where issues of exile, freedom, religion and equality are likely to be explored. The festival opens with a day-long party that includes food, film and music from Ensemble Zar and Yazz Ahmed Quartet. Comedian Eddie Izzard will also take part, while the closing ceremony will be hosted by Iranian comic Shappi Khorsandi. All events take place at the BBC Radio Theatre and are free.
Highlight: Pregnant And In Chains, an investigation that exposes the harrowing fate of women in the UAE who have broken the country’s strict laws on sex outside marriage and paid a heavy price.