Forget November With These 12 Film Festivals In London

By Stuart Black Last edited 27 months ago
Forget November With These 12 Film Festivals In London

While the autumn fog has been making London look seriously cinematic, a creel of film festivals has arrived in time for the sudden shift in weather, so now you can enjoy daydreaming outside and in. There's something for everyone so here's our lowdown with a highlight for each event.

Idris Elba in Mandela, My Dad and Me at Film Africa.

Film Africa, 30 October-8 November

Now in its fifth year, this energetic festival run by the Royal African Society offers up cinematic gems from across the continent. The features delve into less told stories — a lady mechanic who restores vintage cars (Ayanda), the experience of Africans in China (Stranded In Canton) and a lawyer defending a war criminal (Eye Of The Storm). There are documentaries on topics like adoption and female boxing, plus workshops, masterclasses, music and short films.

Highlight: Closing film The Man From Oran is about a group of friends in 1962 helping to shape the new Algeria as it emerges from years of French rule.

Korean Film Festival, 2-14 November

With South Korea being one of the most reliable countries for high quality, unusual filmmaking, you're well advised to dip your toes into this West End based festival. There are 52 films including work from new directors and established maestros: expect exquisite styling and fresh takes on over-familiar genres.

Highlight: Bong Joon Ho's early serial killer thriller Memories Of Murder is an absolute must-see.

Made In Prague Film Festival, 3-29 November

Czech into the Regent Street Cinema (oh yes we did) for this leftfield collection of work from Central Europe. Veteran director Vojtěch Jasný gets a mini-retrospective for his 90th birthday which includes films he made as part of the New Wave as well as work made later in exile. There are experimental films, documentaries and video-art on show in Bloomsbury, the Whitechapel Gallery and Peckham.

Highlight: Try The Blaník Bureau, a political satire that might be the Czech answer to The Thick of It, with cast and crew on hand to discuss it.

Léa Seydoux in Diary Of A Chambermaid at French Film Festival.

French Film Festival, 5 November-13 December

The 23rd edition of this franco-fest features screenings at the Barbican and Ciné Lumière. There are restored classics from the legendary Gaumont film studios and new films starring French thesps Vincent Cassel (My KIng), Catherine Deneuve (Standing Tall) and new Bond girl Léa Seydoux (Diary Of A Chambermaid). Browse the full schedule here.

Highlight: A special screening of landmark anti-war film J’accuse made in 1919 with live piano accompaniment.

Crystal Palace International Film Festival, 6-28 November

It's worth trekking south for this festival of alternative flicks in unusual settings. There'll be 92 screenings over three weeks with every kind of film conceivable thrown into the mix. Venues include St John the Evangelist Church, the very fine Stanley Halls and St Contantine’s church hall. Comedian Mark Steel will host the closing night of funnies and live music.

Highlight: Mike Reiss, who has been writing The Simpsons for the last 25 years, is flying in from LA to give a talk that promises to reveal the Secrets of the Simpsons.

UK Jewish Film Festival, 7-22 November

No schmucks allowed: this on and offline extravaganza is back for its 19th year, taking over 12 cinemas across London (plus four other cities up north). The films are split into apt-sounding strands that include Believers, Comics, Fighters, Outlaws, Strangers and Witnesses. Intriguing topics abound: Sacred Sperm concerns the sinfulness of wasting seed; Dough is the story of a Jewish baker whose bread is spiked by a Muslim dope dealer; The Anarchist Rabbi is about a provocative historical figure in east London. There are also free shorts and a nicely curated selection of films to rent on the website.

Highlight: Son of Saul, which one won the Grand Prix at Cannes, wowing audiences with its innovative examination of the Holocaust.

India Season In Regent Street, 9-23 November

A special programme of Indian cinema will run on Mondays this month at the Regent Street Cinema. The films have been chosen to sit alongside the V&A’s India Festival, which explores fabrics and textiles, so expect lavish costumes and sumptuous visuals.

Highlight: Throw Of Dice will be followed by a Q&A session with the V&A’s Fabric of India co-curator Rosemary Crill, and traditional Indian fashion designer Jyoti Chandhok.

Gfest Gaywise Festival, 9-21 November

This all-embracing LGBT festival brings together a wide array of arts with cinema set alongside music, art and performance. Especially strong are the shorts this year with a pair by Craig Heathcote that go behind the glittered curtains of east London’s Sink The Pink queer club.

Highlight: In The Surface, Evan comes to question his relationship with Chris after he finds some old home movies.

Hearts Of Tango at South Social Film Festival.

South Social Film Festival, 12-15 November

Aiming to be a multi-sensory experience, this indie cinema fiesta features films, music and pop up caterers. It takes place over one weekend in south London with events at Borough's Roxy and Kennington's Cinema Museum.

Highlight: The premiere of dance doc Hearts Of Tango will be held in Dulwich’s Constitutional Hall and followed by ballroom dancing and Argentinian food.

South Ken Kids Festival, 16-22 November

Keep the brats busy with a week of cinema, workshops, drawings and performances in South Kensington. There'll also be French and British children’s literature in the stew at the Institut Français.

Highlight: An evening of live drawing with illustrators Quentin Blake and Bruno Heitz on 19 November.

Greenhorn Short Film Festival, 11-5 November

Things gets refreshingly weird and wacky at this celebration of newbie filmmakers having fun with the short film format. The works include everything from dancing poodles to punk grannies, a love affair with a vending machine to the Japanese Doctor Who.

Highlight: The I Am What I Am night is an evening of documentaries exploring clothes, costume and glamour out on the edge.

Snoopy and Charlie Brown — The Peanuts Movie 3D at Framed Film Festival.

Framed Film Festival, 21-22 November

This weekend-long celebration of children’s cinema comes back to the Barbican with a wide programme aimed at kids aged 4-11. There'll be workshops and free activities including a Pop-Up Studio with Chocolate Films, where the aspiring Spielbergs can learn some of the basics.

Highlight: There's a preview of Snoopy and Charlie Brown — The Peanuts Movie 3D with snazzy new CGI animation.

Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest, 24-29 November

The month's second out, loud and proud cinematic smorgasbord takes place in cinemas across east London. Expect uncompromising personal films such as Peter Greenaway's latest Eisenstein In Guanajuato and, erm, Sister Act.

Highlight: Dyke Hard — we have no idea whether this Swedish DIY road movie is any good but it wins maximum points for movie title of the month (and we do hope there's a part in there somewhere for Bruce Willies).

Want more? Well, some of the October festivals are still going on, including the BFI's Love festival.

Last Updated 04 November 2015