Crime: Hong Kong Style, Barbican and other venues, 2-31 March
A long overdue celebration of a distant noir scene so good Martin Scorsese ripped it off (with The Departed) but came nowhere near the ice cool original he was aping (Infernal Affairs). There are 20 crime flicks here making up a banquet of comedy, action and adrenaline. Seminal filmmakers represented include Wong Kar Wai, Jackie Chan and John Woo.
Highlight: Among four UK premieres there will be a screening of veteran director Ringo Lam’s new blood-spattered chase flick Wild City.
London Asian Film Festival, various venues, 4-13 March
Now running for 15 years, LAFF focuses on the Indian subcontinent and in recent years has mixed film with Q&As and even Bollywood dance classes. This year, alongside the films there's a chance to hear from Indian author Chetan Bhagat, whose best-selling books have been made into several films.
Highlight: The festival kicks off with the provocative I Am Nojoom, Age 10 And Divorced about a young girl who walks into a courtroom and demands the judge grant her a divorce from the 30 year old man she was forced to marry.
Lutonia Festival, around Luton, 5 March-2 April
There’ll be 30 events over four weeks in this festival which attempts to rehabilitate Luton or cry trying perhaps. Film is only part of an eclectic programme that includes circus, dance, theatre and poetry read by local people including actor Colin Salmon.
Highlight: God In the Machine is a programme of films about the marriage of technology and consciousness.
Bechdel Test Fest, various venues, from 5 March
More of an occasional film club than a festival but hey, they put on good female-focused events so stop by and have a look at one of their short film nights or feature presentations which this month include Frances Ha.
Highlight: The BTFs mark International Women’s Day on 8 March with Speed Sisters, a doc charting the world of all-female race-car drivers in Palestine.
SOAS Community Free Film Festival, 7-12 March
This is the first student-led addition to the ever-impressive Free Film Festival initiative. It takes place on and off campus around the School of Oriental and African Studies with an interesting programme open to the public too.
Highlight: The beautiful French animation Les Triplettes de Belleville will get a live soundtrack from Cabinet of Living Cinema who'll mix tango, Breton folk, Dixieland jazz and Led Zeppelin into their score.
Human Rights Watch Film Festival, various venues, 9-18 March
The 20th anniversary of this piercing festival shines a light on the stories of people who risked all in countries where dissent can very often mean death. The films come from as far as China, Turkey and Pakistan, but also Britain.
Highlight: George Amponsah’s question-raising The Hard Stop, which documents the lives of two friends of Mark Duggan, the man whose death at the hands of the police triggered the Tottenham riots in 2011.
BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival, 16 March-27 March
This is the 30th anniversary of the popular (and very welcoming) festival that covers films especially relevant to the LGBT community. Read more about this year’s programme in our report here.
Highlight: The Transform section will include a series of events looking at transgender on screen and features an appearance by Silas Howard, the trans director of hit US television show Transparent.
Sounds Of London, various venues, 16 March-16 June
There are plenty of movies to mosh along to in this expansive season saluting the musical heritage of the capital, along with a few films set further afield — one about punk in Burma for example. There are Q&As aplenty with both filmmakers and musicians popping in to chat. The programme covers the likes of Bowie, Led Zeppelin, the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer and the Ramones.
Highlight: Try East End Babylon, a documentary looking at how the piss-stained boozers of Canning Town incubated the punk band Cockney Rejects.
Focus Film Festival: Chronic Youth, Barbican, 19-20 March
This special weekender curated by the Barbican Young Programmers group aims to present films that are relevant to the 16-25 year old demographic. The films are jumping off points for discussion and look at rebellion, risk-taking and coming of age.
Highlight: Joe Strummer mouths off in concert film Rude Boy; stick around for a Q&A with Ray Gange who appears in the film.
Alan Clarke Season, BFI, 28 March-30 April
Nothing to do with the oleaginous Tory MP (that’s Clark with no e). This essential festival showcases the work of the legendary TV director who pioneered the semi-documentary style that so many others have copied since. His world is one of working class under-privilege, getting under the skin of skinheads and asking society why it's let bullies and hooligans end up that way.
Highlight: Hard to pick, Clarke kickstarted the careers of Gary Oldman (The Firm), Ray Winstone (Scum) and Tim Roth (Made in Britain), all of which are on here.
Camberwell Free Film Festival, various venues, 31 March-10 April
There’ll be 16 events over 11 days all over SE5. Using local spaces and landmarks to add atmosphere, you can watch creepy cult film Carnival of Souls in the Crypt under St Giles Church (designed by George Gilbert Scott) or Suffragette at William Booth College designed by George's son, Giles.
Highlight: A German-themed night of food, music and frothy steins of beer with a screening of music mockumentary Fraktus at Dulwich Hamlet Football Club.