Friday 20 September 2019

Andy Serkis’ directorial debut Breathe to open BFI London Film Festival

There are well over 200 films premiering at the London event.

BFI London Film Festival
BFI London Film Festival

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Lord Of The Rings star Andy Serkis will unveil his directorial debut to a British audience today as his movie Breathe opens the BFI London Film Festival.

The biopic stars Hacksaw Ridge’s Andrew Garfield and The Crown’s Claire Foy in the true story of Robin Cavendish, whose life takes a dramatic turn when polio leaves him paralysed.

Foy plays Cavendish’s wife Diana, who brings him home from the hospital to encourage him to lead a long and fulfilled life.

It is the first feature film directed by Serkis, who is best known for his performances as Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings and Caesar in the Planet Of The Apes films.

Both stars will join Serkis for the star-studded opening gala of the film festival at the Odeon in Leicester Square.

Jonathan Cavendish, who founded The Imaginarium Studios with Serkis and upon whose parents’ story the film is based, serves as producer on the film, while Hugh Bonneville, Tom Hollander, Stephen Mangan and Dame Diana Rigg are also among the cast.

It received its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last month.

Breathe will kick off the London festival boasting some 242 feature films on the line-up, including 38 British features from directors such as Clio Barnard, Dominic Cooke and Sally Potter.

Claire Foy in Breathe

Many of those scheduled to screen are hoping for Oscar glory, including projects starring Hollywood stars Matt Damon, Nicole Kidman and Emma Stone and British talent Carey Mulligan, Jamie Bell and Sally Hawkins.

Damon stars as a man keen to shrink himself to pocket-size to help limit humanity’s footprint on the world in Alexander Payne’s Downsizing while Mulligan stars opposite Straight Outta Compton’s Jason Mitchell and singer Mary J Blige in Mudbound, about a friendship between two Second World War veterans which ignites racial tension in the Deep South.

Annette Bening will come to the festival with co-star Bell for the premiere of Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, a biopic of silent movie star Gloria Grahame, while Joaquin Phoenix will visit the capital to unveil You Were Never Really Here, directed by British filmmaker Lynne Ramsay, which bagged both Phoenix and Ramsay prizes at the Cannes film festival.

Matt Damon

Kidman will return to the festival with her film The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, which reunites her with The Beguiled co-star Colin Farrell for a macabre morality tale while Dustin Hoffman stars opposite Adam Sandler and Emma Thompson in family comedy The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected).

Battle Of The Sexes, about the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs and starring Stone and Steve Carell, will be the American Express Gala screening.

Other films tipped for awards success and set to premiere at the festival include queer awakening story Call Me By Your Name, starring Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet and documentary The Final Year, about the last year of the Obama administration.

The festival will also see the unveiling of the big screen adaptations of Ian McEwan’s short novel On Chesil Beach, starring Saoirse Ronan, and of RC Sheriff’s play Journey’s End, starring Sam Claflin, Toby Jones and Paul Bettany.

Nicole Kidman

Boyhood director Richard Linklater will premiere his new film Last Flag Flying, alongside star Bryan Cranston, as will Guillermo del Toro, who will debut his The Shape Of Water, starring Hawkins and Michael Shannon.

Acclaimed director David Fincher will come to the festival to show off the first two episodes of his Netflix drama Mindhunter, about the hunt for serial killer Son of Sam, and to take part in a screen talk.

Martin McDonagh’s film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri will be the closing night gala on October 15.

PA Media

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