We look at six unmissable British productions from this year’s BFI London Film Festival
In October 2023, the annual British Film Institute London Film Festival celebrated its 67th year. Returning to in-person screenings and a popular online platform, the festival brought feature-length, short form and episodic new releases to audiences up and down the country.
With a vibrant hub at London’s Royal Festival Hall, the festival celebrated talents from Hollywood favourites and upcoming independent filmmakers, both in live-action and animated form.
Opening the annual festival this year was the gala screening of Emerald Fennel’s upcoming release, Saltburn and closing the ceremony was Daniel Kaluuya’s directorial debut, The Kitchen.
With over 200 films, documentaries, episodes, short films and experimental presentations, the London Film Festival was jam-packed with entertainment for all ages. Despite the lack of talent in attendance, due to the SAG-AFTRA strikes, the feeling of excitement and enjoyment was as strong as ever.
2023 saw the BFI London Film Festival showcasing a huge variety of productions, including some exciting British films that you should keep an eye out for. Here are six upcoming, must-see British films from the 2023 programme:
Cast by Aisha Bywaters
Academy Award winner Daniel Kaluuya takes the director’s chair for his directorial debut, The Kitchen. Set in a post-apocalyptic London, where the rich are richer and the poor are poorer, we follow Izi, a hard-working loner who is trying to earn enough money to move to a deluxe apartment on the other side of the city.
Currently living in The Kitchen, a slum-like ex-council estate, Izi must battle with the authorities and the judgement of his peers while keeping his head down and staying out of trouble. When an unlikely presence appears in his life, Izi must make some tough decisions.
The cast is packed with British talent, with Top Boy’s Kano and rising star and Spotlight member Jedaiah Bannerman leading this politically-driven drama.
‘Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget’
Cast by Lucy Rands
Four years since their last film, Academy Award-nominated animation studio Aardman is back and this time, with some old friends in tow. The studio’s first feature-length animation, Chicken Run, first hit the big screen back in 2000 to critical acclaim and 23 years later, the chickens are back with a new mission.
Ginger, Rocky, Babs and the gang set out to find Molly (Ginger’s chick) after she runs away from home. Finding themselves in a somewhat sticky situation and meeting some old friends along the way, the gang must team up and this time… They’re breaking in.
The cast includes the voice talents of Zachary Levi, Thandiwe Newton, Spotlight members Jane Horrocks, Imelda Staunton, Miranda Richardson and many more.
Cast by Lucy Amos, Nina Gold and Arwa Salmanova
National treasure, multi-award-winning actor and Spotlight member Sir Anthony Hopkins leads the cast in this emotional drama, telling the story of one of World War II’s unsung heroes.
Told via two timelines, Nicholas Winton’s life is portrayed by both Hopkins and Johnny Flynn as the older version reminisces about his time in Central Europe in the build-up to the Nazi invasion of Prague. Nicholas goes on an emotional journey as he remembers the details of the time and the lives he affected along the way, all while building up to a powerful finale.
Strong performances throughout from both Hopkins and Flynn, as well as Spotlight member Helena Bonham Carter, Lena Olin and Alex Sharpe, help bring this historic drama to life.
‘The End We Start From’
Cast by Shaheen Baig
Adapted from the book of the same name by author Megan Hunter, The End We Start From is an epic tale of a mother doing all she can to protect her newborn son.
Spotlight member Jodie Comer plays the unnamed mother who, when the country is struck by a devastating flood, must travel the length and breadth of the country to find safety after being separated from the rest of her family.
She goes on a painfully physical and challenging mental journey after the fight for survival becomes her biggest threat.
Comer is joined on screen by Katherine Waterston and Spotlight members Joel Fry, Mark Strong, Nina Sosanya and Benedict Cumberbatch – all of whom give powerful performances as their characters aid the mother and son’s quest for safety.
Directed by Mahalia Belo and cast by Shaheen Baig, this female-driven story is not to be missed.
Cast by Lucy Bevan
Kensuke’s Kingdom is an animated adaptation of the beloved novel of the same name from author Michael Morpurgo.
The story starts with a family travelling the world by boat, when an awful storm hits and the son Michael and their pet dog Stella are thrown overboard and wash up on a deserted island.
It’s not until they are grasping to survive that they notice mysterious offerings of food and shelter appearing on the beach while they sleep.
Michael and Stella start to explore and come across an old man living alone in a treehouse, who takes them in and cares for them. Despite a language barrier, Michael and Kensuke develop a bond which guides Michael on his journey.
The voice cast of this stunning animated film is full of huge talent, including Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins and Spotlight members Cillian Murphy, Raffey Cassidy and Aaron MacGregor.
Cast by Carmen Cuba
BFI London Film Festival regulars and Spotlight members Jessie Buckley and Riz Ahmed lead the cast of Fingernails.
A futuristic tale of a scientific research centre that has developed a process for testing the true love of couples by putting them through a gruelling exam and a medical procedure which involves pulling their fingernails and testing for a match.
Anna (Buckley) is in a happy relationship with her long term boyfriend Ryan (Jimmy Allen White) when she starts a new job at the clinic.
As Anna learns more about relationships and becomes closer with her new colleague, Amir (Ahmed), she starts to question the longevity of her relationship.
Keep an eye on cinemas and streaming services over the next few months for the anticipated release for all these productions plus many, many more from the BFI London Film Festival 2023.
Join Spotlight to see castings for films, television and more. Find out more about our membership options and start looking for auditions today!