BFI London Film Festival kicks off with fewer stars amid strikes

A still from Saltburn (Amazon Studios/MGM)
A still from Saltburn (Amazon Studios/MGM)

The BFI London Film Festival will begin today, but without the raft of star-studded red carpets that usually take place at the festival.

The festival will open on Wednesday with the gala premiere of Saltburn, the new film by Promising Young Woman director Emerald Fennell.

Set in the mid-2000s, the movie stars Irish actor Barry Keoghan, 30, as student Oliver Quick, who is struggling to find his place at Oxford University when he finds himself drawn into the world of the charming and aristocratic Felix Catton, played by Euphoria actor Jacob Elordi.

A still from Saltburn (Amazon Studios/MGM) (Courtesy of Prime)

Felix invites Oliver to Saltburn, his eccentric family’s sprawling estate, for a summer never to be forgotten.

Written, directed and produced by The Crown actress Fennell, who won an Oscar for her screenplay for Promising Young Woman, the film also stars Rosamund Pike, Richard E Grant and Carey Mulligan.

However the stars will not be in attendance as the actors’ strike rumbles on.

The strike by union Sag-Aftra has already affected international film festivals such as Venice, Telluride and Toronto.

The festival will also host premieres for highly anticipated films such as Killers Of The Flower Moon, Maestro and Poor Things.

Martin Scorsese’s Killers Of The Flower Moon, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemons, will screen in London following its world premiere in Cannes earlier this year.

A scene from Killers of the Flower Moon
Leonardo DiCaprio and Lilly Gladstone in Killers Of The Flower Moon (Apple TV+/PA) (Melinda Sue Gordon/Courtesy of Apple)

The epic Western crime saga is based on the non-fiction book of the same name about the murders of the Osage Native American tribe after oil is found on their land.

Emma Stone will reunite with her The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos in Poor Things, while Bradley Cooper’s directorial follow-up to A Star Is Born, Maestro, will also screen, alongside David Fincher’s new film The Killer, starring Michael Fassbender.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s new film The Book Of Clarence, which also stars Get Out’s LaKeith Stanfield and Selma actor David Oyelowo, will have a world premiere at the London festival.

The festival will feature 29 world premieres, seven international premieres and 30 European premieres.

Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla Presley biopic Priscilla and Sir Steve McQueen’s documentary Occupied City are also due to screen at the event.

Daniel Kaluuya’s new film The Kitchen, for which he serves as co-director, will close the festival in a world premiere.

While most premieres will not welcome the A-list talent starring in the films, some famous faces could still be in attendance, if their film is not made by or distributed by one of the Hollywood companies in the dispute with the actor’s union.

The LFF will return to the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall for gala premieres, while titles from the main programme will screen to the public at a range of cinemas around the city.

Film fans around the UK will also be able to see films from the line-up at Broadway Cinema in Nottingham, Chapter in Cardiff, Glasgow Film Theatre, HOME in Manchester, MAC in Birmingham, Queen’s Film Theatre in Belfast, Showroom Cinema in Sheffield, Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle and Watershed in Bristol.

The BFI London Film Festival will run from October 4 to 15.