London Film Festival unveils lineup; 1 in 3 films by women


LONDON (AP) – More than a third of films at this year’s London Film Festival were directed by women, organizers said Thursday as they revealed the schedule for the October movie extravaganza.

The festival said 38 percent of all films and 30 percent of the 225 features in the lineup have female directors, an increase on 24 percent of features in 2017.

Female-directed films in the Oct. 10-21 festival include Karyn Kusama’s police thriller “Destroyer” starring Nicole Kidman and Sara Colangelo’s drama “The Kindergarten Teacher” with Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Artistic director Tricia Tuttle said the festival had not set any quotas, but increasing diversity of all kinds is “always at the heart” of programming decisions.

“We haven’t set out to say 50 percent have to be female filmmakers. We’ve genuinely found this incredibly rich talent,” she said.

The 62nd annual London festival opens with Steve McQueen’s heist thriller “Widows,” one of 39 British features on the slate. It closes with John S. Baird’s Laurel and Hardy biopic “Stan & Ollie.”

London is home to many British and U.S. film academy voters, and in recent years the autumn festival has helped boost the awards-season momentum of movies including “La La Land” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

This year’s lineup includes David Mackenzie’s kilts-and-carnage epic “Outlaw King,” starring Chris Pine as Robert the Bruce; Joel and Ethan Coen’s Western anthology film “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”; Alfonso Cuaron’s Mexico City-set “Roma”; and Tinge Krishnan’s London musical “Been So Long.”

Other highlights include “If Beale Street Could Talk,” an adaptation of James Baldwin’s Harlem-set novel by “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins; Matthew Heineman’s “A Private War,” starring Rosamund Pike as the late war correspondent Marie Colvin; and Jason Reitman’s “The Front Runner,” starring Hugh Jackman as Gary Hart, whose 1988 presidential campaign was cut short by scandal.

The festival will also premiere the first two episodes of miniseries “The Little Drummer Girl,” a John Le Carre adaptation directed by South Korea’s Park Chan-wook.

A jury led by “Room” director Lenny Abrahamson will hand out a best-picture prize from 10 contenders chosen by the festival – half of them directed by women.

Competitors include Kusama’s “Destroyer”; David Lowery’s crime caper “The Old Man and the Gun,” starring Robert Redford in what he says will be his final role; British director Ben Wheatley’s dysfunctional family drama “Happy New Year, Colin Burstead”; Sudabeh Mortezai’s sex-trafficking drama “Joy”; Zhang Yimou’s Chinese historical epic “Shadow”; and eve-of-war drama “Sunset” by Laszlo Nemes, director of the Oscar-winning “Son of Saul.”