The British Film Institute’s London Film Festival - the country’s biggest celebration of film - is making a star-studded return from October 7 to 18.

Stars such as Meryl Streep, Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Fassbender will all fly in as some of the year’s biggest movies get the red carpet treatment in the capital.

There’s a packed schedule, with 240 feature and short films over the course of 12 days at cinemas in central London and a few further out – including The Ritzy in Brixton. We picked out some of the brilliant and compelling films which use London as their backdrop.

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Given the prestigious festival-opening slot, Suffragette gets its European premiere at London Film Festival. It was made by British women (directed by Sarah Gavron) about the British women who changed the course of history. It traces the story of foot soldiers of the early feminist movement as they fought for the right to vote. Carey Mulligan stars alongside Ben Whishaw, Chiswick’s Anne-Marie Duff and Meryl Streep as Emmeline Pankhurst.

Make More Noise! Suffragettes in Film

A key tactic of the suffragettes’ campaign was to ‘make more noise’, whether it was a public meetings, in theatres or demonstrating. It also applied to film and this compilation of 21 short films combines newsreels with anarchic early comedies.

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The Lady in the Van

Director Nicholas Hynter and writer Alan Bennett team up once again, having worked together on The Madness of King George and The History Boys, to bring Bennett’s play to the screen. In 1960s London, Alex Jennings plays Bennett whose driveway becomes home to a lady (Maggie Smith) who lives in a van.

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Public House

Filmmaker Sarah Turner’s documentary about the community action to save the Ivy House pub in Peckham receives its world premiere at London Film Festival. It’s described as an exhilarating participatory opera where verbatim testament is turned into folk operatic form.

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Elstree 1976

When George Lucas began work on a mysterious project named Star Wars in North London back in 1976, no one could have predicted how it would go on to shape cinema as we know it, least of all the legions of on-screen extras.  In this affectionate documentary, which gets its world premiere at London Film Festival, we meet 10 bit-part players who appeared, however fleetingly, in the classic movie and how it affected their lives.

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A short and funny film that's part of the Funny how? How Am I Funny? Showcase and it’s about a new craze that’s taking over London. Here's a sneak peek.

Lord & Lidl

A man heads to his local Lidl supermarket after God unexpectedly shows up at his door asking for a meal in this short.


Vice’s documentary explores the use of drugs by gay men in a sexual context, often referred to by the phrase chemsex, which has been seen by some as a contributing factor in the rise of HIV diagnoses in London. The film investigates the use of drugs to free inhibition and enhance libido and how the growing use of online hook-up acts could be fuelling it. The team talks to user and sexual health workers in the capital.

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A crime scene in a quiet neighbourhood is seen in reverse, with the reveal leading to an unexpected conclusion.

London Calling’s shorts

A selection of shorts by London filmmakers includes the world premiere of Royal Holloway lecturer Victoria Mapplebeck’s animated short documentary gets its world premiere about the compelling life story revealed when a vintage Nokia is recharged.

London Calling is also home to Chick or Treat, about two teenage friends spending their last Halloween together on the spooky streets of South London, but while one wants nothing but candy, the other is determined to get a more adult treat.

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Elephant Days

The Maccabees’ third album Given to the Wild was a Mercury nominee and an Ivor Novello winner. James Caddick and James Cronin’s film goes behind the scenes with the band as they work on their fourth album in self-imposed isolation in Elephant and Castle.

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Director Mariana Conde was nominated for the Best London Filmmaker Award at the recent Wimbledon International Short Film Festival for her short about a young man’s attempt at first contact with a potential love interest that’s hijacked by a phone app.

The Hard Stop

The capital turned into chaos in the riots that followed the shooting of Mark Duggan in a ‘hard stop’ police procedure on 2011. This intimate documentary goes behind the press coverage and follows two of Mark’s friends and the wider community as they attempt to get on with their lives.

The BFI London Film Festival runs from October 7 to 18. Go to