The 10 Best Films To Catch At The BFI London Film Festival Before They Sell Out

By Lottie Woodrow | 26th September 2021

Film aficionados, listen in… The iconic BFI London Film Festival returns this October, bringing with it a bumper load of premier screenings, special presentations and more. If you’re looking to head down or just want to see what all the critics are talking about, we’ve rounded up the ten best films you can catch that haven’t sold out yet. 

From a sneaky preview of the Princess Diana biopic, Spencer, to an early screening of Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, here’s what to see.


The longly anticipated film starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana is finally hitting our cinema screens this November, but for those who can’t wait to see if Stewart aces (or flops) the performance can catch it at the BFI London Film Festival. 

The film, Spencer, will be documenting Diana’s decision to end her marriage with Prince Charles and leave the royal family. The narrative will be set over a three day weekend, at the House of Windsor in the royal’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England. It’ll be interesting to see how Larraín captures the mixed emotions and tensions that echoed through the four walls of that royal Christmas.

Screenings: Thursday 7th, Friday 8th & Sunday 17th October
Grab your tickets here

Ali & Ava 

Written and directed by Clio Barnard, Ali & Ava is the unexpected romance movie you need on your radar. Following Ali (Adeel Akhtar), a music loving landlord, and Ava (Claire Rushbrook), a teaching assistant and mother, as they meet and form a relationship tied together by their love of music.  

Set in Bradford, audiences can expect to reflect on issues surrounding 21st century Britain, race, class, neurodiversity and mental health.

Screenings: Wednesday 13th & Thursday 14th October
Grab your tickets here

The Lost Daughter 

Any film starring Olivia Colman and you can count us in, including her latest leading role in The Lost Daughter. Based on Elena Ferrante’s novel of the same name, the narrative follows a middle-aged woman, Leda (Colman), as she resides in a sunny seaside Greek town, but before long a loud, abrupt American family arrives, taking over her safe space. 

Intoxicated by the young mum (Dakota Johnson), the film explores their brief encounter, human relationships and motherhood.

Screenings: Wednesday 13th, Thursday 14th & Saturday 16th October
Grab your tickets here


Having already won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at Sundance Film Festival, Flee is certainly one to catch at this year’s BFI Festival. 

Flee follows an in-depth, emotional interview between film director Jonas and his school friend Amin, diving deep into Amin’s past from leaving his Afghanistan home to his fears and memories. 

Screenings: Friday 15th, Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th October
Grab your tickets here

The Harder They Fall 

Before making its way to Netflix, Jeymes Samuel’s (aka The Bullitts) is making a scheduled stop off at the BFI London Film Festival and two of the three screenings have already sold out if modern Westerns are your bag, book in your tickets pronto. 

Starring Johnathan Majors as Nat Love, a soul who has spent his whole life trying to track down the gang who brutally murdered his family before his eyes, it’s an explosive watch packed with fights and gun shoot-outs. Other stars include Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo and LaKeith Stanfield.

Screenings: Thursday 7th October (only showing left!)
Grab your tickets here

Compartment No. 6

Based on Rosa Liksom’s novel of the same name, Compartment No. 6 follows a young Finnish student on her journey to Murmansk, Siberia. Longing for an escape, while on the sleeper train she encounters an eccentric Russian worker. Already dubbed by The Guardian as ‘a Finnish Before Sunrise’, it’s a strange, unpredictable romance you wouldn’t expect.  

Screenings: Friday 8th October
Grab your tickets here


If you’ve noticed there have been an influx of documentaries shedding light on the importance of cutting down our meat and fish consumption, then you’d be right. We all recently started questioning how much fish and seafood we’re consuming after Netflix’s Seaspiracy and have started questioning the role farm life plays on its animals thanks to American-Norwegian silent documentary, Gunda. And now there’s a new one to add to the list too, Cow. 

Andrea Arnold is another filmmaker trying to break the rules of filmmaking, with her new release. Arnold’s Cow is a film that’s taken six years to execute, showcasing the life of a dairy farm cow. 

Screenings: Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th October
Grab your tickets here

The French Dispatch

A blockbuster in its own right, Wes Anderson’s latest film, The French Dispatch, will be making its way to the film festival before hitting the big screen later this year. 

The French Dispatch sees the return of his cast regulars including Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and Saoirse Ronan, but we also get to see the dreamy Timothée Chamelet in all of his glory. The narrative follows the staff of a European newspaper who are set to release a tribute edition highlighting the best stories over the last decade, and in true Anderson style, they’re as odd as ever. Memorable stories include an artist facing life in prison, chaotic student riots and a kidnapping that was strangely found out by a chef.

Screenings: Monday 11th October
Grab your tickets here

See for Me

Thrill seekers, listen up. Randall Okita’s See for Me is packed with suspense and tension. It follows Sophie (Skyler Davenport), a blind woman trying to regain her independence in her role as a house sitter. But while she looks after the houses, she also pockets some of the trinkets and valuables dotted around the rooms with a little help from her FaceTiming friends. 

Once her friend realises what she’s doing, they refuse and it forces Sophie to download the See for Me app. It’s while she’s housesitting a wealthy mansion that a gang of burglars swoop in. Her only way to safety? Through the eyes of someone via the app…

Screenings: Tuesday 7th & Saturday 9th October
Grab your tickets here

The Phantom of the Open 

Ever fancied trying your hand at competing in the British Open? Sure, you might have bashed your friend at mini golf over the summer but you hardly go around calling yourself a professional. Well, looks as though Maurice Flitcroft, played by Mark Rylance, decided to give it a go anyway… 

The Phantom of the Open follows the fella taking on the challenge face on, entering the 1976 British Open and becoming a very bad contestant. Because guess what? He’s never played a round of the sport ever. Like ever ever.

Screenings: Tuesday 12th & Wednesday 13th October
Grab your tickets here

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