The London Film Festival’s opening has just been announced – and it’s a gem

This year’s BFI London Film Festival is opening with a bang – probably a lot of them. 

The world premiere of Steve McQueen’s new World War II drama ‘Blitz’ is the festival’s opening gala on October 9. 

Starring Saoirse Ronan, the film is named after the Nazi bombing campaign against London in 1940 and 1941.

It follows nine-year-old evacuee George (Elliott Heffernan) as he tries to make it back to London and his mum Rita (Ronan) and grandpa Gerald (Paul Weller) in the East End.

Co-starring are Kathy Burke, Harris Dickinson, Stephen Graham, Leigh Gill, Mica Ricketts, CJ Beckford, Alex Jennings, Joshua McGuire, Hayley Squires, Erin Kellyman, Sally Messham, and music-actor Benjamin Clementine.

‘“Blitz” is a movie about Londoners,’ says McQueen. ‘It honours the spirit of what and how Londoners endured during the Blitz, but also explores the true representation of people in London, while at its core is the story of a working-class family desperate to be reunited during times of war.’ 

Photograph: Courtesy of AppleElliott Heffernan in ‘Blitz’

McQueen is calling on some pretty elite talent behind the camera too, with production designer Adam Stockhausen (‘12 Years a Slave’), costume designer Jacqueline Durran, and composer Hans Zimmer adding five Oscars’ worth of skill to the production.

‘It’s an astounding production that will leave audiences in awe of the director, his cast, and creative collaborators,’ says festival director Kristy Matheson. ‘The depth of character and texture of the city are all peerless and make this subject feel completely new.’

It’s the third time a McQueen film has opened the festival. His crime thriller ‘Widows’ and London historical drama ‘Mangrove’ were LFF curtain-raisers in 2018 and 2020 respectively.

The opening gala takes place at Royal Festival Hall, with screenings across the UK.

This year’s LFF runs from October 9-20. Tickets go on sale to the general public on September 17.

‘Blitz’ will be in UK cinemas on November 1, before streaming on Apple TV on November 22.

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