McQueen’s thriller opens in Lon­don

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - ENTERTAINMENT - JILL LAW­LESS

LON­DON — The Lon­don Film Fes­ti­val kicked off Wed­nes­day with the Euro­pean pre­miere of Bri­tish di­rec­tor Steve McQueen’s whips­mart heist thriller Wi­d­ows.

The film stars Vi­ola Davis, Michelle Ro­driguez and El­iz­a­beth De­bicki as women who band to­gether af­ter their hus­bands are killed in a rob­bery gone wrong. The Chicago-set movie by the Academy Award-win­ning, Lon­don-born di­rec­tor of 12 Years a Slave weaves in­sights about race, money and class in Amer­ica into a twist­ing thriller.

The 62nd Lon­don fes­ti­val in­cludes the event’s big­gest batch of films by women. Or­ga­niz­ers say 38 per cent of all films and 30 per cent of the 225 fea­tures in the lineup have fe­male di­rec­tors, an in­crease from 24 per cent of fea­tures in 2017.

Films di­rected by women in­clude Sud­abeh Mortezai’s sex-traf­fick­ing drama Joy; Karyn Kusama’s po­lice thriller De­stroyer star­ring Nicole Kid­man; and Sara Colan­gelo’s drama The Kinder­garten Teacher with Mag­gie Gyl­len­haal.

The sched­ule also in­cludes David Macken­zie’s kilts-and-car­nage Scot­tish epic Out­law King; Joel and Ethan Coen’s western an­thol­ogy film The Bal­lad of Buster Scruggs; Al­fonso Cuaron’s Mex­i­coset Roma; Mike Leigh’s his­tor­i­cal saga Peter­loo; and Peter Jack­son’s doc­u­men­tary They Shall Not Grow Old, which trans­forms grainy footage from the First World War into colour.

Jack­son’s film was hav­ing its pre­miere weeks be­fore the cen­te­nary of the end of the 1914-18 war in which 20 mil­lion peo­ple died.

The Lord of the Rings di­rec­tor worked with film from the Im­pe­rial War Mu­seum, us­ing cut­ting-edge dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy and hand-colour­ing to re­store and al­ter the orig­i­nal footage.

He paired it with archive au­dio rec­ol­lec­tions from vet­er­ans of the con­flict.

Jack­son said the process re­vealed new de­tails and brought out the hu­man­ity of the soldiers.

“They sud­denly are hu­man be­ings just like we are,” he said. “You can see the jok­ers and the se­ri­ous ones and the wor­ry­ing guys and you know, all the dif­fer­ent sort of per­son­al­ity types that you en­counter to­day — they were all there and you could see it on their faces.”

The fes­ti­val closes Oct. 21 with John S. Baird’s Lau­rel and Hardy biopic Stan & Ol­lie.

GARETH CAT­TER­MOLE/GETTY IM­AGES

Michelle Ro­driguez, cen­tre, at­tends the Euro­pean Pre­miere of Wi­d­ows and the open­ing night gala of the 62nd BFI Lon­don Film Fes­ti­val on Thurs­day in Lon­don, Eng­land.

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