Louis Bayman

BFI London Film Festival 2012: round up

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Frankenweenie, Great Expectations, Argo, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Midnight's Children, Ginger and Rosa, No, Amour, The Pervert's Guide to Ideology, The Central Park Five, Free Angela and All Political Prisoners, 7 Psychopaths, Sightseers.

Film festivals exist for two main reasons: to promote the cultural prominence of the cinematic arts and to push sales. Usually the two are bound up together and used as the reason to justify each other, although in any given festival the weighting will change. The London Film Festival is certainly aimed at the commercial end of things; but because of its dual role, and helped by how long it has been going and by its capital location, it angles itself principally in terms of prestige.

Neds

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Director: Peter Mullan; Release date: 21 January

There are several reasons why socialist film fans will be pleased to hear about the release of Neds. It is the return, after an eight-year absence, to directing by Peter Mullan, the one-time Scottish Socialist Party supporter.

His directorial debut, Orphans, was a breathtakingly funny tour through 24 hours in a declining Glasgow. Readers may know his face as the lead in Ken Loach's My Name is Joe, his acting talent in evidence in the supporting role he takes here as the alcoholic father of sensitive lad John McGill.

54th BFI London Film Festival

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The darkness of the BFI screening rooms for the 54th London Film Festival last month might have seemed one place of shelter from austerity woes and the far-off tinkle of shattered glass.

With the opening night gala of Never Let Me Go, an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel of an idyllic boarding school childhood and the dark secrets it hides, and The King's Speech, a tale of George VI's (Colin Firth) awkward attempts to win public approval and lead the country into the Second World War, the festival marked revived interest in the heritage film.

The resistible rise of the videocracy

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As both politician and media magnate, Silvio Berlusconi arguably holds more power than any Italian leader since Mussolini. Erik Gandini spoke to Louis Bayman about his documentary film, Videocracy.

The Economist is run by a group of communist conspirators. That, at least, was the response of the current Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, when, before the 2001 elections, the British magazine stated that the man was unfit to be the leader of a democratic country.

Shostakovich

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Simon Behrman, Redwords, £9.99

It has been said that passionate engagement sharpens the intellect, and it is the contention of the Revolutionary Portraits series that it also inspires great heights of creativity. Rather than separating artistic achievement from the times in which it is created the series seeks to show how the genius of such people as John Coltrane, William Shakespeare and now Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich resulted from a passionate and often difficult relationship to social change.

Vincere

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Director: Marco Bellocchio; Release date: 14 May

This is a film of Italian dictator Mussolini's rise to power through the story of the woman he left behind. Directed by veteran political filmmaker Marco Bellocchio, it is a sumptuous costume drama which revels in period detail and, while dramatically fairly conventional, has a force and energy to sweep along even those left unmoved by its central love affair.

Invictus

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Director Clint Eastwood, Release date: 5 February

It is South Africa, 1995. A massive popular movement has seen Nelson Mandela released from prison less than five years earlier and elected the first black president of the new South Africa. The system known as apartheid, the official segregation of the country which kept a vicious white minority in power, has been dismantled and majority rule has arrived.

A Serious Man

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Directors Ethan and Joel Coen; Release date: out now

In their second outing since the huge hit No Country for Old Men, the Coen brothers are back with a film that may perhaps alienate some of their new-found audience but which is undoubtedly a great return to form.

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