The ICA Film and Cinema Co-ordinator James King takes a look at some of this week's highlights from the 57th BFI London Film Festival.
The ICA's programme for the 57th London Film Festival commences this week with the eagerly-anticipated documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune. Before David Lynch embarked upon his ill-fated 1984 version of Frank Herbert’s dense science-fiction tome, Chilean auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky attempted to adapt this epic tale of intergalactic space travel, spice mining and giant sand worms. After helming seminal 1970s midnight-movie classics El Topo and The Holy Mountain, Jodorowsky tried, and spectacularly failed, to alter the landscape of science-fiction cinema with his psychedelic vision of Herbert’s novel. Utilizing stunning pre-production artwork and original interviews with an array of filmmakers, including Jodorowsky himself, Frank Pavich’s documentary brings to light one of cinema’s most infamous unrealized projects.
Andrew Bujalski’s latest feature Computer Chess screens on Friday 11 October. Set in the early 1980s, amidst a cheap hotel chess conference, the film focuses on a group of delegates who try to determine if it’s possible to design a computer programme that can beat a human player at the ancient board game. Aptly shot on monochrome videotape, this witty, charming tale fetishizes analogue machinery whilst anticipating technology’s rise, and perhaps dominance over, its human counterparts.
In one of the festival’s more ambitious curatorial strokes, the ICA premieres legendary observational documentarian Frederick Wiseman’s latest work At Berkeley. Continuing the filmmaker’s practice of unobtrusive, fly-on-the wall examinations of American institutions – from Highschool (1968) to Model (1981) to Zoo (1993) – this four-hour-long documentary takes as its subject the University of California’s administrative system, focusing on the historically radical Berkeley campus as it faces devastating budget cuts.
Maverick screenwriter John Milius - whose credits range from Jaws to Apocalypse Now to the television series Rome – forms the subject of Zak Knutson and Joey Figueroa’s documentary portrait Milius. Although a central figure in the New American Cinema movement, coining some of the most memorable lines in Hollywood’s history, Milius’ macho antics and reactionary political views left him an outsider to the studio system. Insight into the rambunctious writer’s life and career comes from talking-head interviews with notable contemporaries George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Francis Coppola.
Other highlights at the ICA this week include three events within LFF Experimenta strand – Cinema (Redacted), Contained Movement and When Statues Die - which showcase experimental cinema and artists’ moving image within the festival programme, and a compilation screening of short films on Sunday 13 October sardonically entitled Everything Good is Happening Somewhere Else.
Tickets for London Film Festival screenings can be purchased through the BFI and BFI Box Office 020 7928 3232 (9.30am-8.30pm daily) or the London Film Festival website: bfi.org.uk/lff