In Depth

London Film Festival: six films you won't want to miss

Suffragettes, lesbian lovers and a lady in a van – festival highlights feature unforgettable women

Organisers of the 2015 BFI London Film Festival, set to open next week, have dubbed the event "the year of the strong women" because of its focus on films made by and starring women. The 12-day event (7 to 18 October) will open with the European premiere of British historical drama Suffragette.The festival features 238 films playing across 15 cinemas, and will also see the European premiere Danny Boyle's biopic Steve Jobs, and screenings of Brooklyn. We take a look at six not-to-be-missed highlights:

Suffragette

Directed by Sarah Gavron and written by Abi Morgan, the film centres on the early struggles of the British women's right-to-vote movement of the late 19th and early 20th century. Carey Mulligan stars as a young housewife who is recruited into the then volatile and dangerous right to vote movement. Co-stars include Helena Bonham Carter as a pro-vote campaigner, while Meryl Streep plays the iconic political activist Emmeline Pankhurst. The Hollywood Reporter calls it "a rousing, relevant slice of feminist history".

Steve Jobs

Danny Boyle's Oscar-tipped bio-pic with a script by Aaron Sorkin is also the closing night gala for the festival. The film spans a 14-year period in the life of the late Apple boss Steve Jobs. It focuses on three seminal Apple product launches, while revealing Job's obsessive, overbearing nature and his struggle for control of the company. Deadline Hollywood calls the film "an action movie driven almost exclusively by words" with a "dazzling" performance by Michael Fassbender.

Brooklyn

Nick Hornby adapts Colm Toibin's novel of an Irish immigrant life. Saoirse Ronan stars as a young Irish immigrant in 1950s Brooklyn, lured by the promise of America. After leaving the comfort of her mother's home she is swept up by a new romance, but soon faces a choice between the country and people of her past and a land that offers her a future. The Daily Telegraph says the movie's "tingling chemistry" is "the kind of old-fashioned, shivers-down-the-spine serendipity that's hushed and special".

Carol

The festival will see the UK premiere of Cannes hit Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in a lesbian love story. Adapted from the Patricia Highsmith novel The Price of Salt, the story follows a shy and innocent shop girl (Mara) who becomes smitten by a glamorous older married woman (Blanchett) but is unprepared for the battleground of love in an oppressive 1950s society. The film is "sumptuous", says The Independent, but also "probing, thoughtful and finally very moving".

Lady in the Van

Long-time collaborators Nicholas Hytner and Alan Bennett (The Madness of King George, The History Boys), return for this film adaptation of Bennett's play. Maggie Smith also reprises the role she first played in 1999 as Miss Shepherd, a woman who lived in her automobile on the driveway of Bennett's north London house between 1974 and 1989. The Times says Smith is "ornery, odiferous" and "compelling" in this "bitingly funny" comedy.

A Bigger Splash

Tilda Swinton stars as rock legend Marianne Lane who is recuperating from a throat operation on the Sicilian island of Pantelleria with her partner Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) when devilish record producer and old flame Harry (Ralph Fiennes) unexpectedly arrives with his daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson), bringing a tidal wave of disruptive nostalgia. Time Out says Fiennes gives a "can't take your eyes off" performance in this "seriously fun" film.

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