Oct. 20-Nov. 4
Times/bfi Filmfest

Talk about unwieldy names. The Times bfi London Film Festival will feature 180 features and 103 shorts from more than 60 countries. Well-organized. Right now, their biggest problem is finding a filmfest name that doesn't tap out every letter on the keyboard.

The -- let's call it the Times/bfi Filmfest -- features two weeks of international cinema; the drama onscreen might have played originally in theatres from Angola to Uruguay, Hackney to Hollywood Boulevard.

This year's line-up includes work from emerging directors Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Tawfik Abu Wael, Zach Braff and Nicole Kassell. Then there are films by old timers Eric Rohmer, Ousmane Sembene, Theo Angelopoulos, Jean-Luc Godard, Agnès Varda, Lukas Moodysson, Sally Potter, Takashi Miike, Lucretia Martel and Francois Ozon, Mike Leigh, David O Russell, Jonathan Demme, Zhang Yimou and Mira Nair.

Highlights: Feature films

"Everybody is a Killer/Pour le Plaisir"
Bartering sex therapy for car maintenance, psychiatrist Vincent offers car mechanic François some friendly advice on how to please wife Julie, who has fantasies about making love to a killer.

François, Vincent decides, would get the best results by telling Julie he has just killed someone. He does. It works. But then…a local bully is killed, whom everyone in town wanted to see dead, and the mechanic becomes suspect number one -- and the town hero.

Farcical black humor from director Dominique Deruddère, best known for the film "Crazy Love," based on stories by Charles Bukowski.

"Woman is the Future of Man/Yeojaneun Namja Ui Miraeda"
Heonjun meets up with old friend Munho at a local café. A striking woman standing in the snow captures their attention, and the conversation turns to Sunhwa, a woman they were both in love with. They decide to track her down, but flashbacks reveal that they remember the same exact girl in very different ways.

Shown above: "Vital"

Hiroshi suffers amnesia after a car crash, and loses much of his memory. He can barely remember his own parents, friends, or memories about himself. The discovery of old anatomy textbooks leads him to take a course in anatomy, as he tries to salvage knowledge of himself. Who is he? What did he believe?

The coursework includes dissection of a human cadaver - to his shock, he recognizes the corpse under his knife - it is a former girlfriend, Ryoko. Hiroshi fills the empty space of lost memories by creating 'new' ones, by mentally re-living the relationship they might have had.

Highlights: Experimental

"In the Realms of the Unreal"
Documentary about the late Henry Darger, a reclusive artist who lived and worked alone for 60 years, leaving behind a 15,000-word fantasy. Director Jessica Yu creates both a documentary about a contemporary hermit, and journeys into the realms of the surreal.

An abstract, computer-generated work produced by using mathematical formulas.

"The Time We Killed"
A meditation on life, death and a chosen state of solitude. Lisa Jarnot plays Robyn, an agoraphobic writer. The reclusive narrator fears that her private visions are beginning to be reproduced in the national psyche of the United States.

When the Twin Towers fall on 9/11, she walks the streets, just to be with other New Yorkers, but the escalation of fear drives her back into her shell. "Terrorism got me out of the house," she says," but the war on terrorism drove me back in."

Robyn's agoraphobia confines her to her apartment, but the film explores a different kind of interior - the visions in her mind. Robyn has a history of breakdowns, but as the film progresses, we see that the fear which keeps her trapped in her apartment is not neurotic - it begins to seem eerily… rational. Written and directed by Jennifer Reeves; she is seeking US distribution for this film.

A rather program in three chapters, combining striking images and dark stories with a text which is 'narrated' by a Text-to-Speech program.

Shown/header image: "The Time We Killed"

Find it/Venues: Too many to list. Ring the festival box office (number below) for venue info and screening times.
Get info: 020 7928 3232 or box.office@bfi.org.uk

Find out about other film festivals/screenings worldwide, in the OCT/NOV issue of "Arte Six".