World premiere of Blitz to open LFF 2024

Jul 3, 2024

The 68th BFI London Film Festival (9 to 20 October) in partnership with American Express announce that this year’s opening night gala will be the world premiere of the Apple Original Film, Blitz, directed, produced and written by Academy Award and BAFTA winner Steve McQueen

Blitz follows the epic journey of George (Elliott Heffernan), a 9-year-old boy in World War II London whose mother Rita (Saoirse Ronan) sends him to safety in the English countryside. George, defiant and determined to return home to Rita and his grandfather Gerald (Paul Weller) in east London, ensues on an adventure, only to find himself in immense peril, while a distraught Rita searches for her missing son.

The film stars Academy and BAFTA Award-nominee Saoirse Ronan and newcomer Elliott Heffernan, with Harris Dickinson, Benjamin Clementine, Kathy Burke, Paul Weller, Stephen Graham, Leigh Gill, Mica Ricketts, CJ Beckford, Alex Jennings, Joshua McGuire, Hayley Squires, Erin Kellyman, and Sally Messham rounding out the cast.

McQueen’s Lammas Park produces alongside Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of Working Title Films, Arnon Milchan, Yariv Milchan and Michael Schaefer for New Regency, with producers Anita Overland and Adam Somner.

The world premiere of Blitz marks a return to the LFF by the London-born director, who has opened the festival twice before with Widows in 2018 and Mangrove in 2020, and has a long-standing relationship with the LFF, also premiering Hunger, 12 Years a Slave, Shame, Lovers Rock and Occupied City at the festival. McQueen was awarded the BFI’s highest honour, the BFI Fellowship, at the BFI London Film Festival in 2016 for his outstanding contribution to film and moving image culture.

Blitz is a tale of resilience and humanity in the face of adversity, with the city of London forming the tapestry of the film. The 68th BFI London Film Festival opening marks a homecoming for the film and its director and is a true celebration of British excellence in cinema.

McQueen reunites with production designer Adam Stockhausen, costume designer Jacqueline Durran and composer Hans Zimmer, with cinematographer Yorick Le Saux and makeup designer Naomi Donne.

Blitz is a movie about Londoners,” says McQueen. “It honours the spirit of what and how Londoners endured during the blitz, but also explores the true representation of people in London, while at its core is the story of a working-class family desperate to be reunited during times of war. I could not be more thrilled that the BFI London Film Festival have invited us to open this year’s festival, and to celebrate the world premiere of Blitz in my hometown.”

Blitz is a film of incredible scale,” says Kristy Matheson, BFI London Film Festival Director. “Steve McQueen infuses the film with nuance at every turn; the depth of character and texture of the city are all peerless and make this subject feel completely new. It’s an astounding production that will leave audiences in awe of the director, his cast and creative collaborators. We are honoured to share this film with audiences in London and across the UK and can think of no better way to open the 2024 BFI London Film Festival.”

Blitz will premiere in select cinemas on 1 November, 2024 prior to streaming globally on Apple TV+ on 22 November, 2024.

The 68th edition of the BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express will take place in the following venues:

  • The Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall returns as the gala venue
  • BFI Southbank is the home of the competition programme, Screen Talks and LFF for Free events
  • The UK’s biggest screen BFI IMAX will once again host LFF screenings
  • LFF Expanded exhibition of immersive storytelling for a second year at Bargehouse and additional venues across London
  • Five partner cinemas in London’s West End include Curzon Mayfair, Curzon Soho, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), Prince Charles Cinema and Vue West End
  • Festival venues across the UK include Broadway Cinema in Nottingham, Chapter in Cardiff, Glasgow Film Theatre, HOME in Manchester, MAC in Birmingham, Queen’s Film Theatre in Belfast, Showroom Cinema in Sheffield, Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle and Watershed in Bristol
  • Press and industry screenings take place at Picturehouse Central

In addition to UK-wide screenings at the Festival venues, audiences will also be able to explore LFF programmes past and present with a special collection of films on BFI Player.

The 68th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express takes place from Wednesday 9 October to Sunday 20 October, 2024. The full festival programme will be revealed on Wednesday 4 September 2024, with tickets on sale from Tuesday 17 September (BFI Members book early).

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