Interview with bfi london film festival director, clare stewart

The next issue of Oh Comely will feature a interview with Clare Stewart, the BFI’s Head of Exhibition and Director of the BFI London Film Festival.

Clare's unbridled passion for cinema is understandable given her job, so whilst chatting about the joys and headaches of running a major international film festival I was impelled to ask which films she was most looking forward to screening at this year’s festival. Here is her response.

Photo: Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in Philomena.

"Well, I suppose it's illegal for a festival director to have a favourite film--we love all our children equally--so what thrills me most about this year's festival is how much amazing British work there is. It really is such a strong year for British filmmaking. But then, while British talent inflects nearly every one of our main gala presentations, from Stephen Frears' incredibly moving Philomena to Steve McQueen’s devastating 12 Years a Slave, it’s exciting to look at the Official Competition section and see four films there by British directors.

Photo: Benedict Cumberbatch and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave.

There’s David Mackenzie who has been very under-the-radar with his film Starred Up, an exceptionally powerful prison drama, which I really think is going to knock everybody’s socks off.

Or if you look at Jonathan Glazer, everybody’s been waiting ten years for Under the Skin, and it completely delivers. It’s an extraordinary, visionary piece of filmmaking.

Then there’s Clio Barnard and her film The Selfish Giant. Clio’s debut film The Arbor was so wonderful, and this one features absolutely knock-out performances from its young actors.

Photo: Conner Chapman in The Selfish Giant.

And finally there’s Richard Ayoade and The Double, which demonstrates his astoundingly coherent sense of cinematic style. Those four films alone would give you a lot to get excited about where British filmmaking is right now, but they're just the tip of the iceberg."

The 57th BFI London Film Festival continues this week. Visit for listings.