After a pandemic-hobbled 2020 awards season that was fittingly capped off by a numbingly dull Oscarcast, it really is wonderful to be back with an in-person Contenders Film: London event that for many of us portends a much-hoped-for return to normalcy. This year’s event, featuring 44 panelists repping 19 movies from nine studios and streamers, gets underway today at 8 a.m. London time for our in-person event at the Ham Yard Hotel.
For those who cannot attend, the Contenders London livestream starts at 9:35 a.m. local time (1:35 a.m. PT).
A look at the films participating in this year’s event gives a sense of escalating creative ambitions as audiences slowly return to theaters, even as windows continue to shrink and more of us consume quality content from home.
This year, we’ve got almost all of the films that electrified the Telluride, Venice, Toronto and London film festivals. And let’s not forget the last (virtual) Sundance, where the Siân Heder-directed CODA swept the awards and sold in a deal to Apple for a festival record-breaking $25 million. And where Rebecca Hall made her feature directorial debut with Passing, another hot-button success story from the festival.
There are plenty of films from awards-season fixtures including George Clooney directing Ben Affleck in the touching The Tender Bar, the Cannes Grand Prix winner A Hero by Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi, and the Pablo Larraín-directed Spencer, with Kristen Stewart playing Princess Diana as she is forced to realise that fitting the glass slipper and becoming princess isn’t the happy ending of childhood fairytales. Then there is Denis Villenueve’s Dune—a master filmmaker has realized the full ambition of creating a large-canvas world in an adaptation of the Frank Herbert sci-fi novel that leaves you wanting to follow Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya wherever they may go.
Other fall festival standouts being represented today at Contenders London include Belfast, the Kenneth Branagh-directed coming-of-age tale set during The Troubles, and Last Night in Soho, in which Edgar Wright mixes his love of the London locale with a haunting thriller storyline.
Maggie Gyllenhaal unveils her directorial debut The Lost Daughter, which won her the Best Screenplay prize at Venice. And Benedict Cumberbatch-starring drama The Power of the Dog returns The Piano director Jane Campion to the awards scene, having already won her Best Director at Venice.
From a musical standpoint, there’s Sing 2, the second installment of the Illumination animated hit, and Cyrano, a musical version of the 1897 Edmond Rostand play. Peter Dinklage stars (and sings) as the lovelorn lead.
We’ve got a good old fashioned Western in The Harder They Fall, with Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba and Regina King in a gunslinging revenge tale. And speaking of old-fashioned, the legendary 007 is back this season as James Bond finally makes his long-awaited return in No Time to Die—the film that the entire film industry is counting on to bring the masses back to the cinema. Following pandemic delays and with a script polish from Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, it has become a hot ticket.
Of course, this is just a taste of the Contenders program panels we have on offer today. And while masks, vaccinations and hand sanitiser will be reminders of what we are all endeavouring to come back from, what better way to warm to this season than to hear these artists talk about how they have turned life’s challenges into triumphs, battling through the pandemic to bring their creative vision to the world?
Contenders London 2021 Schedule
9:35 a.m. – Livestream begins
9:46-9:56 a.m. – Encounter
Riz Ahmed (Actor)
Michael Pearce (Writer, Director)
9:57-10:07 a.m. – A Hero
Asghar Farhadi (Writer, Director, Producer)
10:10-10:20 a.m. – Sing 2
Garth Jennings (Writer, Director)
10:24-10:34 a.m. – Spencer
Steven Knight (Writer)
Pablo Larraín (Director)
Jacqueline Durran (Costume Designer)
10:37-10:47 a.m. – The Hand of God
Teresa Saponanglo (Actor)
Luisa Ranieri (Actor)
Filippo Scotti (Actor)
Paolo Sorrentino (Director)
Daria D’Antonio (Director of photography)
10:48-10:58 a.m. – The Lost Daughter
Dakota Johnson (Actor)
Jessie Buckley (Actor)
10:59-11:09 a.m. – The Harder They Fall
Jeymes Samuel (Director)
Jonathan Majors (Actor)
11:10-11:20 a.m. – Passing
Andre Holland (Actor)
Ruth Negga (Actor)
Rebecca Hall (Director)
11:21-11:31 a.m. – The Power of the Dog
Kirsten Dunst (Actor)
Tanya Segatchian (Producer)
Iain Canning (Producer)
11:35 a.m.-1:05 p.m. – LUNCH
WARNER BROS PICTURES/LEGENDARY PICTURES
1:08-1:18 p.m. – Dune
Rebecca Ferguson (Actor)
Denis Villenueve (Director, Producer, Co-Writer)
1:21-1:31 p.m. – The Tender Bar
George Clooney (Director, Producer)
Grant Heslov (Producer)
1:34-1:44 p.m. – Last Night in Soho
Edgar Wright (Director, Screenwriter, Producer)
Krysty Wilson-Cairns (Screenwriter)
1:45-1:55 p.m. – Belfast
Kenneth Branagh (Director, Writer, Producer)
Caitríona Balfe (Actor)
Jamie Dornan (Actor)
Jude Hill (Actor)
Ciarán Hinds (Actor)
APPLE ORIGINAL FILMS
1:58-2:08 p.m. – CODA
Siân Heder (Writer, Director)
2:11-2:21 – Ali & Ava
Clio Barnard (Writer, Director)
Claire Rushbrook (Actor)
Adeel Akhtar (Actor)
2:22-2:32 p.m. – Titane
Julia Ducournau (Writer, Director)
MGM/UNITED ARTISTS RELEASING
2:35-2:45 p.m. – Respect
Jennifer Hudson (Actor)
2:46-2:56 p.m. – No Time To Die
Cary Fukunaga (Director)
Chris Corbould (Special Effects Supervisor)
2:56-3:06 p.m. – Cyrano
Haley Bennett (Actor)
Sarah Greenwood (Production Designer)
Katie Spencer (Set Decorator)