Netflix Western The Harder They Fall starring Idris Elba and Regina King to open BFI London Film Festival

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Elba in The Harder They Fall (DAVID LEE/NETFLIX © 2021)
Elba in The Harder They Fall (DAVID LEE/NETFLIX © 2021)

This year’s London Film Festival will open with the premiere of the Netflix Western The Harder They Fall, starring Idris Elba and Regina King, it has been announced.

Director and music producer Jeymes Samuel’s debut film launches the 65th edition of the festival on October 6 at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall.

Written by the London filmmaker and Boaz Yakin, with a soundtrack by Jay-Z, it follows outlaw Nat Love, played by Jonathan Majors, who seeks revenge on his enemy Rufus Buck (Elba) following the latter’s release from prison.

Speaking to the Standard, Samuel — who is also known as The Bullitts — said he wanted to show another side to Westerns with his movie.

“Ever since I was a kid I loved film, but I loved Westerns even more. I have always wanted to tell the stories of people of colour and women in the old west, show these images that were never portrayed on screen.

“I would see, over the years, glaring inconsistencies - women and people of colour were always subservient. But I would research and find these real-life characters who were far from that. Eventually I wrote the script. I have been putting this movie together for years. But now, we [the team behind the movie] are all equally hungry to tell this story and show this side of American history.”

He said opening the London Film Festival was “poetic” after growing up in north west London. “I come from Harrow Road, Mozart Estate. We would always hustle to get tickets [to LFF]. For me, all of a sudden to be opening it with my debut movie is an amazing, a poetic turn of events. It is beautiful. I couldn’t have asked for a more apt or appropriate place. To be at LFF at home, the opening night gala. It’s like, is this real?”

When asked who he’d take to the premiere, he said his mother. “Absolutely,” he said. “It is going to be amazing.”

Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival director, said about the film: “It’s rare for a debut filmmaker to pull off something this ambitious and accomplished in their first feature and Samuel knowingly tips his hat to cinematic forebearers, but also delivers a film which is inventive and uniquely his own... we can’t wait to share The Harder They Fall.”

The 65th BFI London Film Festival, in partnership with American Express, takes place from Wednesday October 6 to Sunday October 17. The LFF programme launch is scheduled for Tuesday September 7.

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