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James Hawes’ One Life starring Anthony Hopkins will be the American Express Gala Film at the 67th BFI London Film Festival

Credit: See-Saw Films / Warner Bros. Pictures

The 67th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express has announced that this year’s American Express Gala will be One Life directed by James Hawes and starring Anthony Hopkins, Johnny Flynn, Lena Olin, Romola Garai, Alex Sharp, Marthe Keller, Jonathan Pryce and Helena Bonham Carter. Produced by See-Saw Films who developed the film alongside BBC Film, ONE LIFE was made with the support of BBC Film. An incredible true story of bravery and heroism, ONE LIFE will receive its European Premiere on 12 October at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall.  

ONE LIFE tells the true story of Sir Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Winton, a young London broker played by Hopkins, who, in the months leading up to World War II, rescued 669 children from the Nazis. Nicky visited Prague in December 1938 and found families who had fled the rise of the Nazis in Germany and Austria, living in desperate conditions with little or no shelter and food, and under threat of Nazi invasion. He immediately realised it was a race against time. How many children could he and the team rescue before the borders closed? 

Fifty years later, it’s 1988 and Nicky lives haunted by the fate of the children he wasn’t able to bring to safety in England; always blaming himself for not doing more. It’s not until a live BBC television show, ‘That’s Life’, surprises him by introducing him to some surviving children – now adults – that he finally begins to come to terms with the guilt and grief he had carried for five decades.

Director of ONE LIFE, James Hawes, said “It is a huge honour to have ONE LIFE be a gala presentation. This film pretty much begins and ends in London and says so much about the people of this city, its heart and its history. So it feels right that we have our UK launch at the BFI London Film Festival.”  

Credit: See-Saw Films / Warner Bros. Pictures

Iain Canning and Emile Sherman, See-Saw Films, said “We are so excited to be presenting One Life at the 2023 BFI London Film Festival, in See-Saw’s 15th year. Every film we have premiered at the festival has been a special experience and an incredible moment for us and our filmmakers. We are also delighted that this will be our 4th American Express Gala after The King’s Speech, Lion, and The Power Of The Dog. It has been a privilege to tell Nicholas Winton’s story and portray his generosity of spirit. It means so much to us to be able to share James Hawes’s ONE LIFE at this year’s festival, with an audience that is so passionate about the power of film, coming together to celebrate the captivating stories that connect us all.”  

Kristy Matheson, BFI London Film Festival Director, said James Hawes assured feature debut about the visionary British humanitarian, Sir Nicholas Winton is a sweeping drama full of nuance and rich emotion. The incredible cast led by Sir Anthony Hopkins brings this inspirational true-life story to the screen and not a minute too soon.  In a world full of conflict and inequity One Life serves to remind contemporary audiences about the power of seemingly small personal acts in defence of human rights and dignity when all seems lost. “ 

The 67th 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 gala venue 
  • BFI Southbank is the home of the competition programme, series, 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 finds a new home in Bargehouse at Oxo Tower Wharf, and you can also catch selected works at Outernet 
  • 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 and ODEON Luxe Leicester Square 

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 67th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express takes place from Wednesday 4 October – Sunday 15 October, 2023. The BFI LFF Press Launch will take place on Thursday 3August, 2023.

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