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Jay-Z-produced western to open London festival

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Idris Elba, the star of Jay-Z’s new western film The Harder They Fall, which will open the London Film Festival. AFP

Jay-Z-produced western to open London festival

The London Film Festival will return to big screens next month with the world premiere of The Harder They Fall, a Western co-produced by Jay-Z and starring Idris Elba, organisers confirmed on Tuesday.

The British capital’s annual cinema showcase, forced largely online last year because of the pandemic, will open on October 6 with the hotly anticipated Western, featuring a primarily Black cast that also includes Regina King.

The Netflix movie is directed by Londoner Jeymes Samuel, who made his directorial debut with the 2013 Western They Die by Dawn.

The 12-day London festival, now in its 65th year, will close with Joel Coen’s The Tragedy Of Macbeth, starring the acclaimed director’s Oscar-winning wife Frances McDormand and fellow Academy Award winner Denzel Washington.

Hollywood star Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of Princess Diana, Spencer, will also screen at the festival, after getting its premiere at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month.

The London line-up of 159 films also features Kenneth Branagh’s autobiographical movie Belfast and The Power Of The Dog, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

Other star-studded entrants include King Richard, featuring Will Smith as the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams and Mothering Sunday, starring The Crown actors Olivia Colman and Josh O’Connor.

Meanwhile, the opening two episodes in the third series of hit HBO show Succession will get their European premiere as part of an expanded list of television entries.

“Across the whole of the programme, artists are exploring a range of serious themes: the impact of the global pandemic, the climate emergency, racial and wealth inequality,” festival director Tricia Tuttle said as she unveiled the full line-up.

“And like the rest of us, filmmakers and artists are searching for answers to impossible questions.”

Organisers announced earlier this year that the 2021 festival’s biggest premieres will move from Leicester Square to the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank.

A selection of the films will also be shown at 10 venues in cities and towns across the UK, in what Tuttle said was an effort to “remove geographical barriers” and introduce “greater access and more free ways to engage.”

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