Emerald Fennell’s ‘Saltburn’ to Open London Film Festival

Emerald Fennell’s ‘Saltburn’ to Open London Film Festival

The BFI London Film Festival has landed one of the most anticipated British films of the year as its 2023 curtain-raiser.

Saltburn, the sophomore feature of Emerald Fennell following her Oscar-winning directorial debut Promising Young Women, is set to get its international premiere when it opens the event Oct. 4 at London’s Royal Festival Hall.

Starring Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant, Alison Oliver, Archie Madekwe and Carey Mulligan, and likened to The Talented Mr. Ripley, the film is described by festival organizers as a “beautifully wicked tale of privilege and desire.” Set in the mid-2000s, the story follows student Oliver (Keoghan) who, struggling to find his place at Oxford University, finds himself drawn into the world of the charming and aristocratic Felix Catton (Elordi), who invites him to Saltburn, his eccentric family’s sprawling estate, for a summer never to be forgotten. 

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“As soon as the credits rolled on Saltburn, it was clear we’d met our opening night film,” said incoming London Film Festival director Kristy Matheson, marking her first festival since taking the role earlier this year. “Academy Award winner Emerald Fennell returns with an expertly crafted and exhilarating thrill ride of a film that showcases an enormous depth of U.K. talents in front of and behind the camera. With its exceptional performances, delicious plot twists and a soundtrack of early 21st-century pop bangers, this hugely ambitious film immediately stole our hearts and we can’t wait to share it with audiences in London and across the U.K. this October.”

Amazon Studios and MGM will release the film, which comes from MRC and Margot Robbie’s LuckyChap Entertainment (Robbie produces, as she did on Promising Young Woman), in cinemas Nov. 24.

“I’m honored that our film is able to open this year’s BFI London Film Festival,” said Fennell, who won both the best original screenplay Oscar and BAFTA for Promising Young Woman, and can currently be seen starring alongside Robbie in Barbie. “It is a festival that inspired me so much growing up, one that I followed excitedly from my bedroom on the other side of London. It feels extra-special that Saltburn, this very British tale of excess, is able to make its international debut at the wonderful BFI.” 

The 67th edition of the BFI London Film Festival runs Oct. 4-15. The full lineup is due to be unveiled Aug. 31.