BFI London Film Festival Guest: Alejandro Landes

This year’s BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL has just concluded. Here is one of the guests that I met at the event:

Autographed drawing of director Alejandro Landes

Alejandro Landes. The Brazilian-born Colombian-Ecuadorian director’s third feature MONOS, the hallucinogenic and intoxicating thriller about child soldiers, set on a remote mountain top in Latin America is one of the most talked-about films of the year and won the top prize at the London Festival, adding to the numerous accolades already collected, including the Jury Prize at Sundance where it premiered in January and is Colombia’s Official entry for the Academy Awards.

Alejandro signed my sketch at the first screening of MONOS at the Vue Cinema in Leicester Square.

Drawing: Brenda Blethyn


I meet the wonderful British actress Brenda Blethyn on Saturday afternoon at the world premiere of the animated feature ETHEL & ERNEST at the Curzon cinema as part of the 60th BFI London Film Festival. Brenda voiced the title character Ethel in this film version of Raymond Brigg’s graphic novel about the life of his parents. Currently appearing in the sixth series of the TV drama VERA as DCI Vera Stanhope, Brenda’s breakthrough role was Cynthia Rose Purley in Mike Leigh’s SECRETS & LIES in 1996, which won her  the Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival, a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and the first of her two Oscar nominations. Equally successful stage career, winning an Olivier Award in Michael Frayn’s 1984’s BENEFACTORS.

I had hoped to catch Brenda going in, but was unable to. She stayed for the screening and did a Q+A at its conclusion which took a few hours but the wait was well worth it, as she happily signed my portrait with her superb ‘graph.

Drawing: Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt

This is another one of those sketches that I’ve carried around in my folder ‘just in case’. Obviously in this case, in case I bump into Brad Pitt. I can’t remember when I did it and could probably draw a better and more updated one, but for some reason I liked it and thought it captured him at the time whenever that was. A few ‘just in case’ moments arrived and went without success, until yesterday at the final night gala screening of his latest film, the WWII epic Fury at the BFI London Film Festival in Leicester Square, London.

As expected he generously signed for the entire line, which was immense given his popularity. This time I managed to get to the front line (appropriate given the film’s genre) near the drop off point. As with his ‘graphs at the World War Z premiere (the ones I saw, but didn’t manage to get!), Brad’s taken to signing in a large spirit based calligraphic marker to ‘draw’ his distinctive BP monogram. He apologised for not dedicating, “just too many to do,” but gave a nod of approval for the sketch.

I said to a fellow front liner next to me, “it’s a long day for one sig,” to which he replied, “it’s even longer if you don’t get one.”


Drawing: Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon

It’s the BFI London Film Festival time, signalling the start of the British Monsoon Season. 248 films, 17 venues, 12 days, 1 Festival, 600mm of rain!

Was I keen to attempt to get Reese Witherspoon’s ‘graph through the drops? Would it, in fact, even be possible? I umm-ed and ahhh-ed, watching the continuous rain come down. You can check out the live feed from a camera on the Radisson Hotel. The lens was covered in water so I couldn’t tell if the pens were full of people yet.

Did the sketch in a few minutes, thinking I would pull pin on the pursuit. Had a granny nap, woke up at 5 past 5, went on auto-pilot and found myself on the train and in Leicester Square at six for a 7.15pm film start. Ultra late, but in luck. A spot was available right near the drop off point.

As the rain got heavier I quickly prepared plastic protection for the sketch. Reese’s car arrived moments later and she was on the right side – brilliant timing and positioning. She popped out, came straight over, thanked us all for coming out in this weather and said, “Oh, what a lovely drawing,” and signed and dedicated it with minimal damage from the weather before moving on to do media.

Drawing: Sandra Bullock

Sandra Bullock001

Sandra Bullock is considered to be the biggest star of modern Hollywood, replacing Julia Roberts and Angelina Jolie as the highest paid actress with $56million.

Her films have grossed over 3.1billion dollars worldwide. She has the distinction of being name ‘best’ and ‘worst’ actress in the same year. Two days before winning the Academy Award for The Blind Side, Sandra collected two Razzies for All About Steve. She attended both ceremonies – a real trooper.

Sandra signed my sketch at the Gala Screening of Gravity on the second night of the BFI London Film Festival at the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square.

For her role as an emotionally charged astronaut lost in space she is being tipped to win her second Oscar, or at the very least receive a Best Actress nomination.