World premiere of Sir Steve McQueen’s film Blitz to open London Film Festival

The world premiere of Sir Steve McQueen’s new film Blitz is to open the 68th BFI London Film Festival.

Blitz will be shown almost a month before its release in cinemas on November 1, with the festival beginning on October 9.

The film follows the journey of George, played by Elliott Heffernan, a nine-year-old boy in Second World War London, whose mother Rita, played by Saoirse Ronan, sends him to safety in the English countryside.

Film still from Blitz
It will be the third time one of Sir Steve’s films has opened the festival (Apple/PA)

But George is determined to return home to Rita and his grandfather Gerald, played by Paul Weller, and attempts to get back to them.

It will be the third time a film by Sir Steve has opened the festival, with his film Widows opening in 2018, before Mangrove in 2020.

Sir Steve, who wrote, directed and produced the film, said: “Blitz is a movie about Londoners.

“It honours the spirit of what and how Londoners endured during the blitz, but also explores the true representation of people in London.

“While at its core is the story of a working-class family desperate to be reunited during times of war.

“I could not be more thrilled that the BFI London Film Festival have invited us to open this year’s festival, and to celebrate the World Premiere of Blitz in my hometown.”

Sir Steve is best known for his work directing 12 Years A Slave and the film anthology Small Axe.

Most recently he directed and produced the four and a half hour-long documentary, Occupied City, about the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam.

The film will also star the likes of Benjamin Clementine, Kathy Burke, Stephen Graham, Hayley Squires, and Erin Kellyman.

Kristy Matheson, BFI London Film Festival director, said: “Blitz is a film of incredible scale.

“Steve McQueen infuses the film with nuance at every turn; the depth of character and texture of the city are all peerless and make this subject feel completely new.

“It’s an astounding production that will leave audiences in awe of the director, his cast, and creative collaborators.

“We are honoured to share this film with audiences in London and across the UK and can think of no better way to open the 2024 BFI London Film Festival.”

After its theatrical release on November 1, the film will then be streamed globally on Apple TV+ on November 22.

The London Film Festival will continue until October 20, and will see a wide variety of screening events take place across BFI venues in London and the rest of the UK.