Choosing which films to view at a high profile film festival like the BFI London Film Festival can be daunting; a grand total of 193 fiction, 52 documentary features and 144 short films will be screened at this year’s event, a range which will give even the most experienced film enthusiast a challenge when deciding what to see.  

So to help you, students on our Film Studies, Programming and Curation MA have applied their curatorial skills to pick their top ten must see films at this year’s festival which kicks off today and runs until the 16th October. Selecting, programming and reviewing films lies at the heart of their studies, with many of the students aspiring to work as curators and programmers at festivals when they graduate. Here are their most highly anticipated and recommended films:

1- PATERSON (Dir. Jim Jarmusch)

Jarmusch's latest. Very well reviewed and not to be missed (Nicolas Raffin)

2-AQUARIUS (Dir. Kleber Mendonça Filho)

The enigmatic director Mendonça Filho's second film once again explores the pitfalls of urban transformation and development in a middle class Brazilian neighbourhood. (David Perrin)

3-TONI ERDMANN (Dir. Maren Ade)

Cannes 2016’s unanimous 'breakout' hit, i.e. causing hardened critics to break out in spontaneous applause, twice! (Maria Bolocan)

4-THE WOMAN WHO LEFT (Dir. Lav Diaz)

The prolific Filipino master of slow cinema conquered Venice with his latest film. His predilection for lengthy features as a way to protest against Hollywood-imposed creative constraints has been feared as much as admired. At just three hours and a half long, its unique vision earned praise as his most accessible work to date. (Roberto González)

5-THE HANDMAIDEN (Dir. Park Chan-wook)

Park Chan-wook's adaptation of Sarah Waters' novel, this erotic thriller revolves around a plot to defraud a Japanese heiress, replacing British class anxiety with the tensions between the occupier and the occupied. (Mark Donaldson)

6-BY THE TIME IT GETS DARK (Dir. Anocha Suwichakornpong)

Taking the interview of a political activist of the 70s as a starting point, the film then becomes a cinematic journey using different styles to explore aspects of Thailand’s history and society. Promising to be a challenging but rewarding treat.  (Maureen Gueunet)

7-CERTAIN WOMEN (Dir. Kelly Reichardt)

Kelly Reichardt's triptych of women in the Northwest dealing with longing and misunderstanding. (Andrew Espe)

8-THE RED TURTLE (Dir. Michael Dudok De Wit)

Studio Ghibli's first international co-production, directed by Michaël Dudok de Wit in his feature debut. This hypnotising fable of ravishing simplicity is a heart-warming ode to the cycle of life. (Irene Silvera Frischknecht)

9-I HAD NOWHERE TO GO (Dir. Douglas Gordon)

A new documentary about the legendary American independent filmmaker Jonas Mekas by artist Douglas Gordon with a focus on his early years as refugee from his native Lithuania. (David Perrin)

10 (tie)- MOONLIGHT (Dir. Barry Jenkins)

This acclaimed coming of age drama has been the toast of this year's festival circuit for its visual poetry and frank observations on race, sexuality and adolescence.

and MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (Dir. Kenneth Lonergan)

Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan crafts a masterful drama of loss, centred around an outstanding performance from Casey Affleck. (Andrew Espe)

If you are inspired by our students’ choices or think you could do better, why not apply for our Film Studies, Programming and Curation MA, which is delivered in partnership with the BFI? Applications are open now and the two year course starts in January 2017. Over 100 of our students and graduates have been credited at this year’s festival; find out more here.