BFI London Film Festival is back at MAC – running from 4 to 15 October

Words by Jimmy Dougan (to follow him on Letterboxd click here)

Brummie cinema lovers rejoice. The BFI London Film Festival (LFF) returns to Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) on Wednesday, 4 October with a curated line-up of some of the year’s most hotly anticipated releases – screening exclusively before they hit cinemas and streaming platforms.

There’s no atmosphere on the planet quite like that of a film festival. And don’t just take my word for it. David Baldwin, Producer – Cinema & Screen at MAC, told Birmingham Review: “A fair few of these films won’t even have a trailer yet, so you can go in completely uninformed and immerse yourself in brand new cinema from across the globe.”

He’s not wrong; Lukas Dhont’s Close is one of the most singularly devastating films I’ve ever seen, and I went into it knowing nothing more than the title. What an experience.

But festivals can also take a bit of planning, even leaving you feeling daunted by the number of films screening or at how much it will all cost. But no need to panic, read on to find out Birmingham Review’s three unmissable picks as the BFI London Film Festival (LFF) returns to MAC.


Saltburn – Wednesday, 4 October at 7:30pm

This year’s Opening Night Gala slot has been awarded to Saltburn, directed by Emerald Fennell. Depending on who you ask, Fennell’s 2020 film Promising Young Woman was either a feminist call to arms against patriarchal lad culture or a catastrophically misguided dud, advocating suicide to overcome trauma. I was in the latter camp, though was smitten with Carey Mulligan’s sensational central performance and the snappy, pop-drenched soundtrack.

Saltburn tells the story of university student Oliver (Barry Keoghan) and his increasingly desperate infatuation with classmate Felix (Jacob Elordi). Keoghan’s chops are in no dispute – he was crushingly sweet in The Banshees of Inisherin – and the principal allure of Saltburn is finally getting to see him in a leading role. Let alone the fact that Elordi starred in Euphoria and the stacked supporting cast includes Rosamund Pike, Carey Mulligan, and Richard E. Grant.

Call this critic cautiously optimistic.

Saltburn – official trailer

For more on Saltburn showing at MAC as part of the London Film Festival visit


Eileen – Wednesday, 11 October at 8:00pm

One of the films that has me most intrigued is William Oldroyd’s Eileen, co-adapted by Ottessa Moshfegh from her own intoxicatingly nasty novel of the same name.

Thomasin McKenzie stars at the titular character, a miserable and lonely young woman who works as a secretary at a prison for sex-starved teenage boys. When an alluring new psychiatrist called Rebecca (Anne Hathaway) arrives, Eileen finds herself sucked into a swirling vortex of sexual fantasy and violent catharsis.

Moshfegh is one of our most exciting literary talents, and the novel Eileen is a bleak and funny tale of twisted empowerment. That said, it isn’t Moshfegh’s strongest (that would be 2022’s Lapvona) and it doesn’t have the popular appeal of 2018’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation, so I’m fascinated to see what darkness Oldroyd, McKenzie, and Hathaway – who described it as “Carol meets Reservoir Dogs” – spin from it.

Eileen is a violent and pulpy tale with a suffocating atmosphere courtesy of cinematographer Ari Wegner, and a plot twist for the ages: brace yourself for a plunge into the abyss.

For more on Eileen showing at MAC as part of the London Film Festival visit


How to Have Sex – Saturday, 14 October at 5:30pm

A necessary – incendiary, even – examination of sex and consent comes in the form of Molly Manning Walker’s already acclaimed debut, How to Have Sex. Easily the film I’m most excited for, and winner of Cannes 2022’s ‘Un Certain Regard’ award; buzzy is an understatement for this film.

How to Have Sex follows three teenage girls on a rite-of-passage holiday to Malia. The focus of the trip is sex and drinking, something which weighs heavily on Tara (Mia McKenna-Bruce) who is yet to lose her virginity.

Manning Walker worked initially as a cinematographer on short films, before gaining acclaim for her work on the music video for A$AP Rocky’s ‘Sundress’. More recently she worked on indie-hit Scrapper, a colourful and vivid depiction of a father-daughter relationship that wasn’t afraid to push into darker territory. It deftly critiqued the failing welfare state and a disinterested social service, with two stunning performances from Lola Campbell and Harris Dickinson.

While How to Have Sex may draw superficial comparisons with 2022’s superlative Aftersun simply for being set in a typically British holiday destination, expect a topical and profoundly melancholic meditation on teenage self-image, consent, and hopefulness.

How to Have Sex – official trailer

For more on How to Have Sex showing at MAC as part of the London Film Festival visit

These are Birmingham Review’s pick of three films we think are ‘must-sees’, but the full LFF at MAC programme is a varied and exciting line-up of some of the most exciting works contemporary cinema has to offer. There’s something for everyone of all ages, proving that there’s never been a better time to be going to be going to the movies.

As David Baldwin adds: “October is literally the most wonderful time of the year for cinephiles.” Cheers to that.

What films are you excited to see at this year’s LFF screenings at MAC? Did we miss anything you feel is a ‘must see’? If you see Birmingham Review at any of the screenings during LFF at MAC make sure to let us know.

BFI London Film Festival screenings begin at MAC on 4 October and run until 15 October, with tickets for all films and events on the programme now on sale. For full listings and links to online ticket sales visit:

To read more about the BFI London Film Festival go to:

For more from MAC, including all events listings, visit

‘Paranoid on Westside’, celebrating 53 years of the seminal Black Sabbath album – Sunday 17 September at Velvet Music Rooms

Words by Ed King / Profile pic of Ozzy Osbourne by Paul Ward

On Sunday 17 September, a special celebration is being held to mark 53 years since the release of the seminal Black Sabbath album, Paranoid.

‘Paranoid on Westside’ will be a free to enter event, held at Velvet Music Rooms on Broad Street from 12 noon – with live music kicking off from 3pm.

Organised by Big Bear Music, who’s founder Jim Simpson was Black Sabbath’s original manager, the all day event will feature two bands – Bromsgrove’s ‘stadium hard rock’ four piece, Moose Jaw, and celebrated Manchester based Black Sabbath tribute act, Sabbra Cadabra.

There will also be a rock and roll jumble sale, the mind boggles, and a special Black Sabbath slide show and rare video screening – introduced by Jim Simpson, who took the heavy metal pioneers through their first three albums, whilst Birmingham gave birth to heavy metal.

As Back Sabbath frontman and vocalist, Ozzy Osbourne, told Uncut Magazine in October 2015, “We were made by Jim Simpson” – after the Midlands music man gave Sabbath, then called Polka Tulk, their first break at his renowned regular live music night, Henry’s Blueshouse.

Known for being a popular hangout for local rock musicians at the time, who came to watch and perform alongside the American blues artists booked in Birmingham by Simpson, Henry’s Blueshouse ran for two years and was frequented by bands including Led Zepplin, Jethro Tull, Judas Priest, Supertramp, Thin Lizzy, and Status Quo.

Originally held at The Crown pub on Station Street from 1968 to 1970, Henry’s Blueshouse now promotes regular gigs at Velvet Music Rooms on Broad Street in Birmingham City Centre.

Paranoid was released by Vertigo Records on 18 September 1970, the second studio album from the Birmingham born Black Sabbath, and carries now widely regarded rock anthems including ‘War Pigs’, ‘Iron Man’, and the title track ‘Paranoid’.

The album also offers Sabbath’s polemic about the Vietnam war, with ‘War Pigs’ – the album’s original title track – comparing the strategists behind the American led conflict to Satan worshippers and occult rituals.

‘Hand of Doom’ further explores the heroin addictions of many returning service men, after using the drug in conflict to numb the horrors of the Vietnam War. It was originally penned after Black Sabbath played gig for American service man on army bases in the US.

Paranoid was released by Vertigo Records in the UK and Warner Bros. in the United States and is currently ranked at No. 139 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of ‘The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time’.

Black Sabbath play ‘Paranoid’ at O2 Academy, Birmingham, in 2012

‘Paranoid on Westside’ will be held at the Velvet Music Rooms, Broad Street, Birmingham City Centre, on Sunday 17 September. Entry is free.

For further information, please phone 0121 454 7020 or email:

For more on Velvet Music Rooms visit

For more on Big Bear Music visit
For more on Henry’s Blueshouse visit

Supersonic Festival 2023 comes to Digbeth from 1 to 3 September

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Supersonic Festival

From Friday 1 to Sunday 3 September, Digbeth will once again host ‘the mother of British underground festivals’ – as the mighty Supersonic comes back into Brum Town, with a plethora of experimental music, acts, and artists, alongside a rich programme of films, talks, exhibitions, and thought-provoking workshops.

Celebrating 20 years since local promoters Capsule took a braver step than most, Supersonic Festival 2023 will bring with it one of the most avant garde line ups on the UK’s festival scene – with another annual sojourn onto music’s often underappreciated and unknown cutting edge.

And I know some throw these phrases around as they rehash the blindingly obvious, but Supersonic Festival is no ‘WHEEL II’ – it’s a challenge to your comfort zones and senses on several levels, not all of which you’ll like, but as damn near guaranteed as anything can be to give you a bone rattling new experience.

Put it this way, where else can you start your night with an ‘ecstatic and unruly’ poke of the pop ribs from a ‘fiercely DIY’ San Francisco ‘noise act’ (Deerhoof), before being blown apart by some Baltimore based hip hop infused polemic poetry (Infinity Knives & Brian Ennals), then round off with some locally sourced sci-fi tinged experimental jazz electronica (Un.Procedure).

I’ll tell you where, nowhere. And that’s just a few hours on Day One. But if you’re still up for a wager, I’ll earmark you my first born if you can find another bill in Birmingham that has such adventurous variety (you won’t).

In fact, perhaps the biggest mountain to climb with Supersonic Festival is cherry picking what to see/hear/viscerally react to in a smoke filled room. Or for us scribes, what to write about in the previews and pre-event promotion.

So, in a self-declared sidestep and prostrated sign of respect to the festival’s PR team, I’m going to paraphrase their press release below.

But if you fancy your own goosy gander, which we heartly recommend, then click here for the full programme – or click here to download a super handy Supersonic Festival 2023 timetable.

So, what’s going on then…? Alongside all the aforementioned, Friday 1 September will see Supersonic present the hypnotic energy and unique spectacle of Ex Easter Island Head and Hey Colossus – with both celebrating two decades in the game, so expect a top draw performance from each UK spawned act.

Elsewhere, experimental supergroup Ondata Rossa will be combining music and 16mm film from four renowned and wildly experienced musicians – namely Valentina Magaletti (Vanishing Twin, Moin, Holy Tongue), Agathe Max, Dali De Saint Paul (HARRGA) and Yoshino Shigihara (Yama Warashi).

On Saturday 2 September, sounds get heavier with Backxwash, Godflesh, and the avant-metal of Ashenspire. There is also a set of black metal from the queer and antifascist idiosyncratic Ragana, alongside the ‘absolutely vital’ post punk band Taqbir, who use their music to create a space to empower North African women.

Day Two will also welcome back Divide and Dissolve, returning to Supersonic with a new album, Systematic, after being a highlight of last year’s event. Festival favourites and old friends Oxbow will also be back on the Supersonic bill for 2023, shaking things up with their electrifying and visceral embrace of distortion and volume, foreboding emotional timbres, and tension-baiting restraint – celebrating their first new album in six years, Love’s Holiday.

Saturday will also bear witness to the airtight grooves of Horse Lords, Blacks’ Myths’s meditative free jazz exploration of the history of blackness, and an improvising lyricist, producer, and sound artist Elvin Brandhi (Yeah You).

Sunday 3 September will see the debut live performance of Silver Moth, an atmospheric noise-rock collective including Mogawi’s Stuart Braithwaite, Elisabeth Elektra, Steven Hill, and members of Abrasive Trees, Burning House, and Prosthetic Head.

Critically acclaimed Irish quartet Lankum will be performing too, celebrated for their tight vocal harmonies, impactful on-stage storytelling, and instrumental interplay.

The festival’s final day will also shine a light on the new wave of dark folk artists, including Slovenia’s Širom – born from the country’s rural free festival scene. Supersonic will also welcome back the nine piece Shovel Dance Collective, who use traditional folk songs to uncover proto-feminist narratives and queer histories.

Day Three, will also see BIG|BRAVE perform a special collaboration, exclusive to Supersonic, with fellow Montreal-based violinist Jessica Moss (Thee Silver Mt Zion, Black Ox Orkestar) – after Moss performs her own solo set earlier in the day.

Sunday at Supersonic 2023 is also looking forward to welcoming Colorado’s playful storyteller, multi-instrumentalist, and composer Josephine Foster – touring the UK with her latest album, Domestic Sphere.

There will also be a special ‘in conversation’ with legendary punk poet John Robb as The Membranes founding member discusses Goth music, culture, and his new Book, The Art of Darkness – The History of Goth, with Head at Music for Nations at Sony Music (and fan of a good cloak), Julie Weir.

Phew… and that is just a tiny taste of all the music, subjective madness, and genre bending rabbit holes you could fall down at Supersonic Festival 2023. Better get yourself a ticket before they all sell out too.

For full festival details and more information on all the acts, artists, exhibitions, and events at Supersonic 2023 visit

For more on Capsule visit

Stereo Mind Game – Daughter release fourth album, out from 7 April

Writer Ed King / Photographer Marika Kochiashvili

Daughter is a band that wears its heart on its sleeve. From the lament of the “wild youth” in their superb debut album If You Leave, to the introspective admissions of their sophomore LP Not to Disappear, you’re never far from an artery.

Now eight years and one global pandemic later, and the world scattered trio have let blood once again – releasing their fourth studio album, Stereo Mind Game, with all the haunting hallmarks that won them such acclaim since forming in 2010.

Recorded in both the UK and US, the 11 tracks and two instrumentals of Daughter’s latest LP – named after the mental gymnastics of lead singer Elena Tonra, as she finally puts the glass down in the album’s second track ‘Party’ – has a constant narrative running through it.

Themes of love, family, and companionship are fleshed out across both physical and emotional divides, with acceptance and fortitude ultimately holding the bonds together. The tone and production of Stereo Mind Game are as beautiful and melancholic as across Daughter’s previous albums, but this time there is a distinct message of hope underpinning the heartache.

‘Be On Your way’, the album’s opening full track, is a bittersweet love letter to a kindred spirit both discovered and set free – based on a ‘significant connection’ Tonra had with someone across the pond whist recording the new album.

And whist ‘Isolation’ explores the similar senses of loss and longing, only this time through the curled up cold skin in a once intimate bed, the final lines are an internal clarion call: “I’ll compose myself, I’ll get over it.” As the press release for Stereo Mind Game itself identifies, ‘after more than a decade spent depicting the darkest emotions, Daughter have made their most optimistic record yet.’

There are also some production approaches that separate, even elevate, this album from its predecessors, with Tonra sharing the vocals for the first time in ‘Dandelion’, ‘Future Lover’, and ‘Neptune’ – the latter seeing a choir rise in the end sequence, to counter the sea planet seclusion embodied in the main bulk of the track. Tonra herself admits: “It’s one of my favourite moments of the record… when suddenly the crowd joins. It’s a very lonely song. But even when I’ve felt the most alone, arms have reached out to me.”

Haefeli’s mournful guitar and melodies are as quick to the cut as ever, whilst Aguilella’s percussion run, march, and dance over the hills and instrumentals of this 44 minute landscape.

The only arguable downside to Stereo Mind Game, especially when judged alongside its siblings, is the lack of any discernible ‘lead’ single – that overwhelmingly chart friendly three minute earworm a radio plugger can confidently hang their hat (and career) on. But I’m sure neither the band nor the audience will not lose too much sleep over this.

Indeed, the focus on breaking new ground in their music and lyrics shows a rare resilience for a band who have not yet – in my humble opinion – put a foot wrong. Four albums in (including the 2017 computer game soundtrack, Music from Before the Storm) and each one standing confidently on its own two feet; bands of Daughter’s originality and consistency are a rare breed.

And as all good things notoriously come to an end, especially when you’re split by arable farmlands and the Atlantic Ocean, I am especially grateful the near decade gap between Not to Disappear and Stereo Mind Game was just a comma and not a full stop.

Instead, we have a wonderful evolution from an ensemble who pitch perfectly compliment each other, whilst continuing to bring fresh ideas to familiar ground. Fingers crossed it won’t be the last.

‘Party’ – Daughter

Stereo Mind Game by Daughter was released on 7 April, by 4AD and Glassnote Records – available through all major outlets and online platforms. For more on Daughter visit

The Mellow Sessions Featuring Tom Ford At Hockley Social Club – Thursday 16 March

Writer Ed King / Photographer Connor Pope

On Thursday 16 March, Birmingham Co-operative Promoter are launching The Mellow Sessions at Hockley Social Club – with a live set and onstage interview from local jazz guitarist Tom Ford, and support from Michael Bird.

Doors open at 5pm, and tickets are ‘pay what you can’ available through Skiddle or Design My Night – click on the links for tickets.

Let’s just let that sink in for a while…

You got it? You sure? Is it stuck in your head like an angry wasp in a jar? OK, let’s crack on then.

The Mellow Sessions is a new concept from Birmingham Co-operative Promoter, where the audience get to explore the minds and music of the evening’s featured artists – first through an onstage interview, then a live performance.

A chance to dig deep into the world of ‘breakthrough artists’, The Mellow Sessions are a chance to hear about their on/off stage experiences before getting to watch them strut their jazzy stuff.

Thursday 16 March is the inaugural Mellow Sessions event, featuring Tom Ford – with support from Michael Bird.

Tom Ford is no stranger to the Birmingham jazz, funk, and wider music scene, having played alongside artists including: Col3trane, Sam Barsh, Chris “Daddy” Dave, Santigold, Nate Fox, Poppy Ajudha, Reuben James, and Idris Elba.

As a solo artist, Ford released his debut album The Tennis Champion in March 2022, to much critical acclaim. His latest EP, The Return of the Tennis Champion, was released in March 2023, with contributions from Phundo Art, Keyon Harrold, Liselotte Östblom, Magic Malik, and more.

Michael Bird is a Birmingham based singer and musician, and founder of the popular music showcase and networking Neighbourhd events that have been running at The Night Owl since 2016.

The follow up Mellow Sessions event is scheduled for Thursday 13 April, back at Hockley Social Club, featuring Bristol based Jasmine Myra – with support from Birmingham’s own Rosie Tee.

As it’s Hockley Social Club there will be plenty of food options available, courtesy of Digbeth Dining Club, and the usual vibes the beloved North Birmingham venue is so good at delivering.

Plus, the interviews will be conducted by Birmingham Review editor Jasmine Khan, a stalwart voice in the local music scene and one who has never shied away from asking a tough question or two. Even the audience will get a chance to pitch in, with questions taken from the floor. Should be fun.

And in a useful teaser to Thursday’s event, have a read of the last time Tom Ford and Jasmine sat down in a Birmingham boozer – click here.

Birmingham Co-operative Promoter have launched The Mellow Sessions after the success of their first event, the gloriously titled ‘Fully Automated Luxury Space Communist Party’, held at the Hare and Hounds in April last year – click here for a Birmingham Review of the gig.

A local music event organiser with a more egalitarian approach than some, Birmingham Co-operative Promoter are looking to reset the often off kilter scales of the modern music industry.

Co-founder Mark Roberts told Birmingham Review: “The cooperative is a worker’s cooperative, so it means that the money made off each venture is shared between those who worked on the event. We work together as a horizontally structured organisation rather than a vertical organisation.

“It also means that we can work on tighter margins than other organisations. Importantly our ethos is built around showing great music in the right way, with cohesive line-ups and curated events.

“The Mellow Sessions is a jazz based event that is a place for musicians and anyone else to understand a bit more about what it means to be a professional artist and what the music industry is like from the inside.”

The Mellow Sessions featuring Tom Ford, with support from Michael Bird, will be held at Hockley Social Club on Thursday 16 March from 5pm – as resented by Birmingham Co-operative Promoter. Tickets are ‘pay what you can’ and available through Skiddle or Design My Night, click on the links.

For more on Tom Ford visit:
For more on Michael Bird visit:

For more on Hockley Social Club visit:
For more from Birmingham Co-operative Promoter visit: