'Steve Jobs', Star Wars and the technology-obsessed films of the London Film Festival 2015

From documentaries to horror movies, LFF 2015 features a number of films exploring changing technology. Here's all the films you need to know about.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films, TV, Movies, Television, Technology
Richard Trenholm
3 min read
Enlarge Image

Michael Fassbender plays Steve Jobs in a new movie headlining the London Film Festival.


From a biography of Steve Jobs and a meeting with the bit players of the Star Wars universe to a film shot entirely on an iPhone, the fast-approaching London Film Festival showcases a range of films exploring and playing with technology. From 7 to 18 October, new and innovative films from across the globe will be screened in the UK's capital, and we've picked out some that tech fans and geeky audiences will appreciate.

The most high-profile tech-focused film is "Steve Jobs", which will close the festival. Aaron Sorkin writes, Danny Boyle directs and Michael Fassbender plays the title role in this look at the life of the man who turned Apple into the biggest company in the world. Divided into an unusual three-part structure that focuses on three product launches at different times in Jobs' life, the film promises an unsentimental portrayal of a difficult man.

Technology is used to experiment with the process of filmmaking itself in "Tangerine", a slice-of-life drama shot entirely on iPhones. Horror tale "Ratter" is seen through the lenses of the gadgets in a girl's room as she's cyberstalked. And German nightlife drama "Victoria" is filmed in a single unbroken shot.

34 geek-friendly and tech-obsessed films coming soon (pictures)

See all photos

Older technology is the subject of "The American Sessions", in which musical luminaries including Elton John, Nas and Willie Nelson sing into a recreated Western Electric lathe, the pulley-operated analogue device that pioneered recorded music. The changing face of music technology is also explored in short film "The Evolution of a Gen-X Music Purchaser", while short "Groove is in the Heart" is an ode to the humble mixtape.

A number of short films in the festival look at technology. "160 Characters", directed by Victoria Mapplebeck, recounts a love story locked inside a vintage Nokia phone. "The Brain Hack" sees two students create a way of seeing God. "C.T.R.L" sees a young man's first love thwarted by an app. "Otherwise Engaged" is about a couple obsessed with social media.

We're expecting compelling feature-length weirdness from "High-Rise", the new film from British director Ben Wheatley, and "The Lobster", directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. Wheatley, who scared the pants off us with the deeply creepy "Kill List" and has also helmed episodes of "Doctor Who", adapts a JG Ballard novel with Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons starring. And an all-star cast including Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and Léa Seydoux appear in "The Lobster", in which people are forced to fall in love or they're turned into animals.

Expect brain-bending weirdness too from gothic horror fairy tale "Blood of My Blood" and Guy Maddin's delirious "The Forbidden Room". Meanwhile two of Japan's most stylish-slash-bonkers directors Sion Sono and Takashi Miike bring us talking turtles and punk rock in "Love and Peace" and yakuza vampires in "Yakuza Apocalypse".

Real-life figures are the subject of several big films. "Black Mass" stars Johnny Depp as notorious Boston criminal Whitey Bulger, while Bryan Cranston plays blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in "Trumbo". Ben Foster plays disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong in "The Program". Newsman Dan Rather is portrayed by Robert Redford in "Truth". And Jason Segal plays the late author David Foster Wallace alongside Jesse Eisenberg in "The End of the Tour".


"Elstree 1976" meets the bit players of the Star Wars universe.


Real-life figures speak for themselves in documentaries including "Being Evel" about legendary stuntman Robert Craig 'Evel' Knievel. "Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans" examines the king of cool's love of racing. "Live from New York!" takes us behind the scenes of "Saturday Night Live". And stars from a galaxy far, far away discuss how their lives changed when they appeared in even the tiniest roles in "Star Wars", in documentary "Elstree 1976", named for the London film studio where George Lucas' classic space opera was shot.

Post-apocalyptic visions feature in a number of films. Life is reduced to a brutal basics in the Northern Ireland-set "The Survivalist". Kids are pitched against deranged adults in "Don't Grow Up". And Danish horror "What We Become" tells the atmospheric story of a horrifying virus.

There are many more films in the London Film Festival, which takes place in various cinemas across London from 7 October. Tickets are on sale now from the British Film Institute. If you can't make it, watch this short film from the festival, "Lesley the Pony Has an A+ Day!", to cheer you up. You'll thank me.