Opening Night Gala

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Armando Iannucci brings David Copperfield fizzing to life with all-star collaborators in this exuberant, entertaining and sharply pertinent adaptation.

Tickets for the Opening Night Gala screening on Wed 2 Oct 19:45 at Embankment Garden Cinema are subject to a BFI Members’ ballot to ensure the fairest allocation of tickets. The ballot is now closed.

Dir Armando Iannucci
Prod Kevin Loader, Armando Iannucci
Scr Armando Iannucci, Simon Blackwell
With Dev Patel, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Laurie, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Peter Capaldi, Rosalind Eleazar, Tilda Swinton
UK Distribution Lionsgate

Adapting one of Charles Dickens’ most beloved characters, Iannucci and regular co-writer Simon Blackwell create a Victorian-set epic that nonetheless feels very modern, fresh and, quite frankly, hilarious. Following Copperfield from early youth through to middle age, the story traces his social awakening, charting huge personal ups and downs as he witnesses the best and worst of humanity. Dickens’ ‘favourite child’ amongst his works, the plot also tackles social injustice in many forms – a lack of protection for children, poor industrial conditions for the working class, and wealth inequality. So, who better to tackle this tale than Iannucci, the genius behind The Thick of It, In the Loop, Veep and The Death of Stalin. His work has peeled back the hypocrisy of the ruling and political class with such unfettered enthusiasm and biting comic acuity.

Beyond the superb script, Iannucci’s choice of lead is inspired. Having revealed his ability to convey a bottomless well of emotion in Lion (LFF 2016), Dev Patel shows his lightning-sharp comic timing as Copperfield, as well as a wicked gift for mimicry. He’s abetted by a stunning cast embarrassingly full of riches, with meaty comic roles for Tilda Swinton as Betsey Trotwood, Hugh Laurie as Mr Dick, Peter Capaldi as the impossibly sunny Mr Micawber and Ben Whishaw as the gloriously creepy Uriah Heep. Humorous, busy, bustling and bursting with colour and energy, this is a Dickens reworking unlike any you’ve seen on the screen.

Tricia Tuttle

Festival guests

These members of the filmmaking team are expected to attend the festival:

  • Armando Iannucci, director; Kevin Loader, producer; Dev Patel, cast; Jairaj Varsani, cast; Aimee Kelly, cast; Anna Maxwell Martin, cast; Bronagh Gallagher, cast; Daisy May Cooper, cast; Darren Boyd, cast; Morfydd Clark, cast; Nikki Amuka-Bird, cast; Paul Whitehouse, cast; Rosalind Eleazar, cast.

See the full list of visiting festival guests. Please note that we can't guarantee guest attendance at any particular screening.

Additional information

This year we are delighted to be opening the Festival across two venues, Odeon Luxe Leicester Square and our purpose built state-of-the-art cinema Embankment Garden Cinema. There will be an extended intro at both venues, with director Armando Iannucci and members of the cast expected to attend. Opening Night tickets to Embankment Garden Cinema are available for BFI Patrons to purchase and subject to BFI Champion and BFI Member ballot - the ballot is now closed. Opening Night tickets to Odeon are not available for purchase.

All screenings are accessible screenings for customers who are blind or partially-sighted. The film has an audio-description soundtrack, and headphones are available on request.

Opening Night Gala in partnership with

American Express