Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman to close the 2019 London Film Festival

The BFI has announced that Martin Scorsese’s first mob film since The Departed, thirteen years ago, will close this year’s London Film Festival on the 13th October.

Robert De Niro stars in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, the closing night film of the 63rd BFI London Film Festival

The Irishman, with a cast that reads like a who’s who of Hollywood crime stars, including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel, explores the story of the disappearance – in 1975 – of the powerful American union boss, Jimmy Hoffa. The Irishman of the title is De Niro’s Second World War veteran, union henchman and hitman, who recounts his role in the mystery.

The film is adapted from the novel, I Heard You Paint Horses, by Steve Zaillian, who wrote Scorsese’s Gangs of New York.

In a statement, Scorsese said he was extremely honoured to be closing the festival. “This picture was many years in the making. It’s a project that Robert De Niro and I started talking about a long time ago, and we wanted to make it the way it needed to be made. It’s also a picture that all of us could only have made at this point in our lives. We’re all very excited to be bringing THE IRISHMAN to London.”

“What an immense cinephile thrill it is to close the 63rd BFI London Film Festival with the International Premiere of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman,” enthused the festival’s director, Tricia Tuttle. She described the director as one of the true greats of cinema and continued, “Here, he and his creative team have delivered an epic of breathtakingly audacious scale and complexity, exploring relationships of trust and betrayal, regret and remorselessness, which dominated a period of American history. This is a major occasion for film lovers and I cannot wait to share this film with UK audiences.”

The LFF has had a record of selecting closing night films that go on to feature prominently during awards season, from Frost/Nixon and Slumdog Millionaire to Steve Jobs, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and last year’s Stan & Ollie.

The Irishman will also be previewed with simultaneous screenings in a number of cities across the UK. The rest of the festival’s line-up will be announced later this month.