Oscar-winner Emerald Fennell has said her new film - set in Oxford -  is like a vampire film as it explores how someone can behave when they are “completely besotted”.

The gala premiere of Saltburn opened the BFI London Film Festival on Wednesday, but without its star-studded cast on the red carpet, including Banshees Of Inisherin actor Barry Keoghan and Euphoria star Jacob Elordi, as the actors’ strike continues.

The film sees Mr Keoghan as student Oliver Quick who, struggling to find his place at Oxford University, finds himself drawn into the world of the charming and aristocratic Felix Catton, played by Elordi.

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Felix invites Oliver to Saltburn, his eccentric family’s sprawling estate, where he becomes infatuated with the aristocrat.

Oxford Mail: Emerald FennellThe Crown and Barbie actress Ms Fennell, who won an Oscar for her screenplay for Promising Young Woman, wrote, directed and produced the project.

Speaking on the red carpet of the film’s gala premiere, Fennell, who starred as Midge in the Barbie movie, said: “Certainly metaphorically it is a vampire film.

“It is about what we do when we’re completely besotted with something or someone.

“And I hope it’s part of the classic Gothic tradition where love and hate are very, very close together.”

Reflecting on the film’s exploration on being an outsider, the director added that she thinks we all feel “like we don’t quite fit in” all of the time.

“I mean, look where we are now, we’re in the most enormous festival in London, and certainly I feel like I don’t fit in here,” she admitted.

“So it’s always exciting to look at look at outsiders and again it’s part of the tradition that it’s somebody who’s not familiar with the world looking into it.

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“And I think those are the most exciting films when you have that tension.”

Oxford Mail: Saltburn is filmed in OxfordThe film also stars Rosamund Pike, Richard E Grant and Carey Mulligan, who were not in attendance at the premiere.

International film festivals such as Venice, Telluride and Toronto have already been affected by the strike by union Sag-Aftra.

The festival is also set to host premieres for highly anticipated films such as Killers Of The Flower Moon, Maestro and Poor Things.

Ms Fennell said she feels the British film industry has been “one of the most exciting and groundbreaking since the beginning of cinema”.

The British star added: “It’s just so thrilling that it seems like every year people are making work that is more personal, more stylistically complicated and exciting. It’s really a pleasure to be part of it.”

Saltburn will be released in UK cinemas on November 24.

The BFI London Film Festival will run from October 4 to October 15.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

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