The BFI London Film Festival has announced that it will be serving up the European premiere of Battle of the Sexes starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell as this year’s American Express Gala. The film will screen on Saturday, October 7th, with Emma Stone, Andrea Riseborough, Elisabeth Shue, directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, and the legendary Billie Jean King expected to attend.
In the wake of the sexual revolution and the rise of the women’s movement, the 1973 tennis match between women’s world champion Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and ex-men’s-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) was billed as the BATTLE OF THE SEXES and became one of the most watched televised sports events of all time, reaching 90 million viewers around the world. As the rivalry between King and Riggs kicked into high gear, off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles. The fiercely private King was not only championing for equality, but also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, as her friendship with Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough) developed. And Riggs, one of the first self-made media-age celebrities, wrestled with his gambling demons, at the expense of his family and wife Priscilla (Elisabeth Shue). Together, Billie and Bobby served up a cultural spectacle that resonated far beyond the tennis court, sparking discussions in bedrooms and boardrooms that continue to reverberate today.
“We are delighted that Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s Battle of the Sexes will be this year’s American Express Gala,” said Clare Stewart, BFI London Film Festival Director. “This playful, funny and moving film is a rousing tribute to Billie Jean King whose impact on gender politics was as powerful as her legendary forehand.”
The 61st BFI London Film Festival runs between Wednesday October 4th and Sunday October 15th.