The organisers of the London Film Festival have announced a new format for this year’s event, which will take place just weeks after the reopening of the UK’s cinemas after more than three months of the coronavirus lockdown.
Adapting to what it describes as the “extraordinary challenges of the year,” the BFI says it’ll be programming up to 50 films online between 7th and 18th of October, with a selection of 12 of them being previewed in cinemas across the UK.
Every feature during the 12-day long event will be accompanied by either an introduction or a Q&A involving the film-makers and many of them will have the option of subtitles or audio description for audiences with vision or hearing impairment. The offering will also include talks with film-makers that will be free to view online.
The BFI’s London Film Festival Director Tricia Tuttle said the changes to the event factored in safety concerns and restrictions – many of which aren’t yet known. She noted that while her team has been planning the festival, there’ve also been “historical international protests, an urgent reminder of just how much we need to do to combat racism and inequality.” She also said it was vital to get back to cinemas, particularly to work with independent and cultural venues across the UK, which, she said, were an essential part of the film ecosystem.
The festival is continuing its tradition of handing out awards, but rather than the usual selection, picked by specialist juries made up of film professionals, this year’s event will have four awards selected by the online audiences, including Best Fiction and Best Documentary. A £50,000 bursary will also be handed out to a first or second-time British film-maker, in partnership with the watch-manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen.