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BFI London Film Festival 2020 to take place online and in cinemas

Staff Writer

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The BFI London Film Festival is going virtual for 2020, with a plan to hold the festival both online and in cinemas.

The first ever edition of the Festival to be widely accessible across the UK, the 2020 LFF will host 50 virtual premieres that film fans can enjoy at home. The festival, which will run from 7th to 18th October, will host fiction, documentary and animated films, along with artists’ moving image and restored classics from the world’s archives. They will be divided in the festival’s usual strands: Love, Debate, Laugh, Dare, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Create, Family, Treasures and Experimenta.

Each virtual film will be scheduled to premiere at a particular time and include additional elements such as an intro or Q&A, plus online salons and discussions around films. Many of the films will include subtitles and audio description for audiences with access requirements.

The feature film programme will be complemented by a wide range of digital talks and events which will be free to access, including LFF Screen Talks, which offer in-depth conversations with some of the world’s most influential filmmakers and major on-screen talent. Short films from around the world will also be free to view and the Festival’s previously announced XR and immersive strand will also debut this year, with works that can be experienced in a variety of ways online, with and without headsets.

As for the cinema portion of the festival, there will be up to 12 special previews of upcoming films screening in cinemas across the UK. These films will also preview at the Festival’s flagship venue BFI Southbank and select other London cinemas over the festival period.

BFI London Film Festival Director, Tricia Tuttle said: “Like many other live events around the world, we’ve had to make changes to our plans in response to a global pandemic, factoring in safety concerns and restrictions – some known, some still unclear. But as we’ve undergone this planning we’ve also witnessed historical international protests, an urgent reminder of just how much we need to do to combat racism and inequality.

“This year has also given us an opportunity to think creatively about how we make the Festival more accessible. It was vital to us that we get back to cinemas, and are looking forward to working with independent and cultural venues across the UK who are such an essential part of our film ecosystem. The Virtual LFF programmes and these cinema screenings take the Festival out across the UK, giving people opportunities to engage in different ways.

“It’s a pleasure each year to speak with audiences who share the ways filmmakers have made them laugh, think, weep, or shifted their way of seeing. Through a number of partnerships and platforms, we can’t wait to share many of this year’s extraordinary new films – from around the world, from artists of different backgrounds and with many bold distinctive filmmaking voices.”

As a one-off for the 2020 LFF, the festival will also ask audiences to take the place of the festival’s official jury, inviting virtual attendees to vote for audience awards in four categories: Best Fiction Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best Short Film, and Best XR. The winners will be announced in a live online ceremony on the final weekend of the festival.

Industry and Media delegates will also have access to a professional programme, also delivered digitally, including a screening library, opportunity to attend online buyers and sellers’ meetings and a delegate exclusive programme of talks and events. The critics mentorship programme – designed to encourage a more representative range of critical voices, and new talent programmes run in conjunction with BFI Network, BFI Film Academy and BAFTA – will also return this year, providing access and support for aspiring and emerging creatives and new industry professionals.

The full programme will be announced at an online launch on 8th September 2020.

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