London Film Festival announces hybrid edition

50 virtual festival premieres in programme

by Amber Wilkinson

Al Pacino, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro on the red carpet for last year's LFF closing film The Irishman
Al Pacino, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro on the red carpet for last year's LFF closing film The Irishman Photo: Courtesy of London Film Festival
The BFI London Film Festival has announced its 2020 edition will be a hybrid of physical and virtual film screenings.

There will be 50 virtual festival premieres in the festival, which will run from October 7 to 18. Each will play with an introduction or a Q&A with talent. Free-to-access additional events will include an international short film programme, screen talks with major filmmakers and actors, salons and roundtables and a virtual exhibition of XR and immersive art.

The "in cinemas" element of the programme will feature 12 previews of upcoming films, playing in cinemas around the UK at venues to be announced nearer the time.

The festival has also announced there will be no official jury this year, with viewers instead voting on audience awards for 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.

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.”

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

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