Hybrid London Film Festival ‘Stepping Into The Unknown’ as Focus Expands Across U.K.

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Hybrid BFI London Film Festival 'Stepping Into The Unknown' as Focus Expands Across U.K. LFF2020

The British Film Institute’s London Film Festival is adopting a hybrid physical-online model for the first time in its history, and the process has been fraught with the myriad difficulties expected in a global pandemic.

“The biggest challenge, the whole time, has been stepping into the unknown,” festival director Tricia Tuttle told. A festival of the scale of LFF, that in pre-pandemic times screened some 250 features across the city, with offshoots around the U.K., takes at least five months to put together. “We really had to lock early before we knew what the autumn would look like.

Another challenge the festival faced was convincing stakeholders to part with their films, but with the festival taking place in October, they’ve had several months of getting used to the new world, Tuttle said, and a renewed desire to reach out to audiences.. One of its mantras is providing access to all and with U.K. cinemas currently operating at a socially distanced 30% capacity, the hybrid model will have a wider reach.

While there are some cost advantages in the festival not bringing in international guests this year, the financial model has had to be recalibrated — as the vast majority of LFF’s 175,000 annual attendees can’t be present physically — with the attendant hit on box office. “To be honest, the bottom line isn’t very different, but it looks like a very different budget this year,” says Tuttle.

The access is not limited to Londoners. While the films will be available only to geo-blocked U.K. audiences, all the festival talks and the LFF Expanded extended reality program are available anywhere in the world. Outside the capital, the festival has physical venue partners in Manchester, Glasgow, Nottingham, Belfast, Sheffield, Cardiff and Bristol, that are part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network that the org works with year round.


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BFI UK films today are as bad as Hollywood films. They lack substance and quality writing. Too much stream of consciousness versus 'show, don't tell.' That's the art of film as an entertainment medium otherwise, just read a book. Great cinematography doesn't equal engaging film.


BFI Are any positive, 'feel good' movies coming out of Hollywood anymore?

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