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The 64th BFI London Film Festival
by Christine Riney

There wasn’t the usual razzle-dazzle that I was looking forward to, an empty red carpet, without the crowds and minus the paparazzi, but the show did go on. A mostly virtual program with 58 feature films, 38 short films, a selection of Screen Talks with major filmmakers and actors, as well as online salons and Q&As. Plus a new section was also introduced XR/Immersive Art works with 21 films. The positive in the extensive virtual program is that more people were able to experience the delights on offer. A whole new crowd was able to meet, although virtually, stars, directors, and producers in a more relaxed, accessible format.

The audience was further engaged by giving them the honor of voting for the film awards usually left up to an official jury and finalized behind the scenes. Viewers were invited to vote on Virtual LFF Audience Awards in four categories: Best Fiction Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best Short Film, and Best XR/Immersive Art.

Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival Director said: “This has been such a period of uncertainty and change across the industry and for our 2020 edition, we stepped into unknown territory. But we’ve been so encouraged by the adventurousness of filmmakers and rights holders, the unwavering support of our collaborators, and the spirit of unity and experimentation. And we have accelerated so many of our longer-term plans in just a few months – especially our desire to offer audiences across the UK greater access to the LFF. We all want to be back in cinemas, seeing films on the big screen, together, immersed. But we also want to keep seeing new cinematic storytelling from all parts of the world, hearing different voices and perspectives; this version of LFF delivers on both of those aims.”

I guess that sums it up. We all want to get more people engaged in cinema, challenge the status quo in the industry, and get back to the theaters!