London Film Festival Reveals Hybrid Physical & Online Format For 2020 Edition

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As coronavirus continues to reshape the festival calendar, the London Film Film has revealed its altered plans for 2020.

The upcoming edition of the festival (October 7-18) will feature live and digital screenings with 50 virtual premieres. It will be an online-heavy edition with a streamlined film selection and only a handful of physical events.

The festival says that up to 12 new films from the program will screen in cinemas across the UK and these films will also preview at the event’s flagship venue BFI Southbank and other London cinemas over the Festival period. The festival is currently working through its safety protocols for those events.

Like Toronto, which is due to take place the month before, industry and media delegates will only have access to a digital program. Delegates will have access to preview screenings via a secure viewing library and there will be online buyers and sellers’ meetings and a separate program of industry talks and events.

As a one-off for this edition, the festival is ditching its traditional industry jury in favor of 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.

The festival’s strand structure will remain the same with categories for Love, Debate, Laugh, Dare, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Create, Family, Treasures and Experimenta. The program will also feature an international short film program, screen talks with filmmakers and actors, and a new virtual exhibition of XR and Immersive Art. The IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award worth £50,000 will return.

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

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.”

She continued: “The virtual LFF programs 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.”

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