‘What is left of reality?’

None of us is able to answer this question with certainty in these unpredictable times. Every social, political and personal conviction has wavered – nothing seems to make sense anymore. The global pandemic, a rise in hate and violence, and the impending climate collapse are just external signs of a world that no longer seems to make any sense. It’s also a world in which reality and fiction have become inseparable. As a result, we exist in a constant state of trying to reorient ourselves – to question our perspective on the world and in relation to each other.

It’s this state that the artists and filmmakers in our LFF Expanded programme explore. Each adopts a distinctive route, by way of the most innovative technologies, to present new realities. These works embody the uniqueness of each artist’s voice and imagination in asking us to question the world as we see it; from the tension between the public and the private, and in redefining the boundaries between intimate and collective experience. 

The artists in the LFF Expanded programme come from a wide variety of disciplines: film, visual art, theatre, dance, design and architecture. Each approaches the world with distinctive narrative styles, aesthetic means and adoption of immersive technologies.

With cinema and moving image as a jumping-off point, LFF Expanded features high-profile international filmmakers like Asif Kapadia (Amy, Sienna), Tsai Ming-liang (Vive l’amour, Days) and Nonny de la Pena (We Who Remain, Project Syria). It also features a wealth of emerging UK talent, from Leon Oldstrong and Zoe Diakaki to Marina Mersiadou. 

Celebrating the strong impact of visual arts on the development of all immersive storytelling forms, we’re also presenting some of the most renown figures from the art world, in collaboration with museums and galleries from across the globe; artists such as Jakob Kudsk Steensen (Serpentine Gallery, Centre Pompidou), Lundahl&Seitl (Tate Britain, Royal Academy) and Adrien M. & Claire B. (Centre Pompidou, Phi Centre Montreal). 

The worlds of theatre and dance also have a strong presence in the programme. We’ve co-commissioned leading theatre-makers such as Alexander Whitley (Sadler’s Wells, Royal Ballet) and Sacha Wares (National Theatre, Royal Court) to create groundbreaking immersive experiences, which blur the boundaries between performance, installation and alternate realities. Some experiences are as sensorially acute aurally as they are visually. In particular,  two extraordinary immersive audio pieces – Eulogy by Darkfield and Only Expansion by Duncan Speakman – will present the listened world in a striking and sometimes unsettling new way. 

Prevalent themes throughout are the role of violence in society and crimes against underrepresented minorities. From racial discrimination (Container, Virtually There, A Life in Pieces) to social or personal injustice (Noah’s Raft, Museum of Austerity, Captured), creators find a unique way way to shine a light on those hugely important questions of modern society. 

Guests experience the range of VR and XR exhibits at LFF Expanded on opening night.

The works in the programme also find artists engaging with the here and now; the shared experiences of living in the world as it currently stands. How much have the last 18 months of social distancing affected us all? How are we dealing with the challenges of solitude? How much more sacrifice are we willing to give for the greater good of society? These works from our programme (Adult Children, Future Rites) give a voice to the suppressed feelings we might silently share – those of loneliness, estrangement and a powerless fury.

The LFF Expanded programme, presented in partnership with the National Theatre, features six world premieres and nine projects from the UK. Originating from more than a dozen countries around the globe, half of the programme has been produced by female artists and filmmakers, with a large number of creators coming from diverse backgrounds. 

To make LFF Expanded as accessible as possible, we have established various different physical access points near London’s South Bank (with our main exhibition at 26 Leake Street), but have also provided worldwide access via our virtual exhibition space The Expanse. 

We’re inviting you to view the world from a different perspective and to experience it through the rich imagination of our artists and filmmakers.