The 64th BFI London Film Festival (LFF) in partnership with American Express has today announced a programme of Screen Talks and events that will take place across the 12-day festival period and free to access via YouTube and the BFI social channels. Additional events focused on XR and immersive art will also take place inside of the LFF’s newly created virtual exhibition space The Expanse and its virtual theatre. All talks and events are free and accessible to both UK and international audiences.

Actors Riz Ahmed and Letitia Wright will join filmmakers Michel Franco, Miranda July, Tsai Ming-liang, Christian Petzold, musician and performer David Byrne and artist Es Devlin (as part of LFF Expanded), for a series of LFF Screen Talks offering audiences a unique opportunity to learn about the careers of these renowned creatives. In addition to Screen Talks, the LFF will also host live salons and discussion events tackling subjects emerging from the films.

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In a new initiative, the LFF have worked with BFI Film Academy to support young curators and programmers to develop and produce events designed by them that are of relevance to younger film lovers from 16 to 25 years old. Both playful and political, these talks touch on issues of identity and representation on screen, as well as the barriers facing young people entering the film industry and developing workable solutions to redress this. 

“It was important to us to offer many ways to engage with the festival for free this year,” says Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival Director, “and we are excited that this incredible range of speakers and talks is available for free, not just to anyone in the UK, but also wherever you are in the world.“

A series of in-depth talks will also take place virtually during the festival that are designed to get audiences thinking and engaged in debate around the pressing issues explored in a number of the festival titles this year: Anna Bogutskaya, co-founder of horror film collective The Final Girls, leads a conversation exploring the female horror renaissance with some of the most exciting women working in horror today in The Female Horror Renaissance, presented by Sight & Sound; British filmmaker Yemi Bamiro, director of One Man and His Shoes, a documentary that tells the story of the phenomenon of Air Jordan sneakers, is joined by sneaker archivist Kish Kash and Jason Coles, author of Golden Kicks: The Shoes That Changed Sport, to discuss the film and explore the history and cultural significance of sneakers; and film critic Kaleem Aftab discuss issues of identity in the depiction of the British Asian experience with After Love director Aleem Khan, Hardeep Pandhall (Happy Thuggish Paki) and Dawinder Bansal (Jambo Cinema). 

Friendship’s Death (1987)

This year’s Treasures strand brings recently restored cinematic classics and discoveries from archives around the world to audiences across the UK and will also present two events based around a key film screening as part of the strand: Reflections on Friendship’s Death will see actors Bill Paterson and Tilda Swinton, producer Rebecca O’Brien and cinematographer Witold Stok discuss Peter Wollen’s Friendship’s Death, which has been newly restored by the BFI National Archive, and Peter Wollen: Writing, Directing, Politics, Film is an appreciation of the great auteur’s work with academics and filmmakers Laura Mulvey and Kodwo Eshun and BFI archivist Wendy Russell. 

In partnership with BFI Film Academy, young audiences will be treated to a number of topical and pertinent talks across the festival including Queer and Pleasant Land, a panel discussion exploring cinematic answers to the question: what does it mean to be queer in a rural community?; Another Perspective, will offer a rare chance to discuss the possibilities for disabled people to create and provoke with their visual art and Pick ‘n’ Flicks, where artists Mandla Rae, Ruari Paterson-Achenbach and Yandass Ndlovu – a dancer, a poet and a composer – encounter famous cinematic representations of their craft and explore how film interacts with other art forms.

The festival will also host What’s Stopping Young People Getting into the Film Industry?, an event that will aim to undo some of the barriers disadvantaged young people face in breaking into the film industry. Opening with a screening of a film by one such filmmaker, this event will offer a platform for a broader conversation about these issues and offer practical solutions to them. 

LFF Expanded will present a number of original and thought-provoking panel discussions and talks around the medium of VR as well as some very special opportunities to meet the artists and explore pioneering new works including Future Rites & Chaotic Body 1, where acclaimed choreographer Alexander Whitley will give an insight into two of his upcoming immersive dance projects; Artist Talk: Brave New World with the artists behind Agence (Anna West and David Callahan) and To Miss the Ending (Pietro Gagliano) – two very different projects dealing with the dystopian possibilities of artificial intelligence. 

Leave the Edges (2020)

There is also the opportunity to explore Baff Akoto’s poetic work Leave the Edges in the virtual auditorium and listen to the artist talk about his artistic practice, which combines film and immersive technology; and Anti-Gone, offering audiences the chance to experience a new way of hybrid virtual theatre-making in this extraordinary performance by multimedia artist Theo Triantafyllidis.

Chill Out – Expansively will also offer audiences a moment to unwind after the busy first weekend of BFI London Film Festival in the Expanse – guests can listen to some chill-out music and exchange their impressions, thoughts and findings of the first days with other visitors, industry colleagues and filmmakers. It’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on the works seen during the last few days and connect with other like-minded festivalgoers.

The festival will culminate in an LFF Audience Awards ceremony with the public taking the place of the festival’s official jury. Viewers engaging with the festival online will be invited to vote in four categories: best fiction feature, best documentary feature, best short film, and best XR. The winners of the BFI London Film Festival 2020 Virtual LFF Audience Awards and The IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI will be revealed during the awards ceremony, which will be broadcast on Sunday 18 October at 19:00 on BFI YouTube and social channels.