The 58th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express®, closed tonight with the European Premiere of Fury and announced the highest ever attendance in the Festival’s illustrious history, with a 163,300 audience turnout, and an additional UK-wide audience of over 12,000.
Festival Director Clare Stewart has offered audiences a rich and diverse selection of films and events introducing the finest new British and international films to an expanding London and UK-wide audience. The Festival screened a total of 248 fiction and documentary features, including 18 World Premieres, 9 International Premieres, 35 European Premieres and 19 Archive films, and screenings of 148 live action and animated shorts, all from 70 countries.
The Festival welcomed 772 filmmaker guests over half of which came from international territories. Industry screenings and events were attended by 703 industry delegates and 906 press delegates. The Festival is essential in promoting London as the world’s leading creative city.
Opening and Closing Night both received simultaneous screenings to 50 cinemas collectively across the country, with the red carpet action shown via satellite link, as part of the Festival’s ongoing commitment to put the UK audience at the heart of the Festival-going experience. This year for the first time Opening Night was live streamed online for fans everywhere, with over 16,500 views on the day. In addition there were nationwide screenings of the Documentary Special Feature of CITIZENFOUR.
The 12 day Festival’s screenings took place at venues across the capital, from the West End cinemas – Odeon Leicester Square, Odeon West End and Vue West End; central London venues – BFI Southbank, Odeon Covent Garden, the ICA, Curzon Mayfair, Curzon Soho and Ciné Lumière; and local cinemas – Ritzy Brixton, Hackney Picturehouse, Vue Islington and Rich Mix. Additional screenings and events took place at the Odeon BFI IMAX, Empire Leicester Square, Curzon Chelsea and Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Last night the BFI London Film Festival Awards were held at Banqueting House, introduced by BFI Chairman Greg Dyke and hosted by Ben Miller. The Best Film award in Official Competition went to Andrey Zvyagintsev for Leviathan; with a jury commendation for Celine Sciamma’s Girlhood. The long-standing Sutherland Award for the First Feature Competition was presented to Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, for The Tribe; with a jury commendation for Naji Abu Nowar’s Theeb. The winner of the Grierson Award in the Documentary Competition was Ossama Mohammed & Wiam Simav Bedirxan, directors of Silvered Water, Syria Self Portrait. The Best British Newcomer award went to Sameena Jabeen Ahmed, the lead actor in Catch Me Daddy. At the Awards ceremony British director Stephen Frears received a BFI Fellowship, presented by Sir David Hare; the fellowship is the highest accolade the BFI can bestow.
Screen Talks took place with Bennett Miller director of Foxcatcher, the American Express Gala; and the director Abderrahmane Sissako director of Timbuktu which appeared in the LFF official Competition. Masterclasses were given by production designer Maria Djurkovic and director Frederick Wiseman, DreamWorks Animation Chief Technology Officer Lincoln Wallen. While producer Bonnie Arnold, director Dean DeBlois and author Cressida Cowell participated in a special family presentation.
Industry Programme Highlights
- Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO and Co-founder of DreamWorks Animation was the focus of the Industry Keynote hosted by Clare Stewart, as part of the LFF celebrations in honour of the 20th anniversary of the animation powerhouse.
- In Conversation events were held with newly awarded BFI Fellow director Stephen Frears who discussed his enduring career with Variety’s chief film critic Scott Foundas; Bruna Papandrea, producer of WILD; and British filmmaker Peter Strickland and co-director Nick Fenton.
- Talking Point panel discussions included in partnership with The Hollywood Reporter a talk with Jamie Schwartz President, International Marketing at The Weinstein Company, Jon Rushton Group Head of Publicity at Curzon and Carola Ash the director of the Europe at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences; and a roundtable session about the challenges and opportunities of broadening diversity in the UK film industry hosted by Ed Vaizey, Creative Industries Minister, and Ben Roberts, Director of the BFI Film Fund.
- NET.WORK@LFF in partnership with Creative England saw emerging British talent participate at events with Festival visitors producer Teddy Schwartzman, writer/director David Robert Mitchell, UTA talent agent Bec Smith, director Susanne Bier, financier Claudia Bluemhuber and producer Sisse Graum Jørgensen.
- Screen International’s UK Stars of Tomorrow partnered with the LFF and the British Council for the first time this year to create an opportunity for rising stars to meet and greet key players from the international film industry, Aimee Ffion Edwards, Aisling Franciosi and Maisie Williams where among the actors to attend.
This year’s Industry offering also included an extensive screening programme – with a total of 13,129 attendances at 154 Press & Industry screenings, this year held at the Odeon Covent Garden. Buyers & Seller screenings, a new Digital Viewing Library and Delegate Centre were also this year based at the BFI Headquarters in Stephen Street.
The LFF Education team continued to work with expert partners, including The BFI Film Academy, The London Film School and the National Film and Television School to deliver a series of events and workshops for film students aspiring to make it in the industry. The programmed offered 4,485 students a look behind the scenes — from following the production processes of Mr. Turner and ‘71 with key members of the crew, to looking inside the Digital FX industry and even being part of a festival jury with The Festival Young Jury project.