Following a year that’s seen the world’s film and screen sector in a state of flux, this year’s BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express industry programme will explore the themes of creativity and convergence, with discussions and panel events exploring the shifting cultural landscape and the impact of new technologies.
The festival is delighted to welcome one of the UK’s most innovative and influential cultural voices, Edward Enninful OBE, Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue and European Editorial Director of Vogue, who will headline the programme alongside Spotlight conversations with multi award-winning producer and co-founder of Element Pictures, Ed Guiney (The Favourite, Normal People) and independent filmmaking champion and Chief Executive of Doc Society, Jess Search. 

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An array of international industry-leaders including producers, writers, directors, virtual production creatives, XR specialists, hair and make-up artists, and podcast creators will also offer insights into their fields. As well as reflecting on the past year, the programme will look ahead to what the future of the industry will look like in an ever-changing social, cultural and political landscape.

Sessions are supported by Doc Society and Warner Bros Studios Leavesden while Film London return with a virtual edition of their longstanding Production Finance Market and the annual Buyers & Sellers event will return as an in-person fixture.

Committed to supporting UK screen-based businesses and talent and increasing opportunities for international collaboration, the 2021 industry programme features a variety of talent development initiatives including: the second edition of the Works-in-Progress showcase for UK films, television and immersive work; the LFF Critics Mentorship Programme; and NETWORK@LFF.

Following a fully digital programme in 2020, this year’s industry programme will comprise live in-person screenings and events as well as offering digital access to a range of panels post-festival, allowing more international and UK industry delegates to participate.

In advance of this year’s festival, the BFI is today launching a new twitter channel, @BFI_Industry, that will deliver the latest screen sector news and updates to press and industry professionals.

“We’re so looking forward to welcoming the UK and international industry delegates and guests back to London for in person events and programmes at the 65th BFI London Film Festival,” says festival director Tricia Tuttle. “This year’s programme grows out of our passion for exploring collaboration and convergence — of forms, but also of ideas and creative practice. And our LFF Connects event with Edward Enninful OBE is a perfect way to open this year’s Industry programme as it spotlights a conductor of powerful cultural currents and a creative storyteller who has used his platforms to celebrate invention, independent thinking and difference.”

Julie La’Bassiere, BFI London Film Festival industry events programmer, adds: “The 2021 industry programme brings together a broad and diverse range of expertise and experience of leaders and innovators across film, series and XR — from established UK writers to hair and makeup HODs to creators using XR technology to reflect reality rather than fantasy. Though we are still in the midst of this immense social, cultural and political shift, this year’s programme is a testament to the Industry’s ability to persevere in the face of global uncertainty.”

The BFI London Film Festival industry programme is supported by The Liberation Initiatives.

LFF Connects: Edward Enninful OBE in Conversation

Part of the long-running LFF Connects strand that celebrates the intersection between film and other creative industries, this opening event with British Vogue Editor-in-Chief and European Editorial Director of Vogue, Edward Enninful OBE, will explore how innovation, activism and inspiration meet within creative spaces to tell stories across all art forms.

The convergence of art, fashion, film, music, activism and technology have brought the world closer together. It has also, on occasion, pushed it further apart. This special conversation with one of the UK’s most innovative cultural voices will explore what it means to be a true creative in this constantly evolving and challenging environment.

Edward Enninful has been Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue since August 2017 and European Editorial Director of Vogue since December 2020. Prior to editing Vogue, he was Creative and Fashion Director of the American magazine W, before which he was the Fashion Director of i-D magazine for over 20 years having been appointed to the position at the age of 19.

Born in Ghana, Enninful was brought to London as a child and grew up in the city’s Ladbroke Grove area. In 2014 he was named fashion creator of the year by the British Fashion Council, he was honoured with an OBE in 2016 for Services to Diversity in the Fashion industry, and in 2018 he was awarded the Media Award by the Council of Fashion Designers America and the PPA Chairman’s Award for his remarkable career. In 2019, Enninful was honoured by The Daily Front Row for Magazine of the Year at the Fashion Media Awards, named in the Evening Standard’s top 20 most influential Londoners of 2019 and awarded the Business of Fashion Global VOICES Award. In 2020, Edward received the People Honouree Award at the 2020 British Fashion Council’s Fashion Awards for his outstanding contribution to diversity. Thursday 7 October, 12:30

Spotlight Conversation with Ed Guiney: From The Favourite to Normal People

Ed Guiney and Element Pictures have been at the forefront of the highest quality drama on screens in recent years. In this on-stage conversation, the multi award-winning producer – whose recent project, Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir Part II, screens as the festival’s Londoner Gala – will discuss the formation of the company, the creators he has worked with and what he sees for the future of production, distribution and exhibition. This spotlight conversation will be moderated by Joe Utichi, Executive Awards Editor at Deadline.

Friday 8 October, 14:00

Spotlight Conversation with Jess Search

Jess Search has been a champion for independent filmmakers her entire career. As the Chief Executive of Doc Society – formerly BRITDOC – she works with documentary makers around the world supporting them on their creative journey as they take on challenging subjects and tell ambitious stories. This one-on-one conversation will discuss her career trajectory from starting out in TV documentaries at Catalyst TV, to co-founding Shooting People, becoming Commissioning Editor at Channel 4 and co-founding BRITDOC, and how the world of documentary film has adapted through her time in the field. This spotlight conversation will be moderated by journalist and film festival consultant, Wendy Mitchell.

Monday 11 October, 15:00

Industry panels

The World Is Truly a Stage: How UK Writers Have Moved to and from Film, Series and Theatre – in association With Variety

With the proliferation of media available online, and the ability to watch anything anywhere, the line defining film, series and theatre has blurred considerably in recent years. But at the heart of everything remains the story while the once clear distinctions between screenwriter, series writer, and playwright increasingly cease to exist. Exploring this issue and discussing the freedom, challenges and opportunities for writers whose work encompasses various forms are some of the most prolific writers working across film, television, and theatre in the UK, including: Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Aeronauts, Help); Lucy Prebble (Succession, I Hate Suzie, Secret Diary of a Call Girl); and Steven Knight (Spencer, Peaky Blinders, Locke). The discussion will be chaired by Manori Ravindran, International Editor of Variety.

Thursday 7 October, 14:00

The Filmmaker Gaze: What Is the Truth When You Are Telling Your Own or Someone You Know’s Story? – supported by Doc Society

Depicting the truth is most often the driving force behind non-fiction film. This panel explores the meaning of ‘truth’ when a filmmaker is making a film about themselves, or someone in their immediate family, and asks how truth and memory come together to make reality. The panel brings together five of the documentary filmmakers featured in the LFF2021 programme who have all made intimate portraits of themselves or of people they know well: Jide Tom Akinleminu (When a Farm Goes Aflame); Sam Firth (The Wolf Suit), Ahmet Necdet Cupur (Les Enfants Terribles), and Wang Qiong (All About My Sisters). The discussion will be chaired by Shanida Scotland, Head of Film at Doc Society.

Friday 8 October, 11:00

The Creative Pivot: How Virtual Production Is Changing the Game for Everyone – in association with Screen International and supported by Warner Bros Studios Leavesden

The past 18 months have forced film and television productions to pivot creatively and engage with new modes of working, by generating opportunities for technology to play an increasingly expanded role in creativity. There is arguably no more exciting development in this area than the virtual production stage, which allows creators to merge physical and computer-generated content on set. This panel of experts in the world of virtual production will discuss the possibilities that it can open up for films and series at every budget level. Contributors include: James Whitlam, Managing Director — Episodic at award-winning creative studio Framestore; Ryan Beagan, Vice-President of Virtual Production at Warner Bros.; Angus Bickerton, a VFX Supervisor with over 20 years’ experience across film and TV productions including the upcoming The King’s Man; and Lisa Gray, a TV executive producer working with UK Virtual Production specialist, Bild Studios. The discussion will be moderated by Chris Evans, Locations Editor for Screen International and KFTV.

Saturday 9 October, 11:00

Escapism vs Confrontation: A Journey into Reality Through XR

While Extended Reality (XR) is often looked at as a means to help us ‘escape’ from reality -often in the form of fantasy or games – this panel will explore how XR (including augmented reality [AR], mixed reality [MR] and virtual reality [VR]) has been used to expand the ways in which we look at reality; how the convergence of human-computer interactions can spark creativity; and what practical lessons from the world of XR can be applied to other forms of storytelling such as film and series. Discussing their work with XR technology will be Joel Kachi Benson (Noah’s Raft), documentary filmmaker and Creative Director of virtual reality film studios VR360 Stories in Lagos, Nigeria, and, writer-director Natalia Almada, who won the Directing Award: U.S. Documentary for her film Users which also screens at LFF2021, plus further participants to be announced. Deepa Mann-Kler, Chief Executive at Neon and Visiting Professor In Immersive Futures at Ulster University NI, will moderate the discussion.

Tuesday 12 October, 14:00

But I Can Start a Podcast from My Kitchen, Right? – in association with the Hollywood Reporter

Podcasts are a burgeoning entertainment business, with podcast advertising spend projected to hit $1 billion by 2022. In this panel discussion, the directors of world-leading podcast and audio companies will discuss a range of vital issues including: where podcasts sit as a storytelling medium in the age we live in; what lessons can be learned from how podcasts are developed, financed and distributed for those working in other mediums such as film and television; and how podcasts can contribute to world building of IP. Contributors include: Steve Ackerman (EVP, Co-Head of Global Podcasts at Sony Music Entertainment); Rob Herting (CEO of LA-based QCODE); N’Jeri Eaton (Head of Audio/Podcast Programming at Netflix); and Ruth Fitzsimons (Managing Director of Podfront UK). The panel is moderated by Alex Ritman, UK Correspondent for The Hollywood Reporter.

Monday 11 October, 13:00. [Please note this panel is pre-recorded].

LFF talent development


The second edition of the works-in-progress showcase will present exclusive excerpts from a selection of upcoming UK productions, each representing work by emerging British talent across fiction, documentary and artists moving image. All projects are currently either in production or post-production and are available to international buyers and for festival selection. The 2021 works-in-progress projects will be announced soon.

LFF Critics Mentorship Programme 2021 – supported by the Liberation Initiatives

Now in its fourth year, the BFI LFF Critics Mentorship programme confronts the lack of diversity in film criticism and offers meaningful experience and opportunity to a range of talented emerging film writers, with a particular emphasis this year on Black/African/Caribbean/Black British writers and those identifying as having a disability.

Selected participants will be invited to experience the BFI London Film Festival as an accredited press delegate and will undertake an intense mentoring experience with lead mentors Akua Gyamfi, journalist, commentator and founder of The British Blacklist, and Terri White, journalist, former Empire Magazine Editor-in-Chief and author. Participants will also be individually paired with a mentor from each LFF media partner who will support them to produce pieces of film journalism for publication on their websites and

Participating media partners include: Evening Standard; Time Out; Sight & Sound; Empire; Little White Lies; Screen International; BBC Radio London;


NETWORK @ LFF is an internationally focused talent development programme at the very heart of the BFI London Film Festival, delivered by BFI NETWORK. Now in its sixth year, 12 new UK-based writers, directors and producers have been selected to participate in an intensive programme of masterclasses, screenings, events and one-to-ones with industry professionals. This year’s selected participants are filmmakers telling stories with global ambitions; stories that can be culturally specific while resonating internationally.


Buyers and Sellers

LFF’s annual Buyers & Sellers event presents a number of films which have yet to secure UK distribution or sales representation. Organised by the festival team and hosted this year at BFI Stephen Street, the event is designed to support these films in securing UK theatrical, digital platforms or home entertainment releases. After a virtual edition in 2020, the annual event returns in-person for a day of bespoke, 20-minute speed-dating style meetings during which international sales agents meet with UK buyers. This year’s meetings have been arranged and will take place on Friday 8 October.

Film London Production Finance Market

Now in its 15th year, the Production Finance Market (PFM) is a two-day financing event for film, facilitating hundreds of one-to-one meetings between producers and financiers from the international marketplace. This year, the PFM will take place as a fully online edition. 

The market has helped forge countless long-term business connections and is the only event of its kind in the UK. From encouraging new business relationships to attaching international sales companies and securing various forms of investments in companies and film projects, the PFM is invaluable for producers and financiers alike. The main strand is for projects with budgets above €1 million, while the New Talent strand offers emerging filmmakers the chance to connect with potential financiers for projects budgeted at €1 million and under. Market attendance is by invitation only.

The PFM also includes a VIP guest speaker event and case study which will be available for industry delegates to view via the PFM online platform from 09:00 on 12 October to 18:00 on 13 October. 

Film Audience Network: exhibitors’ breakfast: BFI London Film Festival

Film Hub London and the BFI Film Audience Network (BFI FAN) invites FAN members and delegates working in the exhibition sector to a morning of presentations and networking to discuss innovative initiatives welcoming audiences back to screenings across the UK.

The event encourages networking between cinemas, festivals, art centres, film clubs and anyone who shows films in and across the UK and is an opportunity to share sector news, opportunities, best practice, and lessons learnt while developing ways of working together in new and exciting ways.

The event is free and exclusively for members of BFI Film Audience Network. Tuesday 12 October 10:00-12:00

Press & industry screenings, networking events and delegate services

In-person press and industry screenings return this year and the festival will also present over 50 online screenings for accredited delegates on the festival’s virtual press and industry platform powered by Shift72.

A series of daily BFI London Film Festival networking happy hours at BFI Stephen Street from 17:30-19:00, will offer delegates the opportunity to network with film industry colleagues with individual event partners including: BFI NETWORK; Directors UK; UK Global Screen Fund; FOCUS; Festival Formula; Elstree Studios; and, The Liberation Initiatives.

Other services for delegates available on the press and industry platform include access to discounted tickets to LFF Expanded, Screen Talks and delegate directory. Delegates will receive regular updates on films available for sales deals in the UK market and additional resource for any of those titles presented in the festival programme. The Delegate Hub will also return for 2021 and will be located at All Bar One on Leicester Square.

Industry accreditation is open to UK and international filmmakers and individuals working in a professional capacity in film and/or wider screen sectors. In-person accreditation closes on Wednesday 29 September at 17:00, however the online pass for UK-based delegates, which gives access to over 50 digital screenings, can be purchased now and throughout the festival period.

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