Kristy Matheson appointed as new BFI festivals director

Kristy joins the BFI from her recent role as creative director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Kristy Matheson

Kristy Matheson will take on the role of BFI festivals director, leading the UK’s largest film festival, the BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express from 4 to 15 October 2023, and BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival from the 2024 edition. Kristy joins the BFI from her recent role as creative director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and previous to that was director of film at Australia’s national museum of screen culture ACMI

Kristy will lead the festival teams across programming, business operation and adjacent teams across the BFI including fundraising, digital, marketing, communications, finance and industry, to deliver the festivals’ public programme – in London, across the UK and online. Kristy will report into Jason Wood, BFI executive director of programming and audiences following an exhaustive interview process, which included internal and external panelists. Kristy, who was on the LFF’s Sutherland Award jury in 2022, starts her new role at the BFI in April following her departure from the Edinburgh International Film Festival. See today’s announcement regarding the EIFF in 2023.

“I am delighted to welcome Kristy as the BFI’s new director of festivals,” says Wood. “I have been impressed by Kristy’s knowledge and passion for screen culture and the role it plays in connecting society. EIFF 2022 was an incredible success and Kristy delivered a festival broad in outlook and richly inclusive. Her vision for a wider and more sustainable festival ecology absolutely chimes with the strategic direction of the BFI and how we want our festivals to be led — in a way that values and encourages collaboration and a democratic approach to decision making in tandem with a clear and holistic artistic vision.”

Matheson said: “Festivals provide filmmakers, artists and audiences with a moment to commune on a grand scale – to experience ideas, ask big questions and celebrate together. The BFI London Film Festival and BFI Flare represent the very best of this spirit, exploring the depth of UK and global cinema, nurturing new talents, profiling our screen industries and connecting audiences to innovations in the moving image. I’m honoured and excited to be joining this team, to work alongside colleagues who are leaders in their fields and bring a passion for connecting audiences to the full breadth of screen culture.” 

Kristy Matheson is a curator and festival director. In 2022 Kristy served as the creative director of Edinburgh International Film Festival. She is the former director of Film at ACMI, Australia’s national museum of screen culture. Prior to her role on the executive team at ACMI, Kristy worked at Brisbane International Film Festival, Sydney Film Festival and Dendy Films. She served on Screen Australia’s Gender Matters Taskforce, and is a recipient of the Natalie Miller Fellowship. Kristy served on the BAFTA jury for outstanding debut by a British writer, director, or producer. She is a committee member for online journal Senses of Cinema.

The BFI London Film Festival has transformed over the last few years, adapting to extraordinary external challenges to emerge stronger and more vital than ever. Audiences have grown by 76% since 2019, the festival has established a new footprint in London and across the UK, including new gala venue The Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, XR and immersive exhibition LFF Expanded and a UK-wide programme playing in venues in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England, with 39% of audiences coming from outside London in 2021 compared to 10% in 2019. In 2022, the LFF had more world premieres than in its entire history.

Kristy’s role includes ensuring that the LFF continues to showcase the best in contemporary international and UK cinema, series and immersive/XR alongside significant film restorations that show the work of the BFI National Archive and archives from around the world, while also securing major and diverse film talent to present films, talks and events. As it prepares for the 67th edition, Kristy will build the LFF’s increasing significance with the UK and international industry, ensuring that it continues to grow in influence and value within the wider international industry, delivering increasing benefit for filmmakers and the UK screen sectors. Kristy will work with her teams to ensure that BFI FLARE continues to showcase the breadth of LGBTQIA+ film and screen culture, attracts a wide and diverse audience and offers a platform for work with emerging curators.

BFI festivals are a cornerstone of its cultural work and sector leadership, and key to delivering on the ambitions and principles of its new ten-year strategy, Screen Culture 2033.

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