BFI London Film Festival

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

BFI London Film Festival
LocationLondon, England
Founded1957; 67 years ago (1957)
Most recent2023
Current: 67th BFI London Film Festival
Clare Stewart at the 2016 festival

The BFI London Film Festival is an annual film festival held in London, England, in collaboration with the British Film Institute. The festival runs for two weeks every October. In 2016, the BFI estimated that around 240 feature films and 150 short films from more than 70 countries are screened at the festival each year.[1]



At a dinner party in 1953,[2] at the home of film critic Dilys Powell of The Sunday Times, attended by film administrator James Quinn, guests discussed the lack of a film festival in London.[3] Quinn went on to start the first London Film Festival, which took place at the new National Film Theatre (now renamed BFI Southbank) from 16 to 26 October 1957.[4] The first festival screened 15–20 films that were already successful at other festivals,[3] including Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood (which opened the festival),[3] Satyajit Ray's Aparajito, Andrzej Wajda's Kanał,[4] Luchino Visconti's White Nights, Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, Federico Fellini's Nights of Cabiria and Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd.[3] The first edition was sponsored by The Sunday Times.[3]

The second festival was held from 6–14 October 1958[5] and saw the introduction of the Sutherland Trophy, an annual award for "the maker of the most original and imaginative film introduced at the National Film Theatre during the year", which was awarded to Yasujirō Ozu for Tokyo Story.[6] The third festival featured François Truffaut's The 400 Blows, for which he famously turned up to the festival without a ticket and unable to speak English.[3]

The third festival opened 12 October 1959 with the Czech puppet version of A Midsummer Night's Dream directed by Jiří Trnka.[7]

Richard Roud became festival director in 1960,[8] the first year that a British film was shown at the festival; the world premiere of Karel Reisz's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.[3] The fourth edition also featured Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura and Truffaut's Shoot the Pianist.[3]

The fifth edition opened 17 October 1961 with Jacques Demy's Lola.[9] The 1962 festival featured the first midnight matinee, Tony Richardson's The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.[3] Roman Polanski's first feature-length film Knife in the Water and Jean-Luc Godard's Vivre sa vie were also screened.[10]

A new strand of the festival called London Choices was added in 1965. London Choices featured debut and lesser-known features. One of the first London Choices features was Dear John, directed by Lars-Magnus Lindgren.[3]

1967 saw the first features films directed by women screened - Shirley Clarke's Portrait of Jason, Agnès Varda's Les Créatures and Věra Chytilová's Daisies.

Jean-Luc Godard's first English language film, One Plus One, was shown under the London Choices strand in 1968. After the screening, Godard punched producer Iain Quarrier in the face on stage for changes Quarrier made to the film's ending.[3]



Ken Wlaschin became the festival director in February 1970 and expanded the size and diversity of the festival.[8][3] His first festival ran 16 November to 2 December 1970 and featured 28 films, opening with Truffaut's L'Enfant sauvage[11] and featuring Kurosawa's Dodes'ka-den and the world premiere of Anthony Friedman's Bartleby.[12] A recently opened second screen at the NFT was also used.[13] David Lynch's short film The Grandmother was also shown in 1970.[3]

The 1971 festival ran 15 November to 1 December and was expanded to include a directors' section, featuring the premiere of Mike Leigh's feature film debut Bleak Moments.[14][15] Between 13 and 29 November 1972, 44 films were screened in two categories; one for established directors and one for younger directors.[16][17] The 1974 festival opened 18 November and featured 60 films starting with the premiere of Peter Hall's Akenfield.[18] The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was screened in a members-only screening due to it not being classified by the BBFC.[3] Similar screenings were held for The Beast in 1975 and Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom in 1977.[3]

Newsfront directed by Phillip Noyce opened the 1978 festival on 14 November which ended 16 days later with Jack Gold's The Sailor's Return.[19][11] The 1979 festival ran 15 November to 2 December, opening with Those Wonderful Movie Cranks directed by Jiří Menzel.[20] The 1980 festival was held between 13 and 30 November,[3] opening with Kurosawa's Kagemusha and closing with Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull.[11]

The 25th festival opened on 4 November 1981 with a gala presentation of Gallipoli attended by Charles, Prince of Wales, the BFI patron, and Diana, Princess of Wales. It was the largest ever to date, featuring 127 films.[21] It also expanded outside of London for the first time with 12 programmes playing in eight cinemas around the country.[21] It closed on 22 November with the British film Priest of Love directed by Christopher Miles.[22] The 1982 festival opened 11 November 1982 with 4 independent British films - Claude Whatham's The Captain's Doll, Peter Greenaway's The Draughtsman's Contract, Barney Platts-Mills' Hero and Mai Zetterling's Scrubbers[3] - and closed 28 November.[23]



In 1984, Wlaschin's role as program director for the National Film Theatre (NFT) and festival director was split, with The Guardian film critic Derek Malcolm taking over as festival director, initially temporarily,[3][24] and Sheila Whitaker as NFT program director.[25] Malcolm expanded the festival to 8 theatres other than the NFT;[25] introduced Festival on the Square, which showed more popular films; added a surprise film each year; and increased attendances,[24][26] trying to change it from a festival for film buffs to one for the public.[27] The 1984 festival opened with Gremlins at the NFT on 14 November and closed on 2 December with a gala presentation at the Dominion Theatre of a new print of the 1924 version of The Thief of Baghdad starring Douglas Fairbanks with the score composed and conducted by Carl Davis.[25][11] It was the most popular festival to date with 57,000 tickets sold, and Malcolm was retained to organize the festival the following year.[28]

The 1985 festival was expanded to feature 161 films[27] and ran from 14 November to 1 December, opening with Akira Kurosawa's Ran[29] and closing with Michael Cimino's Year of the Dragon and Peter Greenaway's A Zed & Two Noughts.[24][30] The best films of the festival were to be shown around 15 towns around the country after the event.[30]

The films were grouped into regional categories.[31] In 2009 these were: Galas and Special Screenings, Film on the Square, New British Cinema, French Revolutions, Cinema Europa, World Cinema, Experimenta, Treasures from the Archives, Short Cuts and Animation.

Since 1986, the festival has been "topped and tailed" by the opening and closing galas[11] which have become major red carpet events in the London calendar. The opening and closing galas are often world, European, or UK premiere screenings, which take place in large venues in central London. They are attended by the cast and crew of the films and introduced by the festival director, the film's director or producers, and often the actors themselves.

The 30th edition of the festival in 1986 opened with Nicolas Roeg's Castaway[11] and closed with Ken Russell's film Gothic (Daily Telegraph, October 10, 1986). The festival had a "post script" the next day on 1 December with a Royal charity performance of Labyrinth attended by the Prince and Princess of Wales.[3]



Sheila Whitaker, who had been the manager of the National Film Theatre,[24] replaced Malcolm in 1987. The 1987 festival was the first to open at the Empire, Leicester Square on 11 November 1987. It was due to open with A Prayer for the Dying, a film about an IRA member but was pulled 2 days before the opening following the IRA's Remembrance Day bombing in Enniskillen on 8 November. The film was replaced with Dark Eyes.[26] Most films were screened at either the Odeon West End or at BFI Southbank.[3]

During her period as director, Whitaker continued to expand the festival. By the end of her tenure as director in 1996, the festival had grown to include screenings of over 200 films from around the world, more venues had been added, and more tickets were sold to non-BFI members.[32] She also began the festival's practice of including newly restored films from the National Film Archive and overseas institutions.[33]

The 1990 festival was held between 8–25 November and featured 180 films compared to 145 in the previous year. It opened with Peter Bogdanovich's Texasville and closed with Bernardo Bertolucci's The Sheltering Sky. It also featured the world premiere of Mike Leigh's Life Is Sweet.[34]

The 1991 festival was held between 6–21 November and was dedicated to David Lean, who had died earlier in the year. The festival opened with the world premiere of Mike Newell's Enchanted April and closed with the European premiere of Mark Peploe's debut film Afraid of the Dark.[35][3][11]

In 1993, the Children's London Film Festival was incorporated into the main festival. The opening night film was the European premiere of James Ivory's The Remains of the Day on 4 November and closed on 21 November with Farewell My Concubine.[36]

The 1994 festival opened on 3 November with the world premiere of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein directed by Kenneth Branagh and closed 20 November with Luc Besson's Léon: The Professional. A 12-film sidebar was added for Arabian and Middle Eastern films, in addition to sidebars for French and Asian films.[37][11]

Due to classification issues, special permission was needed from Westminster City Council to screen Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers in 1994 and David Cronenberg's Crash in 1996.[3] The 1996 festival opened with The First Wives Club[32] and also featured Shane Meadows' debut film Small Time.[3]



Adrian Wooton was appointed festival director and Sandra Hebron as festival programmer in 1997.[3] The 2002 festival was held 6–21 November, attracting a then record 110,000 visitors. The 46th edition of the festival opened with Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things and closed with Thaddeus O'Sullivan's The Heart of Me.[38]

Hebron became artistic director of the festival in 2003,[39] replacing Wooton.[31] The same year, the festival's name was changed to the BFI London Film Festival.[3]

The 2004 festival ran from 20 October to 4 November, opening with the UK premiere of Mike Leigh's Vera Drake and closed with David O. Russell's I Heart Huckabees.[40]

The 2005 festival was held from 19 October to 3 November[3] and had 180 features, opening with Fernando Meirelles' The Constant Gardener[41] and closing with the UK premiere of George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck. 161 of the 180 screenings were sold out.[42]

The fiftieth edition of the festival opened with the European premiere of Kevin McDonald's The Last King of Scotland. It also featured the European premieres of Todd Field's Little Children and Anthony Minghella's Breaking and Entering.[43] It closed with Babel.[11]

The world premiere of Frost/Nixon on 15 October 2008 was the opening night gala of the 2008 festival and Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire was the closing film.[11]

Previously a number of festival awards were presented at the Closing gala, but in 2009, with the aid of some funding from the UK Film Council, a stand-alone awards ceremony was introduced. The UK Film Council helped fund the festival for three years until it was abolished in 2011.[39]

In 2009 the festival, whilst focused around Leicester Square (Vue West End, Odeon West End and Empire) and the BFI Southbank in central London, also screened films across 18 other venues – Curzon Mayfair Cinema, ICA Cinema on The Mall, The Ritzy in Brixton, Cine Lumière in South Kensington, Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank, David Lean Cinema in Croydon, the Genesis Cinema in Whitechapel, The Greenwich Picturehouse, the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley, Rich Mix in Old Street, the Rio Cinema in Dalston, the Tricycle Cinema in Kilburn, the Waterman Art Centre in Brentford and Trafalgar Square for the open air screening of short films from the BFI National Archive. The 2009 Festival featured 15 world premieres including Wes Anderson’s first animated feature, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Sam Taylor-Wood’s feature début Nowhere Boy, about the formative years of John Lennon, as well as the Festival's first ever Archive Gala, the BFI's new restoration of Anthony Asquith’s Underground, with live music accompaniment by the Prima Vista Social Club. European premieres in 2009 included Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Micmacs, Scott Hicks’ The Boys Are Back and Robert Connolly's Balibo, as well as Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni's The Well and Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson's Mugabe and the White African.

In 2009, directors travelling to London to introduce their latest work included Michael Haneke (Cannes Palme d'Or winner, The White Ribbon), Atom Egoyan (Chloe), Steven Soderbergh (The Informant!), Lone Scherfig (An Education), Ang Lee (Taking Woodstock), Jane Campion (Bright Star), Gaspar Noé (Enter The Void), Lee Daniels (Precious), Grant Heslov (The Men Who Stare at Goats), and Jason Reitman (Up in the Air). In addition to Fantastic Mr. Fox and Up in the Air, George Clooney supported his role in The Men Who Stare at Goats. The Festival also welcomed back previous alumni such as John Hillcoat (The Road), Joe Swanberg (Alexander The Last) and Harmony Korine (Trash Humpers), whilst also screening films from Manoel de Oliveira (Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl), Jim Jarmusch (The Limits Of Control), Claire Denis (White Material), Ho-Yuhang (At The End Of Daybreak), Todd Solondz (Life During Wartime), and Joel and Ethan Coen (A Serious Man).

American Express became the festival's principal sponsor in 2010.[3] Previously it had been sponsored by The Times.

The 2011 festival was held from 12 to 27 October opening with Mereille's 360[41] and closed with The Deep Blue Sea,[39] both starring Rachel Weisz.



Clare Stewart was appointed as head of exhibition at the BFI in August 2011 replacing Hebron[39] and was the festival's director from the 2012 edition.[31] Under Stewart, a formal competition was organised in 2012, films were organized into strands such as "Love", "Debate", "Dare" and "Thrill" and films started to be screened outside of London.[3]

The 2012 festival ran from 10 to 21 October, opening with Tim Burton's Frankenweenie and closing with the European premiere of Mike Newell's Great Expectations.[44][45]

The 2013 festival was held between 9–20 October[3] opening with Captain Phillips and closing with the world premiere of Saving Mr. Banks,[11] both starring Tom Hanks.[46]

248 films were screened in 2014 and the festival saw a record attendance of 163,000.[47] It ran from 8–19 October, opening with the European premiere of The Imitation Game and closing with the European premiere of Fury. Simultaneous screenings of the opening and closing films took place around the UK.[48][49]

The Odeon West End, which accounted for 23% of admissions in 2014,[47] closed 1 January 2015, so more screenings moved to the Vue West End[31] as well as moving to the Cineworld Haymarket and Picturehouse Central.[47] Festival attendances fell 4% for the 2015 edition, which ran from 7–18 October. The festival featured 14 world premieres and 40 European premieres, opening with Suffragette and closing with Danny Boyle's Steve Jobs.[47]

The 60th edition of the festival held between 5–16 October 2016[50] saw the opening of the temporary Embankment Garden Cinema, in Victoria Embankment Gardens.[51] The festival opened with the European premiere of Amma Asante's A United Kingdom[50] and closed with the European premiere of Ben Wheatley's Free Fire.[52]

In the first 60 years of the festival, it had shown 27 films by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 19 by Satyajit Ray and 18 by Jean-Luc Godard.[3]

The 2017 edition was held between 4–15 October.[31] It opened with Andy Serkis' Breathe and closed with Martin McDonagh's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.[53]

BFI London Film Festival today


While the programme still retains the 'festivals' feel, it also now shows new discoveries from "important and exciting talents" in world cinema. Whilst it continues to be first and foremost a public festival, it is also attended by large numbers of film professionals and journalists from all over the world. Importantly, it offers opportunities for people to see films that may not otherwise get a UK screening along with films which will get a release in the near future. Some films are accompanied by Q&A sessions which give the audience unique access to the filmmaker and/or a member of the cast and offer insight into the making of the film and occasionally an opportunity for the audience to engage directly and ask questions. Other than these events the screenings at the Festival are quite informal and similar to the normal cinema experience.

Stewart took a sabbatical for the 2018 edition of the festival and her deputy, Tricia Tuttle stood in as interim artistic director. She became artistic director in December 2018.[54][55] Current film programmers include Kate Taylor (Senior Programmer), Michael Blyth and Laure Bonville.

The 2018 festival was held from 10 to 21 October.[56] It opened with the European premiere of Steve McQueen's Widows.[57] It saw the first film at the festival to premiere outside London with the UK premiere of Mike Leigh's Peterloo being held at HOME in Manchester on 17 October[56] as well as the world premiere of Peter Jackson's They Shall Not Grow Old, which was also screened simultaneously around the UK.[57] It closed with the world premiere of Stan & Ollie.[58]

The 2019 edition ran from 2–13 October and opened with Armando Iannucci's The Personal History of David Copperfield which was shown at the Odeon Leicester Square and at the Embankment Garden Cinema.[59] It closed with Martin Scorsese's The Irishman.[54]

The 2020 festival was held between 7–18 October, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, the festival featured up to 50 online films with only 12 films being shown in London and around the United Kingdom.[60][61] The festival opened with the European premiere of Steve McQueen's Mangrove and closed with Ammonite, directed by Francis Lee.[62]

The 2021 festival was held from 6 to 17 October 2021, opening with the world premiere of Jeymes Samuel's The Harder They Fall at Royal Festival Hall. It closed with Joel Coen's The Tragedy of Macbeth, his first film without brother Ethan also directing.[63][64]

The 2022 festival was held from 5 to 16 October 2022, opening with the world premiere of Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical at the Royal Festival Hall. It closed with Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Tuttle stepped down as festival director after the festival and was replaced by Kristy Matheson.[65][66]

The 2023 festival was held from 4 to 15 October 2023, opening with the international premiere of Saltburn at the Royal Festival Hall. It closed with the world premiere of The Kitchen.[67]



The Festival is organized in various sections:[68][69]

  • Galas
    • Opening Night Gala - Film that screened on the opening night.
    • Closing Night Gala - Film that screened on the closing night.
    • Headline Galas - About 10 films, includes American Express Gala, Mayor of London's Gala, BFI Patrons' Gala, American Airlines Gala and The May Fair Hotel Gala to name a few.
    • Festival and Strand Gala - Red carpet galas of themed strands: Cult, Dare, Thrill, Debate, Love, Laugh, Family, Journey, Create, and Treasures.
  • Special Presentations - Focus on new works from major directors. This section includes Documentary, Experimenta, BFI Flare and other Special Presentations.
  • Strands - Films were organized according to themes to encourage discovery and to open up the Festival to new audiences. The themes include:
    • Love - films that are sweet, passionate and tough, as well as charts the highs and lows of many kind of love from around the globe.
    • Debate - features films that are amplify, scrutinize, argue, surprise and thrives on conversation.
    • Laugh - celebrates humour in all its form, from laugh-out-loud comedy to dry and understated
    • Dare - features in-your-face, up-front and arresting films that take audience out of their comfort zones
    • Thrill - features nerve-shredders that get audience on the edge of their seats
    • Cult - features films that are mind-altering and classifiable, as well as sci-fi and horror genre
    • Journey - focused on the journey or the destination that transport and shift the perspectives of audience
    • Create - features films that channel the electricity of creative process and celebrating artistic expression in all its form
    • Experimenta - features films and videos by artists that revolutionize and reshape the vision of cinema
    • Family - showcases films for the young and the young at heart
    • Treasures - brings recently restored cinematic classics from archives around the world
    • Expanded - showcases immersive art and extended reality (XR) content
  • In Competition - celebrate the highest creative achievements of British and international filmmakers.
    • Official competition - films are competing for the Best Film Award.
    • First Feature Competition - films are competing for the Sutherland Award.
    • Documentary Competition - films are competing for the Grierson Award.
    • Short Film Award - recognizes short from works with a unique cinematic view.

Surprise film


Derek Malcolm introduced a screening of an unannounced film during the festival each year.[26]

Surprise films have included A Chorus Line (1985), The Color of Money (1986),[26] Sideways (2004), Capitalism: A Love Story (2009), Silver Linings Playbook (2012),[70] The Grandmaster (2013), Birdman (2014), Anomalisa (2015),[70] Sully (2016),[71] Lady Bird (2017),[72] Green Book (2018)[73] Uncut Gems (2019),[74] C’mon C’mon (2021),[75] and The Menu (2022).[76] With the most recent being Ferrari (2023).[77]

For the 50th anniversary of the festival, rather than one surprise film, there were 50 screenings of a surprise film around London.[43]



The categories highlight both emerging and established talent.

  • The Sutherland Trophy – for the most original and innovative first feature in the London Film Festival. Named after the BFI's patron, The 5th Duke of Sutherland, this award boasts recipients as noteworthy as Ray, Bertolucci, Fassbinder, Godard and Antonioni.
  • The Grierson Award – for the best feature-length documentary in the festival. This award is given jointly by the LFF and the Grierson Trust which commemorates the pioneering Scottish documentary-maker John Grierson (1898–1972), famous for Drifters and Night Mail. The Grierson Trust has a long-standing tradition of recognising outstanding films that demonstrate integrity, originality and technical excellence and social or cultural significance.

From 2009, a new standalone awards ceremony was launched which included the following awards:

  • Best Film – celebrates creative, original, imaginative, intelligent and distinctive filmmaking.
  • Best British Newcomer Award – celebrates new and emerging British film talent and recognises the achievements of a new writer, producer or director who demonstrates real creative flair and imagination with their first feature.
  • BFI Fellowships – the Festival showcases both the work of new filmmakers and established ones, and presenting two Fellowships provides a fitting contrast to those Awards recognising new talent.


The Sutherland Trophy
Tarnation, dir. Jonathan Caouette
7th FIPRESCI International Critics Award
Aaltra, dir. Gustave de Kervern and Benoît Delépine
The Alfred Dunhill UK Film Talent Award
A Way of Life, dir. Amma Asante
9th Annual Satyajit Ray Award
The Woodsman, dir. Nicole Kassell
TCM Classic Shorts Award
Nits, dir. Harry Wootliff


The Sutherland Trophy
For the Living and the Dead, dir. Kari Paljakka
8th FIPRESCI International Critics Award
Man Push Cart, dir. Ramin Bahrani
The Alfred Dunhill UK Film Talent Award
Producer Gayle Griffiths
The 10th Annual Satyajit Ray Award
Pavee Lackeen, dir. Perry Ogden
The Grierson Award for Best Documentary
Workingman's Death, dir. Michael Glawogger
TCM Classic Shorts Award
Jane Lloyd, dir. HAPPY (Directing duo Guy Shelmerdine and Richard Farmer (director))


The Sutherland Trophy
Red Road, dir. Andrea Arnold
9th FIPRESCI International Critics Award
Lola, dir. Javier Rebollo
The Alfred Dunhill UK Film Talent Award
Producer Mark Herbert
The 11th Annual Satyajit Ray Award
The Lives of Others, dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
The Grierson Award for Best Documentary
Thin, dir. Lauren Greenfield
TCM Classic Shorts Award
Silence Is Golden, dir. Chris Shepherd


The Sutherland Trophy
Persepolis, dir. Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
10th FIPRESCI International Critics Award
Unrelated, dir. Joanna Hogg
The Alfred Dunhill UK Film Talent Award
Sarah Gavron, director of Brick Lane
The 12th Annual Satyajit Ray Award
California Dreamin', awarded posthumously to director Cristian Nemescu
The Grierson Award for Best Documentary
The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories, dir. Andrey Paounov
TCM Classic Shorts Award
À bout de truffe, dir. Tom Tagholm


The Sutherland Trophy
Tulpan, dir. Sergey Dvortsevoy
11th FIPRESCI International Critics Award
Three Blind Mice, dir. Matthew Newton
The 13th Annual Satyajit Ray Award
Mid-August Lunch, dir. Gianni Gregorio
The Grierson Award for Best Documentary
Victoire Terminus, dir. Florent de la Tullaye and Renaud Barret
TCM Classic Shorts Award
Leaving, dir. Richard Penfold and Sam Hearn



In 2009, a new annual standalone awards ceremony was launched to showcase the work of imaginative and original filmmakers and to reward distinctive and intriguing work.

The Awards took place at the Inner Temple on 28 October 2009 and were hosted by Paul Gambaccini. Winners of the Sutherland Trophy, Best British Newcomer and Best Film received the inaugural Star of London award designed by sculptor Almuth Tebbenhoff.

Best Film
Un prophète, dir. Jacques Audiard
The Sutherland Trophy
Ajami, dir. Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani
Best British Newcomer Award
Jack Thorne, writer of The Scouting Book For Boys
The Grierson Award for Best Documentary
Defamation, dir. Yoav Shamir
BFI Fellowships
Filmmaker – Souleymane Cissé
Actor – John Hurt




Best Film
How I Ended This Summer, dir. Alexei Popogrebski[78]
The Sutherland Trophy
The Arbor, dir. Clio Barnard
Best British Newcomer Award
Clio Barnard, director of The Arbor
The Grierson Award for Best Documentary
Armadillo, dir. Janus Metz
BFI Fellowship
Filmmaker – Danny Boyle


Best Film
We Need to Talk About Kevin, dir. Lynne Ramsay[79]
The Sutherland Trophy
Las Acacias, dir. Pablo Giorgelli[79]
Best British Newcomer Award:
Candese Reid, actress in Junkhearts[79]
The Grierson Award for Best Documentary
Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life, dir. Werner Herzog[79]
BFI Fellowships
Filmmaker – David Cronenberg[79]
Actor – Ralph Fiennes[79]





Pawel Pawlikowski, best known for his films My Summer of Love and Last Resort, won the Best Film award for his black and white social drama Ida, his first film shot in his native Poland. Pawlikowski, at the time, was a visiting tutor at the National Film and Television School in Buckinghamshire and one of his pupils there, Anthony Chen, picked up the Best First Feature prize for Ilo Ilo.[80]



Leviathan was named the Best Film at the London Film Festival Awards on 18 October 2014, at a ceremony where the main prizes went to Russia, Ukraine (Best First Feature, The Tribe) and Syria (Best Documentary, Silvered Water), three countries at the centre of long-running conflicts. The winning film-makers all said they hoped that culture could help to restore peace to their countries.[81]



At a London Film Festival declared by its director Clare Stewart to be promoting strong women in the industry, both in front of and behind the camera, the theme continued into the awards, with the Best Film being named as the Greek comedy Chevalier, directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari. The winner of the Sutherland Award for Best First Feature, The Witch, was described by the jury as "a fresh, feminist take on a timeless tale." Another woman was honoured with the Grierson Award for the best documentary; the Australian filmmaker Jennifer Peedom, who was shooting Sherpa as a devastating avalanche struck the Himalayas, in April 2014. And the Oscar-winning Cate Blanchett described how she was "deeply honoured and dumbstruck" at being awarded a BFI Fellowship.[82]



Following the previous year's festival aimed to celebrate strong women in the film industry, 2016 was partly designed to better reflect the diverse audiences in society;[83] the festival opened with a film directed by a black director and the BFI Fellowship was awarded to Steve McQueen. Most of the awards, once again, had strong female themes – either being directed by women, about women or both. Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women won the Official Competition, while Raw, by the French director Julia Ducournau, won the Sutherland Award for the Best First Feature. Noting that there are still too few opportunities for female directors, Ducournau said, "It's about time that things are starting to change. It's good that doors are now being opened." The Grierson Award for the best documentary went to Starless Dreams, filmed inside a rehabilitation centre for juvenile delinquent women in Iran. For the first time, the London Film Festival ran a competition for the best short film. This went to Issa Touma, Thomas Vroege and Floor van de Muelen for the documentary 9 Days – From My Window in Aleppo. Touma, a Syrian photographer who regularly returns to Aleppo, said it was important for intellectuals, academics and artists not to desert the country. "You can't change anything from far away," he said.[84]



Accepting the prestigious BFI Fellowship at the 2017 London Film Festival Awards, director Paul Greengrass acknowledged that it had been a difficult week for the film industry, on the day that Harvey Weinstein was expelled from the Academy that hands out the Oscars. He said the industry had to act and words weren't enough. The Best Film on the night went to Russia's Loveless, making Andrey Zvyagintsev the second director to have won the honour twice. South Africa's John Trengove won the Best First Film award for The Wound. Lucy Cohen's Kingdom of Us, about the aftermath of a suicide, was named the Best Documentary. And Patrick Bresnan's The Rabbit Hunt won the third Best Short Film prize.[85][86]


Best Film
Joy, dir. Sudabeh Mortezai[87]
(Special mention: Birds of Passage, dir. Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra)
The Sutherland Award
Girl, dir. Lukas Dhont
The Grierson Award for Best Documentary
What You Gonna Do When the World's on Fire?, dir. Roberto Minervini
Short Film Award
Lasting Marks, dir. Charlie Lyne


Best Film
Monos, dir. Alejandro Landes[88]
(Special commendations: Honey Boy, dir. Alma Har'el; Saint Maud, dir. Rose Glass)
The Sutherland Award
Atlantics, dir. Mati Diop
(Special commendation: House of Hummingbird, dir. Bora Kim)
The Grierson Award for Best Documentary
White Riot, dir. Rubika Shah
Short Film Award
Fault Line (Gosal), dir. Soheil Amirsharifi
(Special commendation: If You Knew, dir. Stroma Cairns)


Best Film
Another Round, dir. Thomas Vinterberg
Best Documentary
The Painter and the Thief, dir. Benjamin Ree
Best Short Film
Shuttlecock, dir. Tommy Gillard
Best XR/Immersive Art
To Miss the Ending, created by David Callanan and Anna West
IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award
Cathy Brady


Best Film
Hit the Road, dir. Panah Panahi
Best First Feature Film
Playground, dir. Laura Wandel
Best Documentary
Becoming Cousteau, dir. Liz Garbus
Best XR/Immersive Art
Only Expansion, created by Duncan Speakman
Best Short Film Competition
Love, Dad, dir. Diana Cam Van Nguyen
Audience Award
Costa Brava, Lebanon, dir. Mounia Akl




Best Film
Corsage, dir. Marie Kreutzer
Best First Feature Film (Sutherland Award)
1976, dir. Manuela Martelli
Best Documentary (Grierson Award)
All That Breathes, dir. Shaunak Sen
Best XR/Immersive Art
As Mine Exactly, created by Charlie Shackleton
I Have No Legs, and I Must Run, dir. Yue Li
Audience Award – Feature
Blue Bag Life, dir. Lisa Selby, Rebecca Hirsch Lloyd-Evans, Alex Fry
Audience Award – Short
Drop Out - Ade Femzo




Best Film
Evil Does Not Exist, dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Best First Feature Film (Sutherland Award)
Paradise Is Burning, dir. Mika Gustafson
Best Documentary (Grierson Award)
Bye Bye Tiberias, dir. Lina Soualem
Best Short Film Competition
The Archive: Queer Nigerians, dir. Simisolaoluwa Akande

See also



  1. ^ "A brief history of the BFI London Film Festival". BFI. Retrieved 1 February 2023.
  2. ^ "A brief history of the BFI London Film Festival". British Film Institute. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad Baughan, Nikki. "A brief history of the BFI London Film Festival". BFI. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  4. ^ a b "10-Day London Fest Films Preems Oct. 16". Variety. 9 October 1957. p. 14 – via
  5. ^ "To Show Best Films From Three Pix Fests". Variety. 30 July 1958. p. 13.
  6. ^ "Chatter: London". Variety. 22 October 1958. p. 78 – via
  7. ^ "London Film Fete Opens". The New York Times. 13 October 1959. p. 60. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Dismiss Roud As London Film Fest". Variety. 11 February 1970. p. 29.
  9. ^ "London 5th Film Fest Tees Off". Variety. 11 October 1961. p. 3.
  10. ^ "London Festival". Sight and Sound. Winter 1962–63. p. 20. Retrieved 16 December 2023 – via Internet Archive.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Robinson, Brian (22 August 2016). "Every BFI London Film Festival opening night film". BFI. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  12. ^ "London Nov. 16-Dec. 2 Fest Will Unspool 28 Features". Daily Variety. 23 October 1970. p. 12.
  13. ^ "London Film Festival". The Times. 25 June 1970. p. 7.
  14. ^ "London Pic Fest Adds Directors' Section". Variety. 11 August 1971. p. 5.
  15. ^ "London Festival Sets Its Agenda". Variety. 3 November 1971. p. 22.
  16. ^ "London Film Festival's 44 Features". The Times. 16 August 1972. p. 13.
  17. ^ "Add 10 More Films to London Festival". Variety. 11 October 1972. p. 6. Retrieved 5 November 2023 – via
  18. ^ PHS (19 November 1974). "The Times Diary". The Times. p. 14.
  19. ^ "Aussie Breakthrough At London Film Fest Stirs Brit. Producers". Variety. 22 November 1978. p. 4.
  20. ^ Perry, Simon (21 November 1979). "Festive Spirit At Minimum At London's 23d Unspooling". Variety. p. 34.
  21. ^ a b Brown, Geoff (30 October 1981). "Movie Showcase Spreads Its Wings". The Times. pp. 34–35.
  22. ^ "Priest of Love". 25th London Film Festival Programme: 5.
  23. ^ "Yank Pics Front & Center At London Fest; 'Querelle' Shows". Variety. 17 November 1982. p. 7.
  24. ^ a b c d Park, James (20 November 1985). "London Fest Pulling Full Houses; West End Venues Boost Business". Variety. p. 5.
  25. ^ a b c Stratton, David (9 October 1984). "London Festival Celebrates Film; 'Gremlins' To Open". Daily Variety. p. 6.
  26. ^ a b c d Adams, Mark (18 November 1987). "London Fest Gains Momentum Following Controversial Opening". Variety. p. 6.
  27. ^ a b Watkins, Roger (5 November 1985). "London Festival Propelled By Big Advance". Daily Variety. p. 6.
  28. ^ "Derek Malcolm Reprising At London Pic Fest". Daily Variety. 21 December 1984. p. 20.
  29. ^ Park, James (15 November 1985). "Factions Vie For Leadership Of London Pic Festival". Daily Variety. p. 28.
  30. ^ a b Pitnam, Jack (16 October 1985). "29th London Fest To Be The Largest Ever With 160 Films Set". Variety. p. 7.
  31. ^ a b c d e Gant, Charles (4 October 2017). "How Clare Stewart transformed the BFI London Film Festival". Screen Daily. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  32. ^ a b McNab, Geoffrey (13 August 2013). "Sheila Whitaker: Influential programmer who expanded the reach of the London Film Festival". The Independent. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  33. ^ Jeavons, Clyde (12 August 2013). "Sheila Whitaker, 1936-2013". BFI. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  34. ^ Elley, Derek (3 December 1990). "London fest rings up $ despite mixed reviews". Variety. p. 51.
  35. ^ Pitman, Jack (4 November 1991). "British pics to open and close fest". Variety. p. 55.
  36. ^ Brown, Geoff (3 November 1993). "Now, heaven knows, anything goes". The Times. p. 35.
  37. ^ Elley, Derek (3 October 1994). "London focuses slate on more populist fare". Variety. p. 20.
  38. ^ "Festivals" (PDF). British Film Institute Annual Report 2002/2003: 22. 2003.
  39. ^ a b c d Ainsworth, Clark (27 October 2011). "London Film Festival director Sandra Hebron bows out". BBC Online. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  40. ^ "London fest slots two". Variety. 27 August 2004. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  41. ^ a b "London Film Festival to begin with Anthony Hopkins film". BBC Online. 24 August 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  42. ^ "London sign-off". Variety. 13 November 2005. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  43. ^ a b Felperin, Leslie (17 September 2006). "Hebron throws a party for 50th edition". Variety. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  44. ^ "Tim Burton honoured at London Film Festival awards". BBC. 21 October 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  45. ^ "Great Expectations to close London Film Festival". BBC. 30 August 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  46. ^ Kemp, Stuart (20 October 2013). "Tom Hanks Starrer 'Saving Mr. Banks' Closes BFI London Film Festival". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  47. ^ a b c d Rosser, Michael. "BFI London Film Festival reveals 2015 attendance figures". Screen Daily. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  48. ^ "The Imitation Game will open the 58th BFI London Film Festival". BFI. 3 September 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  49. ^ "Fury will close the 58th BFI London Film Festival". BFI. 24 April 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  50. ^ a b "The 60th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® announces full 2016 programme". BFI. 3 September 2018. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  51. ^ "Beautiful new cinema created for 60th BFI London Film Festival". BFI. 13 October 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  52. ^ "Ben Wheatley's Free Fire will close the BFI London Film Festival this October". The Daily Telegraph. 1 August 2016. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  53. ^ Mueller, Matt (31 August 2017). "BFI London Film Festival unveils 2017 line-up". Screen Daily. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  54. ^ a b Barraclough, Leo (2 October 2019). "BFI London Film Festival Chief Tricia Tuttle Amps Up Festive Atmosphere". Variety. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  55. ^ "Tricia Tuttle appointed new Director, BFI Festivals". BFI. 21 October 2018. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  56. ^ a b "Mike Leigh's Peterloo announced as first ever BFI London Film Festival premiere outside London". BFI. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  57. ^ a b "62nd BFI London Film Festival programme announced". BFI. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  58. ^ "World premiere of Stan & Ollie to close 62nd BFI London Film Festival". BFI. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  59. ^ "The Personal History of David Copperfield". BFI. Archived from the original on 17 May 2020. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  60. ^ "BFI London Film Festival announces new format for 2020 edition". BFI. 2 July 2020. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  61. ^ Fletcher, Harry (2 July 2020). "BFI London Film Festival announces new virtual format for 'accessible' 2020 edition". Evening Standard. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  62. ^ Ramachandran, Naman (26 August 2020). "Saoirse Ronan, Kate Winslet Drama 'Ammonite' to Close BFI London Film Festival". Variety. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  63. ^ Pulver, Andrew (4 August 2021). "Idris Elba western The Harder They Fall to open London film festival". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  64. ^ "BFI London Film Festival announces dual London cultural hubs on the Southbank and in the West End". BFI. 8 June 2021. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  65. ^ Dams, Tim (12 December 2023). "Tricia Tuttle named as new Berlin Film Festival director". Screen Daily. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  66. ^ BFI London Film Festival 2023. p. 3.
  67. ^ Khomami, Nadia (3 October 2023). "London film festival: privilege and poverty collide in big British cinema showcase". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  68. ^ "The 62nd BFI London Film Festival Announces Full 2018 Programme" (PDF). British Film Institute. 30 August 2018. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 August 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  69. ^ "Film and events programme". BFI London Film Festival 2019. Retrieved 25 January 2021.[dead link]
  70. ^ a b "Surprise Film". BFI. Archived from the original on 8 December 2021. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  71. ^ "London Film Festival 2016 Part I: Surprise Film". 9 October 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  72. ^ "Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird revealed as surprise film at BFI London Film Festival". The Irish News. 15 October 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  73. ^ "BFI London Film Festival 2019 Brochure" (PDF). p. 108. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  74. ^ Harding, Laura (9 October 2019). "Adam Sandler movie revealed as surprise film at London Film Festival". Irish Independent. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  75. ^ "The wait is over! The #LFF surprise film is C'mon C'mon!". Twitter. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  76. ^ "The wait is over... The #LFF 2022 Surprise Film is The Menu!". Twitter. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  77. ^ ""Ferrari" (BFI London Film Festival 2023)". 21 November 2023. Retrieved 16 February 2024.
  78. ^ London film festival: British director Clio Barnard wins best newcomer, The Guardian. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  79. ^ a b c d e f Brown, Mark (26 October 2011). "We Need to Talk About Kevin scoops top prize at London film festival". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  80. ^ Korsner, Jason (20 October 2013). "Master and Pupil Honoured by LFF on the Same Night". UK Screen. Archived from the original on 23 October 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  81. ^ Korsner, Jason (19 October 2014). "International Politics Creeps into LFF Awards". UK Screen. Archived from the original on 24 July 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  82. ^ Korsner, Jason (17 October 2015). "Women Reign Supreme at London Film Festival". What's Worth Seeing. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  83. ^ "London Film Festival to focus on diversity". BBC News. 5 October 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  84. ^ Korsner, Jason (15 October 2016). "Diversity Reigns at the London Film Festival Awards". What's Worth Seeing. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  85. ^ Korsner, Jason (14 October 2017). "Harvey Weinstein's Shadow Hangs Over London Film Festival Awards". What's Worth Seeing. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  86. ^ "61st BFI London Film Festival announces 2017 winners" (Press release). BFI. Archived from the original on 17 November 2017.
  87. ^ "2018 competition winners announced at the 62nd BFI London Film Festival" (Press release). BFI. 20 October 2018. Archived from the original on 23 October 2018.
  88. ^ "2019 competition winners announced at 63rd BFI London Film Festival" (Press release). BFI. 12 October 2019. Archived from the original on 29 October 2019.
  89. ^ Katz, David (17 October 2022). "Corsage clinches victory at the BFI London Film Festival". Cineuropa. Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  90. ^ Ntim, Zac (16 October 2022). "London Film Festival Winners: Vicky Krieps-Starrer 'Corsage' Takes Best Film Award". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  91. ^ "Award winners announced at 67th BFI London Film Festival". BFI. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  92. ^ Ntim, Zac (15 October 2023). "London Film Festival Winners: Ryusuke Hamaguchi's 'Evil Does Not Exist' Wins Best Film, Palestinian Pic Takes Doc Award". Deadline. Retrieved 16 October 2023.

51°30′26″N 0°06′57″W / 51.5072°N 0.1157°W / 51.5072; -0.1157