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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

BFI London Film Festival 2021 Programme Strikes GOLD

The 65th BFI London Film Festival (LFF) in partnership with American Express today announced the full 2021 programme line-up that will be presented both in cinemas and virtually, incorporating some of the most popular elements of the successful 2020 edition into the full large scale Festival model.

Over twelve days from 6 – 17 October, flagship venue BFI Southbank and the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, the LFF Gala venue for 2021, will make London’s South Bank one of two London hub’s at the heart of the film festival experience.

Films will also screen in a number of cinemas in London’s West End, with a selection of films at 10 venues in cities and towns across the UK.

Audiences will enjoy a rich and varied programme of fiction, documentary, animation, artists’ moving image, short films, restored classics from the world’s archives as well as programmes of exciting international works made in immersive and episodic forms.

The Festival will also be accessible online to audiences across the whole of the UK with a specially selected programme of feature and short films available on BFI Player, with online short films and online events free to access.

Our LFF Expanded programme of Immersive Art and XR will have a large physical exhibition at 26 Leake Street and the National Theatre and also be available UK-wide and internationally via our bespoke virtual exhibition space, The Expanse.

Ben Roberts, CEO of BFI said: “I am very excited to be welcoming audiences back to the BFI London Film Festival –for everyone, everywhere across the UK, in cinemas and online on BFI Player.

Our amazing festival team have put together a daring, vital and conversation-starting edition.

I’m in awe of all of the filmmakers across the world who have found the ways and means – practical, creative, emotional – to get their stories told in such challenging and turbulent times and I want audiences to immerse themselves in the sweet glow of the cinema screen and celebrate their very existence.

More than ever, we are indebted to our loyal supporters, including our principal partner of 12 years American Express.

Heartfelt thanks to them and to the many other sponsors, funders, partners and National Lottery players who do so much to enable both the Festival and our work throughout the year.”

Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival Director said:

“In early 2020, we set out how we would build on the vibrant established film programme at LFF to expand the Festival: with programming to include Series and XR, new free and UK-wide screenings and events, and by developing the industry programme to showcase new British talent to international industry guests.

While we had to adapt those ambitions for the pandemic, we are back in full force this year and you’ll really see that vision played out in the model for the Festival this year.

“After this last 18 months so many of us are eager for opportunities to connect around shared cultural events, and we’re looking forward to bringing people together over the 12 days of the LFF to view this truly exceptional programme of film, series and immersive art we’re announcing today.

These are works that have moved us, provoked us, made us think and feel, and made us look at the world a little differently this year.

There is absolutely something for everyone here and we can’t wait for people to join us for BFI London Film Festival – whether in London, around the UK or at home”.

The LFF is delighted to be inviting audiences back to the big screen and it doesn’t get much bigger than our new Gala venue.

Each night of the Festival a Gala will screen at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall across an 18-metre screen with full high-spec 7.1 channel surround sound ensuring every seat in the over-2000-seater venue is the best in the house.

Films in Official Competition will be presented at BFI Southbank itself with a host of London cinemas also screening titles from the programme including: Odeon West End, the Prince Charles Cinema, ICA, Curzon Soho and Curzon Mayfair.

This year’s Headline Galas are:

American Express Gala – THE POWER OF THE DOG (d. Jane Campion)

American Airlines Gala BELFAST (d. Kenneth Branagh)


BENEDETTA (d. Paul Verhoeven)

KING RICHARD (d. Reinaldo Marcus Green)

LAST NIGHT IN SOHO (d. Edgar Wright)

BFI Patrons’ Gala – MOTHERING SUNDAY (d. Eva Husson)

THE LOST DAUGHTER (d. Maggie Gyllenhaal)

The Londoner Gala – THE SOUVENIR: PART II (d. Joanna Hogg)

SPENCER (d. Pablo Larraín)

RON’S GONE WRONG (d. Sarah Smith, Jean Philippe-Vine)

Also screening at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, this year’s Special Presentations are:

The Mayor of London’s Special Presentation – ALI & AVA (d. Clio Barnard)

DRIVE MY CAR (d. Ryusuke Hamaguchi)

BENEDICTION (d. Terence Davies)

GREAT FREEDOM (d. Sebastian Meise)

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPEN (d. Craig Roberts) – in association with Empire Magazine

MEMORIA (d. Apichatpong Weerasethakul) – in association with Sight and Sound –

TITANE (d. Julia Ducournau) – in association with Time Out

PARIS, 13TH DISTRICT (d. Jacques Audiard)


BFI Flare Special Screening – FLEE (d. Jonas Poher Rasmussen)

Experimenta Special Screening – NEPTUNE FROST (d. Saul Williams, Anisia Uzeyman)

Series Special Screening – SUCCESSION (Creator-Showrunner Jesse Armstrong)

The LFF competitive sections will return recognising remarkable creative filmmaking achievements and be presented at BFI Southbank.

The winners will be selected by a soon-to-be-announced jury across four categories: Official Competition, First Feature, Documentary and Short Film and The LFF Audience Award, introduced in 2021, with Festival-goers voting for their favourite film of the Festival.

The winner of the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with BFI will also be announced at the virtual Awards Ceremony.

Presented in partnership with the National Theatre, LFF Expanded will return in 2021 and will feature work from artists and creative teams working in immersive media including virtual augmented and mixed reality from across the UK and internationally.

With the full programme being announced later in the week, the strand will showcase vibrant and daring new work which will be exhibited both physically and virtually to audiences in the UK and globally via the virtual exhibition space, The Expanse.

The LFF will also this year showcase some of the best in new episodic programming with a new Series strand of work from around the world in an exciting move that reflects the ever-blurring line between television and film.

Audiences can enjoy screenings of the most hotly-anticipated new series from across a number of the LFF strands including a European premiere and Special Presentation of Succession S3.

The Festival includes many ways audiences can engage with the LFF for free, including an international programme of short films featuring established and breakthrough film talents, Screen Talks with major filmmakers and actors and online Q&As across the Festival.

The LFF Expanded strand of Immersive Art and XR will also be free to access both virtually and in-person at LFF Expanded at 26 Leake Street and LFF Expanded at the National Theatre and Rambert for the duration of the Festival.

The full programme can be found here:

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