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The Times BFI London Film Festival is the UKmarker's largest public film event, screening over 300 films from 60 countries. The festival, the LFF, currently in its 53rd year, is held every year by the British Film Institute and currently sponsored by The Times newspaper. The 2008 Festival ran from 15 October to 30 October, and the 2009 Festival will be between 14 October and 29 October. The Festival presents selected new films from the full spectrum of world cinema, with an extensive schedule of industry and public forums, education events, lectures and celebrity interviews.


In 1956 a group of film critics including Dilys Powell of the Sunday Times, raised the notion of a film festival for London. They reasoned that with Cannesmarker and Venice having their festivals, as did Edinburgh, so surely London should too. However their aim was to pitch the new festival squarely at the public - giving audiences an opportunity to see movies which might not otherwise appear in British cinemas. Originally aiming to be a 'festival of festivals', it focused on screening a selection of strong titles from other European film festivals, including Cannes and Venice. The first London Film Festival was conceived by the then BFI British Film Institute Director James Quinn, and took place at the NFT (National Film Theatre, now renamed BFI Southbank) from 16-26 October. It was launched the day after the inauguration of the new NFT on its current site under Waterloo Bridge. It screened only 15-20 films from a renowned selection of directors, including Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, Yasujir┼Ź Ozu, Luchino Visconti and Andrzej Wajda. While the programme still retains something of the 'festival of 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 now attended by large numbers of film professionals and journalists. Thus it offers opportunities for people to see films that would not otherwise get a UK screening along with films which will get a release in the near future.

The festival is 'topped and tailed' by the opening and closing galas which feature a more formal atmosphere, larger venue in central London and speeches by organisers, directors or producers, and often the actors themselves. The closing gala also gives awards to people involved in film for their various achievements. Other than these two events the screenings are quite informal and similar to normal cinema experience except for two things; the Q&A session and people actually watching the credits! Many of the screenings are attended by some of the people involved in making the film in question, from actors and directors, to producers and stuntmen. They speak briefly about the film before it screens and often request the audience to ask questions after the film in a Q&A.

The festival is divided into themes which cover different areas of interest - in 2008 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. In 2008 the festival, whilst focused around Leicester Square and the BFI Southbank (formerly known as the NFT) in central London, used 18 venues around central London for their screenings.

The 2008 festival featured several world premiers including Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon, Nick Moran's Telstar and Nicolas Winding Refn's Bronson; European premiers of Slumdog Millionaire; W., and The Brothers Bloom as well as new films from Woody Allen, Steven Soderbergh, and Michel Gondry.

London Film Festival team

  • Artistic Director: Sandra Hebron
  • Programmer: Michael Hayden
  • Programme Manager: Sarah Lutton
  • Producer: Helen de Witt
  • BFI Director: Amanda Nevill
  • The Times Editor: James Harding



The Sutherland Trophy:

Tulpan directed by Sergey Dvortsevoy

11th FIPRESCI International Critics Award:

Three Blind Mice directed by Matthew Newton

The 13th Annual Satyajit Ray Award:

Mid August Lunch/ Pranzo di ferragosto to director Gianni Gregorio

The Times bfi London Film Festival Grierson Award:

Victoire Terminus directed by Florent de la Tullaye and Renaud Barret

TCM Classic Shorts Award:

Leaving directed by Richard Penfold and Sam Hearn


The Sutherland Trophy:

Persepolis directed by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud

10th FIPRESCI International Critics Award:

Unrelated directed by 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 Times bfi London Film Festival Grierson Award:

The Mosquito Problem and other stories directed by Andrey Paounov

TCM Classic Shorts Award:

A bout de truffe /The Truffle Hunter directed by Tom Tagholm


The Sutherland Trophy:

Red Road directed by Andrea Arnold

9th FIPRESCI International Critics Award:

Lola directed by Javier Rebollo

The Alfred Dunhill UK Film Talent Award:

Producer Mark Herbert

The 11th Annual Satyajit Ray Award:

The Lives of Others directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

The Times bfi London Film Festival Grierson Award:

Thin directed by Lauren Greenfield

TCM Classic Shorts Award:

Silence Is Golden directed by Chris Shepherd


The Sutherland Trophy:

The Living and the Dead directed by Kari Paljakka

8th FIPRESCI International Critics Award:

Man Push Cart directed by Ramin Bahrani

The Alfred Dunhill UK Film Talent Award:

Producer Gayle Griffiths

The 10th Annual Satyajit Ray Award:

Pavee Lackeen directed by Perry Ogden

The Times bfi London Film Festival Grierson Award:

Workingman's Death directed by Michael Glawogger

TCM Classic Shorts Award:

Happy directed by Jane Lloyd


The Sutherland Trophy:

Tarnation directed by Jonathan Caouette

7th FIPRESCI International Critics Award:

Aaltra co-directed by Gustave Kervern & Benoit Delepine

The Alfred Dunhill UK Film Talent Award:

A Way Of Life directed by Amma Asante

9th Annual Satyajit Ray Award:

The Woodsman directed by Nicole Kassell

TCM Classic Shorts Award:

Nits directd by Harry Wootliff


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