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BFI London Film Festival 2020

October 7 - October 18

BFI London Film Festival

The 64th BFI London Film Festival will walk red carpets around the UK capital once more this October.

From 7 to 18 October, the leading UK film festival will present 229 feature films from both the best and emerging filmmaking talents around the world, including 78 countries.

The festival will also feature films from first-time and second-time UK filmmakers.

Alongside the Cannes Film Festival, Venice International Film Festival and the Berlinale, the BFI London Film Festival is one of the leading European film festivals.

History of the London Film Festival

What began as a dinner party discussion at the home of Film critic Dilys Powell bemoaning a lack of a quality film festival in the UK capital has grown into one of Europe’s premier film events. The first festival was held at the National Film Theatre (NFT), now called the BFI Southbank, in 1957. Initially the festival was conceived as a ‘festival of festival’ screening films that had claimed awards at Cannes, Venice and Berlin. The original screening was Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood. It was not until 1960 that the first British film, Karel Reisz’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, was screened.

By the 1970s the festival had evolved to include many UK premiers. Now the London Film Festival is truly global featuring films from all continents at venues across London and not just on the Southbank. In its 60-something years, the BFI has seen actors and directors from around the world brave the Autumnal British weather to grace the red carpet.

BFI London Film Festival Premieres

The Irishman, BFI London Film Festival
The Irishman, (Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro) concluded the 2019 festival

{This section relates to the 2019 Festival, it will be updated when the 2020 Festival programme is announced.}

Last year the festival will included 28 films making their world premieres. Emphasising the importance of women in the filmmaking process, 40% of the films are either directed or co-directed by women.

The 2019 programme includes 41 documentaries and 116 short films.

The European premiere of a Personal History of David Copperfield by Armando Iannucci will commence proceedings on 2 October at the Odeon Luxe, Leicester Square, featuring Dev Patel, Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, Peter Capaldi and Ben Whishaw.

The festival closes on 13 October with the international premiere of The Irishman by Martin Scorsese, which teams up Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci.

BFI Film Festival Highlights

Films screened at the festival include: Knives Out (Rian Johnson) a whodunit with Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Plummer; The Aeronauts (Tom Harper) which teams up Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones; A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (Marielle Heller) starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers; Greed (Michael Winterbottom) with Steve Coogan; Hope Gap (William Nicholson) starring Annette Bening and Bill Nighy; and Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi). Ema by Chilean director Pablo Larraín will be the Festival Gala.

Screen Talks

There will also be a series of Screen Talks consisting of interviews with major players in contemporary cinema, including Rian Johnson, Lukas Moodysson and Kim Longinotto.

BFI London Film Festival Awards and Competitions

The BFI Film Festival has a number of awards of which the most prestigious is the Official Competition; nominations for the 2019 award were: Fanny Lye Deliver’d, Honey Boy, Lingua Franca, La Llorona, Moffie, Monos, The Other Lamb, The Perfect Candidate, Rose Plays Julie and Saint Maud. The Sutherland Award is for the first feature, and the Grierson Award for a documentary.

Alternatively for a more indie London film festivals, read our preview of the Raindance Film Festival in September.

Where is the BFI Film Festival?

The festival will be screened at 12 cinemas across London: BFI Southbank, Curzon Soho, the ICA, Odeon Luxe Leicester Square, BFI IMAX, Empire Haymarket, Ciné Lumière, Curzon Mayfair, Embankment Garden Cinema, Vue West End, Odeon Tottenham Court Road and Prince Charles Cinema.

BFI London Film Festival Tickets

To see prices and to purchase tickets for the festival, click here.

When is the 64th BFI London Film Festival?

From 7 to 18 October, 2020.

The full 63rd BFI London Film Festival programme

For the full programme, click here.

Cover image: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton and Mia Goth attend Premiere of Suspiria at BFI London Film Festival 2018. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for BFI).


October 7
October 18
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