As the public are gradually making their way back to cinemas around the country, the BFI London Film Festival also makes its return but like we‘ve never seen before…

In response to the monumental changes that the world’s gone through in the past few months, film festivals have had to adapt, premieres moving from the red carpet to people homes. As theatres begin to reopen, alongside the recent spike in coronavirus cases worldwide, the LFF 2020 is trying to find a balance in maintaining what makes film festivals special with the need for caution.

While there’s no denying the hard hit the film industry has taken due to the pandemic, Tricia Tuttle, the festival’s director since 2018, remains optimistic, saying that in fact, this year has, “given us an opportunity to think creatively about how we make the Festival more accessible”. And she isn’t wrong, with 50 virtual premieres, all of which contain access to Q&A’s, becoming available for eager cinephiles across the UK. As well as this, all of the 50 films available are also eligible for the audience choice awards.

In tune with the general atmosphere of change, the festival has made a conscious decision to not to follow a traditional tiered structure for categorising this year’s entries, instead vouching for “audience strands” to distinguish themLove, Laugh, Dare, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Create, Family, Treasures and Experimenta.

Supernova with Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci

What COVID-19 has not managed to change about this year’s LFF, however, is the quality of the films shown. Opening with Steve McQueen’s highly anticipated anthology series exploring the West Indian experience in London, Mangrove, this year’s festival is bountiful in its collection of quality productions, from the electric David Byrne’s American Utopia by the well seasoned Spike Lee, to the exciting films of the next generation, such as Ammonite (Francis Lee) and Limbo (Ben Sharrock), and Harry Macqueen’s introspective road movie Supernova featuring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, to name just a few.

Despite the precariousness of the times, let’s hope the films of the BFI London Film Festival 2020 will provide us with some much-needed energy and inspiration to get us through the coming months…

The 64th BFI London Film Festival is online and at various venues from 7 to 18 October widely accessible wherever you are in the UK, with over 50 virtual premieres, free online events and cinema screenings across the land.  View the full programme here.

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