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London Film Festival Offers Beacon of Hope to COVID-Hit Industry

London Film Festival Offers Beacon of Hope to COVID-Hit Industry

Saturday, 10 October, 2020 - 10:15
A general view is seen ahead of the opening for a screening at the Rio Cinema Dalston, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in London, Britain, October 8, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The pizzazz of the red carpet will be lacking and fewer films will be on offer at this year’s London Film Festival, but fans can still enjoy a broad program, either on the big screen while socially distanced or streamed into their own homes.

Festival director Tricia Tuttle said the hybrid model meant she could deliver a vibrant event to audiences, in cinemas in London and beyond as well as online, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year there really is no physical locus of the festival,” Tuttle said in an interview on Thursday.

Social distancing, which reduces the capacity of cinemas to about 30% of normal levels, has triggered an expansion of the festival beyond its home at the British Film Institute (BFI) on London’s South Bank and other independent cinemas in the capital to cities such as Manchester, Bristol and Sheffield.

“Even if you don’t live in a city that has a great independent cinema, you can still watch almost all of the festival on the BFI Player, which is our digital cinema,” Tuttle said.

This year the festival will showcase 60 feature films from Britain and around the world, down from the usual 220 or so, but variety will not be sacrificed.

“What we’re trying to achieve is different voices, different perspectives,” Tuttle said. “There are over 40 countries represented in the program, so its still an international program but it’s also a celebration of cinema.”

“UK cinema is also really, really important to us. It’s very vibrant.”

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