Festival Director, BFI London Film Festival
Are there themes that recur again and again in the work of screen storytellers in 2021? Perhaps they’re not all new, but we are certainly seeing them with new eyes after spending over a year quarantined in our homes: the value of human connection, community, our environments – the fundamental nature of our relationships to the people and places around us.
These explorations range from the micro to the expansive, the lyrical to the literal. Directly reflecting on recent experiences, Ella Hickson, Sacha Wares and ScanLAB Projects’ Adult Children, an immersive project screening in our Expanded strand, explores the impact of the pandemic on families and communities, and our relationship to the most intimate environments of the home. While in The Rope, ARTE’s new supernatural drama and one of our series premieres, a group of scientists with a common purpose find that a mysterious, unexplained phenomena explodes group and personal dynamics. If that series speaks more obliquely to ideas of disease, infection and community, Rob Savage’s anarchic DASHCAM punches the pandemic right in the face with a story about infection that is equal parts terrifying, outrageous and riotously hilarious.
Filmmakers and artists are endlessly inventive. One of the real pleasures we have missed is exploring the big ideas, the bold creativity and the invention of their work in a collective environment – a cinema, an exhibition and at a festival. And we cannot wait to have you back with us in these spaces this year.
Thank you so much to American Express for their support. And to all our partners – the distributors and creators, companies that support the artists featured here, the sponsors and funders and industry organisations, the venues we visit… But from me personally, thank you so much to the team who pull together to knock themselves out, rallying to deliver the BFI London Film Festival. They’ve done so well under great pressure, against so many odds over the last two years; their passion fuels this festival from within. We hope you love these works as much as we do.
Ben Roberts, Chief Executive, BFI
We never really went away, but it still feels good to say that we are back!
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and this has never been truer than for millions of film fans whose big screen fix has been in such scant supply over the past year and a half. So we are really excited to welcome you to this year’s BFI London Film Festival – for everyone, everywhere across the UK, in cinemas and online on BFI Player.
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. We feel incredibly proud to present so much of this work – alongside as many of their creators as we can – and I invite you to immerse yourself in the sweet glow of the cinema screen and celebrate their very existence.
More than ever, we are indebted to our supporters whose commitment to our work has not wavered. Our partner American Express have been with us for 12 years and I’d like to express our most 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.
And a final note of thanks to the many incredible people who work at the BFI and who have worked tirelessly to sustain and promote our screen culture and industry in the most challenging of times. Thank you!
Charlotte Duerden, UK Country Manager – American Express
As a long-standing supporter of film in the UK we are proud that our partnership with BFI London Film Festival, now in its twelfth year, is stronger than ever. With a range of captivating films scheduled, the Festival is a hotly anticipated event, and not only showcases the best and brightest talent from across the industry, but helps our Cardmembers and film fans across the country get access to great cinema experiences. We hope you enjoy this year’s programme and look forward to seeing you.