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Welcome

This year’s Festival opens at a time of almost unprecedented global change. Seismic shifts in the UK mean we are working to explore and shape new opportunities and relationships with countries around the globe as well as within Europe. What a delight then, to welcome some of the most thrilling storytellers from those countries, giving us a window in to their worlds and to be enthralled, provoked, moved and entertained by the tales they tell.

We love to watch and engage with the extraordinary conversations that the Festival brings to our doorstep with every edition. London has a big heart and this year, with screenings of 242 feature films from 67 countries, we are again reminded of the generosity and freedom of this awesome capital city of ours which so readily embraces this multiplicity of cultures and new voices.

The explosion of imagination that is a hallmark of the Festival is also reflected across the UK. Creativity is the engine behind so much that is driving our economy and the UK is one of the most go-to places for filmmakers. Filmmaking is thriving across the whole country, supported by a highly favourable financial environment, confident, innovative skilled individuals behind and in front of the camera, and ever expanding infrastructure and facilities.

We could not achieve any of this without the incredible support that we have. From our wonderful partners, sponsors and funders to all the players of the National Lottery whose ticket buying raises vital revenue for the good causes, which includes film, I offer a heartfelt thank you for helping us to create this magic.

Amanda Nevill
Chief Executive, BFI

Introduction

In these globally tumultuous times, filmmakers around the world have increasingly urgent stories to tell and more reasons than ever to reimagine our reality. This year’s BFI London Film Festival programme is rich with opportunity – to stay informed, be challenged, feel the pleasure of escape and see the world differently.

While our outlook is decidedly international, our beating heart is definitively British and we are excited to premiere Breathe (Opening Night), Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Journey’s End, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, On Chesil Beach, Dark River and The Party across our Galas and Special Presentations. It’s also a strong year for British filmmakers working internationally with new films from Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Closing Night), Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here) and Andrew Haigh (Lean on Pete, Official Competition).

Showcasing new discoveries is a hugely rewarding part of what we do and this year is particularly strong for emerging British talent with three films up for the Sutherland Award – Daniel Kokotajlo’s Apostasy, Michael Pearce’s Beast and Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not a Witch.

We reflect London’s position as the world’s leading creative city with our new programme section CREATE, celebrating artistic expression in all its forms. And continue our LFF Connects talks series with artists working at the intersection of film and other creative industries, with this year’s line-up including director Julian Rosefeldt and actor Cate Blanchett (Manifesto), director David Fincher (MINDHUNTER) and novelist and screenwriter Ian McEwan (On Chesil Beach).

This year’s BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival commemorated the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales and we’re proud the LFF has such a powerful LGBT line-up including American Express® Gala Battle of the Sexes, The Mayor of London’s Gala Call Me by Your Name and BFI Flare Special Presentation A Fantastic Woman.

After the Festival, the BFI embarks on the UK-wide season BFI Thriller exploring how the genre reflects societal upheavals, fears and anxieties. It’s a cracking year for global thrill seekers at LFF too, with particularly strong showing from East Asia, including our Thrill Gala Blade of the Immortal (Japan), Bad Genius (Thailand), Memoir of a Murderer (South Korea) and Wrath of Silence (China).

After a hugely successful first year, we’re delighted to continue our purpose-built venue at Victoria Embankment Gardens, the screening home for Official Competition premieres, Strand Galas and some of our Special Presentations.

I echo Amanda’s thanks to our partners for all their support and I thank and congratulate the filmmakers who entrust us with their work. It is a privilege to bring your films to London audiences and to share our city with you.

Clare Stewart
Festival Director, BFI London Film Festival

American Express partnership with the BFI

We are honoured to partner, once again, with the BFI London Film Festival, bringing the very best in cinema to our capital this October. American Express has long been a supporter of film, championing new and established talent and making film more accessible to our Cardmembers – a tradition we look forward to upholding this year.

Charlotte Duerden
General Manager, American Express UK

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