LFF 2020: The digital line-up and how it works
Ivan Radford | On 08, Sep 2020Reading time: 6 mins
The line-up for the 2020 London Film Festival has officially been unveiled, featuring a host of films from more than 40 countries around the world. A hybrid of online event and theatrical previews, the festival will stream 58 films online as virtual premieres, while a number of features will also have in-person previews at BFI Southbank and in other cinemas across the UK. The result is the LFF’s most accessible year yet.
Running from 7th to 18th October, the festival kicks off with the European premiere of Mangrove, starring Letitia Wright, from Steve McQueen’s upcoming BBC series Small Axe, and closes with the UK premiere of Francis Lee’s Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. As well as screening at the BFI Southbank, both will be screened in cinemas across the UK, with Mangrove’s screenings available for free.
The rest of the film line-up includes the usual thematic strands – Love, Debate, Laugh, Dare, Cult, Journey, Create, Experimenta, Family and Treasures – and each film will be presented with an intro or Q&A from the filmmakers and programmers.
While there are some omissions that might once have been on the wishlist, such as The French Dispatch, One Night in Miami and First Cow, the mostly online festival has assembled an impressive collection of titles from established and up-and-coming filmmakers. Josephine Decker’s Shirley, starring Elizabeth Moss, Abel Ferrara’s Siberia, Miranda July’s Kajillionaire, Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor, Ben Sharrock’s Limbo (acquired by MUBI) and Natalie Erika James’ Relic, Jerry Rothwell’s The Reason I Jump and Tomm Moore’s animation Wolfwalkers (to be released by Apple TV+) are all among the virtual screenings.
Cinema previews will be given to some of the biggest, star-studded titles, including Harry Macqueen’s Supernova, starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, Pixar’s Soul, directed by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers, Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand, Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round, Bassam Tariq’s Mogul Mowgli, starring Riz Ahmed and Phyllida Lloyd’s Herself.
Participating cinemas including London’s Barbican Centre, ICA, Prince Charles Cinema, Ciné Lumière amd Curzon Mayfair, Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema, Chapter Cardiff, the Glasgow Film Theatre, HOME Manchester, Belfast’s Queen’s Film Theatre Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema and Bristol Watershed.
All online features will be geo-blocked to the UK, but the festival’s Screen Talks will be available to experience for free from anywhere in the world. The LFF Expanded strand of 21 XR and Immersive Art films will also be free online worldwide and at BFI Southbank for the duration of the Festival. Also available on BFI Player will be a selection of feature films for free and the international programme of short films is also available for free.
This year, the Festival Awards will aptly be in the hands of the audience, who will take the place of the Festival’s Official Jury. Viewers engaging with the Festival online will be invited to vote on Virtual LFF Audience Awards in four categories: Best Fiction Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best Short Film, and Best XR. The winners will be announced in a live online ceremony on the final weekend of the Festival.
So how will all of this work? Nine of the films will be available in cinemas and online, including Supernova, Aleem Khan’s Cannes-selected After Love and David Byrne’s Broadway show American Utopia, directed by Spike Lee for HBO (and coming soon via Sky in the UK). Four films are only in cinemas, including Soul and Nomadland as well as the opening and closing films.
The remaining 44 will be streamed online via BFI Player. Each digital premiere will have a specific starting time. Most films will require you to start watching within 30 minutes of that time, although some films will have a longer, 72-hour window to hit play. Once you’ve begun streaming a film, you’ll have a three-hour window to finish.
Tickets go on sale to BFI Members at 10am on Wednesday 16th September and to the general public at 10am on Monday 21st September. You can buy tickets for screenings on BFI Player or at BFI Southbank, with a small allocation of tickets available on the day for every cinema screening. Individual tickets to cinema screenings cost £14 (for the BFI Southbank), while virtual premieres cost £12 per view.
Watch this space for more information on days, dates, highlights and more. Until then, here’s the breakdown of the full line-up and how you can watch each film:
180° RULE | Farnoosh Samadi | Iran | 2020 | Debate
200 METERS | Ameen Nayfeh | Palestine | 2020 | Debate
A COMMON CRIME | Francisco Márquez | Argentina, Brazil, Switzerland 2020 | Dare
A DAY-OFF OF KASUMI ARIMURA | d. Hirokazu Kore-eda | w. Sakura Higa | Japan 2020 |Journey (Series)
AFRICAN APOCALYPSE | Rob Lemkin | UK 2020 | Debate
BAD TALES | Fabio D’Innocenzo, Damiano D’Innocenzo | Italy 2020 | Dare
BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKET | Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross | USA 2020 | Journey
THE CHEATERS | Paulette McDonagh | Australia 1929 | Treasures
THE CHESS GAME OF THE WIND | Mohammad Reza Aslani | Iran 1976 | Treasures
CICADA | Matt Fifer and Kieran Mulcare | USA 2020 | Love
DAYS | Tsai Ming-Liang | Taiwan 2020 | Love*
DELIA DERBYSHIRE: THE MYTHS AND LEGENDARY TAPES | Caroline Catz | UK 2020 | Create
THE DISCIPLE | Chaitanya Tamhane | India 2020 | Create
FAREWELL AMOR | Ekwa Msangi | USA 2020 | Love
FRIENDSHIP’S DEATH | Peter Wollen | UK 1987 | Treasures
GENUS PAN | Lav Diaz | Philippines 2020 | Journey
GOLD FOR DOGS | Anna Cazenave Cambet | France 2020 | Journey
HONEYMOOD | Talya Lavie | Israel 2020 | Laugh
I AM SAMUEL | Pete Murimi | Kenya 2020 | Journey
IDENTIFYING FEATURES | Fernanda Valadez | Mexico-Spain 2020 | Journey
IF IT WERE LOVE | Patric Chiha | France 2020 | Love
INDUSTRY | d. Lena Dunham, Tinge Krishnan, Ed Lilly | w. Mickey Down, Konrad Kay | UK 2020 | Journey (Series)
THE INTRUDER | Natalia Meta | Argentina-Mexico 2020 | Dare
KAJILLIONAIRE | Miranda July | USA 2020 | Laugh
LIMBO | Ben Sharrock | UK 2020 | Journey
NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN | Małgorzata Szumowska, Michał Englert | Poland-Germany | Laugh
NEW ORDER | Michel Franco | Mexico 2020 | Dare
NOTTURNO | Gianfranco Rosi | Italy-Germany-France 2020 | Journey
ONE MAN AND HIS SHOES | Yemi Bamiro | UK 2020 | Debate
THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF | Benjamin Ree | Norway 2020 | Create
POSSESSOR | Brandon Cronenberg | Canada-UK 2020 | Cult
THE REASON I JUMP | Jerry Rothwell | UK 2020
RELIC | Natalie Erika James | Australia-USA 2020 | Cult
ROSE | Jennifer Sheridan | UK 2020 | Cult
THE SALT IN OUR WATERS | Rezwan Shahriar Sumit | Bangladesh-France 2020| Journey
SHADOW COUNTRY | Bohdan Sláma | Czech Republic 2020 | Debate
SIBERIA | Abel Ferrara | Italy-Germany-Mexico 2020 | Dare
SOUND FOR THE FUTURE | Matt Hulse | UK-China 2020 | Experimenta
STRAY | Elizabeth Lo | USA 2020 | Journey
STRIDING INTO THE WIND | Wei Shujun | China 2020 | Create
THIS IS MY DESIRE (EYIMOFE) | Arie Esiri, Chuko Esiri | Nigeria 2019
ULTRAVIOLENCE | Ken Fero | UK 2020 | Debate
WILDFIRE | Cathy Brady | UK-Ireland 2020 | Dare
WOLFWALKERS | Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart | Ireland-Luxembourg-France 2020 |Family
ZANKA CONTACT | Ismaël El Iraki | France-Morocco-Belgium 2020 | Create
Only In Cinemas
MANGROVE | Steve McQueen | UK 2020
AMMONITE | Francis Lee| UK 2020
SOUL | Pete Docter, Kemp Powers | USA 2020 | Family
NOMADLAND | Chloé Zhao | USA 2020 | Journey
Virtual and In Cinemas
AFTER LOVE | Aleem Khan | UK 2020 | Love
ANOTHER ROUND | Thomas Vinterberg | Denmark 2020 | Journey
DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA | Spike Lee | USA 2020 | Create
HERSELF | Phyllida Lloyd | UK 2020 | Love
MOGUL MOWGLI | Bassam Tariq | UK 2020 | Dare
SHIRLEY | Josephine Decker | USA 2020 | Dare
SUPERNOVA | Harry Macqueen | UK 2020 | Love
TIME | Garrett Bradley | USA 2020 | Debate
UNDINE | Christian Petzold | Germany 2020