London Festival Chief Upbeat About Cinema’s Future

When Tricia Tuttle, director of the BFI London Film Festival, arrived in Cannes in July, it marked the first time in a long time she found herself sitting in a large-scale venue to watch a film. The experience, she says, was “incredibly emotional.”

Which is perhaps why, when asked what her highlights are from the upcoming LFF (Oct. 6-17), Tuttle doesn’t cite one or two films but the entire festival. “It sounds so obvious, but getting back into cinemas — absolutely. And a largescale, physical, live festival.”

With last year’s LFF a primarily virtual event, Tuttle and her team were determined that 2021 would be accessible in-person. But, for that to be possible, they needed to make the decision in late May/early June, when most of the U.K. population was still unvaccinated and no one had any idea whether, by fall, another lockdown might be on the horizon. “We knew we wanted to get back to cinemas,” says Tuttle. “Our chief executive, Ben Roberts, and the board of the BFI really backed us on what was a calculated risk.”

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