London Film Festival says free events ‘essential’ amid cost-of-living crisis

·3-min read
Tricia Tuttle at the BFI London Film Festival Programme Launch at BFI Southbank in London (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)
Tricia Tuttle at the BFI London Film Festival Programme Launch at BFI Southbank in London (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)

The head of the BFI London Film Festival has said the free elements of the event are “essential” given the cost-of-living crisis.

The LFF, run by the British Film Institute, takes place in October and features LFF for Free – a programme of free events.

Festival director Tricia Tuttle reflected on free or lower cost elements of the festival, telling the PA new agency: “You could build an entire festival without having to spend anything, and I love that.

“We launched LFF for Free in 2019 and even then we knew we wanted people to be able to come to the festival, buy a ticket, but then experience loads of different things without having to pay.

“Or to not even buy a ticket, but just come and do as much as they could.

“So it was part of our strategy then and now it seems even more essential, when people really have to think about how they spend their money. You can still engage with the festival.”

BFI chief executive Ben Roberts told PA: “We’ve got our free programme, we’ve frozen our prices. We really care about access to history and culture.

“So we’re making sure there are plenty of programmes available for everyone, that’s always been part of our mission, but you really feel it in the festival.

“I mean, at the same time the festival has to sell a lot of tickets, and that’s the challenge at the moment, but yes, it’s a festival for everyone.”

The 66th LFF takes place in London between October 5 and 16, and will extend to cultural venues in another 10 cities across the UK, including Manchester, Sheffield, Cardiff and Belfast.

Ms Tuttle said expanding across the country is “fundamental to what the festival is all about”, adding: We’ve known for a long time, even pre-pandemic, that we’ve built this beautiful festival in London and we wanted audiences around the UK to have access to that as well.

“We work so hard on the festival and for it only to be available to a small number of people who are in the capital is crazy.”

The festival – which will open with Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical and close with Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – will feature a variety of films, series and shorts, as well as extended reality immersive works.

Ms Tuttle said: “This year we’re opening with Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical, which is obviously adapted from the stage musical. Loads of people around the world have seen that show and they’re not going to be disappointed with this incredible film.

“Then we’re also closing with Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and a really, really playful, fun way to end the festival as well.”

Some of the biggest releases in the festival programme, which was announced at the BFI Southbank, include My Policeman, starring Harry Styles and Emma Corrin, and She Said, following Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan as the journalists who uncovered and exposed Harvey Weinstein.

Hotly anticipated releases also include Till, Empire Of Light, and The Son – a sequel to Oscar-winner The Father.

The Banshees Of Inisherin, from Martin McDonagh – the director of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – and starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson is also on the line-up.

The festival’s films have been placed into 13 strands depending on themes and content including Love, Debate, Cult, Experimenta, Family and Thrill.

The BFI London Film Festival will run from October 5 to 16 at a number of venues across London and the UK and online on BFI Player.