The film industry has been hit incredibly hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with blockbusters facing unprecedented delays and cinema giant Cineworld closing its doors.
Despite the industry struggles, London Film Festival has been running, complete with socially distant premieres, virtual screenings, and a whole host of film fans who aren’t letting the pandemic get in their way.
Chatting to Metro.co.uk, BFI’s Director of Festivals Tricia Tuttle revealed the lengths they’ve gone to this year to make the festival happen.
‘We designed the festival so that even if there was a second lockdown, we could still deliver a great festival via the digital elements, but we also want to be back in cinemas,’ Tricia explained.
She added that the filmmakers and actors have adapted incredibly well to the socially distanced premieres, adding: ‘I hope most people have seen the incredible picture from our opening film Mangrove of Steve McQueen, and his four lead actors socially distanced.
‘It is honestly the most iconic photocall we’ve ever had because the social distancing gives it real power. I mean they just look like the Avengers!’
‘The one thing that is the same is putting together a programme that has all the hits, all the beats we want to hit – international but also celebrates British cinema, has a diverse range of voices represented in the programme, includes documentary, fiction work – that’s been the bit that we really know how to do and it hasn’t been that different even though scaling it down changes it a little bit,’ Tricia continued.
‘Every other process has been completely different. Every letter that we write to a filmmaker, and the official selection forms, to how we get the materials delivered, it’s all completely different.’
The future of the film industry is definitely uncertain, especially considering the shock closure of Cineworld. However, Tricia’s optimistic about the future.
‘I believe, really passionately, that audiences do want to have an independent cinema and cultural cinemas at the heart of their communities and they will keep going as and when they feel safe to do so,’ she pointed out.
‘So as long as we can keep cinemas going until that point where they can fill their screens with audiences then I don’t fear for the future of cinema exhibition at all, it’s just getting over the really difficult next six months or a year until there’s a vaccination. And we all have to work together to do that.’
Describing the festival as a ‘moment of defiance’, Tricia added that the struggles the film industry is facing have actually brought communities together.
‘Every company, every organisation, usually works in a silo and this year I’ve seen more cooperation, more dialogue between myself and international film festivals, between myself and our festival and local festivals around the UK,’ she explained.
‘And then also the way we’re working with cinema partners around the UK I think in that sense, it really does feel like we’re all trying to come together to solve huge challenges together.’