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London Film Festival

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London Film Festival

Run by the British Film Institute, the London Film Festival is the UK's largest public film festival, usually screening over 300 films from 60 countries. Held every October, the festival was founded in 1956 when a group of film critics including Dilys Powell of the Sunday Times, decided that "with Cannes and Venice having their festivals, as did Edinburgh, so surely London should too."The first actual festival was conceived by the then BFI British Film Institute Director James Quinn, and took place at the NFT (National Film Theatre, now renamed BFI Southbank). It screened only 15-20 films from a renowned selection of directors, including Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, Yasujir┼Ź Ozu, Luchino Visconti and Andrzej Wajda. Since then, the festival has generally been viewed as a showcase for major works from Cannes, Toronto, and Sundance to have their UK premieres. Recently, the festival has made strides in branching out beyond this role, perhaps most notably by nabbing the world premieres of films like "Frost/Nixon" and "The Fantastic Mr. Fox," and expanding its awards program and galas. “For years, London was known as a festival of festivals,” the festival's Artistic Director, Sandra Hebron, recently told Indiewire in an interview. “And that is important because it’s a sort of great way of bringing films to London that might not get here otherwise. But I think in any festival you need to have some element of discovery too. It can’t be a kind of greatest hits festival. I think particularly, when the timing works out, it’s great if there’s new British films we can give world premieres to. But at the same time, the festival is an international festival.” The festival is currently divided into themes which cover various areas of interest. For example: Galas and Special Screenings, Film on the Square, New British Cinema, French Revolutions, Cinema Europa, World Cinema, Experimental, Treasures from the Archives, Short Cuts, and Animation. Though the festival is focused around Leicester Square and the BFI Southbank in central London, it additionally uses 18 venues around central London for their screenings.

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