BFI London Film Festival 2021

It’s time for the London Film Festival again and this year the BFI has reverted to a festival mainly in London cinemas (including the Festival Hall) but thankfully some festival screenings are online and some are being shown in cinemas in different parts of the country, including Glasgow, Belfast and Cardiff. Since I’m staying put in West Yorkshire I haven’t investigated the whole range of venues but I have attempted to navigate the online offer. I have managed to book half a dozen films and my first review will appear soon. As usual, I’ve avoided the ‘big name’ films and gone for the ‘smaller’ offerings. I hope to bring you news of films from Lebanon, Iran, Bangladesh and Japan plus two American independents, one a Native American drama and the other featuring a Ghanaian community in the US.

After last year’s online festival, I’ll be better prepared to make sure I catch all the introductions and Q&As. I don’t think the BFI have yet sorted out a deal which enables me to ‘airplay’ BFI Player screenings direct to my TV screen via Apple TV (there is a BFI app on Apple TV that I’ve been warned away from) which means I’m stuck watching the films on my desktop computer. It’s better than a laptop or iPad but not ideal. (Other festivals make airplay straightforward.) I’m wondering just how it will feel to see a film on a cinema screen again? I think I’ll give it another month or two at least before I find out.

Out of the seven films I watched on last year’s online festival, four actually made it into some form of distribution in the UK, ie. cinemas, streaming or on physical media. I hope we get a similar outcome this year. Watch this space for reviews.


  1. keith1942

    I have not really figured out streaming. My TV comes with an ‘app.’ for You Tube and for Netflix, [which i do not use]. But there does not seem to be a method to add other streaming platforms like the BFI I-Player. Any idea what prevent this?


    • Roy Stafford

      The app is only on Apple TV, I think, and it requires an extra Apple subscription. Your TV apps will be provided by your smart TV manufacturer? Other apps come from whatever other devices you use with your TV such as an Amazon Firestick, or Apple TV etc.


  2. john David hall

    Happy to start watching LFF films again at various venues including Home in Mcr and, this year, the Science Museum in Bradford. Parking in Leeds for those of us who drive over is now £3 in the evenings and I seem to recall it being free after 6 pm in years gone by. Not excessive but a disincentive for a forty minute drive at the end of which is a film I know very little about and may well not enjoy.
    Manchester is not much better, in fact worse from that point of view, but I did catch ‘Drive My Car’ there yesterday – a bit of an epic at three hours plus a twenty minute video interview between the programmer and the director, which may be surprising as it was based on a short story by Haruki Murakami. I am a fan of Murakami and have read some longer works that passed more quickly than this film. There were definite longueurs in the middle but it came to a more satisfying conclusion than I was expecting. There is probably a leaner and more gripping version of this film struggling to get out.
    A couple of films to see in London at the back end of the week then I am done.


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