Attending the London Film Festival has given me new skills in navigating a large festival as a programmer. I have attended large festivals before as a member of the public, press and for my MA, but this is the first time I have attended for professional programming purposes. Not only did I have to organise my time and schedule to make the most of the programme, but I needed to prioritise the films that I felt would most benefit the Northampton Filmhouse programme and audience.
For this reason, I ensured I saw a number of large, award-season releases that I think will do well with our audience (e.g. MARRIAGE STORY and LE MANS '66), alongside smaller films from around the world that I hope will encourage new audiences and continue to develop our current audience. It was really great to be able to see such a wide selection of films that can help inform my programming decisions going forward.
I prioritised British productions, as we are committed to showcasing the best new British films. It was very useful to be able to see SAINT MAUD, CALM WITH HORSES, MONSOON, OUR LADIES, PINK WALL and LYNN + LUCY at the festival. I think this is an exciting year for British films and I am encouraged by the features I have seen. Although they all have different audiences, I am hopeful that we'll be able to bring a diverse and exciting range of British features to our audience over the next 12 months. I will also investigate to see if we are able to invite some of the filmmakers to the Filmhouse to provide our audience with unique and unforgettable experiences in the cinema.
I was also able to see a number of titles that I think will work nicely in our Discussion Series. We have introduced the Discussion Series as a way of encouraging audiences to see innovative and exciting films that might otherwise be quite challenging. Films like BACURAU, THE KINGMAKER and possibly LA LLORONA may be good contenders for future Discussion screenings, as they tackle important and complex world issues and are ripe for generating conversations. We also had great success with our recent discussion screening of BAIT and I think THE LIGHTHOUSE may benefit from similar programming. The LFF gave me a great opportunity to consider how the discussion screenings may fit together throughout the year, which is an insight I am not normally able to consider when programming brochure-to-brochure.
The festival was also really helpful in finalising the programme for our Q-Film Weekender. The festival's online player and press and industry screenings provided me with the chance to see a number of potential films in quick succession and make the final bookings. This would have been a difficult process without access to the LFF player and screenings.
Finally, the LFF provided me with the opportunity to meet up and discuss programming, festivals and new releases with others in the industry. It is invaluable to be able to meet in person with others working in exhibition and distribution, and I have taken ideas, inspiration and advice from these discussions which I am hoping to bring to the Northampton Filmhouse.
Jade received a bursary from Film Hub Midlands to attend the BFI London Film Festival.