Today we spoke to Michael Blyth, Programmer at the


DEADLINE  • 28 June 2013


Michael Blyth, Programmer, BFILast year we made quite a few changes to the LFF, including giving focus to the competition films in our programme, and also expanding the festival’s footprint across the capital by going out to more venues than we have done previously. But for me the most exciting thing to happen was the creation of new thematic pathways – sections like Thrill, Love or Debate, for example – which we introduced to help audiences navigate there way through the programme in more creative, and perhaps instinctive, ways. One of these was our ‘Cult’ section, which I curate. I’ve always been obsessed with horror films, exploitation, b-movies, so as a programmer this has been an exciting opportunity to inject a bit of mischief into the programme, as well as giving audiences something they might not immediately expect from us.

This focus on audience is something very important to the LFF. While lots of the major international festivals are strictly for the industry, the London Film Festival is at heart a public event, bringing the films in our programme to as wide an audience as we can. As such, we strike an interesting balance between the industry and the public, and I think that gives the films a different kind of exposure than they might get at other festivals.

Given that we are the London Film Festival, produced by the British Film Institute, we are of course focused on showcasing the works of homegrown talent, and finding the most exciting new voices in British filmmaking. This is hugely important to us, but it is just one aspect of the festival, and we look at all types of work, from feature length narrative film, to short documentary animation from all across the world. In addition to our pathways we also have a robust section for experimental film, as well as shorts programmes and archive restorations. As such, there really are no rules when it comes to submitting a film for consideration. We are open to anything, and we will watch everything that comes to us. Whether your film is a 30 second long micro-budget oddity, or a glossy and expansive epic, we will give it equal curatorial attention. Also, I think that our new pathways really validate the fact that we look at films of all styles and genres. If you thought before that the LFF isn’t the place to see comedies or horror movies then think again. Things are changing, and the possibilities are endless.

Michael Blyth, Programmer, BFI London Film Festival to FilmFestivalLife, 25 June 2013 

9 – 20 October 2013, London, United Kingdom

BFI London on FilmFestivalLife


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Claire French

Claire French is the Marketing and Communications Director at FFL. Her editorial training is grounded in Arts Management, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and Communications and Media, Notre Dame University, Fremantle. Her film experience includes her position as Festival Director of Perth's Bamboo Mainstage Amphitheater. Reach her at