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Photo Source: StudioCanal / BFI Distribution / BBC / National Theatre

Everything That Happened at the BFI London Film Festival

When I started working in London, one of the things I most looked forward to was getting involved in the arts scene. Think: concerts, fashion weeks, film festivals, and the like. I didn’t get a chance to do much of that because of the coronavirus lockdown, and by the time lockdown measures had eased up, I was already back in Los Angeles. Measures had eased so much, in face, that the BFI London Film Festival still happened! (Let’s just ignore for a minute that the UK has re-entered lockdown)

Truth be told, if I were still in London a couple of weeks ago, there’s a high probability I would have thrown on my mask and checked out what was going on. So many fascinating films were on showcase, and missing them at the film festival means waiting for distribution. Now’s time to play the waiting game.

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What is the BFI London Film Festival?

BFI London Film Festival, also known as LFF, is an annual film festival that is run in co-operation with the British Film Institute, a charitable organization that promotes and preserves television and filmmaking in the UK. The festival was founded in 1957, and screens films from all over the world. This year, the festival ran from October 7-19, and included virtual screenings, as well as screenings in physical cinemas.   

What Screened at LFF This Year?

A whopping 139 different films, documentaries, shorts, and experiences were showcased at LFF this year, including African Apocalypse, Mogul Mowgli, Salsa, and more. You can check out the full, official LFF films list here.

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Which Films Took Home the Awards?

When closing night came around, the BFI London Film Festival held a virtual ceremony to announce award winners in several different categories. They also announced the winner of the prestigious IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary, worth £50,000. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

The category winners are:

Riz Ahmed as British-Pakistani rapper Zed in Mogul Mowgli

If you’re thinking about watching some of the films that were screened at LFF, be sure to look beyond just the award winners. Some of the films I’m most excited about are the ones that are telling hyper-specific stories. These are stories that might be harder for a mass-market audience to access, but that resonate in an extreme way with those who can relate.

Dawinder Bansal’s Jambo Cinema is one short that I’m looking forward to. In this short, Bansal narrates her childhood in the ‘80s as a Kenyan Indian, a specific but familiar cultural intersection as someone whose family shares Asian-African heritage.

Another I’m looking forward to is Bassam Tariq’s Mogul Mowgli, starring Riz Ahmed who also co-wrote the film. After two years of touring, the life of a British-Pakistani rapper starts to unravel when he succumbs to a debilitating illness. Race, identity, politics, music – all playing out in the context of the South Asian and Muslim diasporas. You wouldn’t believe how long I’ve wanted to see something like this. Now I just need to wait patiently for this film get to America so I can finally watch it because the BFI player can’t be accessed here… You got me, universe. You’ve got a strange sense of humor.

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