22 Oct 2021 4:05 PM

Ben Roberts, Chief Executive of BFI summed up all our feelings in his programme notes when he proclaimed 'absence makes the heart grow fonder`.

It was truly fabulous to attend the London Film festival and enjoy great films with live audiences after the last 20 months. The great contribution that the BFI makes to the industry is of course fully acknowledged, but its contribution to the strength of the UK film industry has been exceptional and vital during Covid.

Following the hiatus in March 2020 when most productions came to a halt, the BFI alongside the Government and various industry groups such as the British Film Council, headed up by Adrian Woolton, worked tirelessly to get productions up and running by June 2020. The result has been a huge boom for the industry.  We now are seeing fully booked studios; a rush to build new studios and all the highly experienced film crews fully occupied.

The 2021 London Film Festival hosted some great and memorable films from established international film makers to new independent productions from all around the world. The Festival opened with `The Harder They Fall` a somewhat different take on the western genre starring Idris Elba, and closed with `The Tragedy of Macbeth`.

`The Tragedy of Macbeth`was the highlight of the Festival for me. Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand played the tragic leads. What really took my breath away was the cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel, surely a hot Oscar contender. The Director, Joel Coen commented before the film that whilst this was his first film without his brother, he did have considerable help from William Shakespeare. It’s mind-blowing that a 400 year old work still resonates today.

Whilst I saw many great films I’m sorry I didn’t attend the screening of the first two episodes of the third Series of Succession. I love this show but felt it would be frustrating to be left hanging after two episodes, and having to wait before I could see the rest of the series.

Judging by the comments by Ben Roberts and Alastair Campbell’s review in the Evening Standard it sounded like a riot during the screening. Campbell compared it to a football match between his beloved `Burnley and Manchester United and commented

…as the story unfolded, clever lines were met with raucous laughter, surprise storyline twists were greeted with gasps; and you had factions within the crowd cheering on the characters...

Who said cinema was dead?

The main screenings moved this year from Leicester Square to South Bank primarily at Royal Festival Hall which helped with congestion and allowed more opportunities to discuss the films over a drink. The films were also shown at cinemas all over the country including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast and Nottingham

And finally a word of thank you to all the BFI staff who worked so hard to make the 2021 London Film Festival such a success. They are a great team and credit to our industry.