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BFI London Film Festival 2023 wraps up with Audience Award winners and highest in-person attendance in five years

Short Summary:

The 67th BFI London Film Festival reached audiences of 430,550 across 12 days of screenings and events in London and UK-wide, featuring 252 titles from 92 countries. The festival also announced the winners of the LFF Audience Awards.

The BFI London Film Festival concluded its 67th edition on Sunday 15 October with the world premiere of Kibwe Tavares and Daniel Kaluuya’s The Kitchen. The closing night gala was held at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall and was attended by filmmakers Daniel Kaluuya and Kibwe Tavares, cast members Kane Robinson, Ian Wright, Jedaiah Bannerman, Hope Ikpoku Jr, Teija Kabs, Demmy Ladipo, Cristale and BackRoad Gee, as well as Michaela Coel and Asif Kapadia.

The festival director Kristy Matheson, who marked her first year in the role, said: “It was an absolute joy seeing audiences enthusiastically connecting to this year’s programme which was beautifully handcrafted by our talented festival team. Over 12 days we saw audiences coming together and being rewarded for their curiosity and fandom across the full breadth of what the moving image has to offer. UK artists shone bright across the whole programme, alongside some of international cinema’s greatest legends and exciting new talents; our sincere thanks to them for sharing their supreme creativity with us all.”

The festival also announced the winners of the LFF Audience Awards, which were voted by members of the public who saw the films during the festival. The Best Feature Award went to George Amponsah’s Gassed Up, a thriller about a group of London teenage boys who turn to motorbike crime for survival. The Best Documentary Award was won by Chloe Abrahams’ The Taste of Mango, which follows three generations of women spanning Sri Lanka to London. The Best British Work Award was given to Festival of Slaps, a short film by Abdou Cisse that explores cultural stereotypes through a Nigerian mother’s slap. The Best Immersive/XR Award was awarded to Murals, an immersive work by Alex Topaller, Daniel Shapiro and Artem Ivanenko that shows the devastation of war in Ukraine juxtaposed with Banksy’s murals.

The festival featured a diverse and engaging programme of 252 titles (including features, shorts, XR works and series) from 92 countries and 79 languages. The festival also had 29 world premieres, 7 international premieres and 30 European premieres. The festival had an in-person attendance of 195,665, the highest in the last five years, while 225,577 enjoyed the festival online. Over half of this year’s bookers (54%) were new to the LFF.

The festival also presented a range of awards chosen by juries. The Best Film Award in Official Competition went to Evil Does Not Exist by Ryusuke Hamaguchi. The Sutherland Award in the First Feature Competition was won by Paradise Is Burning by Mika Gustafson. The Grierson Award in the Documentary Competition was given to Bye Bye Tiberias by Lina Soualem. The Short Film Award in the Short Film Competition was awarded to The Archive: Queer Nigerians by Simisolaoluwa Akande.

The festival also had a vibrant cultural hub at the South Bank, where the headline gala venue Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall was located alongside BFI Southbank and an exhibition of immersive art and extended reality works at new venues Bargehouse at Oxo Tower Wharf, Gallery@OXO, Outernet and Science Gallery London. A selection of 16 LFF features screened at nine partner cinemas in cities across the UK’s nations and regions. A curated programme of 14 free shorts was available digitally on BFI Player. Screen Talks were available on BFI YouTube for the duration of the festival. An industry forum at Picturehouse Central was a busy hub for delegates this year.

The festival also offered more than 50 completely free events as part of the LFF for Free programme. These included screenings, family-focused activities, talks with household names and visionary new talent, augmented reality walks and film-inspired music nights. The Surprise Film was the biopic sports thriller Ferrari, starring Adam Driver and Penelope Cruz, and directed by Michael Mann, who took part in a Q&A following the screening.

The BFI London Film Festival is a celebration of cinema and the moving image. It showcases the best of British and international filmmaking, as well as immersive art, free events, industry talks and awards. The festival aims to connect audiences with filmmakers and artists, and to inspire the next generation of screen creatives.