Festivals and cultural events this year have moved online due to the ongoing pandemic, and the BFI London Film Festival is the latest large-scale one to take place.

This will be the first time that the festival has gone ahead part-remotely, which means a bit of a shakeup to the structure. If you’re thinking of going along yourself, here’s everything we know so far about watching 2020’s BFI London Film Festival from home.

We also have a similar article for DC’s FanDome event.

When is the BFI London Film Festival?

Hold onto your hats, because the BFI London Film Festival will take place from 7-18 October 2020.

There's a total of 58 films taking part from across 40 different countries. These will be available both digitally and in cinemas - with social distancing in place of course. 

How to attend the London Film Festival

If you'd like to attend this year's BFI Film Festival - either online or in person - then you'll need to get a ticket. If you wish to attend digitally, these will be available to purchase on the BFI Player website.

Tickets go on sale on the following dates: 

  • Monday 14 September 2020 at 10am BST - For BFI Patrons
  • Tuesday 15 September 2020 at 10am BST - For BFI Champions
  • Wednesday 16 September 2020 at 10am BST - For BFI Members
  • Monday 21 September 2020 at 10am BST - For general public

Though tickets for BFI Southbank and BFI Player will be given as priority to BFI supporters and members, the festival has promised that a small number of tickets will be held back for the general public when those tickets go on sale. 

In addition, a select number of tickets will also be available to purchase on the day of each screening, both on BFI Player and at BFI Southbank. These can be bought over the phone (contact number - 020 7928 3232) at the Box Office - with lines open from 10:30 and closing 30 minutes before a film starts. Tickets will be emailed to customers. 

If you want to attend in-person, you can either buy your tickets from the BFI Southbank website, or if you're based outside of London, see the list of participating cinemas for the festival to book locally. 

There are 50 virtual festival premieres across a number of genres, and each one will be presented with an intro or a Q&A with people involved within the film.

Some of the events will be free-to-access, including an international short film programme, salons and roundtables and a brand new virtual exhibition of XR and immersive art.

For industry delegates and those working in the media, UK regional cinemas will be hosting in-person screenings of a select number of films. 

All marketing materials so far have been geared towards UK viewers, so we don’t know yet whether international viewers will be geo blocked from viewing certain films. However, even if they are, there should be a workaround through using a VPN such as NordVPN or ExpressVPN.

Once we know more information, we’ll update this article.

How much do tickets cost for the London Film Festival?

Here's the breakdown of costs for tickets for the BFI London Film Festival: 

Virtual premieres

  • £12 per view for general public
  • £10 per view for BFI Patrons, Champions and Members
  • £5 tickets for 16-25 years old available on the day of screenings

BFI Southbank in-person screenings

  • £14 for general public (£12 for concessions - matinees only)
  • £12 for BFI Patrons, Champions and Members (£10 for concessions - matinees only)
  • £5 tickets for 16-25 years old available on the day of screenings

Tickets for other in-person screenings will vary depending on the cinema you are attending - check your local theatre for more information. You can find out more on the BFI tickets website.

Events and schedule

There will be the usual headline films, as well at the core strands that make up the BFI Film Festival. These are: Love, Debate, Laugh, Dare, Thrill, Cult, Journey, Create, Family, Treasures and Experimenta. The new strand - XR and immersive - will be free to explore with a gallery, as well as talks and events.

Some of the standout films from the festival include:

  • Pixar’s ‘Soul’
  • Spike Lee’s ‘American Utopia’
  • Chloé Zhao’s ‘Nomadland’
  • Garrett Bradley’s Sundance-winning documentary ‘Time’
  • Steve McQueen’s ‘Mangrove’
  • Romantic Drama ‘Ammonite’ starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan

You can find the full schedule for the festival over on the BFI website.