Leeds International Film Festival
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|Awards||Audience award for feature films, jury awards for short films|
The Leeds International Film Festival (LIFF) is the largest film festival in England outside London. Founded in 1987, it is held in November at various venues throughout Leeds, West Yorkshire. In 2015, the festival welcomed over 40,000 visitors and showed over 300 films from around the world, shorts and features, both commercial and independent.
LIFF features five programme sections: Official Selection, Retrospective, Cinema Versa, Fanomenon and Short Film City. LIFF is a qualifying film festival for the Academy Awards and the winning films in Short Film City's Louis Le Prince International Short Film Competition and World Animation Award may thus be eligible for the academy's Short Film Awards. The festival's British Short Film Competition is BAFTA qualifying.
The festival is supported by Leeds City Council and the festival office is based in Leeds Town Hall, together with Leeds Young Film Festival (LYFF) (formerly Leeds Children & Young People's Film Festival (LCYPFF)).
LIFF Programme Sections and Awards
Leeds International Film Festival's programme has five categories: Official Selection, Retrospective, Cinema Versa, Fanomenon and Short Film City. Fanomenon and Short Film City host various short film competitions, some of which qualify their winners for major film awards such as the Academy Awards. Moreover, the festival audience votes for their favourite feature film from all screenings. These votes determine the winner of the festival's Audience Award, as well as the extra screenings of Film Festival Favourites towards the end of the festival.
The Official Selection hosts special previews and screenings of some of the most anticipated and acclaimed films of the year, as well as showcasing new discoveries from international independent filmmaking. Many of these have celebrated prizewinning successes at other major festivals such as Cannes or the Berlin International Film Festival.
Every year, LIFF shows a broad array of retrospective programmes, giving audiences the opportunity to watch forgotten gems as well as celebrated classics on the big screen.
Cinema Versa is dedicated to the documentary and inspired by the underground festival aesthetic, showcasing low budget, independent features. The programme's Music on Film section shows a range of old and new musical and film styles. Underground Voices, another Cinema Versa section, provides a platform for Human rights and activist films. Cinema Versa's Forum presents a series of special events.
Fanomenon is the home of cult and fantasy cinema at LIFF. It presents new genre films, cult-subject documentaries, animated features, rarely-screened classics and movie marathons. Each year, beginning in 2001, the festival has played host to the Night of the Dead, an all-night horror-thon. The most recent festival introduced a single day of back to back anime films at Leeds Town Hall, to be repeated in 2015. Fanomenon also hosts the Dead Short Competition for horror shorts.
Short Film City
Short Film City hosts the festival's short film competitions and panoramas, as well as special events and exhibitions. The Louis le Prince International Short Film Competition is named after Louis le Prince, a French born film pioneer living in Leeds who made the first ever moving pictures in 1888. The Louis le Prince Competition, as well as the World Animation award are qualifying competitions for the Academy Awards. The festival's British Short Film Competition is BAFTA qualifying. Additionally, Short Film City hosts the Yorkshire Short Film Competition and added three new competitions in 2014: The Leeds Screendance Competition, the Leeds International Music Video Awards and the Leeds Short Film Audience Award.
Festivals by Year
- 2020 festival
The Leeds International Film Festival 2020 took place on line, due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 2019 festival
The Leeds International Film Festival 2019 took place 6–21 November 2019. The opening film was the female-led drama Rocks, and the closing film was Taika Waititi's comedy Jojo Rabbit, which also won the Audience Award for fiction feature. The winner of the Audience Award for documentary feature was the Syrian film The Cave. The Retrospective strand ran under the title "Mother Cutter: Women Who Shaped Film", featuring films with female editors.
- 2018 festival
The Leeds International Film Festival 2018 took place 1–15 November 2018. The opening films were the world premiere of Fighting for a City, a documentary about the Leeds boxer Josh Warrington, and Boots Riley's satire Sorry to Bother You; the closing film was Hirokazu Kore-eda's Palme d'Or-winning drama Shoplifters. The Retrospective strand ran under the title "Time Frames", featuring films that take place within 24 hours. The winner of the Audience Award for fiction feature was Capernaum and for documentary feature was The Dawn Wall.
- 2017 festival
The Leeds International Film Festival 2017 took place 1–16 November 2017. The official selection opened with Ruben Östlund's Palme d'Or-winning The Square and closed with Martin McDonagh's comedy-drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which also won the Audience Award. The Cinema Versa strand opened with Jane, about the primatologist Jane Goodall, and closed with Frederick Wiseman's Ex Libris: The New York Public Library. The Fanomenon strand opened with Yorgos Lanthimos's The Killing of a Sacred Deer and closed with Lynne Ramsay's You Were Never Really Here.
- 2016 festival
The 30th Leeds International Film Festival took place 3–17 November 2016. The festival opened with Jim Jarmusch's drama Paterson, screened with the Spanish short film Timecode, and closed with the German comedy-drama Toni Erdmann. The winner of the Audience Award was the comedy Mindhorn, set and filmed on the Isle of Man.
- 2015 festival
The 29th Leeds International Film Festival took place 5–19 November 2015 and attracted more than 40,000 visitors. It opened with John Crowley's period drama feature film Brooklyn, which for the first time in the history of LIFF was joined by an opening short film, Sanjay's Super Team, and closed with Todd Haynes's historical drama Carol. The Audience Award for Best Feature Film was won by the Hungarian black comedy Liza, the Fox-Fairy.
- 2014 festival
The 28th Leeds International Film Festival took place 5–20 November. The festival opened with James Kent's First World War drama Testament of Youth, which was filmed primarily in Yorkshire, and closed with the UK premiere of Alejandro González Iñárritu's black comedy Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). The New Zealand mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows won the festival's Audience Award for Best Film.
- 2013 festival
The 27th festival took place 6–21 November 2013. The Opening Gala was two 3D screenings of Alfonso Cuarón's film Gravity, two days ahead of its official release, and the festival closed with the romantic mashup film Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen. The Rocket won the Audience Award for Best Film.
- 2012 festival
The 26th Leeds International Film Festival took place from 1 – 18 November 2012, with a screening of Ben Affleck's historical thriller Argo for the opening gala, and Michael Haneke's drama Amour as the closing gala. The Retrospective category was added to the festival's programme. Moreover, LIFF's Louis le Prince International Short Film Competition and the World Animation Award have been Academy Awards-qualifying since 2012. The festival's Audience Award for Best Film was won by The Hunt.
- 2011 festival
The 25th edition of the Leeds International Film Festival took place from 3 – 20 November 2011, with a screening of Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights for the Opening Gala, and Steve McQueen's Shame as the closing film. In 2011, the Audience Awards for best feature films were given to each programme category individually. The Artist won the Official Selection Audience Award, Sound It Out won the Cinema Versa Audience Award and Juan of the Dead won the Fanomenon Audience Award. Koen Mortier won the Golden Owl Award for best independent filmmaking for his thriller film 22nd of May.
- 2010 festival
The 24th Leeds International Film Festival took place from 4 – 21 November 2010, with some tickets on sale from April. The festival opened with a screening of Tom Hooper's The King's Speech, which also won the Audience Award for best Feature Film. Petter Næss's Elling won the Audience Award for best Archive Film. The overall Audience Award went to Piers Sanderson for his film High on Hope. The Golden Owl Award for best independent filmmaking was won by Radu Muntean for Tuesday, After Christmas.
- 2009 festival
The 23rd Leeds International Film Festival took place from 4 – 22 November 2009, showing a range of films from all over the world, including the opening film The Men Who Stare at Goats, directed by Grant Heslov. Miyazaki's latest anime, Ponyo, won the Audience Award. The jury awarded the Golden Owl Award to La Pivellina, directed by Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel. At Section "Paras International Documentary Short" Documentary film "The Wooden Carpet" was won.
- 2008 festival
The 22nd Leeds International Film Festival was held from 4–16 November 2008. It opened with a screening of Dominique Abel's and Fiona Gordon's comedy film Rumba. Short Film City was introduced as a distinct programme category in 2008.
- 2007 festival
The 21st Leeds International Film Festival, held 7 – 18 November 2007, had five sections: Official Selection, Fanomenon, Cinema Versa, Nexus and a Kazuo Hara Retrospective. Persepolis, directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi was shown at the Opening Gala.
- 2006 festival
- 2005 festival
- 2004 festival
The 18th Leeds International Film Festival was held 28 October to 7 November 2004 and opened with a screening of Finding Neverland, directed by Marc Forster. Several new competitions were launched in 2004. The Golden Owls Award for feature films was launched to support under-represented independent filmmaking. Additionally, animated short films could now enter their own World Animation Competition and all short films were eligible for the FilmFour Short Film Audience Award.
- 2003 festival
- 2002 festival
The 16th Leeds International Film Festival took place 3–13 October 2002. The three opening films of the festival were Sweet Sixteen, directed by Ken Loach (Ken Loach), Lilo & Stitch by Dean DeBlois and Possession, a romantic mystery drama directed by Neil LaBute.
- 2001 festival
- 2000 festival
The 14th Leeds International Film festival took place 5–19 October 2000. Purely Belter, a British comedy drama film directed by Mark Herman was shown at the Opening Ceremony. In 2000, Fanomenon was introduced as an official programme category at LIFF.
- 1999 festival
The 13th Leeds International Film Festival took place 7 to 23 October 1999 and opened with a screening of Fanny & Elvis by Kay Mellor. This year, the festival was taken over by a festival director, Chris Fell, who is the director of the festival to this day. Moreover, the Louis le Prince Short Film Competition was introduced, as well as ‘Evolution’, a new programme strand for films between film, TV and the interactive (gaming) entertainment industry.
- 1998 festival
- 1997 festival
The 11th Leeds International Film Festival was held 16–31 October 1997. The festival's theme was Science Fiction and the film screened at the Opening Gala was Tim Hurran's Girl’s Night.
- 1996 festival
The 10th anniversary edition of the Leeds International Film Festival was held 3–18 October 1996 and opened with a screening of Brassed Off, directed by Mark Herman. The festival had Conflicts of Interest as its central theme.
- 1995 festival
The 9th Leeds International Film Festival took place 12–27 October 1995. It opened with a screening of Tony Scott's Crimson Tide. Liz Rymer became the new director of the festival, which had two major strands: the Western and Animation.
- 1994 festival
The 8th edition of the Leeds International Film Festival was held 13–28 October 1994. At its Opening Gala, War of the Buttons, directed by John Rogers, was shown. Also, the festival was taken over by a new director, Kath Baker, and the new short film audience award was introduced.
- 1993 festival
The 7th Leeds International Film Festival took place 14–29 October 1993 and opened with a screening of The Secret Garden, directed by Agnieszka Holland. The festival's main theme was The City in Cinema. A documentary strand was added to the programme and short films shown before nearly every feature.
- 1992 festival
The 6th Leeds International Film Festival took place 16–31 October 1992. Peter Kosminski's film adaptation Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights was the Opening Gala film. The festival's central themes were Music and Spain.
- 1991 festival
The 5th edition of the Leeds International Film Festival was held 11–26 October 1991 and had BODY and MIND, as well as ‘MAN’ and MACHINE as its central themes. The film shown at the Opening Gala was Point Break, directed by Kathryn Bigelow.
- 1990 festival
The 4th Leeds International Film Festival took place 12–27 October 1990. It opened with a screening of John Badham's action comedy film Bird on a Wire. Following the political upheavals of the recent months, Freedom and censorship were the central themes of the festival.
- 1989 festival
The 3rd Leeds International Film Festival was held 13–28 October 1989 and was also a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds. The festival opened with a screening of Lewis Gilbert's Shirley Valentine.
- 1988 festival
Following the great success of the first Leeds International Film Festival, the festival's second edition was held 13–29 October 1988. The second Leeds International Film festival was much bigger than the first and coincided with the centenary of Louis le Prince's first moving picture taking in 1888. The opening film of the festival was La Bohème, directed by Luigi Comencini.
- 1987 festival
the first ever Leeds International Film Festival took place 7–19 March 1987, to great success. The British horror film Gothic, directed by Ken Russell was shown at the Opening Gala. Director and co-founder of the festival was Janice Campbell.
Leeds Young Film Festival
Leeds Young Film Festival  takes place every Easter and welcomes young people and their families to the largest film event of its kind in the North of England. Now in its 16th year, the festival features a programme of new and unseen cinema for young people from around the world, as well as classic screenings, moving-image related workshops and masterclasses. The festival also hosts two young filmmaking competitions: The Leeds Young Filmmakers’ Golden Owl Awards celebrates the best of young people's filmmaking across the city. The INDIs (Independent Directions) Young Filmmaker Award, a national competition to showcase the work of young filmmakers working without professional support or funding. The organisation works closely with a group of young consultants aged 14–19 called MediaFish, who help programme, design and deliver the festival, make films and shape the strategy of Leeds Young Film.
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- "27th Leeds International Film Festival". Leeds International Film Festival. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- Robinson, Paul (5 October 2012). "Opening titles ready to roll on 2012 Leeds International Film Festival". Yorkshire Evening Post. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- "LIFF25 Award Winners". Leeds International Film Festival. 21 November 2011. Archived from the original on 23 November 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- "High on Hope Wins Audience Award". Leeds International Film Festival. 22 November 2010. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- "Winner of the Golden Owl Award 2010 Announced". Leeds International Film Festival. 15 November 2010. Archived from the original on 20 November 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2011.