As Steve Martin once said –”all of life’s riddles are answered in the movies“. You may watch a film to take your mind off things or just to see what everyone is raving about. You may like thrillers while your friends are into rom coms. Films are emotions on reels and film festivals are a fest of stories best shown. So head to one of these film festivals in London to enjoy tales from different countries and spellbinding performances while sipping on a glass of wine. If we have piqued your interest, here’s a list of the best ones around the city.
1. Raindance Film Festival
The biggest independent film gala in the UK and among the top 50 in the world, Raindance Film Festival plays indie, feature and short films that portray arresting stories and performances. Directed by filmmakers from disparate backgrounds, these masterpieces are presented to an international audience. The festival takes place, both online and offline, in September and October.
British filmmakers dream of becoming a part of Raindance. It’s an Academy Award Qualifying festival, so if your movie is accepted, you can then apply for an Oscar! Some short films are also considered for the BAFTA awards.
Raindance has hosted the British premiers of ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape‘, ‘Memento‘, ‘The Blair Witch Project‘, ‘Humpday‘, ‘Dead Man’s Shoes‘, and ‘Ghost World,’ among others. This film festival in London encourages first-time directors, women filmmakers, scripts from the LGBTQ+ screenwriters, films on social causes and music documentaries. So you get to watch diverse talent and anecdotes hitting the screen for the first time.
Plus, the show doesn’t end with the film. They also host Raindance Jury Awards to turn up the entertainment. Categories include the Best Director, Screenplay, Performance and recognitions for the different kinds of films. And you won’t surely want to miss the ‘Film of the Festival’, chosen by the audience, and the ‘Spirit of the Festival’ selected by the Founders.
You’ll find Raindance Film Festival being organised at 10a Craven Street, London, WC2N 5PE. Nearest station is Charing Cross.
2. BFI London Film Festival
In this festival, you get to enjoy premieres of films before they even make it to theatres. The British Film Institute London Film Festival is certainly among the best film festivals in London. It happens once every year, usually in October. People come from around the world to enjoy over 300 films, documentaries and short films from more than 50 countries screened at the fest.
This 12-day-long festival, organised by BFI Southbank, celebrates the freshest talent from different regions that deserves to be seen and lauded. You can rub shoulders with globally well-known professional artists and journalists from the industry. But the highlight of this event are the opening and closing gala parties which are a total red carpet show.
If you are a cinephile, the BFI London organises world premieres of more than two dozen flicks in Central London. This is where the film cast and crew grace the occasion. So pull out your best outfit and get ready to make an entry – the stage is yours!
You’ll find BFI Southbank at Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XT, although the film screenings happen at multiple locations across the city. Nearest station is Waterloo.
3. London Short Film Festival
Do you revel in noteworthy short films? Then this next addition to this roundup of the best film festivals in London will keep you . It is a 10-day festival showcasing 250-500 inspiring short films from the UK and abroad. LSFF opens the screen doors for unconventional stories and incredible filmmaking that you don’t get to see anywhere else.
What’s more, they organise workshops and interactive panel discussions with the filmmakers. The London Short Film Festival usually happens in January every year at the city’s most chic venues. It’s BAFTA-qualifying, which means that if accepted here, filmmakers are eligible for this cut-throat competition. This fest nurtures new talent and applauds creative risk-taking.
What’s a film festival without awards before the show ends? LSFF recognises the best UK and international short films, the best comedy film, and the best low-budget short film.
You will find LSFF happening at the Institute Of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH. Nearest station is Charing Cross.
4. UK Film Festival
This festival unearths some highly sought-after work by new filmmakers tipped to be future Oscars and BAFTAs nominees. The UK Film Festival shows some extraordinarily diverse work from craftsmen in the UK and abroad who have not yet managed to get a screening opportunity. This is where the finest new directors get to meet equally deserving talent.
The magic happens in Soho. The real delight of this film marathon is the script-writing competition aimed at highlighting some of the most imaginative work the industry is likely to see. Then there are the much-awaited awards for the best craft. Mind-blowing short films, feature films, short documentaries, animation, music videos, student films and other excellent work receive recognition.
The UK Film Festival is an incredible networking place for those who want to take away more than just great stories. You get to interact with noted directors, actors and filmmakers besides the new talent on the block.
You will find the UK Film Festival screenings at the Close-Up Cinema – 97 Sclater Street, Shoreditch, London, E1 6HR, and The Soho Hotel Cinema – 4 Richmond Mews (off Dean Street), London, W1D 3DH. Nearest stations are Shoreditch High Street and Tottenham Court Road.
5. Sundance Film Festival
If you’re looking for film festivals in London, then this one has got you covered. London’s Sundance Film Festival will give you ample content if you like being the news bringer from the entertainment and film industry. Here you get to see the next blockbusters in the offing. It’s the largest independent film festival in the US and brings the best from the Utah Sundance Film Festival to London.
The fest takes place in June in collaboration with Picturehouse at their locale. It is known for exhibiting comedies, documentaries, series and episodes, podcasts and remarkable independent films. Also, it is a 10-day party with storytellers and listeners who want to experience fresh faces and never-heard-before voices. Then you get the chance to connect with them in the filmmaker panel discussions.
You enjoy Sundance for its genuinely global origin and content different from any other film festival in London. It showcases masterpieces from various corners of the world, and many of the films have already received critical acclaims and awards. Come here to hear about all the blockbusters first.
You will find Sundance Film Festival taking place at Picturehouse Central, The Trocadero, Corner of Great Windmill Street and Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly, London, W1D 7DH. Nearest station is Piccadilly Circus.
6. London Film Week
Looking for a more refined selection of international stories on the silver screen? London Film Week can be your pitstop. Enjoy the finest films in the chilly month of December.
London Film Week aims to create awareness for and promote a variety of the best international cinema. The team behind this film parade brings diverse experiences from various film festivals. The result is the best collection of flicks from different parts of the world. They invite the best influencers, filmmakers and producers and propel networking sessions so the natural talent can benefit. You can also meet the actors from the screened films.
The climax of this week-long show is the awards for best short film and feature film from the jury and the audience. Then there is the ‘Industry Days’, a platform for film and international co-production discussions. LFW also serves a Carte Blanche to a guest country and shells out cash prizes to the winners.
You will find London Film Week on First Floor, 85 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 7LT. Nearest station is Goodge Street.
7. London Independent Film Festival
Talent can be found everywhere, even in the newbie filmmakers who have just started their careers and still produce low-budget films. They find great recognition in the London Independent Film Festival. Taking advantage of the best cinema theatre in the country, the Genesis, LIFF spikes the entertainment quotient for 11 days.
Hundreds of noteworthy film makers get their work featured in this fest for screen lovers. It is held every year in April and allows you to book tickets on Genesis’ website, or you could begin by attending their Opening or Closing Night Parties. The Awards Night hosted at the end of the festival boasts a comprehensive list of recognitions showered on fresh creativity.
You will find the London Independent Film Festival screenings at the Genesis, 93-95 Mile End Road, London, E1 4UJ. Nearest station is Stepney Green.
So there you have it – a roundup of the best film festivals in London. So if you’re looking to catch the newest and Oscar-buzzed flicks, then you know where to go!