For the first time, a member of the team at the Barnet Borough Times has been swept up in the magic and mayhem of the big screen: not by filmmaking, but getting neck-deep in all the events and screenings on offer at the 61st BFI London Film Festival.

This year’s festival is one of the biggest yet, with 246 features and 128 shorts from 68 countries coming to London, some of which here for their world or European premieres.

The BFI Southbank, Picturehouse Central and Leicester Square were absolutely astounding, with people who love film just talking about it for days on end. Sounds like heaven.

The festival officially closes on Sunday, with a new crime thriller from Martin McDonagh closing the festival: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Times Series: Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriFrances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

As a massive film fan (nerd) I jumped at the chance to attend, and made a record of a working week’s worth of fun.


Today was the opening gala, the beginning of the festival with some of the best of British stars making their way to watch Andy Serkis’ feature debut, Breathe.

But for me, my first stop was to the press conference to meet and speak to its stars, Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy, its writer, Bill Nicholson, its producer and real-life son of the subject matter, Jonathan Cavendish, and director Andy Serkis.

The May Fair hotel conference room was filled with flashing cameras, people with microphones and the occasional adoring fan (though I’m not sure how they got in...) and the atmosphere was electric.

Times Series: The BFI press conference for opening gala, BreatheThe BFI press conference for opening gala, Breathe

Garfield and Foy were witty and comfortable with one another while the compere and Empire magazine editor-in-chief, Terri White, fielded questions from journalists from every corner of the planet.

A bit of a jump into the deep end for me, as I contained my excitement and resisted the urge to fling myself into Andrew Garfield’s arms.


Today was screenings galore. At every film festival, journalists perform the enviable task of becoming utterly square-eyed watching multiple films a day, and the first day of the festival proper was no exception.

I was proud to successfully complete the mammoth task and form some semi-intelligent opinions in discussing with fellow film-lovers, while drinking my weight’s worth in coffee to make sure I didn’t miss a single detail.


Up early for this morning’s screening. The queue for the hotly-anticipated Battle of the Sexes, following the incredible match between an ageing Bobby Riggs and a young, top-of-hergame Billie Jean King, was pretty long. I waited in the cold for quite a while, though it was 7.45am so this helped to keep me alert as the opening credits began to roll.

For the rest of the afternoon, along with many others, I “filed” my work (excuse my film reviewer tech-speak) in the comfort of the incredible Picturehouse Central.

Times Series: One of the many long queues for screenings at the ever-popular festivalOne of the many long queues for screenings at the ever-popular festival

At this point I want to say a huge thank you to the people who work on this festival - there are so many people who check reviewers into screenings, serve tea and coffee to tired, starving journalists and make sure everything goes smoothly.

For the entire festival I don’t believe there was ever a late screening, a projector-related problem or bad cuppa served, so for this, I applaud all those who work their fingers to the bone over these 10 days.


This evening I joined my friend for a public screening - the premiere of Clio Barnard’s new drama Dark River, starring Ruth Wilson, from Luther and The Affair, who, along with other stars from the film, its producers and director, gave a quick introduction before the show commenced.

It was dark, somewhat depressing and full of drama as two siblings are reunited following the death of their father, as sister attempts to takeover their family farm to the distaste and frustration at her brother, especially as a secret has kept them apart for years.


Today was another interview day - this time at the Filmmakers' Afternoon Tea event, held at The May Fair hotel.

Times Series: A still from Ghost Stories, directed by Andy Nyman and Jeremy DysonA still from Ghost Stories, directed by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson

This is a veritable feeding trough of film knowledge as filmmakers take their seats to be interrogated by journalists, who wait with scone and dictaphone in hand.

I, along with two other marvellous journalists, spoke to Andy Nyman, director, writer and star of Ghost Stories, which was an adaptation of his play with Jeremy Dyson.

He was the most generous and kind man, and after we three journalists had created a sort of “take it in turns” system with our questions, Andy opened up about the working of his mind when making the film and how it all came together.

If the beginning of the week is anything to go by, I would be buying up whatever available tickets are still around and getting on the tube, train or bus to Leicester Square for the final weekend - it promises to be fantastic.

61st BFI London Film Festival, various venues in London, until October 15.