City Buzz: Blockbuster start for biggest ever film fest in Leeds

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LEEDS HAS played host to music festivals, food festivals and even gin festivals this year.

But now it’s time for the city to shine a spotlight on the film industry.

Leeds International Film Festival director Chris Fell.

Leeds International Film Festival director Chris Fell.

Leeds International Film Festival is back – and it’s bigger and better than ever.

Now in its 29th year, the two-week event includes 300 screenings and events held across 16 venues.

Last year the festival attracted 40,000 people, and this number is expected to rise this year to 45,000.

It kicked off in style with a screening of the John Crowley-directed romantic drama Brooklyn last night.

Film fans packed into Leeds Town Hall for the event – but there’s still plenty more to come.

The festival runs until November 19 and includes a jam-packed programme.

One highlight will be a 1940s-style tea dance event and screening of romantic classic Brief Encounter at Left Bank Leeds on November 7.

Other highlights include free screenings of cult favourite The Breakfast Club and silent masterpiece The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, as well as archive films about the city and a look back at Leeds United during the 1970s.

There will also be 25 free screenings to make the festival as accessible as possible to everyone.

To close the festival, Leeds Town Hall will host a screening of period drama Carol – adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt.

Director of the festival, Chris Fell, said: “There are so many events going on this year that it’s hard to pinpoint a few of the best ones.

“We try to show films that can’t be shown in cinemas year-round.

“We’ve got everything from Japanese and horror films to romance and short films.

“We’re keen to give short films the attention they deserve as they’re often over-looked, and we want to change that.

“And Japanese film-making is just bonkers and is definitely worth seeing.”

One of Chris’s favourite events on the programme is a screening of horror film The Witch.

It will be shown at Leeds Town Hall at 7.30pm on Saturday, November 7.

Chris added: “It’s meant to be one of the most terrifying films of the year.

“With hundreds of people watching it together in the huge Victoria Hall at Leeds Town Hall, it’s set to be a great atmosphere.”

The festival is backed by Leeds City Council.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “The Leeds International Film Festival is a really fantastic event, which broke through the 40,000 visitor mark for the first time last year, and is continuing to grow in both stature and popularity.

“Once again I am delighted to say that a varied and packed programme has been put together for the festival this year, which is always a real highlight in the city’s cultural calendar and promises to be one of the very best yet.”

It’s great to see Leeds celebrating so many different genres of film and to see the festival is so well supported.

With plans already in the pipeline for its 30th anniversary next year, we’re sure it will continue to go from strength to strength.

For details, tickets and a full programme of events, visit

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