So farewell then, billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch and your seven-year sponsorship of the London Film Festival. It was good in the early years, when you gave away free DVDs of trailers and clips from the Festival films: less good later on, when the foyer of BFI Southbank was frequently ankle-deep in discarded copies of that newspaper of yours that they couldn't even give away. I can see how it was a good move ingratiating yourself with the British Film Institute's constituency, putting yourself forward as a supporter of the literate use of the moving image. But now that you've poached Mad Men off of the BBC, we all think you're a twat, so it's probably best you were off.
Besides: only seven years with the LFF? Lightweight. This site's been there for thirteen.
When I started providing daily web coverage of the London Film Festival back in 1998, American Express were the sponsors: and now in 2010 they're back again. Funny how things go in cycles, isn't it? Happily, they're not trying to embed their name into the actual title of the Festival, unlike some people I could mention (i.e. all the sponsors we've had since AmEx left in 1999). What effect the change in sponsor has on the LFF remains to be seen: I'm hoping it's not the reason behind the sudden hike in ticket prices this year. (Thirty bleedin' quid for the Opening and Closing Galas! That's why I'm spending the opening night writing this at home, in case you were wondering.)
A new sponsor apparently calls for a new trailer, so 2009's emofest has been shot through the head after only one year and replaced with a new effort from Leo Burnett. It was premiered online earlier today, shortly before the £30 punters got to see it on the big screen at the Opening Gala of Never Let Me Go. Currently you can watch it in the big video window on the LFF homepage - I'll see if I can find a standalone version elsewhere later. [Update: it's now on YouTube.]
First impressions? Well, it's fun that they've gone back to the theme of the trailer before last: resetting iconic film moments in prosaic London settings, and challenging the viewer to identify them all. However, because this one's built around dialogue rather than images, you could probably identify them all with just a few seconds of Googling, so I'm not sure if it'll stand up to repeated viewings. Still, I guess we'll find out.
To be honest - and I expect to hear The Belated Birthday Girl kicking in her computer screen when she reaches the end of this sentence - the only reason I knew the trailer was online was because the BFI mentioned it on their Twatfeed. Yes, this will be my first Twitterfied LFF, but I'm not expecting it to change the coverage you get here much, if at all. I certainly won't be tweeting reviews from my cinema seat, and anyone I catch doing that during a film I'm attending can expect a Blackberry up the arse. (I've bought a box of second-hand ones specially.) No, as with Edinburgh a few months ago, I'll be using Twitter to hype the site, and maybe pick up useful information on the way from a couple of my competitors. (I've become a particular fan of Ultra Culture over the last couple of weeks, partly because of this cherishable image.)
Anyway - new sponsor, new trailer, new ticket prices and new promotional tool, but pretty much everything else is what you've come to expect from here. Daily reports from me on the hot, cold and inbetween films of the LFF, with occasional bonus contributions from Spank's Pals which will inevitably be hacked out when these reviews are collated into a book some time in 2015. (Have I mentioned the books yet?)
It's my twenty-second London Film Festival this year. I think I know what I'm doing by now. Let's find out together, shall we? Watch this space.
Thursday October 14th - Chongqing Blues, International Animation Panorama Programme 1
Friday October 15th - Conviction, Manila Skies, Waste Land, Word Is Out
Saturday October 16th - 3 Seasons In Hell, Amigo, The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople, Ruhr
Sunday October 17th - The Autobiography Of Nicolae Ceauşescu, The Bridge On The River Kwai, Dhobi Ghat, Le Quattro Volte, Ruhr, Tabloid
Monday October 18th - I Wish I Knew, The Light Thief, Mars
Tuesday October 19th - Double Tide, The Match King, Meek's Cutoff, The Peddler, Womb
Wednesday October 20th - Another Year, The Great White Silence, International Animation Panorama Programme 2
Thursday October 21st - Heartbeats, Home For Christmas, Oki's Movie, Pink Saris
Friday October 22nd - Autumn, I Wish I Knew, Mammuth, Submarine
Saturday October 23rd - 13 Assassins, Darren Aronofsky Screen Talk, Route Irish
Sunday October 24th - A Brighter Summer Day, Carlos
Monday October 25th - Bow Bells And Waterloo Sunsets, Lemmy, The Pipe, Sensation
Tuesday October 26th - Draquila - Italy Trembles, Howl, Route Irish, Sawako Decides, Surviving Life
Wednesday October 27th - Cold Fish, David Gatten's Journal And Remarks
Thursday October 28th - The Autobiography Of Nicolae Ceauşescu, Dear Doctor, Lemmy
The Wrap Party - a final rundown of the highlights and lowlights