The 2022 BFI London Film Festival — which kicks off in two days time — is losing its director.
Tricia Tuttle, who has led the festival for the last five years in her role as BFI Festivals Director (which also includes overseeing the BFI Flare LGBTQUIA+ festival), has announced that she’s to step down from her role after 10 years at the British Film Institute.
Tuttle will deliver this year’s edition — which launches on Oct. 5 with the world premiere of Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical — and remain in her post until early 2023 while the BFI searches for a replacement.
“I have loved everything about my time at the BFI and as the Director of our Festivals. It’s been a deep and genuine privilege to lead BFI London Film Festival and BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival, and to be a senior leader in an organization that has shaped me as a passionate film fan and a professional working in film,” said Tuttle. “I took the role knowing that I believe in cultural renewal. I came in to make an impact quickly, with an aim to open up our festivals to more people and then pass the baton. And I could not be more proud of what we have achieved in these 5 years, especially given the absolutely wild challenges we have faced! I am leaving on a high and with so much love for the people and the work of the organization.”
Under Tuttle’s leadership, in which she drew up a five-year strategy for the London Film Festival, audiences have grown 76 percent since 2019, while the event has expanded across the U.K., with 39 percent of audiences coming from outside of London in 2021 compared to 10 percent two years earlier. The festival has also shifted from Leicester Square to its new Gala venue at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall.
Major new developments as part of Tuttle’s strategy also include the expansion of the festival program to offer series television (LFF Series), immersive and XR work (LFF Expanded) alongside film; an enhanced industry programme designed to bring international creatives to the event to discover and connect with U.K. talent; and a major audience outreach programme that includes expansive, free and UK-wide physical and digital programming via BFI Player.
“Tricia has been the driving force behind the BFI London Film Festival’s transformation over the last five years and it could not be more vital and important than right now,” said BFI Chief Executive Ben Roberts. “I want to thank her for her creative leadership in adapting the LFF and BFI Flare in the face of huge external challenges, creating genuine UK-wide access physically and digitally, putting us on the international stage and, of course, bringing audiences incredible film experiences. Most importantly Tricia is a super smart, generous and collaborative leader and colleague. She leaves an incredible team behind her, and we will celebrate her success at her final festival this year.”
As Festivals Director, Tuttle helped guide the BFI festivals program through the COVID pandemic. In March 2020, BFI Flare was one of the first festival in the world to pivot to an online model, a feat pulled off in under a week. She then went on to adapt an innovative and distinctive model for LFF in 2020 which included socially distanced screenings at 10 satellite venues around the UK alongside a program of 60 features online, with the LFF in 2020 reaching record audiences of over 300,000 through physical and digital programming.
Alongside this, Tuttle has consistently pushed to make BFI festivals more inclusive, with the 2022 LFF program featuring 41 percent female and non-binary directors/creators of co-directors/creators. She also introduced the BFI Flare Mentorship program, first delivered with Screen Skills (then Skillset), and since its second year this has evolved into a partnership with BAFTA who now lead the programme under the banner of BFI Flare x BAFTA Mentoring. Where there was little queer film visibility in the U.K. in 2013, the mentorship programme has seen the emergence of a new generation of prominent LGBTQIA+ identified filmmakers, with mentees who have gone on to have feature films in the BFI London Film Festival including Georgia Oakley (Blue Jean), Dionne Edwards (Pretty Red Dress), Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor (Black Colour White) — Joy also produced Blue Story — and Aleem Khan (After Love).