The Impact of Independent Film Festivals

November’s Leeds International Film Festival puts into sharp focus the appetite for new and explorative creativity. The festival showcases Leeds as a creative hotspot (recently recognised by Channel 4’s announcement to move to the city).

The festival is now in its 32nd year, and every year its prominence in the city grows. In 2018 over 350 films showcased during the festival, appealing to almost every taste and interest.

DS.Emotion can claim to have created an iteration of the International Film Festival’s brand identity which influences the look and feel of today’s identity using the shape of the original wing, inspired by the wing of Leeds’ famous owls, featured on the coat of arms.

Leeds’ international competitions have attracted global interest, providing a prestigious platform for work to be recognised. The benefits of this kind of prolific city event are numerous and wide-ranging.

For the filmmakers

Independent film festivals offer smaller production companies and filmmakers the chance to shine amongst more established, mainstream peers. Creatives widely agree that film festivals are an important part of their event calendar, whether submitting a film or simply going along as an audience member.

Film festivals accept a range of diverse films, told in many different languages and covering important international issues. For filmmakers, having a welcoming platform to show their work outside their own creative circles is an important career step. It’s an invaluable chance to network and celebrate creativity.

Our Video Producer, James Kennedy, celebrated great film festival success with his short film, CTRL Z. The film played at 22 film festivals internationally, reaching Hollywood, Argentina, Berlin, London, Boston, New York to name just a few.

The film picked up seven awards along the way, including the prestigious Platinum Remi at WorldFest Houston. Spielberg was a recipient of this award when he first started out in the industry – so we’re predicting big things for James! The film was also awarded Best Comedy Short and Best International Short at Santa Monica, Director’s Choice at Indie Flicks, Best Sci-Fi at Discover Film Festival London, Best Comedy at Berlin Sci-Fi and the Audience Award at Boston Independent Film Festival. Impressive stuff indeed!

We’re incredibly proud of James and so pleased film festivals have allowed him and his work to achieve international recognition.

For the town

Nine of Leeds’ finest venues took part in the festival. From ‘standard’ film focussed venues such as Vue and Everyman through to artsy bars like Belgrave Music Hall, there was a venue to suit every person (and every film).

Film festivals bring a huge amount of footfall to the centre that, in turn, generates additional income for local businesses. This boosts the city’s economy – The Sundance Film Festival, for example, brought in more than $400 million over the last five years for Utah’s economy.

City events also enhance positive place perception / association. It establishes a place’s commitment to creativity. In Leeds’ case, the city regularly supports art and culture with a variety of events. These are generally on a smaller scale, attracting visitors from the region or occasionally the country. To put Leeds on the map on an international scale is particularly impressive.

For the community

Who doesn’t love a cinema trip? But how often is it to get a choice of over 300 films for your movie night? Leeds International Film Festival is the largest film festival in England outside London, so its selection is naturally much greater than some of the niche film festivals. This is great news for local film buffs who can binge on a huge range of movies they’d normally never get the opportunity to see on the big screen. Last year the sale of cinema tickets across the UK increased by 3.7% – perhaps indicating the rise of interest in films, or the increased interest in a cinematic experience (popcorn and all). 

The Leeds film festival shows some of the year’s most acclaimed films as part of its Official Selection. The Retrospective programme showcases classic films on the big screen, while Cinema Versa provides a platform for low budget, independent films. The Fanomenon programme is ideally suited to fans of cult and fantasy cinema. Then the highly acclaimed Short Film City hosts competitions, events and exhibitions. Some of the competitions are Academy Award and BAFTA qualifying, showing the high standard of entries and high respect for the city’s festival.

Be part of history

Large-scale events take time to develop and evolve, so visitors organically get behind the cause. 32 years on, and Leeds International Film Festival is certainly an event the city can be proud of. Every year the event grows and includes new elements to attract a wider audience. We look forward to seeing the event develop and build on its already impressive success.

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