Leads us a leading center for film culture in the United Kingdom. Why is that so? In 1888, French inventor Louis Le Prince who had moved to Leeds twenty years prior used his patented single-lens camera to film his short silent film Roundhay Garden Scene in Roundhay, Leeds. Le Prince’s film is believed to be the oldest surviving film in existence. So, Leeds can be considered the birthplace of cinema. Such a place absolutely needs its own film festival to celebrate the roles of Leeds and Le Prince in film history and to share the best films from all over the world with a wide audience.
The first edition of the Leeds International Film Festival took place on March 7–19, 1987. The festival was founded by Janice Campbell who served as its first director. The Opening Gala featured Ken Russell’s horror film Gothic starring Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands and Natasha Richardson. Then next year, the festival was moved to October. Since 2005, it has been held in November.
By 2014, the festival’s attendance had grown to 40,000 visitors. Its program showcases over 300 films from around the world, features and shorts, commercial and independent. The festival office is based in Leeds Town Hall and the festival is supported by Leeds City Council.
The program of the Leeds International Film Festival is divided into five sections: Official Selection, Short Film City, Retrospective, Fanomenon and Cinema Versa. The Official Selection features the most anticipated and critically acclaimed films of the year. It also focuses on showcasing new independent films from different countries. The Cinema Versa section is dedicated to documentary films, while Fanomenon focuses on fantasy films and cult films.
The festival has a jury that awards a number of awards to some of the short films showcased during the festival. For example, the Short Film City program includes the Louis Le Prince International Short Film Competition and the World Animation Award. These two competitions are Academy Award qualifying. The winner of the festival’s British Short Film Competition may be eligible for the BAFTA Award. Moreover, the festival has the Audience Award given out based on the results of an audience vote.