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Cannes 2012: BFI London Film Festival Announces Plans to Boost Competition Program

Clare Stewart
Festival director Clare Stewart

The event will introduce seven fresh categories to its program "to reach new audiences."

The BFI London Film Festival is making two big changes to its program sections under the watchful eye of incoming festival director Clare Stewart.

Stewart, in Cannes as the BFI's head of exhibition and distribution, said she hopes the changes will elevate the profile of the festival's existing competition elements.

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The plan is to boost its competition and awards elements and introduces seven fresh categories to its program "to reach new audiences." The festival, which attracted audiences of 133,000 last year, also sealed a three-year partnership with Nintendo.

The pact will include a gala premiere screening and a short filmmaking competition using the 3D video recorder built in to the Nintendo 3DS.
Organizers are re-positioning the shindig's high profile awards event by introducing competitive sections that are given much more prominence in the Festival campaign and program. 

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The event's best film award (since 2009), first feature film prize the Sutherland Award (since 1958) and the Grierson documentary prize (since 2005) will now be presented to the winning films from three program sections: Official Competition, First Feature Competition and Documentary Competition.

Each selection will be open to international film, including British films, and 10-12 films will be chosen for each program section.
The awards will continue to be presented at a stand-alone event at the end of the Festival along with the prize for best British newcomer and the BFI Fellowship.

Stewart said: "Introducing the awards as audience-facing programmes also gives our Festival punters more to tweet, chat and shout about. This is essential to the festival experience and indeed to expanding our already thriving audience base."

The 56th BFI London Film Festival runs October 10-25.