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James Schamus keynotes at next London Times BFI

The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival in association with Skillset, is pleased to announce that the Oscar-nominated and BAFTA winning producer and screenwriter James Schamus will talk on the following theme on Tuesday 27 October: “MY WIFE IS A TERRORIST: LESSONS IN STORYTELLING FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY”

Festival Artistic Director, Sandra Hebron said, “We are delighted to be working alongside Skillset on this event. James in not only someone with an enviable track record in our industry, he is also a scholar and an original thinker, and was our obvious first choice to deliver this keynote speech. I am thrilled he accepted our invitation, and am very much looking forward to what promises to be a fascinating and thought-provoking address.”

Neil Peplow, Director of Film at Skillset, said: “James is the perfect person to deliver the inaugural LLF/Skillset Industry Keynote Address. Combining a hugely successful career, in his words, ‘helping run the studio, screenwriting, producing films and teaching at Columbia’, he has a truly unique perspective to present, and one that I’m sure we’ll all be fascinated to learn from. By establishing this Industry Keynote Address I’m delighted that Skillset is able to build on our partnership with the LFF and complement the many other initiatives that we support at the festival.”

Further innovations in the Festival’s 2009 industry programme include a major one day film festivals forum Virtually A Reality: How to Digitise Your Festival, in association with the UK Film Council, Skillset and Film London; which will look at digital opportunities for film festivals across the UK’s regions and nations, as well as a major debate on the role and importance of cinema and particularly British films in contemporary culture, also in association with the UK Film Council.

Pete Buckingham, Head of Distribution at the UK Film Council (the Festival’s principal funder) said: “Not only are we at the UK Film Council proud to be involved at the heart of this year's London Film Festival, but we're also excited that such a world-renowned writer and producer is coming to the festival to talk to filmmakers and film fans at what promises to be a major cultural and thought-provoking event. The UK Film Council’s support for initiatives such as Power to the Pixel, the first forum for all those who run film festivals, and a public debate on film and culture, is helping to bring exciting must-go events at the LFF to both filmmakers and audiences.”

Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London said: “Film London continues to support the LFF’s industry programme, acknowledging it is a vital part of the festival. The various training programmes and discussion events – which utilise the wealth of talent attending the festival – offers valuable learning opportunities and provide a significant legacy for the capital’s film-makers. In addition to this, the LFF provides a recognised destination for the international industry to do business – through events such as the Production Finance Market – which has a fantastic impact on the city. It brings valuable business to the capital helping to maintain its position as a competitive global economic centre. We are especially grateful to London Development Agency for their continued funding to allow us to support this element of the festival.”

Core industry activities returning this year include:

• Four days of Industry Screenings at the Curzon Soho, Monday 19 – Thursday 22 October, that will include a major Meet the Buyer session on Tuesday 20 October, and an event on 21 Oct in association with the UK Media Desk.

• The Festival’s professional development programme Think-Shoot-Distribute, supported by the Skillset Film Skills Fund and Film London, is now in its sixth year. The course brings together 25 talented filmmakers developing their feature film careers with leading industry professionals for a week of mentoring, workshops and master classes at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden 19-23 October. Past participants include Geraldine Patten, who was selected as one of the Screen International ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ and Rowland Jobson, whose most recent short film was selected to screen in the Venice Film Festival. Johnny Barrington, Deborah Haywood and Esther May Campbell were selected for the UKFC’s Director’s Lab and equally, Esther May Campbell won a BAFTA for Best Short Film.

• Power to the Pixel: The Cross-Media Film Forum returns to the Festival for its third year 14-15 October at the BFI Southbank and the Royal Society of Arts in London. Now firmly established as a leading event in the UK film industry calendar, Power to the Pixel brings together creators and key digital innovators: pioneers who are developing new models of storytelling, film financing and film distribution across multiple platforms. The forum comprises a conference, practical workshops, business meetings with experts, networking receptions and the brand new Pixel Pitch. Power to the Pixel is supported by major funder Skillset and main partners the UK Film Council, the Arts Council England, NESTA and Babelgum.

• Aimed specifically at undergraduate and recently graduated filmmakers, ‘Working Your Future’ gives young filmmakers a taste of what they might expect at the start of their career. The event’s keynote address will be delivered by Simon Perry, CEO of Irish Film Board and President of ACE (Ateliers du Cinéma Européen).

• The Festival is once again working alongside Film London on various projects including the third edition of its highly successful Production Finance Market taking place 20-21 October. Entry to the PFM is by invitation only and selection has now closed. Film London will announce full details of delegates and the Keynote speaker later this month.

Commenting on the industry programme as a whole, Sandra Hebron comments: “We are committed to the long-term development of our industry activities and services, and thanks to new funding from the UK Film Council and the ongoing support of our existing partners, not only are we able to invite more international filmmakers and other film professionals to join us in London this October, but we also hope to be able to provide them with a better quality of festival experience.”

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