Behind the scenes at Leeds Film Festival

Photo of my Leeds Film Festival t-shirt

The latest addition to my wardrobe

Leeds International Film Festival is the biggest cultural events in England outside of the capital. For two weeks every year, Leeds is overtaken by a frenzy of film and cinema. Hundreds of films are shown that you might not otherwise see. By the end, you feel like you've experienced the best that cinema has to offer and maybe you've even learnt something. At least, that's what I've heard.

I've never been. I've lived in Leeds for the past eight years. Every year I get really excited about the approaching film festival. I get the brochure, and try to pick which of the hundreds of films deserve my attention. Then, in what seems like the blink of eye, it's all over. I tell myself that next year will be different, but the same thing always happens.

However, this year it will be different. I've volunteered to work as a Venue Assistant at the festival. If I'm even late, I'll get a phone call from an angry festival coordinator demanding that I get my skates on. I'm expecting it to be brilliant, and thoroughly exhausting.

This is the 20th film festival in Leeds and I get the impression they're hoping to make this a really special year. There will be over 350 films being shown at sixteen venues across Leeds. It's a chance to showcase films that deserve more attention and would otherwise be missed out by the big multiplexes.

The festival starts on Thursday 2 November, and runs till Sunday 12 November. When I turned up yesterday for a briefing meeting with my fellow volunteers, it was clear that a huge amount of work has already gone into planning this festival. I am one of 105 volunteers. We will be the first point of call for members of the public and be doing exciting things like collecting their tickets, handing out questionnaires and collecting any rubbish from the screens afterwards.

One of our more taxing tasks will be to study and learn the programme so we can advice members of the public. In previous festival years, the size of the programme has been the first obstacle stopping me attending. It's huge and full of films I haven't heard of. When I've finally got through it, the whole thing has been over. This year I'll have to overcome this obstacle and read it a lot quicker. The public is relying on me.

This will be the first of several articles about Leeds International Film Festival. I'm hoping to get an inside view of the festival, the films that are showing and what it takes to put on a festival of such magnitude. I don't know if there are many Newsvine Readers from Leeds so if you do live in Leeds, please get in touch. If you don't live in Leeds, then you couldn't pick a better time to visit us. We're having a fantastic film festival and I'll be there to welcome you to stamp your ticket.

For more information about the festival you can visit the Leeds International Film website.

David Rutt said

Oddly enough I'll be in Leeds for the first weekend of the festival. I'll be visiting my lovely mum so I probably won't get chance to go and see anything, but we'll see. We do like to see odd films so we may well make the effort to go and see something.

Good luck with the volunteering and thanks for the article.

Richard Garside said

@David Thanks!

What sort of films do you and your mum like?

David Rutt said

@Richard I wouldn't take my mum! I'm thinking more about my girlfriend ;¬)

I think something a little arty but not too pretentious. We'd be up for watching some low-budget arthouse movie or something along those lines.

Richard Garside said

@David I'm midway through studying the programme, so I'll let you know if I find anything that sounds suitable.