Leeds International Film Festival 2021

It’s that time of year again and #LIFF2021 is heading back into venues and also making lots of films available to watch online. Earlier this week committee members Bill Walton and Andy Smith attended the launch of the festival and share their first impressions.

For me one of the delights of the Leeds International Film Festival has been settling into the comfy seats of the Hyde Park Picture House, and watching several films in a row. A pleasure deferred until November next year…

This year we had the usual LIFF launch, with a breathless back to back screening of many short trailers for 55 minutes. This approach does give an impression of the variety of films on offer but is not ideal for decision-making. However I came away with a few clues:

But this is just scratching the surface. I haven’t had time yet to delve into the printed programme yet, so these impressions are very much subject to change. I suggest that you have a look for yourself!

Bill Walton

I always look forward to the LIFF preview so after missing last year it was with a sense of anticipation that I went along to the Vue on Wednesday especially as the venue was bragging about their new seats….I could have happily watched more trailers [and you now can – see below] but was glad that the screening was only 55 minutes as I could not have slouched in those seats for any longer despite having fiddled with the adjustment throughout, there was not a comfortable setting for a back now in its 7th decade….

It was a whirlwind of trailers….

I picked out the same ones as Bill plus:

Our task is now to go through the brochure and working out which films and venues align with work and other commitments with the backstop of the Leeds Film Player [the clashfinder can help with this]

Andy Smith


The festival guides are available from Vue Leeds in The Light, Leeds Town Hall now and more sites around Leeds and Yorkshire soon. For a guide in the post, email your details to leeds.film@leeds.gov.uk.

A PDF version is available online and tickets and passes are on sale now.

A number of festival fans have also put together some things that may help you plan your festival.

  • Clashfinder – see what films are on at the same time, highlight your choices, export to your calendars
  • The Films of #LIFF2021 – a Letterboxd list of most of the films showing at the festival
  • Online films at #LIFF2021 – a Letterboxd lists of most of the films available on the Leeds Film Player during the festival
  • LIFF2021 Trailers – a YouTube playlist of 80+ trailers for films at the festival

Review: Sprinter

Last Saturday Leeds Black Film Club in association with Kush Films presented a special preview screening of Sprinter.

sprinter2

Sprinter is a warmly entertaining and funny film with many laugh out moments. I love it when everyone laughs at the same time. Sometimes they were laughing when I wasn’t, which meant I’d missed something that a native Jamaican hadn’t.

The things I enjoyed most about Sprinter was the humour, the music and the use of the beautiful Jamaican landscape.

I didn’t find the film too predictable and at certain points, I wasn’t sure which way the story was going to go – which is good!  There are many layers to this story: parent-child separation, family ties, high-school-sports and others (#nospoilers). It’s a lot to weave into one film but I think it’s done well.

The only downside was thinking Bryshere Y Gray’s character was too similar to his Empire role. I would have liked to see him do something different but it doesn’t take away from the film which has some very (very) special moments.

After the film preview, there was a lively Q&A session with the Producer Rob Maylor and actress Shantol Jackson (who plays Kerry Hall) and they both shared personal stories about their own families and how they got to where they are today.  

It was heartening to hear how passionate they were about retaining the cultural authenticity in many different ways such as ensuring the accents were on point and how their hard work paid off when they saw how the locals reacted to the film. 

We all love a good sports movie and Sprinter has all the elements that make it one to add to the list – even more so for me personally  – it is great to see a strong black sports film showing young people who are driven and focussed on achieving great things.