Kristy Matheson Named As New London Film Festival Head


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Zac Ntim

The British Film Institute has hired Kristy Matheson as its Festivals Director to oversee the London Film Festival.

Matheson joins the BFI following a stint as Creative Director of the Edinburgh Film Festival, which revealed her departure in the past half hour. During the recruitment process, Matheson’s potential hire attracted much of the industry speculation and Deadline revealed the appointment was imminent late last week.

Matheson will be responsible for delivering the BFI’s flagship London Film Festival (LFF) as well as the body’s LGBTQIA-focused festival BFI Flare, which runs this month from March 15-26.

The Festival Director job is set under a fixed-term, three-year contract, with the potential to extend for a further one to two years. Matheson replaces former Festivals director Tricia Tuttle, who announced she would step down from the role on the eve of last year’s LFF. Tuttle was in post for five years, following a stint as deputy Head of Festivals from 2013-17. She has since joined the National Film And Television School (NFTS) as Acting Head of Department for the school’s directing fiction course. Tuttle’s role at the NFTS will be part-time until she completes her duties at the BFI following BFI Flare, at which point she will join the film school on a full-time basis. Her role is currently set to run through September.

The search for Tuttle’s replacement began late last year. The closing date for applications was January 16. Two rounds of interviews were held, with the last on February 8. 

Jason Wood, the BFI’s Executive Director of Public Programme and Audiences, said he was “impressed by Kristy’s knowledge and passion for screen culture and the role it plays in connecting society.”

“Her vision for a wider and more sustainable festival ecology absolutely chimes with the strategic direction of the BFI and how we want our Festivals to be led – in a way that values and encourages collaboration and a democratic approach to decision making in tandem with a clear and holistic artistic vision,” he added.

LFF’s prominence as a global showcase has grown in recent years with plenty of awards movies and studio fare heading to the capital. Last year, it opened with the world premiere of Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical and closed with the European Premiere of Rian Johnson’s highly-anticipated sequel Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.

Matheson said: “Festivals provide filmmakers, artists and audiences with a moment to commune on a grand scale – to experience ideas, ask big questions and celebrate together. The BFI London Film Festival and BFI Flare represent the very best of this spirit, exploring the depth of UK and global cinema, nurturing new talents, profiling our screen industries and connecting audiences to innovations in the moving image.”

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