Review and interview: Leeds international film festival

1st–18th November, the ever expanding festival is in its 26th year. With 270 screenings and events throughout the city, to an audience of 35, 000.

This is the largest film festival outside the capital. It provides viewing opportunities for upcoming world, commercial and independent films throughout Leeds venues.

Aiming to generate greater interest and awareness of foreign films, it allows upcoming artists to penetrate internationally and is divided into; lengthy fiction films, documentaries, cult cinema, international short films & experimental cinema.

With this variety it provides something for everyone. At £5.50 a film for students, it’s a cheap evening out to see something new, and as most these films preview ahead of their public release, you never know which ones will make it big.

Calling all budding filmmakers: it is also the perfect opportunity to share your talent, as director of LIFF Chris Fell says it “is a great entry event, giving very low cost access to a great range of new shorts and features, and providing information about courses offered in the city”.

But not to worry if you missed out this year, check out the website to see previous entries and winners of this year’s competition. Winners receive sponsorship money and marketing-help to get their films off the ground, so it’s well worth the application!

Or, if you fancy something similar, head to the Edinburgh French Film Festival, 8th November- 2nd December


ROWAN [22-year old Leeds Chinese & film-student. Career aspiration; break into film-development & writing internationally – somewhere between here and China]


I went to the film festival last year and really enjoyed it, so this year I decided to look on their website and apply for a job as a volunteer. I applied for it at the end of the summer, and I heard back a couple of weeks later when they invited me to a “training day”.

It’s a lot less work than it sounds; most people had actually done it before so they knew how it worked. There were hundreds of us… we were shown all the screens and talked through everything. It actually coincided with ‘Light Night’ so I got to go to that after… it was quite lucky actually, to kill two birds with one stone!


We were told that we would potentially get eight shifts of work throughout the whole festival. I only ended up with five but I know a lot of people who got a lot less and others a lot more; it just depended on your circumstances. You just replied to emails about which shifts you could and couldn’t do. It was really relaxed.

Shifts aren’t too long either; it depends on you really. Generally-speaking you get to stay for about two films, and obviously you get to watch them unless you don’t want to, so you can just get a long break. And everyone that I worked with was really lovely.

In terms of what we actually did, we just had to collect the tickets as they went in, clean up after the film, hand out leaflets on-site and giving people advice. You can work at different venues; I did three shifts at the Town Hall and two at the Vue (in town), but you’ll work across any of the venues really.


Yes so much, it was really great!


I definitely would, especially if you like films!

 Everyone was so nice, like the other day a guy just came and started to talk to me about his love for Stanley Kubrick and then we got talking about his insurance paying out for a flood in his kitchen. You get to meet a real mix of people, not just pretentious film-students.


I don’t know if I will be able to do it next year… as I don’t know if I’ll be here! (He graduates this year) It’s actually the kind of work I’m hoping to get more into… so maybe I will apply for the film festival in London, though Leeds is the second biggest in England and it still manages to retain a sense of intimacy.

 I don’t know, we’ll see. But I’d love to work there again!