17 September 2013

London Film Festival 2013: What Tickets Did I Get?

Like last year, I didn't have much time to peruse the programme for this year's BFI London Film Festival. I scanned through my print copy on the day I thought members' booking opened, only to discover that I couldn't book until the following day. This meant that at 9.30 am on Thursday, I had already opened up the LFF event pages for each of the films I wanted to attend, ready to hit refresh when booking opened. Seriously: don't wait for the BFI to say go; you've got to get in there early.

There weren't any films in the programme that I desperately wanted to see, but there were quite a few interesting choices. Ironically, I will be in Cannes for the LFF's opening weekend, which narrowed down my options. At the LFF, I usually like to go for at least one big film and at least one that's more of an indie movie. In the end, I decided to go for Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial d├ębut Don Jon; indie romance Drinking Buddies; and the surprise film.

I booked the tickets in the order in which I thought they would sell out (Don Jon, then Drinking Buddies, then the surprise film) and by 9.35, I had ticket to all three films in my basket. The payment system was fine too. I've been to four previous LFFs and every time, the site has fallen to pieces during the members' booking period. I thought this year they'd sorted it, but it turns out I was just prompt, because by 11 am, Twitter was on fire with the wrath of BFI members scorned. The BFI didn't get the online booking system up again until the evening, and were telling people to call or show up to the Southbank (not ideal for people with jobs). 

I can sympathise: two years ago, I thought I'd booked a ticket for The Ides of March and had even received a confirmation email, which the BFI later told me was invalid (they did, happily, find me another seat). If you didn't get the tickets you want, do keep on checking back on the LFF website, as they often release more tickets in the run up to the festival. You can follow the BFI on Twitter to get a heads-up of new tickets, but I usually have more luck when I just keep checking. For more tips, check out my guide to getting LFF tickets.

Anyway, I'm pleased with the tickets I picked up this year, although the surprise film is a bit of a punt, as always. I went to three surprise films in a row and got Capitalism: A Love Story (2009), Brighton Rock (2010) and Damsels in Distress (2011). The first two were disappointing, and although the latter was quite fun, it wasn't in the same league as The Wrestler (2008) or No Country for Old Men (2007), so of course they were overdue another great choice last year, the one year I didn't go, hence Silver-Linings Playbook where they even had David O. Russell and Bradley Cooper show up! Frustrating as my surprise film experiences have been, I've decided to give it another go this year. Part of the fun is the speculation, of course. I don't like to walk out of movies, but as the film starts at 9 pm on a school night, it had better be a good one. 

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