Oh LFF, UP YOURS!
Yes, I’m listening to X-Ray Spex.
Also, I’m having a terrible time organising tickets with London Film Festival.
So, in the past when I got the LFF catalogue, my eyes would over-dilate at the most wide ranging big ass selection of films, decide I want to see Everything (just as you would flipping through the Argos catalogue at Xmas) and then see nothing at all. It was very annoying
The last couple of years, I’ve learnt to be more discerning and specific. This was in no small part helped by my lovely friends like Jamie of Queer Manchester film fest who like a lightning bolt would send out his own selection of LGBT films. This was mega inspiring and helpful. With a renewed vigour (and better mental health emotional regulation) I’ve been learning how to find the Queer films, the Feminist films, the Black films and all the more marginalised type films that you may not see in your local cinema when this glorious festival had passed through our city. This led to my Moonlight moment in 2016, a cinematic experience that I’ll never forget and will always cherish,
My first step was to re-utilise my BFI Flare ticket spreadsheet where the timeline is broken down into sort-of hourly slots (and colour coded, always colour coded). Then I’m skimming through the programme. I’m not remotely in that white boys coming of age, thank you very much. Is it full of famous folk? You’re alright, I’ll check you out in Peckhamplex later. Is the lesser-spotted Black protagonist? Lovely! And so on. I fill in the films in my spreadsheet, with enough slots for double bookings. This year I unleashed it onto my friends, who I haven’t seen as much of due to phyiscal health kerfuffles (chronic disability y’all). The enthusiasm, the love I received back was almost overwhelming. I couldn’t wait to have so many more beautiful film experiences with the people I love.
It was going so well…
It is quite well known amongst people who visit (and love – this is coming from a place of love) that the BFI website is a jumbled up mess. It is not instinctual, things don’t work. This time the frustration is almost killing me. You wait, breath baited, with your spreadsheet. The gate is lifted for BFI members and you gotta get those tickets. You have get them now. You have to get them in the perfect seats. You have to get them for your mates. You’re given 40 minutes to bundle up as many screenings as you can. You scowl at the ticket prices. Feel embarrassed, victimised by the pricings. What’s happened to the concession tickets. £17 for an evening ticket in the central London cinemas, where the vast majority of the films you want to see are? I’m still disabled, and unemployed – where is my concession? When did we suddenly be excluded from so many films? I see the £6.50 matinees, thank goodness but these are few and far between.
Even so, I make my bookings. I got ages, nearly 20 minutes before the seats get released again. I go to make a cup of tea. When I come back, BFI website has logged me out for no reason and all my hard work down the drain. The horror. The horror. The website tells me it has done this for my security but actually it’s just nonsensical ineptitude.
Start again. I did it all over again. I’m a stubborn cinephile. And I get to the end, the payment page, intact.
Only, this time the payment will not go through. Why. Why is this. My card is fine. I’ve double checked with my bank and they say it’s the dodgy BFI website and completely their issue. I call BFI Box Office (the BFI Front of House staff are heroes FYI) and they say quite easily when I tell them the payment isn’t going through that yeah, of course, the BFI website is terrible and everyone knows that. We laugh, because the BFI Front of House are lovely and always make me feel at ease.
I’ve managed to book some tickets – Jeunne Femme, Roller Dreams, Dolores and The Slits documentary. I hope to book several more. But before then, I will have to scratch out many films, simply because there are shown in the central cinemas whose ticket prices are so very very out of reach. And I’ll have to call the box office everytime, because their website doesn’t work and it’s acknowledged but not, you know, FIXED. You can fix this, BFI. Your staff are hard working and smart. You can fix this. You can do limited numbers of concession tickets for your central London venues. When members are being blocked from paying online and they tell you, you can look at how to fix it. Just saying, Please, for my sake!