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10 unmissable highlights at Leeds International Film Festival

Written by
Jess Hardiman

Leeds International Film Festival returns for its 29th bash, commandeering various venues across with over 300 screenings and events throughout its 15 days from November 5-19.

Here are ten highlights we think you'd be daft to miss:



The festival opens with a screening of ‘Brooklyn’, the story of young Irish immigrant Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) who leaves the comforts of home for the American Dream and must adapt to the unfamiliar life of 1950s Brooklyn.

The film will be preceded by Pixar’s latest animated short flick, ‘Sanjay’s Super Team’.

Thursday November 5, Leeds Town Hall, £8/£6.


Shrew's Nest

Set up in 1999, Fanomenon is a genre film event that takes audiences into all corners of horror, fantasy, sci-fi and action from around the world.

Throughout the festival you can enjoy horror films including ‘The Hallow’, ‘Shrew’s Nest’ and ‘Therapy For a Vampire’ as part of its Day of the Dead event, before Fanomenon’s marathon horror event Night of the Dead returns for its fifteenth edition the week after.

There’s also a whole day dedicated to Japanese animation with Anime Day, featuring five new and original features.

Various dates and prices, Leeds Town Hall.

A Brief History of Cinema in Leeds

Leeds International Film Festival

Leeds City Museum introduces its very own micro cinema, which will be screening a free programme of shorts throughout the day.

From the world’s earliest moving image pictures shot by Louis le Prince on Leeds Bridge to ‘Queer As In Queer’ – a dance film exploring various locations in Leeds whilst focusing on its LGBTQ communities – there’s a danger you might forget to explore the rest of the museum.

Thursday November 5 & Thursday November 19, Leeds City Museum, free.

The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club

Love a good freebie? Then check out this 30th anniversary celebration of cult teen favourite, ‘The Breakfast Club’ at Leeds Town Hall. Relive the power of love in the '80s, as a bunch of teenage misfits are thrown together for a Saturday morning detention.

Saturday November 7, Leeds Town Hall, free.

The Big Love Tea Dance

Brief Encounter

As part of the BFI Love season, celebrate the 70th anniversary of ‘Brief Encounter’ with a very special Tea Dance event.

Pick out your best frock and learn some new moves with dance lessons from Swing Dance Leeds and live music from Swingmathing before the film, which comes complete with an afternoon tea buffet for a nostalgic afternoon taking you back to the 1940s.

Saturday November 7, Left Bank, £15.


This early '80s thriller soon became an inadvertent disaster film thanks to its cast of ferocious felines and writer and director Noel Marshall’s refusal to employ stuntmen in place of actors.

The result saw injuries in over 70 of the cast and crew, including Marshall’s real-life wife and daughter, Tippi Hedren and Melanie Griffith. ‘Roar’ has become cult classic for all the wrong reasons… making it all the more unmissable.

Saturday November 7 & Monday November 9, Hyde Park Picture House, £8/£6.

Without Words: Short Film Competition


Proving just how much can be said without speaking, Leeds International Film Festival presents 'Without Words', a short film competition where the films use little to no dialogue.

From the visceral genre pleasures of 'Ramona' to the surreal aura of 'We Will Stay In Touch About It', the programme celebrates not only the strength of visuals, but also short film as a powerful tool in itself.

Wednesday November 11, Everyman Leeds Trinity, £8/£6.

Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now

Get transported to the balmy, hallucinatory world of 1970s Vietnam with a screening of Francis Ford Coppola’s seminal ‘Apocalypse Now’. US Army assassin Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is sent deep on a mission to terminate the deranged and mysterious Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has gone AWOL and is living in a despotic fantasy world deep in the jungle.

This film is an epic masterpiece that deserves to be watched on the big screen – the one that’ll be set up in Leeds’ stunning Town Hall should do nicely.

Wednesday November 11 and Monday November 16, Leeds Town Hall, £8/£6

Adventure Films Day: Extraordinary Stories


Presented in two parts, the first Adventure Films Day explores the phenomenon of recording amazing physical challenges. Perfect for anyone who's ever wondered whatever happened to the glory that Bear Grylls' camera crew never get.

The second half of the event will document extreme sports, mountain ascents and more through a selection of short adventure films. The day then concludes with feature films 'Ice and the Sky' and 'Unbranded'.

Sunday November 15, Leeds Town Hall, £8/£6. 



The closing film for Leeds International Film Festival, ‘Carol’, was one of the hottest films from this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and received five-star reviews across the board.

Set in 1950s New York, the film stars Cate Blanchett as the titular Manhattan housewife Carol and Rooney Mara as her love interest, the young and naïve Therese. The performances are phenomenal and the story itself truly heartrending, so take an evening to completely revel in the hype with this screening at Leeds Town Hall.

November 19, Leeds Town Hall, £8/£6.

Leeds International Film Festival, November 5-19. Tickets and times available here

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