The London Film Festival celebrates the city’s successes in film, bringing the brightest in world cinema to London, but the capital is also looking to build on its achievements.

Film has the power to inspire and to console, to educate and to change. It is an artform that we in London have loved and developed over the years - our city frequently being a crucible from which some of the industry’s most enduring and iconic talent has emerged.

“We want to compete with LA, New York and other major centres such as Bollywood. We want our production houses and our talent, established and emerging,
to thrive”

It therefore gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this special issue of Screen International in honour of the The Times BFI London Film Festival 2009. Once again our city will be host to the best and brightest of international film talent, showing more than 300 films in 16 days. The London Film Festival offers a true global mix, presenting the best of world cinema to the capital.

London is one of the world’s greatest film cities, both culturally and in terms of production. It is one of the top three producers of film in the world and more than 75% of the UK’s film-making activity is based here, contributing around $21.5bn (£13.6bn) a year to the UK economy. London’s film sector continues to go from strength to strength, and with good reason.

The capital offers some of the best post-production facilities in the world, technologically sophisticated studios and unrivalled talent, in front of and behind the camera. Increasingly, film-makers know that we offer all the support needed to help them make their ideas reality. Thanks in large part to Film London, which offers expert location assistance among other things, it is no longer a challenge to produce here.

Consequently filming in London has increased by a whopping 30% since the body was launched in 2004. The list of movies choosing to shoot in the capital grows longer by the day - with Keira Knightley, Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard and Woody Allen all treading our streets in their latest projects. These films will join the likes of Harry Potter, Bridget Jones and 28 Days Later as pictures that benefit from London’s impressive backdrops.

We want to build on this success, and to compete with Los Angeles, New York and other major centres such as Bollywood. We want our production houses and our talent, established and emerging, to thrive.

So we continue to work with Film London and the London Development Agency to support new film-makers and grassroots talent. We are also working together on developing a London Film Day in 2010. We are supporting the business side of this month’s London Film Festival, but we are also working to bring the wonderful experience of this special event to more people across the capital.

The message is that you don’t have to walk the red carpet in Leicester Square to share in the magic - film must be available for all to experience and enjoy.

If you are lucky enough to be in London during the London Film Festival I hope you have a fantastic experience, and that some of the wonderful films on offer help you to see the world in a new light.