The BFI team, his neighbours over the fence and a WhatsApp group of ageing skateboarders help inform the cultural viewing of Ben Luxford, the BFI’s director of UK audiences.


Source: BFI

Ben Luxford

You can’t trust anyone really, can you? I’ll give anything a go but I’ve learned to allow myself to give up on things that are not working out. I’ve also stopped renewing certain VoD subscriptions to help focus and limit my attention. I only rejoin if there is something I know I really should be across.

The BFI’s UK Audiences team always starts the week with ‘weekend watching’ updates (it’s more exciting than it sounds). These cross film, TV, books, theatre and exhibitions. The team is based across the UK and it’s a fairly broad church of tastes so there’s always a good amount to hear, argue about and add to the neverending viewing list. 

My wife Kristy Luxford heads up post-production for Studiocanal, so we’re always trying to watch as much as possible, although her love of various iterations of Real Housewives often ruins my plans to watch a long documentary about The Troubles. Our daughter keeps us updated on various YouTubers and Netflix shows about teen crushes and secrets and exams. 

I’m part of an exclusive club of two with Matt Ajan, who runs Bounce Cinema, where we head to various southeast London cinemas to watch whatever one of us suggests.  Memorable screenings include The Woman KingJeanne DielmanFunny Pages and Saltburn.

I have a few people from the industry I’ll either recommend things to or ask their opinion of on WhatsApp, and I’ll keep doing it despite their protestations. Occasionally I get something in return from them.

My neighbours over the fence will always let us know what they’re watching, a habit we got into during lockdown. Lately I’ve been recruited into an old man skateboard club WhatsApp group — which I’ve realised is really a men’s self-help group — and a few things get recommended on that. It’s always useful to hear from people who are not in the industry.

I’m a fairly committed Financial Times reader. I enjoy Danny Leigh’s reviews and interviews and not just because we went to the same school. The FT’s broader arts correspondence is strong, especially given its global perspective. Guy Lodge’s writing is frequently an exemplar, and I’m always interested in [film critic] Hannah Strong’s opinion on anything, frankly.

I enjoy what Letterboxd is doing. I don’t have an account, but its four favourite films on Instagram is always engaging, especially when they speak to audiences and critics as well as filmmakers.

I’ve been using Substack in the past year to follow writers in niche fields, and I’ll read specific in-depth articles on Indiewire and Vulture. I try to keep up with The Ankler for insight.

And the BFI being the BFI means the occasional relevant clip from [BBC radio show] Front Row will be circulated.