Which festivals do you rate and enjoy'
I rate New York, Telluride and Vienna from a programming point of view. In terms of all-round usefulness, Cannes continues to reign supreme, for the sheer volume and range of what it is possible to see there, combined with the benefits of having so many key industry folk and film-makers gathered together. In general, some of the best times I've had have been at smaller festivals like Bafici in Buenos Aires, which has combined interesting film selections with great hospitality.
What is the blueprint for a good festival'
Good films plus good organisation, together with the harder-to-define atmosphere or ambience which can make or break a festival. I like the idea that a festival can be serious in intent, but also be celebratory and fun. As the name implies, a degree of festivity is important.
Which films have you enjoyed recently'
I enjoyed I've Loved You So Long, which is beautifully controlled, and Man On Wire, plus the BFI's re-release of one of my favourite films of all time, A Matter Of Life And Death.
Are new film-making talents getting the chance to shine through'
I think so. If you look at the LFF, we have a high proportion of films from first and second-time directors and of course many of the film-makers with short films in the festival (more than 130 in total) are in the early stages of their careers. With initiatives such as Think-Shoot-Distribute and our Film Schools day, we are actively encouraging and supporting new film-makers. One of the defining characteristics of this year's festival is the high number of world premieres from British directors, including Pat Holden (Awaydays), Justin Kerrigan (I Know You Know) and Giles Borg (1234), who are all relatively new talents. In a way, I think festivals, and the industry at large, are constantly trying to discover new talent and it can actually be harder for film-makers who aren't so new to make a mark.
How would you define what you bring to the London film festival'
I hope I bring good taste and judgment about films, and an ability to bring together a really fine combination of curatorial skills among the festival's advisers. I think I have an understanding of the needs of our different constituencies and a desire to make the LFF the best possible festival that London can have. I'm very driven about wanting the festival be highly regarded and respected.
What are you most looking forward to ahead of this year's festival'
I'm just looking forward to getting started - after months of preparation, we have just two weeks to see if what we've put together works. Some of the big gala nights promise to be fairly starry affairs - Frost/Nixon and Slumdog Millionaire of course, but also W, Easy Virtue, Genova, Che, The Other Man and a host of others - and the air of excitement is infectious. I'm looking forward to welcoming back to the festival some film-makers we've been building a relationship with over several years, such as Ramin Bahrani, Ferzan Ozpetek and Ying Liang. And then I'm looking forward to getting some sleep!