Leeds International Festival unveils first line-up

Lauren Laverne, Rag'n'Bone Man and a Leeds United film premiere all set for the inaugural festival

Feature by The Skinny North | 27 Feb 2017

Leeds' cultural calendar gets the ultimate shake-up this spring with the debut Leeds International Festival, which promises an ambitious programme of film premieres, headline performances, exhibitions and conferences.

Taking place 22-30 April, the inaugural festival will focus on three main strands of music, moving image and technology, together showcasing the best that the city has to offer through a programme of film premieres, headline performances, exhibitions and conferences.

As one of the tech highlights, broadcaster Lauren Laverne will lead an 'Empowering Women with Tech' conference, where she'll be joined by female industry leaders including fashion blogger Susie Bubble and Emmy Lovell, VP of Digital for Warner Music Group. Elsewhere on the line-up there's also conferences on 'How 2016 Became the Year of the Hack' with Dr Jessica Barker and Gary Hibberd, 'Reasons to be Excited About the Future of Technology' with TechCrunch’s editor-in-chief Mike Butcher, and family event 'Make, Believe – Inventing the Tech of the Future'.

Director of Tech, Natasha Sayce-Zelem said: “As a proud woman in tech in Leeds, I’m really excited to be directing the technology strand of LIF. I’ve curated this year's strand around emerging tech trends; from Virtual Reality to cyber warfare and security, to addressing the digital skills pipeline issue. We also explore themes around futurology in tech, robotics and gaming.”

Rag'n'Bone Man
[Image: Dean Chalkey]

Meanwhile, one-man blues machine Rag‘N’Bone Man will be headlining Live at Leeds, which leads the festival's music line-up that also features an 'Unconference', workshops, industry events and live performances from the likes of Wire, White Lies, Maximo Park, Pigeon Detectives, Temples and Nubiyan Twist.

Director of music Colin Oliver said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the city to celebrate its musical heritage and look to the future to develop an inclusive program that showcases the city’s talent – whatever musical genre. The Leeds International Festival also gives us the opportunity to attract performers from further afield, and helps to cement Leeds as an important destination on the international music touring map.”

Vinnie Jones

There will also be a premiere of Do You Want to Win?a specially-commissioned new film from Moving Image about Leeds United, with narration from former players Vinnie Jones and Gordon Strachan.

Alongside music, moving image and technology, the festival will welcome fashion and food-related fringe events, tying in to new cultural projects like Fashion in Leeds and Leeds Indie Food.

Andrew Cooper, chair of Leeds International Festival and LeedsBID chief executive, said: "There is an ambition in the city to showcase all that is great about Leeds, nationally and internationally. The LeedsBID’s business plan highlights the need to help raise the city’s profile by identifying opportunities to bring new exciting signature events to the city’s calendar. This year’s festival is hopefully the start of a showpiece annual event for Leeds – the foundation for a bigger and even more ambitious LIF in 2018.”