1981 marked the 5th Festival, and the first Festival with current Festival Director, Tony Jones, at the helm.
Tony first became involved in cinema programming in 1968 when he founded the Arts Lab, an independent venue in Birmingham. Twelve years later he became programming manager for the Arts Cinema in Market Passage, which he built up to become the UK's highest-grossing single-screen venue outside of London. Alongside this, Tony co-founded City Screen Limited (Picturehouse Cinemas) in 1989 with Lyn Goleby. They went on to open the current Festival main venue, Arts Picturehouse, in St Andrews Street. In December 2012, Cineworld purchased the Picturehouse chain, a fitting point for Tony to retire, but he has remained the driving force behind Cambridge Film Festival ever since his initial involvement in 1981.
The Festival in 1981 screened a newly restored version of Gance’s NAPOLEON, alongside a Bertrand Tavernier retrospective. It was also the first year to have 'away' screenings at the Arts Theatre in St Edward's Passage.