British Film Institute

British Film Institute

The BFI is the UK’s lead organization for film, television and the moving image. It is a cultural charity that restores and distributes films across the globe. It cares for the BFI National Archive, one of the most significant film and television archive in the world.

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British Film Institute
  • A Bit of Scarlet

    Directed by Andrea Weiss • Documentary • With Ian McKellen • 1996 • 74 minutes

    Billed as 'a kind of post-modern queer soap opera for Britain', Andrea Weiss' documentary tells a sharp story. She evaluates the way gay and lesbian people have been depicted in mainstream British film and television....

  • 64 Day Hero: A Boxer's Tale

    Directed by Franco Rosso • Documentary • 1985 • 92 minutes

    In this compelling and thought-provoking documentary, sports writer and novelist Gordon Williams uses archive footage, as well as interviews with family members and friends, to investigate the troubled life of the mixed-race British boxi...

  • A Diary for Timothy

    Directed by Humphrey Jennings • Documentary • 1946 • 38 minutes

    A diary for the first six months in the life of a baby born 3rd September 1944, illustrating events and daily life during this period of the war. Directed by Humphrey Jennings.

  • Fires Were Started

    Directed by Humphrey Jennings • Documentary • 1943 • 63 minutes

    A dramatisation of the work of the National Fire Service during the Fire Blitz of the winter and spring of 1940/41.

  • The First Days

    Directed by Humphrey Jennings, Harry Watt & Pat Jackson • Documentary • 1939 • 23 minutes

    Sunday 3 September, 1939. The day begins peacefully with people going to church or to the country, but at 11.15am Neville Chamberlain broadcasts from 10 Downing Street the news that Britain has declared war...

  • Listen to Britain

    Directed by Humphrey Jennings & Stewart McAllister • Documentary • 1942 • 19 minutes

    Documentary, public information film, morale booster; propaganda film – all descriptions that apply to Humphrey Jennings and Stewart McAllister's extraordinary war-time film. Using his customary combination of p...

  • London Can Take It

    Directed by Humphrey Jennings & Harry Watt • Documentary • 1940 • 10 minutes

    Humphrey Jennings and Harry Watt’s famous film, produced at the GPO film unit, is an enduring example of British self-mythology and rousing evidence of the artistic potential of supposed propaganda. A hymn to the Britis...

  • Night Mail

    Directed by Harry Watt & Basil Charles Wright • Documentary • 1936 • 23 minutes

    A cornerstone of British documentary, Harry Watt and Basil Wright's NIGHT MAIL, with music by Benjamin Britten and verse by W.H. Auden, stands as a beacon for John Grierson's original purpose for documentary - to mak...

  • The Silent Village

    Directed by Humphrey Jennings • Documentary • 1943 • 36 minutes

    The villagers of Cwmgiedd, southwest Wales, are the stars of Humphrey Jennings’ unforgettably inventive drama-doc. At Lidice, Czechoslovakia, a mining community’s entire male population was executed by the Nazis in 1942. Jennings (o...

  • Veronico Cruz

    Directed by Miguel Pereira • Drama • With Leopoldo Aban, Juan José Camero, Guillermo Delgado • 1987 • 96 minutes

    Miguel Pereira’s first feature is a profound and moving tale of a young shepherd boy growing up in a remote village in the Argentinian mountains. The film traces his life via his frie...

  • Blue Black Permanent

    Directed by Margaret Tait • Drama • With Celia Imrie, Jack Shepherd, Gerda Stevenson, James Fleet • 1992 • 84 minutes

    Margaret Tait's tale of three generations of women in a Scottish family swirls out through a series of interlinking stories and recollections, taking place in Edinburgh and the O...

  • At Last the 1948 Show - Series 1 Episode 1

    Directed by Ian Fordyce • Drama • With Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Marty Feldman, Barry Cryer, Aimi MacDonald • 1967 • 24 minutes

    The very first show, which survived in David Frost’s personal archive, still manages to astonish as a bold new departure in television comedy. J...

  • Tomorrow's Saturday

    Directed by Michael Grigsby • Documentary • 1962 • 18 minutes

    Impressions of a typical Saturday at Blackburn, a milling town in the North of England.

  • O Dreamland

    Directed by Lindsay Anderson • Documentary • 1953 • 11 minutes

    Lindsay Anderson’s 12–minute tour of Margate’s Dreamland funfair is immediately notable for its deliberately bleak and unattractive photography and a spare and impressionistic soundtrack. Despite the absence of a commentary, the film...

  • Refuge England

    Directed by Robert Vas • Documentary • 1959 • 27 minutes

    Director Robert Vas was himself a refugee from Hungary, having arrived in London only three years earlier when he received a grant from the BFI to make the film. Despite its slightly incongruous use of voiceover, the film was adopted by th...

  • Enginemen

    Directed by Michael Grigsby • Documentary • 1959 • 21 minutes

    Produced just in time to be screened under the banner of the late–1950s ‘Free Cinema’ documentary movement, Enginemen records the life and work of engine workers in a locomotive shed just outside Manchester. At the time of British Rai...

  • Nice Time

    Directed by Claude Goretta & Alain Tanner • Documentary • 1957 • 16 minutes

    The swirling neon frenzy of Piccadilly Circus has never been better captured than in this innovative short, which presents the London landmark as a bewildering collage of image and sound.

    Swiss film enthusiasts and BFI ...

  • Food for a Blush

    Directed by Elizabeth Russell • Documentary • 1959 • 29 minutes

    Food for a Blush is a documentary of worry, satirising some aspects of London life.

  • The Vanishing Street

    Directed by Robert Vas • Documentary • 1962 • 20 minutes

    This classic documentary by Robert Vas depicts the way of life in an east London Jewish community on Hessel Street, Whitechapel. Its back-to-back houses and small shops are about to be replaced by high-rise flats. The thriving community is...

  • Together

    Directed by Lorenza Mazzetti • Documentary • 1956 • 52 minutes

    Italian director Lorenza Mazzetti borrowed techniques from the neorealist school to conjure this striking study of East End life, one of the original Free Cinema shorts. Following the ambling existence of two deaf-mute dock workers, ...

  • Murder in the Cathedral

    Directed by George Hoellering • Drama • With Leo McKern, T.S. Eliot • 1952 • 114 minutes

    George Hoellering’s powerful adaptation of T.S. Eliot's classic verse drama is a stark and highly atypical example of British historical cinema. Little-seen despite winning a top prize at the Venice Film Fes...

  • Edward Hopper

    Directed by Ron Peck • Documentary • 1981 • 47 minutes

    A study of the 20th century American painter's life and work.

  • Hidden Heritage: The Roots of Black American Painting

    Directed by Andrew Piddington • Documentary • With David Driskell • 1991 • 52 minutes

    David Driskell, the pathbreaking art history professor and artist, is the focus of HIDDEN HERITAGE: THE ROOTS OF BLACK AMERICAN PAINTING. He made it his life mission to trace the work of Black artists from the ...

  • Giacometti

    Directed by Michael Gill • Documentary • 1967 • 14 minutes

    The artist at work in his studio shows artist Giacometti drawing and modelling in his studio in Paris.