BFI announce programme highlights for Spring 2024

The BFI today announce the BFI Southbank programme for Monday 25 March – Friday 31 May, including the first part of a major season exploring ITALIAN NEOREALISM, and month-long retrospectives of GENE TIERNEYVÍCTOR ERICE and LINDSAY ANDERSON. Kicking off at the end of March and running until the end of April, OUT OF THE SHADOWS: THE FILMS OF GENE TIERNEY will showcase the captivating performances of Tierney, with a focus on her work in the 1940s, including LAURA (Otto Preminger, 1944), LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (John M. Stahl, 1945) and many more. To coincide with the release of his long-awaited film CLOSE YOUR EYES (2023), which will screen on extended run from 12 April, BFI Southbank will present OF TIME AND LIGHT: THE FILMS OF VÍCTOR ERICE, a small but perfectly formed season of features and shorts from a supreme poet of cinema. Titles screening throughout April will include Erice’s remarkable first feature THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE (1973), the visually stunning exploration of family secrets EL SUR (1983) and his portrait of the celebrated artist Antonio López THE QUINCE TREE SUN (1992). The season will also feature a number of short films rarely or never before screened in the UK, including a series of ‘video-letters’ exchanged between Erice and the late Abbas Kiarostami.

Running throughout May will be O DREAMLAND! LINDSAY ANDERSON’S DARK BRITISH CINEMA, a season dedicated to the director (and influential film critic), Lindsay Anderson – a singularly acerbic and unflinching force who created searing social commentary that captured Britain like few others. This expansive season will include early shorts, documentaries, work for television and features, including the satirical state-of-the-nation trilogy – IF…. (1968), O LUCKY MAN! (1973) and BRITANNIA HOSPITAL (1982), all starring Malcolm McDowell. Completing the line-up of seasons for the spring is the first part of a two-month season exploring Italian Neorealism – beginning in May, and running until the end of June, CHASING THE REAL: ITALIAN NEOREALISM is presented in partnership with Cinecittà, and features 20 titles, from rarely shown gems to seminal works, such as Vittorio De Sica’s BICYCLE THIEVES (1948)and Luchino Visconti’s precursor to neorealism OSSESSIONE (1943). The season also includes a BFI re-release of ROME, OPEN CITY (1945), Roberto Rossellini’s groundbreaking film, planned in secret during the Nazi occupation of Rome, and widely recognised as the very first neorealist film. ROME, OPEN CITY is re-released in selected cinemas UK wide, including BFI Southbank, from 17 May.

Events during this period will include a TV preview of MICHAEL PALIN IN NIGERIA (Neil Ferguson, 2024) on 15 April, followed by a Q&A with Michael Palin. In his first visit to Nigeria, labelled the ‘Giant of Africa’, Michael Palin embarks on an epic 1,300-mile journey. It’s a country that encompasses stunning landscapes and wildlife, a variety of cultures and faiths, and a diverse population who speak over 500 languages. In Lagos he finds a vibrant city of extremes – from heart-wrenching poverty to extravagant wealth. With Nigeria set to be the third most populous country in the world within the next 50 years, this series captures the country through the eyes and experiences of the people who live there. For Michael, at 80, it may well turn out to be the most profound journey of his life. Film previews will include HOARD (Luna Carmoon, 2023) on 3 May, an intense and unusual drama announcing a bold and visionary new British talent, the preview of which will be followed by a Q&A. Young Maria lives with her eccentric mother in a home full of love and rising piles of rubbish until they are tragically separated. Now grown up, Maria tries to re-connect with the memory of her mother in unusual ways, a process that dramatically escalates when she forms a primal bond with an older man. Carmoon’s unconventional and visceral coming-of-age tale is a sensory experience that tackles grief, trauma and burgeoning sexuality, and will also play on extended run at BFI Southbank from 10 May. On 20 May the day of its release on BFI Dual Format DVD and Blu-ray, there will be a screening of the new restoration of BILLY CONNOLLY: BIG BANANA FEET (Murray Grigor and Patrick Higson, 1977), followed by a Q&A with the BFI’s Douglas Weir and director Murray Grigor. Featuring iconic stand-up material alongside fascinating behind-the-scenes footage, this previously elusive milestone of British comedy has been restored in 2K from original 16mm materials, reaffirming the warmth and genius that has endeared Connolly to generations of fans.

BFI’s WOMAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA series presents a preview of NEZOUH (2022) on 25 April, followed by a Q&A with director Soudade Kaadan. Delicately weaving lightness and magical realism among heart-breaking desolation, Kaadan’s Venice Film Festival award-winner offers a powerful and moving perspective on the Syrian conflict when teenager Zeina and her family are the last to stay in the besieged Damascus.  Meanwhile, AFRICAN ODYSSEYS presents a preview of OMEN (2023) on 26 April, including an intro and Q&A with director Baloji. The Belgian-Congolese rapper’s directorial debut won the New Voice prize in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival and is a distinctive and often impressionistic portrait of communal life in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Koffi returns to his hometown, Kinshasa, to reunite with his family and culture. However, complexities abound as four individuals find their different worlds and perspectives clashing. A monthly conversation between you (the audience) and one of the nation’s favourite and most respected film critics, Mark Kermode in 3D takes place at BFI IMAX on 29 April and 27 May. Joined by surprise guests from across the film industry, Kermode explores, critiques and dissects current and upcoming releases, cinematic treasures, industry news and even some guilty pleasures.

These seasons and events all take place while the BFI embark on essential maintenance work to improve and modernise BFI Southbank, beginning at the end of March and continuing until the summer. While some spaces around the building will be closed during the works, including NFT1 (to improve the NFT1 foyer and toilets) and NFT3 (to install new seating), BFI Southbank will remain open throughout, with a rich and varied programme of film and television still screening for audiences every day while these improvements are made. Meanwhile BFI Members will be invited to exclusive screenings at our BFI Stephen Street screening rooms with ‘Member Mondays’, beginning with Sight and Sound poll-winner JEANNE DIELMAN, 23 QUAI DU COMMERCE, 1080 BRUXELLES (Chantal Akerman, 1975) on 8 April.

Also announced today are special events taking place at BFI IMAX. The KINOTEKA POLISH FILM FESTIVAL comes to an end with the Closing Night Gala screening of THE PEASANTS (Hugh and DK Welchman, 2023) on 28 March. This very special screening will be enriched by a live performance from five talented musicians from the Rebel Babel Film Orchestra, under the guidance of Łukasz L.U.C. Rostkowski, the acclaimed composer of the film’s original soundtrack. This stunning adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning Polish writer Władysław Reymont’s novel is the latest feature by the creative team behind the groundbreaking LOVING VINCENT and tells the story of a young woman determined to forge her own path within the stultifying confines of late-19th-century rural Polish life. ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH comes to BFI IMAX on 21 April for a special Earth Day 2024 screening. Presented in the IMAX with Laser format for the first time in the UK, Alicia Vikander’s narration accompanies this stunning account of humanity’s dramatic impact on our planet. For this special presentation, filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky have recorded an introduction exploring this critical moment in our existence. Finally on 25 May,a special Straight 8 25th anniversary special edition will showcase the 25 best Super-8 films made for the Straight 8 competition. All comprise one Super-8 cartridge and no editing. This 25th anniversary edition will look even more spectacular showing at BFI IMAX – the smallest film format on the UK’s largest screen. Celebrate the magic of cinema from 1999-2024 and beyond with in person presentations and introductions.




After her Broadway debut in 1938, Gene Tierney made her way to Hollywood and signed with Twentieth Century Fox, where she would make most of her pictures. OUT OF THE SHADOWS: THE FILMS OF GENE TIERNEY, running from 25 March – 30 April,will journey beyond Tierney’s established classics to discover her many captivating performances, with a focus on the 1940s – arguably her most prolific decade. Across her various performances, including standout roles in LAURA (Otto Preminger, 1944) and LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (John M. Stahl, 1945), Tierney embodied elegance and grace on-screen. She was often enigmatic, with a tinge of melancholy or fragility, but always ethereally beautiful. Although often overshadowed by her label as ‘the most beautiful woman in movie history,’ and with a life beset by a series of personal tragedies, Tierney’s on-screen presence remains striking and many of her films are ripe for rediscovery.

The season kicks off on 26 March with MORE THAN A DREAM: GENE TIERNEY, a richly illustrated conversation about Tierney’s career, including discussion of her early films and the post-1950 works not featured in this season. The event, led by season programmer Aga Baranowski,will explore Tierney’s screen persona, the roles that made her one of the most recognisable stars of the 1940s and highlight some of the lesser-known titles in the programme worth seeking out. Films playing in the season will include the sequel to Henry King’s popular 1939 Western JESSE JAMES, THE RETURN OF FRANK JAMES (Fritz Lang, 1940), which stands up in its own right and boasts impressive Technicolor cinematography. Henry Fonda returns in the titular role, seeking to avenge the death of his brother. Tierney, in her memorable first onscreen role, plays a journalist who is determined to help clear Frank’s name when his plans go awry. Tierney and Fonda were reunited in screwball comedy RINGS ON HER FINGERS (Rouben Mamoulian, 1942), and display an electric on-screen chemistry. Tierney, in an important and transitional role in her career, is sweet shopgirl Susie, who becomes Linda when she joins a pair of con artists skilled at swindling the rich out of their money.

Tierney received her first top billing in HEAVEN CAN WAIT (Ernst Lubitsch, 1943), and gives a warm and charming performance. One of Lubitsch’s great late-career films, the director brings all his wit, wisdom and grace to the story of Henry and his amorous adventures, including his marriage to great love, Martha. Tierney is exquisite and captivating in LAURA (Otto Preminger, 1944), her best-known and – in a decade that featured so many stand-out characters – most iconic role. Otto Preminger’s intricate direction, coupled with Joseph LaShelle’s elegant, Oscar winning cinematography and David Raksin’s memorable score makes this one of the greatest of film noirs. Fresh from this success, Tierney was nominated for an Academy Award for her electrifying and chilling performance in LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (John M. Stahl, 1945). She plays Ellen Berent, a femme fatale who will do anything to keep her novelist husband Richard for herself. Director John M. Stahl draws on elements of film noir, melodrama and even Greek mythology in creating a gripping masterpiece.

Both Tierney and Vincent Price are superb in DRAGONWYCK (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1946), gradually revealing the emotional and psychological evolution of their characters. They’re aided by Alfred Newman’s haunting score and Arthur C. Miller’s evocative cinematography in this story of a governess who leaves rural Connecticut for a job in a lavish yet ghostly mansion. Meanwhile, THE RAZOR’S EDGE (Edmund Goulding, 1946) is a searing exploration of upper-class American society in the aftermath of the First World War when pilot Larry leaves his friends to find a meaning of life. Tierney excels as a spoiled rich woman who needs to decide between her status and love, while Anne Baxter is on Oscar-winning form in a supporting role. Set in the early 1900s, THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1947) sees headstrong widow Lucy move from London to a seaside town with her daughter. There, she rents a house haunted by the ghost of a sea captain. This captivating and moving drama examines love, desire, motherhood and determination. The screening on 21 April will include an introduction by season programmer Aga Baranowska.

With hints to their previous hit LAURA, WHIRLPOOL (Otto Preminger, 1950) is an intoxicating mixture of film noir and psychological thriller. Tierney excels in conveying the depths of her tormented emotional state, while Otto Preminger delivers one of his most fascinating and disturbing films with this tale of a woman whose life is turned upside down by an encounter with a hypnotist. One of two films Tierney made in the UK, NIGHT AND THE CITY (Jules Dassin, 1950) follows Richard Widmark’s Harry, an American hustler living in London and chasing easy money. Jules Dassin, blacklisted by McCarthyistic Hollywood at the time, shoots on location in the city, atmospherically capturing the dark underbelly of this post-war world. The screening on 30 April will include an introduction by BFI National Archive curator Jo Botting. Otto Preminger reunited with his LAURA stars for the more cynical WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS (1950). Dana Andrews plays a troubled detective who meets Tierney’s character as she becomes embroiled in his investigation. A classic noir, shot of the streets of New York, it captures the city in all its luminosity.


From 25 March – 30 April, BFI Southbank celebrate the elegant, lyrical and meticulous films of Víctor Erice with OF TIME AND LIGHT: THE FILMS OF VÍCTOR ERICE. While Erice’s career is littered with fascinating projects that sadly never came to fruition, his consequently relatively modest body of work, including THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE (1973), EL SUR (1983) and THE QUINCE TREE SUN (1992), is utterly distinctive, both thematically and stylistically. Erice’s films are contemplative, measured, mysterious, allusive, delicately nuanced and subtly beautiful; they focus on specificity of time and place, exploring how individual lives are inflected by history, politics, family, culture and film. The season coincides with the release of his first feature in three decades, CLOSE YOUR EYES (2023), a characteristically ambitious, richly satisfying meditation on memory, identity, family, friendship and cinema.

The season kicks off with a lavishly illustrated talk from season curator Geoff Andrew on 27 MarchTHE ART OF SEEING: THE LIFE-LONG PASSION OF VÍCTOR ERICE will explore Erice’s long and distinguished career, examining his work in terms of themes and cinematic style. The talk takes place on the same night as a preview of CLOSE YOUR EYES (2023), with a joint ticket available to buy for the two events, while the film will screen on extended run from 12 April. Twenty years after an actor’s mysterious disappearance led to a movie-shoot being abandoned, the director, whose career subsequently stalled, reluctantly contributes to a missing-persons television documentary which, once broadcast, has unexpected consequences for a great many people. CLOSE YOUR EYES draws and builds on Erice’s own earlier films and unfinished projects while paying tribute to admired auteurs, creating a multi-layered work that is deeply personal, psychologically astute, philosophically profound, and very moving in its warm, generous humanity.

Further films screening in the season include Erice’s remarkable first feature THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE (1973), which concerns a family living in a remote Castilian village shortly after the end of the Civil War, and centres on eight-year-old Ana, confused about the relationship of life and death after a screening of Frankenstein. A piercingly perceptive portrait of lonely lives haunted by grief, the film boasts images of both wondrously direct simplicity and enormous eloquence. Set in the 1950s in Northern Spain, THE SOUTH (1983) follows Estrella, who adores but is mystified by her father, particularly about his obscure history in the South. Though budgetary cuts meant that Erice could not complete the film as planned, THE SOUTH remains a masterpiece, a visually stunning exploration of family secrets that takes in politics, romance, magic and cinema.

THE QUINCE TREE SUN (1992) is a portrait of the celebrated artist Antonio López, mainly at work slowly painting a quince tree in his Madrid garden, but also enjoying encounters with friends, family and others. Funny, touching, insightful and inventive, this magnificent film transcends conventional notions of ‘documentary’, succeeding as a meditation on time, change, reality and its representation – and, perhaps, as a reflection on Erice’s own tendencies as a perfectionist artist. In ERICE-KIAROSTAMI: CORRESPONDENCES (2005-2007) – being screened for the very first time in Britain – ten ‘video-letters’ are sent to one another by two great directors – each an admirer of the other’s work – whose lives and films have shared certain similarities. The short films are playful, thoughtful, engaging responses not only to the preceding ‘letter’ but to the sender’s work in general. Deceptively modest, they are also delightfully imaginative.

Completing the season is a programme of VÍCTOR ERICE SHORTS, featuring five short films made since the turn of the century. Made for the TEN MINUTES OLDER compilation film, the superb LIFELINE (2002) chronicles ten minutes in the life of a Basque farmhouse in 1940, while LA MORTE ROUGE (2006) is more clearly autobiographical, finding Erice reminiscing about his first ever visit to the cinema. ANA, THREE MINUTES (2011) was also made for a compilation film, and this time features Ana Torrent (from THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE) about to go on stage and delivering a brief monologue about disasters in Japan. The deceptively simple work BROKEN WINDOWS (2012) comprises (apparent) interviews with former employees at a massive, now-closed textile factory, reminiscing about their work and time there. Completing the shorts programme is PRAYER (2018), a collage of photographs, some worn and damaged by time, shot over a long period in the same place.


BFI Southbank will celebrate one of the most significant post-war developments in cinema, Italian Neorealism, with a two-month season beginning in May and running until the end of June. CHASING THE REAL: ITALIAN NEOREALISM will spotlight a movement that rejected traditional cinematic canons, coming to exist out of a moral necessity, following the urgency, as Cesare Zavattini, one of the movement’s architects, put it, to ‘find the hidden drama in everyday life’. When the subject of art becomes ordinary life, reality becomes spectacle, and this season features the different formal approaches taken by directors who made reality such a spectacle; from rarely shown gems to seminal works, as well as peripheral films that assimilated American and Soviet influence, and which expanded the boundaries of neorealism.

The discussion event JOURNEY THROUGH ITALIAN NEOREALISM on 7 May will be a wide-ranging exploration of the roots, context and legacy of Italian Neorealism, and the perfect starting point for this two-month long programme. Season curator Giulia Saccogna and guest speakers will present a richly illustrated conversation looking at some of the key figures behind the movement, the newly emerging portrayal of women in Italian cinema in the post-war era, and the stylistic elements and thematic preoccupations that made the movement so influential.

Three films that can be categorised as precursors to Neorealism – that show traces of the sentimentality that marked films of the fascist era, alongside the first manifestations of a new kind of cinema – will screen during the season, beginning with Alessandro Blasetti’s FOUR STEPS IN THE CLOUDS (1942). Blasetti began his career by making historical films, but this bittersweet comedy marked a fresh break from his previous work, lending a popular comedy genre a quiet melancholy; an ordinary travelling salesman, frustrated by his dull family life, meets a young and pregnant woman on a train. At her request, he pretends to be her husband for a day. A radical change from the ‘white telephone’ comedies Vittorio De Sica had previously appeared in as an actor, THE CHILDREN ARE WATCHING US (1943) marks the beginning of his collaboration with screenwriter Cesare Zavattini, the future main theorist of neorealism.  Focusing on a middle-class family dealing with adultery, the film avoids trite predictable morals thanks to its main character, a child through whose eyes we witness the mysterious world of adults, so bitterly disappointing. In OSSESSIONE (Luchino Visconti, 1943) the arrival of a rugged vagabond at a roadside trattoria and his subsequent affair with the owner’s wife sets off a destructive spiral of lust, adultery and murder. Jean Renoir gave Visconti a copy of James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice and it led to this neorealism milestone, which combines passion and poverty, while breaking many conventions of the time along the way.

Roberto Rossellini rebuilt Italian cinema after the war with his War Trilogy, starting with ROME, OPEN CITY (1945), a groundbreaking work, planned in secret during the Nazi occupation of Rome, and widely recognised as the very first neorealist film. As the film approaches its 80th anniversary, the BFI will re-release it at selected cinemas UK-wide from 17 May, with an extended run at BFI Southbank as part of the season. Mixing fact and fiction, this story of life and death depicts the struggles of four Roman partisans during the German occupation: a working-class couple, the priest about to marry them and an intellectual. Rossellini and his collaborators (including a young Fellini) created a powerful story of a city dominated by fear, violence, moral degradation and the raw courage of its inhabitants. Shot on the streets of Rome, and in a makeshift studio, only six months after the liberation of the city – while Germany still occupied Northern Italy – the film features a largely non-professional cast, except for Aldo Fabrizi and a magnetic and memorable Anna Magnani. Moving seamlessly between levity and brutality, this evokes reality in all its vivid dynamism and is the beginning of a new way of seeing in cinema. A year after ROME, OPEN CITY, Rossellini resumes his reflection on the brutality of war with PAISÀ (1946). Co-written by Fellini, the film’s six episodes follow the advance of the Allies in the peninsula, from Sicily to the Po Delta, bringing into focus a polyphonic portrait of Italy. Stories are shown in their raw violence, reaching a crescendo in the stark tragedy of the final episode, one of the greatest sequences in cinema. Completing the War Trilogy is GERMANY, YEAR ZERO (1948), in which a young boy, adrift in the wreckage of post-war Berlin, struggles to survive and provide for his family. Rossellini’s unstinting account of a society stripped of values reveals the inner wounds left by war and the psychological impact of the ideology that had instigated it.

Further titles that helped develop the movement which will screen in May will include two more films by Vittorio De Sica. In SHOESHINE (1946) two street kids shine shoes to escape starvation in the devastation of post-war Rome. Dreaming of buying a white horse, they naively fall into petty criminality, ending up in a reformatory – a microcosm of the world and where their innocence and friendship crumbles. De Sica and screenwriter Zavattini find the drama of everyday life in the moving and profoundly humane masterpiece BICYCLE THIEVES (1948). An unemployed workman, with nothing else to pawn but his family’s bedlinen, finally finds a job, but one dependent on his owning a bicycle. When the bike is stolen on his first day of work, The man sets off on a harrowing quest with his son, through the streets of Rome, to reclaim it.

A pair of titles from a filmmaker all too often overlooked by critics, Alberto Lattuada, will screen in May – in THE BANDIT (1946) Lattuada injected noir tension into a neorealist aesthetic to resounding box office success. Returning from Germany and finding his house in ruins, a prisoner of war finds himself in a society scarred by loss, destruction and corruption, fails to find honest work and becomes a gangster. An adaptation of Riccardo Bacchelli’s novel, co-written by Fellini, THE MILL ON THE PO (1949) is a potent social portrait of peasant life set in the late 1800s, following the unification of Italy. A young couple, a miller and a farmer, find themselves in the middle of the farmers’ strikes against landowners, at the birth of the machine age. The impact of social change is woven with love and vengeance against a backdrop of vast, cinematic flatlands.

After working with Visconti on OSSESSIONE, for his debut A TRAGIC HUNT (1946), Giuseppe De Santis focused on the countryside as centre of the social struggle. A gang steals the state subsidy for an agricultural cooperative and the community decides to hunt them down, in this lyrical portrait of rural culture with influences of American and Soviet cinema. Also screening by De Santis is BITTER RICE (1949) about a thief and his girlfriend on the run from the law, who hide among rice workers in rural northern Italy. This portrait of exploitation of women in rice fields, as they start to develop a political conscience, diverges from neorealist style for its noir aesthetics, dark sensuality and violent melodrama. It made Silvana Mangano, as spellbinding in the film’s dance sequences as she is elsewhere, an international icon.

Completing the line-up in May is Visconti’s LA TERRA TREMA (1948), which details the struggles of a fishing family, battling against the harshness of nature and economic oppression. Loosely based on Giovanni Verga’s 1881 novel I Malavoglia, the film introduces real fishermen, speaking in their local dialect, while the ecstatic beauty and compositional rigour of each shot gives them a lyrical aura. This decisive decade in cinema is ripe for rediscovery; it’s been 80 years since Rossellini started working on ROME, OPEN CITY and 70 years since the ‘official’ end of the movement, yet it remains relevant to our current times in its ability to teach us the importance of freedom and to reinforce our capacity for compassion.

With thanks to Camilla Cormanni, Germana Ruscio, Marco Cicala at Cinecittà


As a director and an influential critic, Lindsay Anderson was an acerbic and unflinching force whose searing social commentary captured Britain like few others. Often associated with truth and realism by way of the Free Cinema movement that he helped launch in the 1950s, Anderson’s powerfully concentrated output reveals more widely inspired, sometimes awkward ideas about film and society. Anderson’s satirical state of the nation addresses punch out from the screen, refusing to draw a clear political allegiance as they depict a Britain divided and in thrall to commercial interests, empty platitudes, hypocritical bourgeois liberalism and evasive, nostalgic fantasies. LINDSAY ANDERSON: MEET THE PIONEER, an introductory talk from season programmers William Fowler and James Bell on 2 May, will explore Anderson’s life and work while interrogating the career of a filmmaker who reimagined a singularly combative thorn in the side of British cinema. Illustrated with rare clips taken from Anderson’s films, TV plays, interviews and commercials, the talk will consider the complex legacy of one of British cinema’s true iconoclasts.

Films and events taking place throughout May will be divided into four strands. Meet the Pioneer brings together Anderson’s documentaries and early cinematic missives, which included both innovations and a spiky antagonism to the British film industry. No Film Can Be Too Personal on 2 May unpacks the ideas behind Free Cinema, which sustained Lindsay Anderson’s career, with his highly personal essay film FREE CINEMA (1986), while in IS THAT ALL THERE IS? (1994) the tetchy director invites us into his own day-to-day personal life for what might be one of the weirdest, most wonderful films of his career.  Meanwhile, Lindsay Anderson vs the Short Films Industry on 23 May explores the intriguing relationship – ambivalent and at times troubled – between the thriving post-war sector of sponsored shorts (rooted in the British documentary movement) and the combative young filmmaker-critic. It includes screenings of rare early pieces, including industrial films, charity awareness-raisers, and the Oscar-winning THURSDAY’S CHILDREN, narrated by Richard Burton. Finally, through the films featured in Stand Up! Stand Up! on 23 May, the Free Cinema movement assumes its place in the larger, restless, topsy-turvy firmament of the 1950s. Against a backdrop of jazz, skiffle, the peace movement and the rise of the ‘Angry Young Men’, Anderson’s documentaries MARCH TO ALDERMASTON (1959) and EVERYDAY EXCEPT CHRISTMAS (1957), and his collaborator Karel Reisz’s MOMMA DON’T ALLOW (1956), gave radical voice to new ideas about the power of artistry and the youth movement.

The Home Truthsstrand highlights Anderson’s collaborations with writer David Storey and others, exploring domestic tensions, class division and strained family relations. With a visceral power right from its opening scene, Anderson’s debut feature THIS SPORTING LIFE (1963) marked the first film in his long collaboration with Storey, who adapted his own novel about a rugby player whose macho brutishness masks a vulnerability and repressed yearning for his landlady. It’s an ’Angry Young Man’ classic. HOME (1972), an adaptation of Storey’s play originally directed by Anderson at the Royal Court, retains that production’s illustrious cast. Only gradually during the opening exchange between John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson do we realise that they are, in fact, inmates at a psychiatric institution. Elsewhere, Anderson’s capacity for drawing out extraordinary performances hit full flight in the tight, tense, domestic drama IN CELEBRATION (1975) starring Brian Cox, James Bolan and Alan Bates. The powerhouse trio play three successful brothers returning home to celebrate their working-class parents’ anniversary. As the actors hit their stride, it’s not long before old secrets, suppressed bitterness and quiet sadness resurfaces. Finally, THE OLD CROWD (1979) pools the considerable talents of Anderson and Alan Bennett for a controversial and searingly class-critical play – Buñuel by way of bourgeois London. It screens alongside documentary footage of Anderson directing Helen Mirren in a wonderfully lyrical 1967 short Anderson made in Communist Poland.

State of the Nation is a strand of core Anderson, including the darkly comic trilogy made with writer David Sherwin that skewers the flaws and foibles of British life, and punches straight for the optic nerve. Adapting Shelagh Delaney’s story about a young woman who returns from London to her northern hometown, Anderson anticipated the state-of-the-nation trilogy with THE WHITE BUS (1967), a sharply pointed satire on English provincialism – one that mixes moments of realism and fantasy in disarmingly inventive style. The first film in Anderson and Sherwin’s state-of-the-nation trilogy, IF…. (1968) builds tensely to violent rebellion, as schoolboy Mick Travis takes a stand against the brutality and repressive traditions that govern an English boarding school. Fierce in its satirising of class-bound, outdated conventions in British society, it is also deeply poetic and fantastical. Nothing and no one is spared from Anderson and Sherwin’s caustic gaze in their inexhaustibly inventive and sometimes horrifying satire O LUCKY MAN! (1973), the second in their trilogy. It follows the continuing adventures of Mick Travis, now an ambitious coffee salesman, as he travels around a Britain of Kafka-esque bureaucracy and absurdity, his exploits commented on throughout by Alan Price’s musical interludes. With its sights set on Thatcher’s deathbed Britain, BRITANNIA HOSPITAL (1982), the third in the trilogy, sees McDowell’s Mick Travis infiltrate the ‘Britannia Hospital’, a place plagued by striking workers, private and NHS patients and even a royal visit. Increasingly absurd and littered with rip-roaring British character actors, it’s little surprise that The Fall’s Mark E. Smith called it his favourite film.

Finally, Late Anderson shows how Anderson’s visceral bite could not be exhausted, despite a decline in opportunities. In THE WHALES OF AUGUST (1987), an adaptation of David Berry’s play, Anderson’s gentle direction keeps the pace as unhurried as the breeze around the beautifully shot coastline. Uncharacteristic it may be, but it is also a rare unpatronising portrait of old age, performed by two genuine Hollywood legends in Bette Davis and Lillian Gish. Other screenings in the season will include THE PLEASURE GARDEN (James Broughton, 1957), the first of two bold films, supported by Lindsay Anderson, which transforms Crystal Palace into a queer-tinged dream zone where pleasure wins out over depressive killjoys. It plays alongside TOGETHER (Lorenza Mazzetti, 1956), in which Anderson’s friend Lorenza Mazzetti finds dark poetry in the bombed vistas of post-war London. Elsewhere, no actor was more associated with Anderson than Malcolm McDowell, the ‘Mick Travis’ of the director’s great trilogy, and friend through thick and thin. In NEVER APOLOGISE (Mike Kaplan, 2007), a filmed one-man stage performance first performed at the 2004 Edinburgh Festival on the 10th anniversary of Anderson’s death, McDowall gives a tenderly personal, appropriately gossipy and anecdote-rich reflection on his mentor’s life and work.

Events in the season will include a BFI Reuben Library Event: OUTING ANDERSON.Former Sight and Sound editor Gavin Lambert caused controversy when he revealed his close friend’s homosexuality. What are the politics of outing someone after death? Does confirmed knowledge of Anderson’s homosexuality change how we read his films? Join us on 8 May as we explore these issues and the lines between art and life, biography and creativity. Finally, long fascinated with Anderson’s place in British film and television and praised for his film about Anderson’s relationship with Richard Harris, artist and filmmaker Stephen Sutcliffe is brilliantly well placed to craft the LINDSAY ANDERSON EXPERIMENTA MIXTAPE about the tensions, contexts and opportunities that flowed though Anderson’s life and work. Expect a richly provocative collage of highly textured film extracts, TV shows, and surprises from a tape compilation master on 30 May.



Queer East is a cross-disciplinary festival that showcases boundary-pushing LGBTQIA+ cinema, live arts and moving image work from East and Southeast Asia, and its diaspora communities. For its fifth edition, playing across London from 17 – 28 April, the festival explores notions of what it means to be queer and Asian today. Films screening at BFI Southbank will include ABANG ADIK (Jin Ong, 2023), a drama about feelings spoken and unspoken, that offers an edgy insight into street life in Kuala Lumpur; SUMMER VACATION 1999 (Shusuke Kaneko, 1988) a beguiling, homoerotic drama blending mystery, horror, melodrama and sci-fi while offering a striking exploration of androgenous youth, yearning and desire; a 20th anniversary screening of SAVING FACE (Alice Wu, 2004), a groundbreaking romantic comedy which subtly depicts the allyship between queer and straight women overwhelmed by patriarchal tradition; and a 50th anniversary screening of BYE BYE LOVE (Isao Fujisawa, 1974) a bold, radical, poetic and surreal queer work in which two young people undertake a doomed summer road trip through Japan – long considered lost until a film negative was recently discovered.


The UK Asian Film Festival, which this year takes place from 2 – 12 May, celebrates stories that redefine and explore power dynamics in life and relationships and showcase the journeys of those driving societal transformation. This year’s Festival will feature a number of events at BFI Southbank, all taking place on 4 May. There will be free discussion on new writings in the BFI Reuben Library, a short film showcase, an Industry Networking Programme and workshop, and a screening of FLIGHT (Alex Pillai, 1997), a taut, absorbing drama set amongst a South Asian community in the north of England which details a journey of discovery after a teenager falls passionately in love. In doing so, she challenges the tyranny of her embittered father and the toxic patriarchy of wider society. The screening of FLIGHT will be followed by a Q&A with director Alex Pillai, writer Tanika Gupta and members of the cast.


In addition to the previously mentioned release of CLOSE YOUR EYES (Víctor Erice, 2023) from 12 AprilHOARD (2023) from 10 May and the BFI Distribution re-release of ROME, OPEN CITY (Roberto Rossellini, 1945) from 17 May, new releases playing at BFI Southbank between 25 March and 31 May will include the Academy-Award nominated animation ROBOT DREAMS (Pablo Berger, 2023) from 25 March. Spanish director Pablo Berger delivers a rich and emotionally engaging film about friendship, set in a bustling 1980s New York City and told entirely without dialogue. Living a solitary life and longing for fun and excitement, Dog sends off for a robot friend. When it arrives, the two make an immediate connection and Dog’s life is transformed. Also from 25 MarchMONSTER (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2023) sees Cannes Palme d’Or-winner Kore-eda return to his native Japan with a wondrously and heartbreakingly humanistic tale. The reputation of schoolteacher Mr Hori is questioned when a local fire triggers scandalous rumours. Meanwhile, single mother Saori despairs when her son Minato, a student in Mr Hori’s class, comes home from school injured and visibly disturbed, yet unable to share what has happened to him. Not all is as it seems in this emotionally rich experience. A BFI Distribution release, SILVER HAZE (Sacha Polak, 2023) plays at BFI Southbank from 29 March following screenings at BFI FLARE. Moving seamlessly between moments of rage and tenderness, Sacha Polak’s slice of British social realism draws its inspiration from star Vicky Knight’s own childhood. It’s a raw, emotional character study, whose range of themes are interwoven through the lives of its credible and well-drawn protagonists. At the heart of it all is yet another remarkable and unmissable performance by Knight.

Following the BFI’s major UK-wide retrospective CINEMA UNBOUND: THE CREATIVE WORLDS OF POWELL AND PRESSBURGER last autumn, Martin Scorsese presents an impassioned and highly personal tribute to Britain’s greatest filmmaking partnership with MADE IN ENGLAND: THE FILMS OF POWELL AND PRESSBURGER (David Hinton, 2024), screening from 10 May. Richly illustrated with clips and rare archive material, this exploration of the films of two of Scorsese’s most treasured inspirations delivers deeply personal reflections on what Powell and Pressburger’s work has meant to his life, alongside wonderfully illuminating analyses of the films themselves. Drawing richly from the BFI National Archive, as well as private material from Scorsese and the film’s editor (and Powell’s widow) Thelma Schoonmaker, David Hinton’s film is an ideal introduction to Powell and Pressburger’s work.

New releases screening at BFI IMAX in April and May will include CIVIL WAR (Alex Garland, 2024), which opens at on 12 April. As we reach a critical point in US, and thereby global, politics, writer-director Alex Garland envisions a country torn apart by divisions. Kirsten Dunst plays a journalist covering uprisings across various US states, as a concerted effort to wage a military campaign against the government edges towards Washington D.C. But is everything what it seems? This is up-to-the-minute, high-octane and intelligent action cinema. FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA (George Miller, 2024) puts the hell-driver first seen in MAD MAX: FURY ROAD centre stage in this off-shoot, which opens at BFI IMAX on 24 May. Now played by Anya Taylor-Joy, this is the story of how Furiosa came to be one of the most feared outlaws in a world that has descended into chaos. 


BFI Southbank’s regular programme strands have something for everyone – whether audiences are looking for silent treasures, experimental works or archive rarities. Celebrating 16 years of inspirational films by and about the people of Africa, BUSHMAN (David Shickele, 1971) is this month’s AFRICAN ODYSSEYS offering. This restored film recently delighted audiences at Bologna’s Il Cinema Ritrovato festival. Combining drama and documentary, it follows the fate of a youth, escaping from Civil War in Nigeria and arriving in California at the tail end of the 60’s countercultural revolution.

Screenings for neurodivergent audiences, with their companions and assistants, RELAXED screenings in April and May will include Víctor Erice’s second feature EL SUR (1983), a powerful evocation of the imagination’s capacity to craft crepuscular worlds filled with hushed, secretive voices. But it is also a warning about the dangers of living in these seductive fantasies. A post screening discussion on 22 April will be hosted by writer and researcher Dr Ethan Lyon, co-host of the Autism Through Cinema podcast. On 20 May, a relaxed screening and discussion of THE MAGIC FLUTE (Ingmar Bergman, 1975) is hosted by film critic and writer Lillian Crawford. Originally produced for television, Bergman’s rendering of Mozart’s beloved opera is a cinematic spectacle. The film blurs the boundaries of theatre, between audience and stage, as Tamino ventures with his fantastical instrument to rescue Pamina and vanquish the Queen of the Night.

Masterpieces and recent discoveries from around the world, our RESTORED strand presents FACE TO FACE (Roviros Manthoulis, 1967) on 23 April. Restored in 4K by Tainiothiki Tis Ellados at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory and Costas Varibopiotis Sound Studio laboratories, from the 35mm original negative, Manthoulis’ fierce and innovative social satire was banned in its native country by the same colonels who forced the man himself into exile. Meanwhile on 28 May, the BFI Conservation team intro THE SMALL BACK ROOM (Michael Powell, 1948), restored by The Film Foundation and BFI National Archive in association with StudioCanal. Following a series of Technicolor extravaganzas, Powell and Pressburger turned to a suitably low-key presentation for this Nigel Balchin adaptation, chiming with the darker post-war mood. David Farrar gives perhaps his best performance, while Christopher Challis’ cinematography looks stunning in this restoration.

In addition to matinees of ROME, OPEN CITY and CLOSE YOUR EYES, free matinees and talks for the over-60s in our SENIORS strand this month include SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS (Robert Hamer, 1960) on 25 March. Aiming to reverse his failed attempts to succeed in life and love, Ian Carmichael’s loser enrols at the school of one-upmanship. Comic masters Alastair Sim and Terry Thomas are on top form, and there is much irreverent humour and downright silliness in the last film by director Hamer. Also, on 15 May we present SHAKESPEARE WALLAH (James Ivory, 1965), a drama written by regular Merchant-Ivory collaborator Ruth Prawer Jhabvala loosely based on the real-life adventures of a traveling theatre company in towns across India in the 1950, at a time when the popularity of Bollywood cinema was on the rise.

In April and May PROJECTING THE ARCHIVE serves a double helping of little-known films by Alberto Cavalcanti, a truly international filmmaker who applied an outsider’s eye and a European flair to his British films. Beautifully photographed against a lavish regency canvas, THE FIRST GENTLEMAN (1947) on 16 April is introduced by Josephine Botting, BFI National Archive curator. The behaviour of the British royals is a hot topic, and this historical drama depicts one of the House of Windsor’s most controversial forebears. Cecil Parker, best known as a character actor, was given the leading role he was born to play: the bloated, dissolute Prince Regent. Botting also introduces FOR THEM THAT TRESPASS (1949) on 9 May, which attests to Cavalcanti’s remarkable ability to create a broad, sweeping narrative while focussing on the dark and dingy details within it. Imprisoned due to a miscarriage of justice, Herb Logan emerges embittered from a lengthy sentence and resolves to clear his name. His determination to unmask the murderer leads him into danger in both the urban underworld and the middleclass milieu of a country-dwelling author.

The BFI’s FAMILY strand presents a run of THE BOY AND THE HERON (Hayao Miyazaki, 2023), a vibrant, colourful and moving masterpiece. Young Mahito lives with his parents in 1940s Tokyo. When tragedy strikes, he travels with his father to the countryside, where he struggles to fit in. He’s also pestered by a strange heron. The revelation that the bird can speak sets Mahito off on an adventure, travelling to a magical world – a place that allows him to confront his emotions. WONKA (Paul King, 2023) also plays in April and May. Young Willy Wonka arrives in Europe full of drive and ambition. Despite having an incredible product, rival chocolatiers and an unscrupulous laundry owner take advantage of his naivety and kind nature in this musical comedy.

Bringing you the best SILENT CINEMA from the BFI National Archive and archives around the world, with live accompaniment, PAVEMENT BUTTERFLY (Richard Eichberg, 1929) greatly enhanced Anna May Wong’s reputation in Europe. She is luminescent as Mah, a Parisian fan dancer whose circus act goes tragically wrong. Blamed for a man’s death, she flees to the Riviera, taking up with a struggling artist before a malevolent character from her past reappears. The German version beautifully restored by Oliver Hanley at Deutches Film Institute screens on 28 April. Meanwhile, VAGABOND QUEEN (Geza von Bolvary, 1929) is a merciless and fun-filled send up of the make-believe central-European kingdom of Ruritania, impressively directed by Geza von Bolvary who gives full rein to the comedic talents of Betty Balfour and a spiky Ernest Thesiger. Both screenings are introduced by Bryony Dixon, BFI curator.

EXPERIMENTA, screening works that break with convention, presents BUMPKIN SOUP aka THE EXCITEMENT OF THE DO-RE-MI-FA GIRL (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 1985) on 9 April. Pining for her darling, Akiko travels to Yoshioka’s Tokyo university only to discover that his school has turned into a strange, sex-obsessed circus. Flouting genre expectations in favour of highly stylised, exquisitely crafted vignettes, BUMPKIN SOUP was rejected by sexploitation studio Roman Porno, only to be picked-up by the Director’s Company. On 11 May, a year-to-the-day since the death of Kenneth Anger – a pioneering, agitational and visionary voice in independent and underground film – we pay homage to this cinematic magus with CINEMA IS EVIL: THE WORLD OF LEGENDARY QUEER OCCULT FILMMAKER KENNETH ANGER. This dark, delicious programme includes early cinema title WHEN THE DEVIL DRIVES (1907) and an Arena special on Anger’s notorious book Hollywood Babylon (ANGER STALKS TINSELTOWN IN A HEARSE, 1991), alongside some of his own psychodramas.


Books, plays and operas have long provided good source material for movies. Our daily screenings of classic films for just £9 continue with a selection of some of the finest – and, occasionally, most imaginative – adaptations with FROM PAGE AND STAGE TO SCREEN:  THE ART OF ADAPTATION. In April we play films inspired by books, including BEAU TRAVAIL (Claire Denis, 1998), THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (Michael Mann, 1992), THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (Martin Scorsese, 1988), LITTLE WOMEN (Gillian Armstrong, 1994), NOSFERATU (FW Murnau, 1922), PATHER PANCHALI (Satyajit Ray, 1955) and WOMEN IN LOVE (Ken Russell, 1970) among other classics. In May, our focus turns to films adapted from the stage, including titles such as BEAUTIFUL THING (Hettie Macdonald, 1996), CHI-RAQ (Spike Lee, 2015), CABARET (Bob Fosse, 1972), HENRY V (Laurence Olivier, 1944), HIS GIRL FRIDAY (Howard Hawks, 1940), ROPE (Alfred Hitchcock, 1948), A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (Elia Kazan, 1951) and WEST SIDE STORY (Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise, 1961) plus many more.