May at BFI Southbank

BFI Southbank today announce the programme for May 2023, including DARIO ARGENTO: DOORS INTO DARKNESS, presented in partnership with Cinecittà and celebrating the hugely influential filmmaker behind SUSPIRIA (1977), DEEP RED (1975), TENEBRAE (1982) and many more.

Argento will appear onstage to talk about his work during Dario Argento in Conversation on 12 May; the season will include UK-premieres of 17 brand-new 4K restorations from Cinecittà, and a selection of Argento’s films will also be available to subscribers to BFI Player.

Also taking place in May will be CINEMATIC SORCERESS: THE FILMS OF NINA MENKES, a season exploring the work of one of most original voices in American independent filmmaking, Nina Menkes, with screenings of films including THE GREAT SADNESS OF ZOHARA (1983), QUEEN OF DIAMONDS (1991) and her latest documentary BRAINWASHED: SEX-CAMERA-POWER (2022), which is released by BFI Distribution on 12 May. Nina Menkes in conversation on 10 May will see the cinematic feminist pioneer discuss her wide-ranging career following a preview of her new film, a compelling cine-essay that takes the viewer through the history of the male gaze in film.

Despite being an accomplished screenwriter and Britain’s most prolific female director, Muriel Box is little remembered today. MURIEL BOX: A WOMAN’S TAKE, programmed by BFI National Archive curator Josephine Botting, will be a month-long season that seeks to right that wrong – illuminating audiences about a filmmaker who led the vanguard for women battling industry prejudice to become a director and used her position to convey her radical ideas about women’s place in society. Films screening in the season will include THE SEVENTH VEIL (Compton Bennett, 1941), GOOD-TIME GIRL (David MacDonald, 1947), THE HAPPY FAMILY (1952), STREET CORNER (1953) and many more.

Completing the season line-up in May is FORGOTTEN TELEVISION DRAMA: REDISCOVERING THE HALF-HOUR PLAY, a focus on a once-prevalent form of TV drama that opened up opportunities for new writers and directors, as well as countless actors. The season will feature early work from a wide range of practitioners including Ridley Scott, Alan Clarke, Fay Weldon, Alan Bleasdale, Andrea Newman, Andrew Davies and more.

Special events taking place at BFI Southbank will include two special screenings, on 1 May, of ENYS MEN (Mark Jenkin, 2022)with alive scorethat sonically reimagines its source materialby The Cornish Sound Unit. The score will be performed by writer-director Mark Jenkin and Dion Star, known under the banner of their collaborative music project ‘The Cornish Sound Unit’, who employ improvised and composed pieces using tape machines, analogue synths, feedback and field recordings. These screenings launch the release of Jenkin’s acclaimed Cornish folk horror on BFI Blu-ray/DVD (Dual Format Edition) and as a Subscription Exclusive on BFI Player, both on 1 May.

On 19 May and 21 May, BFI Southbank will celebrateone of the most significant comedy shows on UK television THE COMIC STRIP PRESENTS, with special guestsincluding the man behind the show, Peter Richardson. A richly illustrated event on 19 May will feature clip reels, compiled by Richardson, featuring some of the best-loved moments from the show, which will be interspersed with conversation and surprise guests. On 21 May there will be two further events, beginning with THE COMIC STRIP PRESENTS: THE STRIKE AND GLC: THE CARNAGE CONTINUES… (Peter Richardson, 1988/90). This pair of award-winning satires ponders how Hollywood might approach recent events in British political history. In THE STRIKE, Richardson plays Al Pacino playing Arthur Scargill and Jennifer Saunders as Meryl Streep channelling Mrs Scargill in a revisionist take on the 1984 Miners’ Strike. GLC: THE CARNAGE CONTINUES… has Robbie Coltrane playing Charles Bronson playing Ken Livingston, with Dawn French as Cher portraying Joan Ruddock. The second event, THE COMIC STRIP PRESENTS: BAD NEWS TOUR & CHURCHILL: THE HOLLYWOOD YEARS – THE DIRECTOR’S SAVAGE CUT (Sandy Johnson, Peter Richardson, 1983/2004-2023), will feature the World Premiere screening of this ‘savage cut’ of CHURCHILL: THE WAR YEARS, another satirical take on Hollywood’s revisionist approach to the Second World War. It screens with early cult hit BAD NEWS TOUR, about the fictional Heavy Metal band that, some 40 years on, occupies a unique place on the landscape of British comedy. Both of these events will be followed by Q&As with Peter Richardson.

On 27 May, BFI Southbank will host the UK Premiere of Straight 8 2023, showcasing the best films submitted to the annual Straight 8 Super 8 in-camera filmmaking competition. Since 1999, the annual premieres of the Straight 8 films have excited audiences worldwide, in part because the filmmakers also sit in the auditorium, watching their work for the first time. Despite the challenge of editing in-camera without re-takes, the quality is exceptional. Also in May, BFI Southbank will welcome back the UK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL to celebrate their 25th anniversary and host their Opening Night film, a selection of shorts, a Special Awards event and more. The full programme will be released soon.

On 26 May there will be a preview of THE OLD MAN MOVIE: LACTOPALYPSE! (2019), an absurdly funny, gleefully deranged, gross-out stop-motion adventure from Estonia that might be one of the wildest films of this year. Directors Mikk Magi and Oskar Lehemaa will take part in a Q&A following the screening. BFI Southbank’s monthly event, Mark Kermode Live in 3D at the BFI, will take place on 15 May. A conversation between the audience and one of the nation’s favourite and most respected film critics, Mark Kermode will be joined by surprise guests from across the film industry to explore, critique and dissect current and upcoming releases, cinematic treasures, industry news and more.

Award-winning writer Jack Thorne’s compelling, thought-provoking TV drama BEST INTERESTS (BBC, 2023)stars Sharon Horgan and Michael Sheen as a married couple whose daughter Marnie has a life-threatening condition. The girl’s doctors believe it is in her best interests to allow her to die, but Marnie’s loving family disagree. A preview of episode one of this powerful new drama will be followed by a Q&A with Sharon Horgan and Jack Thorne. There will also be a TV Preview of Series 4 of the hit family drama MALORY TOWERS (CBBC, King Bert Productions, 2023) followed by a Q&A with members of the cast. The screening on 21 May will be preceded by a Funday Workshop, free for ticket holders, where audience members can indulge in the wonderful world of Malory Towers.




Following hugely successful tributes to directors including Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini and Pier Paolo Pasolini, the BFI and Cinecittà join forces again for DARIO ARGENTO: DOORS INTO DARKNESS, a new month-long season taking place from 1-30 May 2023 at BFI Southbank. For over five decades, Dario Argento has produced some of horror’s most beautifully nightmarish imagery – from the sleek, stylish shocks of his hugely influential crime thrillers, through to the gothic phantasmagoria of his occult horrors, and everything in between. Audiences will be able to hear about Argento’s long and storied career during Dario Argento in Conversation on 12 May, as well as during introductions and Q&As that Argento will give alongside screenings of some of most iconic films.

The season will feature the UK-premieres of 17 brand-new 4K restorations, courtesy of season partner Cinecittà, including his soaring debut THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (1970), sophomore whodunit THE CAT O’ NINE TAILS (1971), Freudian nightmare DEEP RED (1975), the gamechanging masterpiece SUSPIRIA (1977), the icy meta-giallo TENEBRAE (1982), his only feature-length American production TRAUMA (1993), and many more. A selection of Dario Argento’s films will also be available to subscribers to BFI Player, allowing audiences UK-wide to rediscover the work of this Master of Horror, while a video essay introducing the season called Strange Phenomena will also be available to watch on BFI YouTube from 17 Apr.