BFI Southbank

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28 Love It
South Bank

Formerly the National Film Theatre, this much-loved four-screen venue on the South Bank in Waterloo became the BFI Southbank in 2007. For film lovers who know their Kubrick from their Kurosawa, this is London's best cinema. Certainly, it's the city’s foremost cinema for director retrospectives and seasons programmed to showcase international work or films of specific genres or themes. It’s the flagship venue of the British Film Institute and plays home each year to the BFI’s London Film Festival and to the BFI’s seasons, such as 2014’s celebration of sci-fi. BFI Southbank also regularly hosts Q&As with some of the world’s leading filmmakers. The venue itself is a hot spot, with two bar-restaurants (one overlooking the river, nestled under Waterloo Bridge), a bookshop (good for DVDs too) and a library.

Venue name: BFI Southbank
Contact:
Address: Belvedere Rd
London
SE1 8XT
Transport: Tube: Waterloo
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  • Time Out says
    • 3 out of 5 stars
    AA Milne fans exasperated by recent DVD versions may be calmed by this big-screen reboot of the Winnie the Pooh franchise from Disney. While the animation is similar, the story is more closely based on Milne’s deftly written comedy episodes. And s...
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  • A maddening mixture, this adaptation of John Kander's fine musical based on Christopher Isherwood's Berlin stories. Superbly choreographed by Fosse, the cabaret numbers evoke the Berlin of 1931 - city of gaiety and perversion, of champagne and N...
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  • Irresistible tale of a Hollywood director, tired of making comedies and bent on branching out with an arthouse epic called Brother, Where Art Thou?, who sets out to research the meaning of poverty. Suitably costumed as a hobo and starting down the...
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  • Despite its experimental format (video images of varying proportions and numbers superimposed on a 35 mm image), Godard's film is wholly lucid. It examines three generations of a working class French family living together, and argues against trad...
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  • Minor but delightful Sturges comedy (his second film) about a go-getting clerk who is tricked into believing his truly lousy slogan dreamed up for a contest has won him $25,000, learning the truth only when he has spent the money on credit buying ...
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  • Sturges' first film as writer/director, a wonderfully dry satire which takes the American political system apart through the tale of a bum (Donlevy) who rides on a tide of corruption to become state governor. A totally dishonest man, he gets his c...
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  • Time Out says
    • 5 out of 5 stars
    In 1962, the French New Wave’s most avid bookworm released an adaptation of Henri-Pierre Roché’s novel ‘Jules et Jim’. It was François Truffaut’s second adaptation (and his third feature film) but this one was special: the young tyro director and ...
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Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:8
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|9
2 people listening
tiago a
Tastemaker

Great venue with really comfy seats. The shop is brilliant for finding obscure films and film-related books. One of the best cinemas in London.

Sarah G
Tastemaker

Hadn't been for a while, having given up my membership to economise.

It's so lovely - v comfortable cinema, considerate viewers & such a lovely, cosy bar. My only complaint was that our tea was horridly weak even after loads of brewing.

Hannah D

The home of London cinema. It is a place where you can feel part of a community of film lovers, young and old, rich and poor, of every background. There is no bigger thrill than seeing your cinematic icons where they belong: on the big screen in front of a packed house. Seeing 'It's a Wonderful Life' at the BFI should be a London rite-of-passage.

Alexandra L
Tastemaker

From the red velvet curtains to the brilliantly eclectic screening schedule to the awesome bar, the BFI is without doubt a diamond in the crown jewels of London things to do...if you are in anyway a fan of cinema and you are in anyway close to the Southbank, you owe it to yourself to visit. 


Having been there on previous occasions to see films as diverse as 'Gone With The Wind' and 'Boyhood' (an event made all the more special for the Q+A with director Richard Linklater that followed it), I was already a BFI groupie but this afternoon's visit - a 40th anniversary screening of 'Bugsy Malone' and a Q+A with legendary director, Sir Alan Parker, and 'Babyface' actor, Dexter Fletcher - made me desperate to rush home and once again, declare my love for this establishment to all you lovely readers.  Sat in the sunlight flooded bar out front before hand, watching people browse the Southbank Book Market while blue skies provided the backdrop to the glorious skyline of London, I felt lucky to be there, proud to call this city my home and giddy-as-a-10-year-old excited to get inside and start singing along.


The screens themselves are utterly gorgeous and kept in immaculate condition thanks to the tirelessly helpful and cheery staff who work there. Films shown include recent releases as well as retrospectives that present you with whole new worlds of movie going experiences - the Kathryn Hepburn one introduced me to the sob-fest that is 'On Golden Pond' - and themed seasons that encourage you to be brave and bold when selecting something to watch. Prices vary but are generally no more expensive that what you'd have to fork out for the delight of sitting in a decrepit, sticky floored chain cinema a few streets away and the bar & cafe that sit at the front of the building and spill onto the pavement outside are perfect for a pre-show drink, a post-show analysis or just a mesmerizing people watching date. This is absolutely one of the very best ways to watch movies in London and to support a place dedicated to keeping them alive for each new generation of film goer. 

Anna
Staff Writer

Great place for all who like to see more than the new Avengers. BFI not only shows the latest releases but they are constantly introducing monthly topics revolving around the work of a single person - Katharine Hepburn, Vera Chytilova, Orson Wells to name but a few.


They have also an amazing bar by the main entrance, and the whole place has a very art-y (but not annoying) ambience. It upgrades the experience of going to the cinema by a few levels compared to the pop-corn entertainment of CineWorld or Vue.

Daniele
Staff Writer

Arthouse film lovers will feel at home here. I particularly like the bar on the side entrance. Been there with a group on a Sunday brunch and worked well for that too.