BFI Southbank

Cinemas , Independent South Bank
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(15 user reviews)
76 Love It
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BFI Southbank

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
    • 4 out of 5 stars
    It’s always worrying when an artist you admire in one field decides to branch out into another. Bob Dylan’s painting career, Russell Crowe’s band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, the novels of William Shatner – are all destined for the trash pile of cultu...
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  • Willie T Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) is a shopping-mall Santa with a difference: a cynical, safe-cracking alcoholic with a penchant for sex with hefty women and a wholly unconcealed dislike of kids. Indeed, he only does the job as a cover for the ...
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  • Lee's satire on American TV is an intriguing failure. Its story, about the mounting of a TV revival of a blackface minstrel show, certainly has comic potential, and Lee has created a considerable figure of fun in the isolated, central figure of Pi...
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  • Patchy sex comedy about an irresistible ad-man who meets his match after feeling what it's like to be a sex object. It's hard not to wonder at Eddie Murphy's seemingly limitless egotism, which allows him to waltz through a movie in which he not on...
    Read more
  • You don't expect New York HipHop rom-coms to come quite this safe - in the non-cool sense of the word, that is. The endless displays of conspicuous buppie consumption can perhaps be excused as a conventional Hollywood aspirational hook. But the s...
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  • An amazingly sprightly account of a day in the life of a car wash, demonstrating that work is a four-letter word (especially if you happen to be black or underprivileged), and concerned partly with the variety of excretory messes that have to be d...
    Read more
  • Time Out says
    • 5 out of 5 stars
    In 1939, rosy-cheeked chanteuse Judy Garland trumpeted the cosy, all-American proverb that ‘there’s no place like home’ in ‘The Wizard of Oz’. She returned five years later to reaffirm those beliefs in Vincente Minnelli’s musical masterpiece, ‘Mee...
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  • Time Out says
    • 4 out of 5 stars
    Six months after the death of Eric Rohmer at the age of 89, the BFI is re-releasing a good-looking new print of ‘My Night with Maud’, the French filmmaker’s 1969 work which, a decade into his slow mutation from Cahiers critic to director, made his...
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  • Probably the single neatest expression of Tim Burton’s cute-gothic outsider sensibility, this highly likeable 1993 stop-motion fable also proves a perfect match for Disney’s impressive new 3D technology. The spindly, ragged tactility that always...
    Read more
  • Read more

Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:12
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|15
1 person listening
MillieMollyMoo
Tastemaker

The BFI is a film lovers dream. This is a place where you can come and see groundbreaking cinema from across the globe,classics,Indie gems and packed with special events throughout the year. This is where you come to see great cinema. I have been a good few times and I have always had a brilliant time. The cinema itself is comfortable and screens are of a good size. Most recently I came and watched Eraser Head,which was fab to finally see on the big screen. It's also a cool place to hang out,I do often meet friends there for a coffee or drink by the south bank as it's cafe has lots of seating outdoors with heaters. Set on an idyllic spot ,it's a perfect place to meet for a bite to eat or to discuss the film you have just watched at length :P!


Check out their ever changing lineup of films and events,you won't be disappointed 

Federica M

Absolute love the BFI - events, movies, the place is always buzzing, has a convenient scooter parking and a great program as well as a great location

MatureLinda

Wonderful place, I found the seats extremely comfortable but verything is expensive (food, drink, merchandise) except the cinema ticket price but what a great atmosphere and comfortable seating area.  Worth considering membership at £40 pa for priority booking, discounts on tickets, food, drink & merchandise.

jutney
Tastemaker

I can’t argue with the compliments on the film programming of the BFI, there is nowhere in London that you’d find so much quality in films old and new, nor so much opportunities to see ‘alternative’ ones. But for the all refurbishment in the last (I don’t know, decade?) they could have done a better job with the seats (if you have a somewhat tall person in front of you, you’re doomed; if you’re the tall person, tough luck, no place for your legs – at least on NFT 3 –; and if it’s full, you gonna watch the film completely sideways). And even on the NFT 1 (the main one), the screen is not that big. Also, unless you think of ‘gourmet’ candies when you think of cinema, you’ll have to walk a lot to find normal (and normal-priced) candies. It is still a good cinema, just disappointing considering it’s the main venue of the British Film Institute.

nicknickn
Tastemaker

This must be one of the best film venues in the world, not just in London.

I love it for its programming as well as the theatres themselves. It always has film seasons, festivals, retrospectives and special events. It hosts Flare, London's best LGBT film festival. It has dozens of showings combined with Q&A sessions with the film makers involved.

It has a fantastic shop and library. It also has Mediatheque; this is a resource where it possible to search and watch many hours of film and TV for free.

The Benugo bar and the Riverside  are great places to meet up before or after screenings.

Dave C

There's simply no rival in London if you're looking for a cinema that specialises in retrospectives and special seasons on directors or themed work or work from a particular country. Their special events (Q&As etc) are strong, and the venue has massively improved in recent years in terms of being a place to eat and drink before or after a film. Many people now simply use it as a place to hang out without even seeing a film.

Tiago Almeida
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 T
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.