BFI Southbank

Cinemas , Independent South Bank
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(13 user reviews)
45 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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  • In one of the most gorgeous images in ‘Volver’, white blossoms into crimson as a sheet of kitchen towel saturates with blood. Housework here is murder and a woman’s work is never done – not after killing, not even after dying. Almodóvar has long b...
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  • The first half of Kubrick's movie steers clear of South East Asia altogether, focusing on the dehumanising training programme undergone by a group of novice US Marines. Then, after a suitably melodramatic bloodbath, the action switches to 'Nam, wh...
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  • João Francisco dos Santos was a cook, nanny, transvestite, con-artist, kickboxer and adoptive father to the kids of his various low-life friends in the Rio slums; he also attained some success as a cabaret drag-queen. Writer/director Aïnouz flashe...
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  • The ICA has a seasonal gush in its press release, tagging Woody Allen’s gem of comic kvetching as perfect ‘for anyone who’s been in love’. But love doesn’t fare too well in Allen’s black-and-white paean to both his city and its inhabitants, who ex...
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  • Having dealt superbly with Hollywood ten years earlier in The Bad and the Beautiful, Minnelli returned to the topic of movie-making, this time changing the location to Rome's Cinecittà, and using Douglas not as a ruthless producer but as a washed-...
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  • Time Out says
    • 4 out of 5 stars
    One litmus test for auteurism could be whether a director is able to do his or her thing in a tightly confined space. ‘Stagecoach’ and ‘Lifeboat’ are unmistakably the work of John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock, despite being largely confined to, well,...
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  • Made for TV but theatrically released, this retelling of the Perrault fairytale falls flat on its face by comparison with Cocteau's marvellous La Belle et la Bête. Cook introduces us to the Beast's castle by way of a distorting lens that promptly ...
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Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:10
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|13
1 person listening
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.