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.
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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...Read more
- Félix (Bouajila, life affirming) cycles along the docks at Dieppe, a nice song, an air of easy, unforced naturalism. He decides to hitch to Marseilles and confront the man who fathered and then abandoned him. All he packs is a kite. So: it's a roa...Read more
- 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...Read more
- 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...Read more
- The Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC) was founded in 1959, only months after Castro came to power. It was some years, however, before its fruits were exposed to European and US audiences; Alea's film, his fifth feature, was the breakthrough. The stor...Read more
- 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-...Read more
- 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,...Read more
- 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 ...Read more
Average User Rating
4.7 / 5
- 5 star:10
- 4 star:2
- 3 star:1
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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.
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.
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.