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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- ‘If a person can’t afford dog food, then they shouldn’t have a dog,’ snaps a preppy store clerk to Wendy (Michelle Williams) after catching her stealing food for her beloved yellow-gold retriever, Lucy. The clerk’s sentiment captures the debate at...Read more
- Martin Scorsese has already exhaustively surveyed Bob Dylan’s shining back pages in ‘No Direction Home’, so it’s perhaps surprising that he should now offer the same full-on treatment to the ‘quiet’ Beatle.Set aside any qualms now that three-and-a...Read more
- Despite a pacy, technically brilliant but otherwise slightly ordinary first half-hour or so, Scorsese’s Howard Hughes movie is his best since ‘The Age of Innocence’. The tycoon is presented – empathetically? – as an independent-minded American v...Read more
- Scorsese's early life of the 14th Dalai Lama is the simplest and strangest movie he has yet made. An act of self-imposed exile, it's a Hollywood film only in the production credits and language. There's minimal contextualising. The scenario (by Me...Read more
- ‘Sorrow is nothing but worn-out joy,’ says a character in Kelly Reichardt’s plangent second feature. The proverb explains the film’s title but also offers clues to its unique, elusive poetry, which captures two men’s uncertain attempt to nurse the...Read more
- Asking a colleague how anyone could encapsulate the exquisite, earthy poetry of Terrence Malick’s cinema in a mere 180 words, he responded: ‘It’s easy! “Blah, blah, magic hour. Blah, blah, voiceover. Blah, blah, the awesome power of nature. Hyperb...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
- Good intentions to redress the balance of Christina Crawford's vengeful mother-fucker of a bestseller bio are in evidence aplenty; but how else than as camp can you take Faye Dunaway's waxwork Joan Crawford screeching for an axe, or throwing a sce...Read more
- Postwar east London is a place of doomed dreams, cheeky chancers and youthful attitude in 1947’s punchy and poignant ‘It Always Rains on Sunday’, which is being re-released at BFI Southbank as part of a two-month season to celebrate Ealing Studios...Read more
- It’s been named the best concert film of all time, but The Band ’s star-studded 1976 swansong hasn’t entirely escaped the ravages of time. With Scorsese directing – and legendary cinematographers Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond ...Read more
Average User Rating
4.7 / 5
- 5 star:12
- 4 star:2
- 3 star:1
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:0
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
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.