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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- Sam Peckinpah’s original 1971 ‘Straw Dogs’, for all its drink ’n’ drug-hazy dealings with topical themes like feminism, righteous violence and ‘what it means to be a man’, was at least an expertly blood-boiling brickbat. Rod Lurie’s remake barely ...Read more
- The source book of Orson Welles, and still a marvellous movie. Thematically less resonant than some of Welles' later meditations on the nature of power, perhaps, but still absolutely riveting as an investigation of a citizen - newspaper tycoon Wil...Read more
- In terms of cast, plot and scriptwriters (Launder and Gilliat), this bears a deliberate resemblance to Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes as it merges comedy and thrills with propaganda in its tale of a Czech scientist's daughter escaping from a concen...Read more
- Splendidly slushy World War II melodrama, with Walbrook an angst-ridden Polish pianist torn between success in America and death in the skies above beleaguered Britain. Hurst, the wild Irishman of British cinema, proves surprisingly proficient at ...Read more
- This indelicate, often deliciously flip 1978 psychodrama from the self-immolating genius of the New German Cinema, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, was the director’s first English-language production. With Tom Stoppard roped in for ‘dramatisation’ dutie...Read more
- Ah, London, city of cultural plenty! What’s it to be then – take in Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s ‘At the Theatre’ among the impressionists at the National Gallery, or catch ‘French Cancan’, his son Jean’s glowing cinematic tribute to the stage, digital...Read more
- Based on Henri Charrière's bestselling epic about life imprisonment in a French penal colony, Papillon begins atmospherically with the heat and deprivation well conveyed. But with Schaffner unable to find the necessary perspective to prevent the f...Read more
- British director John Boorman’s 1967 Hollywood debut (he was hired off the back of Dave Clark Five vehicle ‘Catch us if you Can’, amazingly) is a slippery beast. The story – from Donald E Westlake’s frequently adapted novel ‘The Hunter’ – is magni...Read more
Average User Rating
4.8 / 5
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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
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.