Two Palme d’Or winning films, classic Godard and box sets of ground-breaking BBC TV programmes are just some of the highlights kicking 2016 off for the BFI DVD and Blu-ray label. The New Year will start with a bang with new releases including modern-day epics of Chinese cinema and restorations of archival war time material. We celebrate the work of the late, great Ken Russell with two boxsets of his highly regarded TV documentary work and a Dual Format Edition release of Valentino (1977). Elsewhere, there are a Blu-ray version of Bande à part (1964) and a Dual Format Edition of this 2015’s LFF Archive Gala restoration.
Opening the releases for 2016 are Farewell My Concubine, Love on the Dole, Ration Books and Rabbit Pies and Underground. Farewell My Concubine (1993), the only Chinese language film ever to win the Cannes Palme d’Or, regularly tops film polls and is regarded as a modern day classic. Nominated for two Oscars, the film is ranked 97th in Empire’s ‘100 Best Films of World Cinema’.
Another all-time classic of world cinema is Underground, released in 3-disc DVD and Blu-ray sets, this Palme d’Or winner is presented with the complete 5-hour TV version, Once upon a Time There Was a Country, as an extra. Rounding off the month are two releases with a wartime austerity theme: Love on the Dole (1941) stars six-time Oscar nominated Deborah Kerr (The King and I) and is released in a Dual Format Edition; and Ration Books and Rabbit Pies: Films from the Home Front (1940-44), brings together a selection of public information films, propaganda shorts and adverts from the BFI National Archive as part of the BFI’s Unlocking Film Heritage project.
February sees a celebration of one of Britain’s most distinctive filmmakers, Ken Russell. First, two Dual Format Edition box set will showcase Russell’s brilliant television films from the 60s. Ken Russell: The Great Composers, brings together his career defining work for the award-winning arts documentary shows Monitor and Omnibus: Elgar (1962), The Debussy Film (1965) and Delius: Song of Summer (1968). The second boxset, Ken Russell: The Great Passions collects together three great works concerning themselves with iconic artists: Always on Sunday (1965) about Henri Rousseau; Isadora: the Biggest Dancer in the World (1966) about dancer Isadora Duncan; and Dante’s Inferno (1967) about Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his model Elizabeth Siddal. Complementing these BBC TV sets is the UK High Definition premiere of Valentino (1977). Released in a Dual Format Edition, this flamboyant and sexually-charged film explores the life of one of the silver screen’s greatest legends.
New releases for March include the Blu-ray premiere of Godard’s classic Bande à part (1964). Released to coincide with the BFI Southbank’s season of Godard films, this essential release features a specially commissioned video interview with Anna Karina, an interview with Quentin Tarantino on the famous dance sequence, and an interview with cinematographer Raoul Coutard.
The BFI National Archive’s recent restoration of the silent classic Shooting Stars (1928) is released as a Dual Format Edition. The film marked a step change in the quality of British features of the silent era and, despite the credit going to A.V. Bramble, the film is universally acknowledged to have been the directorial debut of rising talent Anthony Asquith.
The final release for the quarter is a Dual Format Edition double-bill of Peter Watkins’ Culloden (1964) and The War Game (1965). These award-winning drama-documentaries are both featured in the BFI’s list of ‘100 Greatest British Television Programmes’, and The War Game also won the Academy Award for best documentary feature in 1966.