Huge sci-fi season among BFI highlights for 2014

A blockbuster science-fiction season and a focus on Chinese cinema headline our cultural programme for 2014. We’ll also be shining a light on Al Pacino, Derek Jarman, Jeremy Thomas, Walerian Borowczyk and Dennis Hopper.

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Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Today the BFI reveals its forthcoming highlights for 2014 including the new blockbuster project Things to Come: Science Fiction and a major focus on China. Following the terrifyingly successful Gothic and Olympian Hitchcock blockbuster projects of the last two years, science fiction film will be presented over four months (October 2014 – January 2015) with a historical and thematic exploration of the best of this perennially popular and visionary genre as revealed through three dynamic themes: Tomorrow’s World, Contact! and Altered States.

Expect incredible one-off events, extra-special guests and a unique BFI perspective on the genre with screenings of key sci-fi films including Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Alien (1979), Planet of the Apes (1968) and the eerily prophetic British classic The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961).

Alongside its BFI Southbank programme, the BFI will once again ensure audiences all over the UK can enjoy its major projects via the new BFI Player VOD service, DVDs, UK-wide theatrical releases and the BFI UK Film Audience Network (BFI FAN), with bespoke film screenings and experiences up and down the country.

BFI Creative Director Heather Stewart said:

Alien (1979)

Alien (1979)

BFI style, we are approaching our science fiction blockbuster in unexpected ways in 2014. Of course it will incorporate space invasion, intergalactic wars and aliens but we will be going beyond to explore worlds of imagination and imagined worlds, films that portray fantastical futures but that speak to our very earthly deepest fears and dreams. Die hard sci-fi fans will be delighted but a whole new audience who hadn’t realised this genre is for them will be captivated.

Tomorrow’s World will present visions of the future and how we distinguish between the Speculative Fiction of our nearest futures and the science fiction of our distant fantasies. Titles will include Things to Come (1936), The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) and George Lucas’s THX 1138 (1971).

The classic motifs of science fiction are often mankind’s curiosity to explore new frontiers and to discover if we are alone in the cosmos, or not. Contact! will include films such as The Thing from Another World (1951), Village of the Damned (1960) and Dark Star (1974) that show what happens when connections are made with otherworldly beings.

Altered States represents the science fiction of biology and ‘inner-space’ – minds and bodies twisted by medical and neuro-scientific experimentation. Mad scientists, mutants, man-machines and mind-bending trips – these are films that can get us under the skin of humans and into the minds of our monsters. Titles will include The Terminator (1984) and The Host (2006).

China

As the world’s spotlight lands on China next year, the BFI presents a year packed with cultural projects focusing on this hugely important territory, soon to become the world’s biggest box office nation. China’s biggest and most popular film director Feng Xiaogang, often described as China’s Spielberg, will start the celebrations with a season of his work at BFI Southbank in February. In June, the BFI will stage an extended four-month China season, in partnership with TIFF, which includes previously unseen rarities of the silent era from 1903 to the 1960s such as The Goddess (1934) to modern masterpieces like Farewell My Concubine (1993) and In the Mood For Love (2000). This mega season showcases more than 80 films and will trace the shared cultural and historical connections between the cinemas of the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

In the Mood for Love (2000)

In the Mood for Love (2000)

The season will be divided into five distinct strands running over subsequent months until the end of September: Golden Age; A New China; Swordsmen, Gangsters and Ghosts; New Waves and New Directions. There will be rarities of the silent era to modern masterpieces, from pioneering social dramas and lavish costumes epics to classic martial-arts cinema. Highlights of the season include The Goddess (1934), one of the most powerful silent films of all time, starring screen legend Ruan Lingyu; Yuan Muzhi’s Street Angel (1937), a major hit on its release in Shanghai; and Wong Kar-wai’s In The Mood for Love (2000), which is a love letter to much of Chinese cinema history. 

BFI’s 2014 at a glance

Spring 2014

A two-month Al Pacino season from February-March with an extended run of The Godfather Part II as well as screenings of his later films, including Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), Carlito’s Way (1993) and Heat (1995) among others. 

Queer Pagan Punk – Jarman and the New Queer Cinema The hugely influential filmmaker Derek Jarman will be celebrated with the largest retrospective of his films ever mounted in the UK, to mark the 20th anniversary of his death. 

The Godfather Part II (1974)

The Godfather Part II (1974)

The 28th BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival returns to BFI Southbank from 20 to 30 March 2014 to present the best in queer cinema from around the world. 

April kicks off with This is Now: Film and Video After Punk, a special season of bold, provocative films made by art students, clubbers and members of the industrial and New Romantic subculture scenes of the early 1980s. It will include up to 20 films newly restored by the BFI National Archive.

The Live Fast, Die Young movie icon James Dean will be forever immortalised on screen with the restoration of his three films, East of Eden (1955), Rebel without a Cause (1955) and Giant (1956), rereleased by Park Circus from 18 April. 

The third year of the Made in Britain season will focus on acclaimed producer and founder of Recorded Picture Company, Jeremy Thomas; his father Ralph Thomas, director of many of the ‘Doctor’ films; and uncle Gerald Thomas, director of all of the Carry On films. 

A survey of Hollywood talkies made before the censorious Production Code came into force in 1934 will be the subject both of the Sight & Sound Deep Focus season in May and of the Passport to Cinema strand from April to July. Highlighting the studios’ then relatively unfettered treatment of controversial and taboo themes to do with sex, crime, politics and social injustice, the season will include both classics (like Blonde Venus, Public Enemy, Freaks and I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang) and rarities (like Baby Face, Jewel Robbery, Gabriel over the White House and Wild Boys of the Road).

Internationally renowned Polish film director Walerian Borowczyk, who directed 40 films in both Poland and France, such La Bête (1975), will be celebrated with a major UK retrospective of his work in May, in partnership with the Kinoteka Polish Film Festival with seasons at the BFI and ICA and an Arrow Films DVD box set release of his films, including a restoration of his classic Goto, Island of Love (1969).

The BFI will release a new 4K restoration of Roberto Rossellini’s neo-realist masterpiece Rome, Open City (1945) in cinemas across the UK on 7 March, and Yasujiro Ozu’s last film An Autumn Afternoon (1962), also newly restored, will have a nationwide release on 16 May.

Summer 2014

China – June to October (as above)

The American film actor and director Dennis Hopper will be celebrated in a season in July to tie in with the Royal Academy’s exhibition Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album featuring Hopper’s iconic portraits of artists and actors, including Andy Warhol and Paul Newman alongside shots of America’s cultural and social life from the 1960s.

Autumn 2014

Things to Come: Science Fiction from October 2-14 to January 2015 (as above)

The 58th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® will return with a rich and diverse programme of international films and events from both established and upcoming talent over a 12 day celebration of cinema in October.

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