Archive collection highlights

Discover the rich and diverse range of BFI collections.

The Mitchell and Kenyon collection

The films of Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon take us on a tour of everyday life in Edwardian Britain. Our archive holds 28 hours of exclusive footage of early 1900s everyday life, commissioned by travelling exhibitors and originally promoted as ‘local films for local people’. Once used for screening in town halls, at village fêtes or local fairs, the collection provides the opportunity to source original clips that show the world through the eyes of the working communities of the time.

Topical Budget news (1911-1931)

This newsreel collection was a major British newsreel from the silent era. Within this largely unseen collection, the newsreels cover a wide variety of subjects, including: British life and the British people, the royals, politics, sporting events, international conflicts and events, as well as quirky and unusual items. Some 7,000 films survive, offering a marvelous portrait of the period and an alternative source for newsfilm editorials.

ETV — Educational and Television Films

An extraordinary collection of 6,000 20th-century socialist films made in Russia, Cuba, South America, China, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Korea, with 750 new hours digitised by the end of 2018. This footage provides an unrivalled view of the world as seen by those countries on the other side of the Cold War divide.

British Transport Films (1949-1985)

From the very first BTF film, Berth 24, to rare films such as E for Experimental and Old Sam the Signalman, to travelogues revealing a changing Britain, these beautifully produced transport-related films provide a fascinating record of life both rural and urban. The professional craftsmanship and artistry of the BTF unit provides a rich resource for archive footage.

Crown and government films — 1929 to the present day

At the heart of our archive sales collection, and of the BFI’s actuality collection, is the huge number of government films produced from the 1930s and the coming of sound through to the closure for the Central Office of Information in 2012. The Ministry of Information and Central Office of Information produced around 9,000 films between 1930 and 2012, with a staggering array of subject matters and styles, from Charlie the Cat and the Green Cross Code Man to the iconic ‘Monolith’ Aids awareness advert, voiced by the great John Hurt.

Also available:

In addition to the titles listed above, the BFI National Archive also holds thousands of films from some of the nation’s most prolific filmmaking organisations. Collections represented by the BFI include historic titles from the following:

  • Ministry of Information (MoI)
  • Royal Geographical Society
  • Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents
  • General Post Office Film Unit (GPO)
  • Empire Marketing Board (EMB)
  • Arts Council England
  • British Council
  • Children’s Film and TV Foundation
  • The British Coal Board’s ‘Mining Review’
  • Bernard Braden’s ‘Now and Then’ survey

For details on how to license material please visit our archive footage sales page.