This summer BFI Southbank will celebrate the fearless Hollywood icon Bette Davis, a performer who fought the Hollywood system and consistently succeeded by breaking the rules, with a major season taking place throughout August. 

The season will include 19 of Davis’s best-loved films, from early successes such as Jezebel (1938) to the iconic All about Eve (1950) and later career hit What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). The season will also include a BFI re-release of one of the undisputed classics of Hollywood’s golden age, Irving Rapper’s romantic drama Now, Voyager (1942), in selected cinemas UK-wide from 6 August. 

Also in August, we pay tribute to actor Earl Cameron, who passed away in July 2020 at the age of 102. One of the first Black actors to break through in the British film and TV industry, with the critically acclaimed Pool of London (1950), the season – programmed by actor, broadcaster and director Burt Caesar – will reflect on Cameron’s incredible seven decades of TV and film performances with screenings and contextual events. 

Earl Cameron in Pool of London (1950)
© BFI National Archive

BFI Southbank’s Ennio Morricone season (previously curtailed by the pandemic) is also back by popular demand throughout August, celebrating the iconic composer with screening of films such as Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy (1964-66), Theorem (1968), The Thing (1982), Cinema Paradiso (1988), Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990) and many more.  

Ahead of its BFI UK-wide release on 27 August (when it will also play on extended run at BFI Southbank), there will be a Woman with a Movie Camera powered by Jaguar preview of Souad (2021). A pre-recorded Q&A with director Ayten Amin will follow the preview of this engrossing portrait of Middle Eastern ‘Generation Z’ and conflicting identities. Souad will also be the centrepiece in, The Time Is New: Selections from Contemporary Arab Cinema, a new season taking place at BFI Southbank in September. Curated by Cairo-based Zawya, Egypt’s leading arthouse cinema and distributor, the season will introduce new works and important Arab filmmaker voices to the UK, including a large number of female directors. Zawya’s Youssef Shazli and Alia Ayman are programming films that show the lyricism, humanity and poetry of everyday Arab life. More details of this season will be announced soon. 

A Fistful of Dollars (1964), screening as part of our Ennio Morricone season

Other special events during August include a preview of Edgar Wright’s The Sparks Brothers (2021), on 3 August, followed by a Q&A with the director. Wright refrains from the usual tropes of the biopic and instead takes us through a fascinating journey chronicling the irreverent world of Sparks, a duo whose influence has been felt across several generations of artists. 

Also previewing, on 9 August, is I’m Your Man (2021), followed by a pre-recorded Q&A with director Maria Schrader. This playful and refreshing take on the AI love story is joyfully funny, with marvellous chemistry between its lead actors. August will also see the return of S.O.U.L Fest, with a special hybrid experience once again celebrating Black film talent on both sides of the camera.

The BFI & Radio Times Television Festival present two special previews in August – The North Water (2021) and Vigil (2021). Based on the critically acclaimed novel by Ian McGuire, and starring Colin Farrell and Jack O’Connor, The North Water is set in Hull and amid the ice floes of the Arctic in the late 1850s. It tells the story of a disgraced ex-army surgeon who signs up as ship’s doctor on a whaling expedition, but soon finds himself on a struggle for survival in the Arctic wasteland. The preview on 4 August will be followed by a Q&A with director Andrew Haigh (Weekend) and members of the cast. 

From the producers of Line of Duty, Vigil is a high-octane thriller starring Suranne Jones as a detective leading an investigation on land and at sea, which delves into a conspiracy that goes to the very heart of Britain’s national security. The preview on 23 August will be followed by a Q&A with members of the cast and crew to be announced soon.