The BFI and EVCOM (Event and Visual Communications Association) are delighted to unveil a new short film they have partnered on with UK film director Tim Langford to help raise urgent funds for the NHS Charities Together appeal. Visually interpreting the poignant lines of former children’s laureate (and author of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt) Michael Rosen’s poem, ‘These Are the Hands’, this powerful and important short film combines a selection from the rich heritage of film about healthcare and the NHS preserved by the BFI National Archive with new footage of NHS workers who are currently on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

The film has been made with the generous support of Michael Rosen’s family who have agreed for the use his famous poem, read by Iain Glen (Game of Thrones, Downtown Abbey) and directed by Tim Langford (BBC, Channel 4) which was originally penned as a love letter to the NHS in 2008.

EVCOM and BFI are proud supporters of the NHS and share a commitment to film as the most powerful possible medium for raising awareness and funds for our health services at this vital time. These Are the Hands is being launched on BFI Player, alongside the free NHS on Film archive and new Spotlight on Key Workers film collections and will be acquired into the BFI National Archive. These Are the Hands will also be available to share through BFI and EVCOM social channels, tying in with the nationwide Clap for Carers at 8pm on Thursday 30 April. Bringing the metaphorical hands of Rosen’s poem and the physical hands of the nation together in support of the selfless work of NHS staff, carers and key workers across the UK.

Britain has the finest screen industries in the world – and film, used creatively, is the most powerful medium of mass communication of modern times. Ever since 1948, British filmmakers have been serving the NHS: promoting public health and sharing with the public the work of hospitals and health professionals, via committed, humane and well-crafted filmmaking. That rich heritage of NHS film is permanently preserved in the BFI National Archive, in partnership with The National Archives.

The BFI has brought this material, and its curatorial expertise, to These Are the Hands. All the archive films used in the project are freely available to view in full as part of the NHS on Film collection on BFI Player. Many of EVCOM’s members make films for today’s NHS, using the most up-to-date digital filmmaking techniques and online delivery, but still deeply imbued with the public service ethos that has driven health filmmaking across the decades. Everyone involved in the making of this film has waived any fees, giving of their time and expertise without charge.

Patrick Russell, BFI National Archive Senior Curator of non-fiction says: “This archive short beautifully underscores the precious bonds between our past and our present by interweaving the NHS archive preserved by the BFI with superb contemporary work made by EVCOM and selfies taken from NHS staff on the frontline now, to tell a narrative of the generations of an NHS that has always been there for us. This powerful and important film is the latest example of a rich and detailed history of the NHS on film and we are delighted to bring it in to the BFI National Archive.”