This February at BFI Southbank audiences will be able to explore the work of Danish silent star Asta Nielsen, whose compellingly emotive performances helped invent modern screen acting. Programmed by film writer and historian Pamela Hutchinson, the season will run from 3 February to 15 March, with February’s line-up including her earlier work made in Denmark and Germany including The Abyss (Urban Gad, 1910), Dora Brandes (Magnus Stifter, 1916) and Towards the Light (Holger-Madsen, 1919).
Also running throughout February and into March will be a new season called Seen & Heard, celebrating the women who are reclaiming their coming-of-age stories with authentic portrayals of complex, adolescent young women experiencing the intense pleasures and pains of growing up. The centrepiece of the season will be the BFI release of La Mif (Fred Baillif, 2021), a blazing and absorbing drama set in a care home for at-risk teenage girls, released in selected cinemas UK-wide from 25 February. Further titles include Thirteen (Catherine Hardwicke, 2003), House of Hummingbird (Kim Bora, 2018), Rafiki (Wanuri Kahiu, 2018) and Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015).
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Our celebration of iconic French filmmaker François Truffaut will culminate at BFI Southbank in February with screenings including the BFI re-release of Jules et Jim (1962), Truffaut’s classic account of a ménage-à-trois that is a bittersweet ode to romantic idealism.
On 24 February BFI Southbank will host a tribute to the great film, theatre and television director Roger Michell, who died in September 2021, leaving behind a body of work including The Buddha of Suburbia (BBC, 1993), Notting Hill (1999), Enduring Love (2004), Le Week-end (2013) and My Cousin Rachel (2017). Before a screening of his film The Duke (2021), producer Kevin Loader and writer Hanif Kureishi will discuss Michell’s work and legacy, while cast and crew who worked with Michell on The Duke will take part in a Q&A following the screening. Based on real events, The Duke follows 60-year-old Kempton Bunton, played by Jim Broadbent, who stole Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London – the first (and only) theft in the gallery’s history.
On 16 February there will be a special screening followed by a Q&A, of a new restoration of John Hillcoat’s The Proposition (2006), ahead of the BFI’s release of the film on UHD and Blu-ray on 21 February. Hillcoat, from a script by Nick Cave (who also provided an award-winning score with Warren Ellis), creates a palpable sense of foreboding as each character takes on a punishing moral dilemma, and the inevitable cycle of violence reaches its bloody conclusion.
Regular event Mark Kermode Live in 3D at the BFI, in which critic and broadcaster Mark Kermode is joined by surprise guests from across the film industry to explore, critique and dissect current and upcoming releases, cinematic treasures and industry news, will this month take place on 7 February, with guests to be announced soon.
Also returning in February will be the BFI Future Film Festival, the UK’s largest festival for young, emerging filmmakers aged 16 to 25, taking place online and in-person at BFI Southbank from 17-20 February. Full details for the festival will be announced in January.
Our monthly African Odysseys event will be the UK premiere of African Redemption: The Life and Legacy of Marcus Garvey (2021) on 5 February, followed by a discussion with director Roy T Anderson. Garvey is regarded globally as one of the world’s foremost 20th-century civil-rights leaders, and this film about his life blends live-action and photographs with interviews with figures including Louis Gossett Jr, Danny Glover, Sean Paul and David Hinds.
Woman with a Movie Camera powered by Jaguar will present a preview on 28 February of the BFI-backed Ali & Ava (2021), directed by Clio Barnard and starring Adeel Akhtar as cheery landlord and former DJ Ali and Claire Rushbrook as caring classroom assistant Ava, who begin a romance despite both carrying complex wounds from former relationships. Woman with a Movie Camera powered by Jaguar will also present a special Galentine’s Day (13 February) event: T A P E x Invisible Women Present: Touched, a selection of sensuous shorts by female and non-binary filmmakers co-curated by collectives T A P E and Invisible Women.
The following evening, on Valentine’s Day, BFI Southbank will have screenings of classic and contemporary romances including Jules et Jim (1962), Casablanca (1942), Rafiki ( 2018) and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019).
This month the BFI’s regular Experimenta strand will present a focus on Stephen Dwoskin, a unique and challenging filmmaker whose work explores themes such as disability, sexuality, diaspora and memory. Dwoskin arrived in London from New York in 1964 aged 25 with a trunk of 16mm films shot in the milieu of Andy Warhol and Jonas Mekas. He became known for a series of films in which the camera’s unblinking gaze is returned by his female subjects, before he turned his gaze on his own body, disabled in childhood by polio, and made a number of personal documentaries about disability. In the 2000s, with his mobility severely impaired, he embraced the possibilities of digital technology to return to the underground and the erotic obsessions that powered his extraordinary 50-year career.
There will be screenings of films such as Times For (1970), Outside (1981) and The Sun and the Moon (2008), as well as a study day on 12 February and discussions featuring guests speakers including actor Jenny Runacre, author Allan Sutherland and two of the stars of Ballet Black (1986) – Jaqueline Boatswain and Colin Charles.
BFI Expanded, the BFI’s new year-round strand dedicated to immersive art and extended realities (XR), will this month feature the world premiere of Unique, from world-renowned artist Tupac Martir on 25 February. Cinematic projections, live music and immersive technology all feature in Martir’s newest masterpiece, combining the heritage of the screen with the endless possibilities of immersive technology.