The BFI today announces that BFI Southbank will reopen on 3 December, subject to current government restrictions being lifted. On reopening, the December programme will include a season dedicated to iconic star Marlene Dietrich, a series of classic and cult festive films, and screenings of the BFI Distribution releases of County Lines (Henry Blake, 2019) and Mogul Mowgli (Bassam Tariq, 2020).

Also announced today are highlights for January 2021, with a new season dedicated to the actor and performer David Bowie, marking 5 years since his death. Bowie: Starman and the Silver Screen season will run alongside a number of seasons that were already screening when BFI Southbank closed in early November, curtailing their original run. November seasons that have been rescheduled to the New Year are: Ennio Morricone (January to February 2021), Women Make Film (January 2021) and Near the Jugular (January 2021).

Get the latest from the BFI

Sign up for BFI news, features, videos and podcasts.

December programme highlights

This December, BFI Southbank celebrates one of the screen’s most enduring icons with a new season, Marlene Dietrich: Falling in Love Again, programmed by film critic and writer Pamela Hutchinson. 

We invite audiences to discover Dietrich from one of her finest silent roles, The Three Lovers (Curtis Bernhardt, 1929), to her most compelling appearances in both European and Hollywood cinema, including The Blue Angel (Josef von Sternberg, 1930), A Foreign Affair (Billy Wilder, 1948) and Rancho Notorious (Fritz Lang, 1952). 

The season comes ahead of the release of a new BFI Blu-ray boxset, Marlene Dietrich at Universal 1940-42, containing Seven Sinners (Tay Garnett, 1940), The Flame of New Orleans (René Clair, 1941), The Spoilers (Ray Enright, 1942) and Pittsburgh (Lewis Seiler, 1942) is released by the BFI on 18 January 2021.

It wouldn’t be December without an offering of the finest festive films ever made, and after a year like no other, a life-affirming Christmas trip to the movies to see It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946), The Muppet Christmas Carol (Brian Henson, 1992) or Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003) has never felt more needed. 

null
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

In the true spirit of escapism, BFI Southbank also present Cinematic Escapes, a small series of films chosen to lift your spirits, broaden your horizons and offer a thrilling big screen experience – from La dolce vita (Federico Fellini, 1960) and Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Ridley Scott, 1982/2007) to Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018) and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, 2019).

During December there will be screenings of the BFI Distribution release of County Lines (2019), writer-director Henry Blake’s hugely topical feature, which recounts the experiences of troubled teenager Tyler who is groomed into ‘county lines’ drug-dealing. Released in selected cinemas UK-wide and on BFI Player on 4 December, County Lines is inspired by Blake’s first-hand experience as a youth worker, helping young people already taking part in or at risk of county lines exploitation. Vivid, moving and authentic, the film has powerful performances by impressive newcomer Conrad Khan as Tyler, rising star Harris Dickinson and Ashley Madekwe, who is heartbreaking as a struggling young single mum. A pre-recorded Q&A with director Henry Blake and actors Conrad Khan and Ashley Madekwe will be shown following screenings on 4 December (18:00), 9 December (20:40) and 12 December (20:40).

There will also be screenings of the BFI Distribution release of Mogul Mowgli (2019), co-written and directed by Bassam Tariq and co-written, produced, and starring Riz Ahmed. Tariq’s visceral directorial debut, which is also available to rent on BFI Player, finds a British-Pakistani rapper’s life spiralling out of control when, on the cusp of success, he succumbs to a debilitating illness. 

null
First and Last men 2019

Also screening at BFI Southbank from 4 December will be Last and First Men (2020). Based on the cult sci-fi novel by Olaf Stapledon, Last and First Men is the first and only feature-length film directed by the late acclaimed composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. Jóhannsson artfully combined music, beautiful 16mm black-and-white photography, and Tilda Swinton’s mesmerising narration, to form a powerful, poetic meditation on memory and loss.

Also in December will be a Woman with a Movie Camera preview of dark coming-of-age story Slalom (Charlène Favier, 2020), which follows 15-year-old Lyz, a driven and talented skier, who gets accepted into a competitive training academy in the French Alps. 

BFI Southbank’s ongoing African Odysseys series will return in December with screenings of Marighella (2019), an urgent and intense debut from journalist, musician and actor Wagner Moura, about the highly controversial African-Brazilian poet and politician Carlos Marighella. 

BFI Southbank’s ongoing Big Screen Classics series, where we screen essential titles on a daily basis for just £8, will this month take a look at Togetherness… the Pros and Cons, from celebratory alliances with others, to the challenging relationships we have with those we’re closest to. Titles include Dance, Girl, Dance (Dorothy Arzner, 1940), All about My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar, 1999), The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942), 35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis, 2008), Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) and many more. In addition to our £8 ticket offer for Big Screen Classics, audience members aged 25 and under can sign up and take advantage of £3 tickets to any film in the BFI Southbank programme, available to book in advance or on the day of the screening. 

January programme highlights

2021 will kick off with a season celebrating actor and performer David Bowie 5 years since his death; whether bit-part or starring role, David Bowie was always magnetic on screen. Bowie: Starman and the Silver Screen will feature screenings of titles including The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976), Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (Nagisa Oshima, 1983), Absolute Beginners (Julien Temple, 1986), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (David Lynch, 1992), Labyrinth (Jim Henson, 1986) and many more.

null
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

As a composer, innovator and concept artist, Bowie’s fascination for film fed an insatiable creative drive, which the season will also explore via a selection of titles that influenced the eclectic artist – from 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968) and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920) to Querelle (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1982) and Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976). Full details of the season will be announced soon. Audiences around the UK will also be able to enjoy the season on BFI Player, with a small accompanying collection of films. 

Also in January will be a number of seasons which were originally scheduled for November, but were curtailed by the latest national restrictions which caused BFI Southbank to close in early November. These include a season curated by Riz Ahmed and Bassam Tariq, which looks at their cinematic influences, including films that have inspired their new feature Mogul Mowgli (2020). The season, entitled Near the Jugular, includes titles such as First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017), The Three Rooms of Melancholia (Pirjo Honkasalo, 2004), Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997) and Four Lions (Chris Morris, 2010), and is also available to UK-wide audiences via selected films on BFI Player now.

null
The Hateful Eight (2015)

The work of Ennio Morricone, the iconic composer who died earlier this year aged 91, is celebrated with a major season, now screening at BFI Southbank throughout January and February 2021. While he may arguably be best-known for his soundtracks to westerns such as Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy (1964, 1965, 1966) and more recently Quentin Tarantino’s 2015 western The Hateful Eight (for which he won an Oscar), Leone’s career spanned a staggering number of scores (around 450 to 500), and a huge variety of genres. In addition to Leone’s Dollars trilogy, the season will include screenings of films such as Theorem (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1968), The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982), Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988) and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (Pedro Almodóvar, 1990).  

Filmmaker Mark Cousins, whose epic documentary Women Make Film: a New Road Movie through Cinema, was released on BFI Player and on BFI Blu-ray in May this year, curates a companion season at BFI Southbank, which also moves to January; the season includes work by female filmmakers who are championed in Women Make Film, as well as the opportunity to see Cousins’ documentary on the big screen. 

Throughout December and January BFI Southbank continues to operate with exhaustive health and safety measures including social distancing throughout the venue, face coverings as standard for all visitors and staff, increased frequency of deep cleans, e-ticketing, scheduling of staggered screenings and more. These measures continue to be informed by ongoing consultation with the industry, our staff, and our customers, with health and safety the highest priority in the operation of the venue.

Tickets for screenings at BFI Southbank in December will go on sale to BFI Patrons and Champions on 23 November, BFI Members on 24 November and to the general public on 26 November.

Tickets for screenings at BFI Southbank in January will go on sale to BFI Patrons and Champions on 14 December, BFI Members on 15 December and to the general public on 17 December.