The BFI today announces the programme for BFI Southbank running from 19 October to 30 November. The 6-week programme, which launches straight after the BFI London Film Festival, will feature a season curated by Riz Ahmed and Bassam Tariq, which looks at their cinematic influences. This included films that have inspired their new feature Mogul Mowgli, which is released in selected cinemas by the BFI on 30 October, following its UK premiere at the London Film Festival. The season, entitled Near the Jugular, will include 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 will also be made available to UK-wide audiences via selected films on BFI Player, and through special events on BFI YouTube. 

Women Make Film

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, curates a companion season at BFI Southbank in October and November. This includes work by female filmmakers that are championed in Women Make Film, as well as the opportunity to see Cousins’ documentary on the big screen. Titles will include Middle of Nowhere (2012), an early film by Ava DuVernay, cult queer classic But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) directed by Jamie Babbit, and work from often unsung European directors such as Loving Couples (1964), by Swedish actor and director Mai Zetterling, Márta Mészáros’ Adoption (1975), which was the first film directed by a woman to win the Golden Bear at Berlin, and The Asthenic Syndrome (1989), Ukrainian-Russian director Kira Muratova’s stark, beautiful and melancholic masterpiece. 

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Middle of Nowhere (2012)

Ennio Morricone

The work of Ennio Morricone will also be celebrated with a major season, following the iconic composer’s death earlier this year, aged 91. While he may be best-known for his soundtracks to westerns such as Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy (1964-66) 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 450-500), 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).

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Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Play for Today

15 October 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the first episode of the seminal anthology drama series Play for Today, which comprised broadcasts of more than 300 one-off television plays on the BBC between 1970 and 1984. Demonstrating the single drama’s potential to engage mass audiences with social comment and artistic experimentation, Play for Today featured work by some of the UK’s most important writers, directors and producers, including Mike Leigh, Alan Clarke, David Rose, Margaret Matheson, Dennis Potter and many more. 

The BFI will celebrate this milestone anniversary with a dedicated season of screenings at BFI Southbank, featuring titles such as Brassneck (1975), directed by Mike Newell and adapted by Howard Brenton and David Hare from their 1973 play; Ladies (1980), starring a largely female ensemble cast including June Brown and Patsy Rowlands; and A Hole in Babylon (1979), directed by Horace Ové and starring T-Bone Wilson and Carmen Munroe. There will be an online event to launch the season on BFI YouTube featuring special guests (to be announced soon), and a BFI Blu-ray collection, Play for Today: Volume One, released on 19 October. Almost half of the surviving plays are also available to view for free in the Mediatheque at BFI Southbank, from familiar titles such as Abigail’s Party (1977) and Rumpole of the Bailey (1975) to programmes that have rarely or never screened since their original broadcast. 

Film Africa

Film Africa returns to BFI Southbank for its ninth festival edition from 30 October to 8 November, with a programme of features and shorts, showcasing the best African cinema from across the continent and its diaspora. The programme, which will also take place online on BFI Player, will be announced in full on 30 September.

Extended runs

Extended runs of new films and re-releases will include Matt Wolf’s fascinating documentary Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project (2019) exploring one woman’s obsession with recording world events; terrifying psychological horror Saint Maud (2019), which won director Rose Glass the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award at the 2019 BFI London Film Festival; and the 60th anniversary restoration of Jean-Luc Godard’s ground-breaking tribute to American B-movies Breathless (1960). 

There will also be screenings of the BFI Distribution release 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 on 20 November, 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.

Big Screen Classics

BFI Southbank’s ongoing Big Screen Classics series, where we screen essential titles on a daily basis for just £8, will spotlight The Timeless Beauty of Black and White from 19 October to 30 November, including classic films such as Steamboat Bill, Jr. (Charles F Reisner and Buster Keaton, 1928), The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955) and Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941). More recently, a number of filmmakers have turned to black and white to tell stories, create mood and enhance meaning – in titles such as The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 2009), The Man Who Wasn’t There (Joel Coen, 2001) and The Tango Lesson (Sally Potter, 1997) are exceptions to the modern norm that act as reminders that black and white might be a question of art, not of saving money. 

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The Tango Lesson (1997)

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. 

Throughout October and November, 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 between 19 October and 30 November will go on sale to BFI Patrons and Champions on 28 September, BFI Members on 29 September and to the general public on 6 October. Full details of seasons, including listings and free online events on BFI YouTube, will be released on, or before, 21 September

Originally published: 11 September 2020