Full details of the BFI Southbank programme from 18 October to 30 November have been announced today, with a packed line-up that includes BFI Japan 2021: 100 Years of Japanese Cinema. This major UK-wide celebration of Japanese film, which launched online last year, arrives on the big screen at BFI Southbank from 18 October. Highlights this month include the BFI re-release of Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Seven Samurai (1954) and a preview of Drive My Car (2021), Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s engrossing adaptation of a Haruki Murakami short story, which won the prize for best screenplay at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. 

Also this month, we celebrate the career of multi-award winning writer-director Mike Leigh, one of Britain’s most internationally recognised and critically acclaimed filmmakers. The UK-wide celebration, which includes a BFI re-release of the BFI National Archive 4K remastering of Naked (1993), comes to BFI Southbank with a complete retrospective of Leigh’s work from 18 October to 30 November. The season will feature screenings of all his films and television works and multiple Q&As with Leigh and his close collaborators, including Mike Leigh in conversation with writer Amy Raphael on 28 October. 

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To coincide with the release of Edgar Wright’s new film, the glorious homage to 60s Soho, Last Night in Soho (2021), BFI Southbank will host a special season curated by the director – Edgar Wright’s London After Dark will introduce audiences to the films that inspired his latest work. Running from 18 October to 29 November, with selected titles available to watch on BFI Player, the season will feature ripped-from-the-headlines tabloid documentary Primitive London (Arnold L Miller, 1965), cult hit Beat Girl (Edmond T Gréville, 1960), Hitchcock’s last great shocker Frenzy (1972), fun and gritty time capsule of the 1960s The Small World of Sammy Lee (Ken Hughes, 1963) and many more. 

Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car (2021) will be previewed as part of BFI Japan

There will also be a preview of Last Night in Soho (2021) ahead of its UK-wide release on 29 October. The highly anticipated film stars Thomasin McKenzie as Eloise, who leaves her life in a remote village to become a fashion student in London, where home becomes a top-floor flat amid Soho’s neon lights. Eloise soon learns that life in the capital is not without its dangers as she learns secrets about Soho in the past and must face some ghosts that are lurking in the present. Full details of the season will be announced soon. 

During November, BFI African Odysseys will present a programme exploring the work of activist and broadcaster Darcus Howe. Born in Trinidad during the dying days of British colonialism, Howe settled in the UK in the 1960s. As an activist, he was central to organising political campaigns, including the historic Mangrove Nine trial and The Black Peoples’ Day of Action, 1981. Howe also became a household name with a career in broadcasting that spanned three decades from the 1980s. This programme will include special events and discussions with guests including Tony Warner, of Black History Walks, writer and exec producer Farrukh Dhondy, and Race Today Collective founding member and activist, Leila Hassan. Screenings will include Travels with My Camera: Is This My Country? (2007), White Tribe (2000), Trouble in Paradise (2000) and Darcus Howe: Son of Mine (2006). During October and November BFI Southbank’s regular programme strands all spotlight and celebrate Black history and Black talent. 

Special events during October and November will include Mark Kermode Live in 3D at the BFI, on 18 October and 8 November, 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. 

Mandabi (1968)

The BFI’s Screen Epiphany series returns on 24 October with special guest Adjoa Andoh, whose rich body of work includes performing on stage at the RSC, the National and the Royal Court, and on screen in Bridgerton, Invictus and Doctor Who. In this special event, Andoh will introduce a screening of her ‘epiphany’ film – a film that has influenced and inspired her. Andoh’s choice is a landmark of African cinema, Ousmane Sembène’s sharp-witted drama Mandabi (1968). 

There will also be a TV preview of The Amazing Mr Blunden (2021) on 29 November followed by a Q&A with Mark Gatiss and Tamsin Grieg. In this family adventure teenagers Jamie and Lucy join their mum who has become caretaker of an old country house – one that’s said to be haunted. 

We’ll also mark the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) with a BFI Family Funday screening on 14 November; the screening will be preceded by a children’s Funday Workshop for ticket holders, in which attendees will write spells, create their own wands and have a go at some witchy animation.