January 2024 at BFI Southbank: Werner Herzog, the Scala cinema’s cult programming, Cartoon Saloon at 25 and more

Onstage guests include All of Us Strangers director Andrew Haigh, The End We Start From director Mahalia Belo and writer Alice Birch, Shooting the Past director Stephen Poliakoff and cast Lindsay Duncan and Timothy Spall, and Cartoon Saloon founders Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey and Paul Young.

27 November 2023

Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972) © Werner Herzog Film/Deutsche Kinemathek

The programme for January 2024 at BFI Southbank includes Journeys into the Unknown: The Best of Werner Herzog, a month-long season celebrating the work of one of the most distinctive filmmakers of all time.

The season coincides with the BFI release of Werner Herzog: Radical Dreamer (Thomas von Steinaecker, 2023), a comprehensive portrait of the iconic German filmmaker, which opens in cinemas UK-wide on 19 January, with the film being released on BFI Player and BFI Blu-ray on 19 February. Films screening in the season will include many of his best-loved fiction and documentary works, from Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) and Fitzcarraldo (1982) to The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner (1974), My Best Fiend (1999) and Grizzly Man (2005). The season will also include a BFI re-release of the eloquent and moving The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974), back in cinemas UK-wide as part of the season on 19 January.

Scala!!! (2023)

To mark the BFI Distribution release of Scala!!! (Jane Giles, Ali Catterall, 2023), the new documentary telling the story of London’s infamous, influential Scala cinema, BFI Southbank will host a month-long season of the work that Scala became synonymous with – cult movies, horror and LGBTQIA+ titles, daily double bills and Saturday all-nighters. Programmed by Scala!!! filmmaker Jane Giles and the BFI’s director of public programme and audiences Jason Wood, the season will include Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! (Russ Meyer, 1965), Pink Narcissus (James Bidgood, 1971), A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971), Pink Flamingos (John Waters, 1972), Shivers (David Cronenberg, 1974), The Beast (Walerian Borowczyk, 1975), The Warriors (Walter Hill, 1979) and many more. The biggest screen in the UK, BFI IMAX, will also pay homage to the Scala with an all-nighter of classics on 27 January featuring: An American Werewolf in London (John Landis, 1981), Creature from the Black Lagoon – 3D (Jack Arnold, 1954), Videodrome (David Cronenberg, 1982), The Incredible Shrinking Man (Jack Arnold, 1957) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984).

Song of the Sea (2014)

Meanwhile, Cartoon Saloon at 25 will celebrate 25 years of the Irish animation powerhouse that has produced distinctive, high-quality, multi-award-winning films such as The Secret of Kells (Tomm Moore, 2009), Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore, 2014) and Wolfwalkers (Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, 2020). This trio of films inspired by Irish folklore drew comparisons with the best of Studio Ghibli, in combining an exploration of local heritage with the highest level of hand-drawn animation. This mini season will feature an in conversation event on 21 January with the studio’s founders – Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey and Paul Young – who will discuss their history, revealing how they work to produce strong stories and a high-quality, hand-drawn aesthetic. As well as screenings of the trilogy, the season will also include The Breadwinner (Nora Twomey, 2017), My Father’s Dragon (Nora Twomey, 2022), Puffin Rock and the New Friends (Jeremy Purcell, 2023) and a selection of their short films.

Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal in All of Us Strangers (2023)

Other special events at BFI Southbank this month will include a preview of All of Us Strangers (Andrew Haigh, 2023) on 25 January, fresh from its headline gala at the 67th BFI London Film Festival, followed by a Q&A with director Andrew Haigh. The award-winning director has crafted a potent and moving reflection on grief and loneliness with a stellar cast, including Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal, helping to deliver one of the most heart-breaking films of the year.

The End We Start From (Mahalia Belo, 2023), a haunting yet beautiful survival story, powered by an outstanding, poignant and naturalistic performance by Jodie Comer also premiered at the 67th BFI London Film Festival, and director Mahalia Belo and writer Alice Birch will join us for a Q&A following a screening on 15 January.

Often cited as Stephen Poliakoff’s masterpiece, Shooting the Past (BBC, 1999) features stunning performances from an extraordinary cast including Lindsay Duncan and Timothy Spall, who join us for a 25th anniversary screening and discussion on 28 January alongside the writer-director. This story of an American corporation’s proposed takeover of a building incorporates a critique of capitalism and a eulogy to photography’s capacity to capture history.

The hugely popular annual Woman with a Movie Camera Summit returns to BFI Southbank on 27 January when a summit pass will grant access to a full day of talks, Q&As and panel discussions with filmmakers, curators and creatives, as well as workshops and drop-in sessions. A number of talks and panels will also be available to watch on the BFI YouTube channel, in addition to Woman with a Movie Camera film collections on BFI Player. A special Woman with a Movie Camera preview of Your Fat Friend (Jeanie Finlay, 2023) will also screen separately on 27 January, followed by a Q&A with director Jeanie Finlay and subject Aubrey Gordon. Finlay presents a wonderful and frank portrait of the inspiring and very funny Gordon, but also an essential and empathetic call for us to rethink our relationships and attitudes to the word fat, and our own bodies.

The London Short Film Festival also returns from 19 to 28 January, with the full festival line-up set to be announced in December. The programme will include a selection of the best British shorts ever made, from the canon of essential cinema to the experimental and rarely seen, plus LSFF In Competition, four programmes of innovative, searching, beautiful, radical short films carefully chosen by the LSFF programming team, and My Eye Is My Ear, now an annual staple presenting new short films exploring d/Deaf lives, culture and language.

A monthly conversation between you (the audience) and one of the nation’s most respected film critics, Mark Kermode Live in 3D at the BFI will take place on 15 January. Joined by surprise guests from across the film industry, Kermode explores, critiques and dissects current and upcoming releases, cinematic treasures, industry news and even some guilty pleasures.

On-sale dates

Tickets for screenings in January are on sale to BFI Patrons and Champions on 4 December, BFI Members on 5 December and to the general public on 7 December.

BFI Player logo

Discover award-winning independent British and international cinema

Free for 14 days, then £4.99/month or £49/year.

Try for free