Spring 2024 highlights at BFI Southbank and BFI IMAX: Gene Tierney, Italian neorealism, Lindsay Anderson and Víctor Erice

Film and TV previews will include Billy Connolly: Big Banana Feet, Hoard, Michael Palin in Nigeria, Nezouh and Omen.

27 February 2024

Gene Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

The BFI Southbank programme for 25 March to 31 May includes the first part of a major season exploring Italian neorealism, and month-long retrospectives of Gene Tierney, Víctor Erice and Lindsay Anderson. 

Out of the Shadows: The Films of Gene Tierney

Kicking off at the end of March and running until the end of April, Out of the Shadows: The Films of Gene Tierney will showcase the captivating performances of Tierney, with a focus on her work in the 1940s, including Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944), Leave Her to Heaven (John M. Stahl, 1945) and many more. 

Of Time and Light: The Films of Víctor Erice

The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

To coincide with the release of his long-awaited film Close Your Eyes (2023), which will screen on extended run from 12 April, BFI Southbank will present Of Time and Light: The Films of Víctor Erice, a small but perfectly formed season of features and shorts from a supreme poet of cinema. Titles screening throughout April will include Erice’s remarkable first feature The Spirit of the Beehive (1973), the visually stunning exploration of family secrets El sur (1983) and his portrait of the celebrated artist Antonio López, The Quince Tree Sun (1992). The season will also feature a number of short films rarely or never before screened in the UK, including a series of ‘video-letters’ exchanged between Erice and the late Abbas Kiarostami. 

O Dreamland! Lindsay Anderson’s Dark British Cinema

If.... (1968)

Running throughout May will be O Dreamland! Lindsay Anderson’s Dark British Cinema, a season dedicated to the director (and influential film critic), Lindsay Anderson – a singularly acerbic and unflinching force who created searing social commentary that captured Britain like few others. This expansive season will include early shorts, documentaries, work for television and features, including the satirical state-of-the-nation trilogy – If…. (1968), O Lucky Man! (1973) and Britannia Hospital (1982), all starring Malcolm McDowell. 

Chasing the Real: Italian Neorealism

Bicycle Thieves (1948)

Completing the line-up of seasons for the spring is the first part of a two-month season exploring Italian neorealism – beginning in May, and running until the end of June, Chasing the Real: Italian Neorealism is presented in partnership with Cinecittà, and features 20 titles, from rarely shown gems to seminal works, such as Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948) and Luchino Visconti’s precursor to neorealism Ossessione (1943). The season also includes a BFI re-release of Rome, Open City (1945), Roberto Rossellini’s groundbreaking film, planned in secret during the Nazi occupation of Rome, and widely recognised as the very first neorealist film. Rome, Open City is re-released in selected cinemas UK wide, including BFI Southbank, from 17 May.  

Special events at BFI Southbank

Events during this period will include a TV preview of Michael Palin in Nigeria (Neil Ferguson, 2024) on 15 April, followed by a Q&A with Michael Palin. In his first visit to Nigeria, labelled the ‘Giant of Africa’, Michael Palin embarks on an epic 1,300-mile journey. It’s a country that encompasses stunning landscapes and wildlife, a variety of cultures and faiths, and a diverse population who speak over 500 languages. In Lagos he finds a vibrant city of extremes – from heart-wrenching poverty to extravagant wealth. With Nigeria set to be the third most populous country in the world within the next 50 years, this series captures the country through the eyes and experiences of the people who live there. For Michael, at 80, it may well turn out to be the most profound journey of his life.

Film previews will include Hoard (Luna Carmoon, 2023) on 3 May, an intense and unusual drama announcing a bold and visionary new British talent, the preview of which will be followed by a Q&A. Young Maria lives with her eccentric mother in a home full of love and rising piles of rubbish until they are tragically separated. Now grown up, Maria tries to reconnect with the memory of her mother in unusual ways, a process that dramatically escalates when she forms a primal bond with an older man. Carmoon’s unconventional and visceral coming-of-age tale is a sensory experience that tackles grief, trauma and burgeoning sexuality, and will also play on extended run at BFI Southbank from 10 May.

Big Banana Feet (1976)
BFI

On 20 May the day of its release on BFI dual format DVD and Blu-ray, there will be a screening of the new restoration of Billy Connolly: Big Banana Feet (Murray Grigor and Patrick Higson, 1977), followed by a Q&A with the BFI’s Douglas Weir and director Murray Grigor. Featuring iconic stand-up material alongside fascinating behind-the-scenes footage, this previously elusive milestone of British comedy has been restored in 2K from original 16mm materials, reaffirming the warmth and genius that has endeared Connolly to generations of fans.  

BFI’s Woman with a Movie Camera series presents a preview of Nezouh (2022) on 25 April, followed by a Q&A with director Soudade Kaadan. Delicately weaving lightness and magical realism among heart-breaking desolation, Kaadan’s Venice Film Festival award-winner offers a powerful and moving perspective on the Syrian conflict when teenager Zeina and her family are the last to stay in the besieged Damascus.  

Meanwhile, African Odysseys presents a preview of Omen (2023) on 26 April, including an intro and Q&A with director Baloji. The Belgian-Congolese rapper’s directorial debut won the New Voice prize in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival and is a distinctive and often impressionistic portrait of communal life in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Koffi returns to his hometown, Kinshasa, to reunite with his family and culture. However, complexities abound as four individuals find imprestheir different worlds and perspectives clashing. 

A monthly conversation between you (the audience) and one of the nation’s favourite and most respected film critics, Mark Kermode in 3D takes place at BFI IMAX on 29 April and 27 May. 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.  

These seasons and events all take place while the BFI embark on essential maintenance work to improve and modernise BFI Southbank, beginning at the end of March and continuing until the summer. While some spaces around the building will be closed during the works, including NFT1 (to improve the NFT1 foyer and toilets) and NFT3 (to install new seating), BFI Southbank will remain open throughout, with a rich and varied programme of film and television still screening for audiences every day while these improvements are made. Meanwhile BFI Members will be invited to exclusive screenings at our BFI Stephen Street screening rooms with ‘Member Mondays’, beginning with Sight and Sound poll-winner Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975) on 8 April.  

Special events at BFI IMAX

Kamila Urzedowska as Jagna in The Peasants (2023)

Also announced today are special events taking place at BFI IMAX. The Kinoteka Polish Film Festival comes to an end with the closing night gala screening of The Peasants (Hugh and DK Welchman, 2023) on 28 March. This very special screening will be enriched by a live performance from five talented musicians from the Rebel Babel Film Orchestra, under the guidance of Łukasz L.U.C. Rostkowski, the acclaimed composer of the film’s original soundtrack. This stunning adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning Polish writer Władysław Reymont’s novel is the latest feature by the creative team behind the groundbreaking Loving Vincent and tells the story of a young woman determined to forge her own path within the stultifying confines of late-19th-century rural Polish life.

Anthropocene: The Human Epoch comes to BFI IMAX on 21 April for a special Earth Day 2024 screening. Presented in the IMAX with Laser format for the first time in the UK, Alicia Vikander’s narration accompanies this stunning account of humanity’s dramatic impact on our planet. For this special presentation, filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky have recorded an introduction exploring this critical moment in our existence. 

Finally on 25 May, a special Straight 8 25th anniversary special edition will showcase the 25 best Super-8 films made for the Straight 8 competition. All comprise one Super-8 cartridge and no editing. This 25th anniversary edition will look even more spectacular showing at BFI IMAX – the smallest film format on the UK’s largest screen. Celebrate the magic of cinema from 1999 to 2024 and beyond with in-person presentations and introductions. 

BFI Southbank on-sale dates

Tickets for BFI Southbank screenings in April and May are on sale to BFI Patrons on 18 March, BFI Members on 20 March and to the general public on 21 March.