Almost 30 years since its inception, and with 200 titles in print, the BFI’s Film Classics series is relaunching with a fresh new cover approach and new titles. This signals a change of focus, with women, LGBTIQ+, Black, Asian, mixed ethnicity and the Global South to be foregrounded in films selected for the series and authors commissioned to write about them.
The BFI and its publishing partner, Bloomsbury, relaunch the series on 28th May 2020 with 20 titles. This comprises of brand new books: Babette’s Feast by philosopher Julian Baggini and Touch of Evil by poet and art critic Richard Deming, as well as reissued favourites including: A.L. Kennedy on The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Camille Paglia on Hitchcock’s The Birds, and Ed Guerrero on Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.
Reissues include new forewords by their authors highlighting films’ contemporary relevance to issues such as #MeToo, Brexit, the rise of Trump and police victimisation of young African Americans. In addition, in a major cover refresh, each book features specially commissioned cover artwork by leading illustrators, designers and photographers.
New titles in the series, publishing in the autumn, include film critic and scholar Rebecca Harrison on The Empire Strikes Back, feminist scholar and advocate Patricia White writing on Hitchcock’s Rebecca and writer and activist So Mayer on Sally Potter’s Orlando.
Founded in 1992, the BFI Film Classics series grew out of an initiative of the National Film and Television Archive (NFTVA), now known as the BFI National Archive, to build a collection of 360 key films in the history of cinema. Authors published in the book series include Salman Rushdie, Manohla Dargis, Amy Taubin, Simon Callow, Marina Warner, Greil Marcus and Mark Kermode.
Jenny Ridout, Global Head of Academic Publishing at Bloomsbury, commented: “The BFI Film Classics series enables readers to discover landmarks of world cinema and gain new perspectives on much-loved favourites. We are delighted to be re-presenting the series and to have this opportunity to challenge and broaden the film canon to better represent the diversity of film history and culture. With our shared commitment to developing film literacy and promoting greater diversity in our publishing, we are thrilled to be working with our colleagues at the BFI on this project.”
Heather Stewart, BFI Creative Director, further added: “For anyone interested in film, BFI Film Classics offer a great introduction to the breadth of British and world cinema, and are essential resources for film students. I’m thrilled that these new editions will introduce audiences to great cinema and make discussion of the breadth and depth of cinema relevant to contemporary cultural and political conversations. This is at the heart of what we do at the BFI: safeguarding cinema’s history, bringing forgotten films back to light and introducing classic films to new audiences through a contemporary lens. Bloomsbury’s expertise across an amazing range of publications, teamed with their international reputation, will help the BFI in our mission to reach a broad spectrum of readers.”
A number of films featured in the BFI Film Classics series are available to rent now on BFI Player, these include Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil (1958), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1943), Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) as well as The Big Lebowski (Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, 1998) and Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989).