Ahead of the hotly anticipated return of BFI FLARE: LONDON LGBTQIA+ FILM FESTIVAL from 16 – 27 March, BFI Southbank will present a packed two weeks of screenings, events and Q&As during the first half of the month. The programme will include a new BFI project to raise the visibility of the women who’ve been making documentaries over almost the past 100 years; THE CAMERA IS OURS: BRITAIN’S WOMEN DOCUMENTARY MAKERS features a season at BFI Southbank, a BFI DVD boxset, BFI Player collection and a free exhibition and BFI Mediatheque collection at BFI Southbank. From the female pioneers of the 1930s like Ruby and Marion Grierson to rich contemporary work from Penny Woolcock, and Waad Al-Kateab, this season tells a vibrant story and features many new digital restorations from the BFI National Archive, supported by The Film Foundation.
BFI Southbank’s celebration of the work of Danish silent star ASTA NIELSEN will continue in the first half of March, with screenings from the latter part of her career including her androgynous portrayal of the Danish prince in HAMLET (Svend Gade, 1921), GW Pabst’s THE JOYLESS STREET (1925) co-starring a young Greta Garbo and her final dramatic film role, and first talkie, IMPOSSIBLE LOVE (Erich Waschneck, 1932). Also continuing until 15 March will be SEEN & HEARD, celebrating coming-of-age stories that feature authentic portrayals of complex, adolescent young women experiencing the intense pleasures and pains of growing up. The centrepiece of the season will be the BFI release of LA MIF (Fred Baillif, 2021), a blazing and absorbing drama set in a care home for at-risk teenage girls, released in selected cinemas UK-wide from 25 February.
Special events in early March will include a preview of William E Badgley’s REBEL DREAD (2020), an energetic documentary portrait of Don Letts – musician, DJ, filmmaker and Black British trailblazer. Letts narrates his own story, becoming part of the inner circle of The Clash, going to Jamaica with Johnny Rotten, becoming a top music-video director, forming Big Audio Dynamite with Mick Jones and becoming a Grammy-winning film director. The preview of this insightful film, which features rarely seen footage from the BFI National Archive, on 3 March will be followed by a Q&A with Don Letts, while the film will also play on extended run at BFI Southbank from 4 March and be available on BFI Player.
Woman With A Movie Camera powered by Jaguar will present a preview of Harry Wootliff’s TRUE THINGS (2021), followed by a Q&A with lead actor Ruth Wilson and director Harry Wootliff on 7 March. Wilson stars as introvert Kate, living a stagnant life in a drab seaside town, working in a grim job centre – until one day, a charismatic stranger played by Tom Burke, sits at her desk and entices her into a passionate sexual encounter. TRUE THINGS was developed and produced with the support of the BFI Film Fund using funds from the National Lottery. Also backed by the BFI Film Fund is ALI & AVA (2021), directed by Clio Barnard and starring Adeel Akhtar as cheery landlord and former DJ Ali and Claire Rushbrook as caring classroom assistant Ava, who begin a romance despite both carrying complex wounds from former relationships. ALI & AVA will screen at BFI Southbank on extended run from 11 March.
Further highlights of the events programme in March will include a TV preview of Series 2 of GENTLEMAN JACK (BBC/HBO/Lookout Point, 2022) on 9 March, followed by a Q&A with writer Sally Wainwright and actors Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle. Series two of the popular drama will again draw from the real-life diaries of Anne Lister, with every part of Lister’s story based in historical fact and the five million words she wrote in her journals. As series seven of the critically acclaimed and BAFTA award-winning anthology series INSIDE NO. 9 (BBC, 2022) returns, BFI Southbank preview two episodes from the upcoming series on 11 March, in the company of the show’s creators Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton and executive producer Adam Tandy. The show invites viewers into a world of the extraordinary and macabre, and this latest series will feature guest cast members such as Sophie Okonedo, Daniel Mays, Mark Gatiss, Jessica Hynes and Diane Morgan.
The BFI’s monthly AFRICAN ODYSSEYS event in March is FROM THE CARIBBEAN TO WEST AFRICA: EDRIC CONNOR’S TRAVELOGUES, an afternoon of restored colour films of Africa and the Caribbean, made by Edric Connor – actor, singer, folklorist, director and musicologist, who helped bring awareness of Caribbean and African culture to the UK. Screenings of titles on 6 March (which will also be available on BFI Player) include CARIBBEAN HONEYMOON 1 & 2 (1960), BOUND FOR LAGOS (1960), and CARNIVAL FANTASTIQUE (1960), and will be followed by panel with experts who will discuss Connor’s extraordinary achievements. Also in March will be the first in a bi-monthly series, FILM WALLAHS, showcasing new South Asian and world cinema, from documentary to drama. This month’s screening on 10 March is THE BEATLES AND INDIA (Ajoy Bose, Peter Compton, 2021), a unique documentary chronicling the enduring love affair between The Beatles and India through rare archival footage, photographs and eye-witness accounts of the time when the legendary group visited a remote Himalayan ashram in search of spiritual bliss. The screening will be introduced by co-director Pete Compton and producer Reynold D’Silva and followed by a discussion.
Regular event MARK KERMODE LIVE IN 3D AT THE BFI, 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, will this month take place on 7 March, with guests to be announced soon. To mark the soon to be released Blu-ray boxset of Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 22, BFI Southbank will host a screening, on 5 March, of the concluding story of the series, DOCTOR WHO: REVELATION OF THE DALEKS (BBC, 1985), in which Colin Baker’s Doctor comes up against his deadliest enemy. Also in early March, the 18th edition of the GLASGOW FILM FESTIVAL (GFF) will take screenings to partner cinemas across the UK, including BFI Southbank, with further details to be announced soon.
THE CAMERA IS OURS: BRITAIN’S WOMEN DOCUMENTARY MAKERS
From the female pioneers in the 1930s to the rich contemporary scene, women documentarists tell a vibrant story. THE CAMERA IS OURS: BRITAIN’S WOMEN DOCUMENTARY MAKERS will celebrate the often-unsung pivotal female influences on the documentary genre, including Ruby and Marion Grierson, Jill Craigie, Sarah Erulkar and Muriel Box, as well as contemporary voices such as Penny Woolcock, Waad Al-Kateab and Sonita Gale.
The season will feature many new digital restorations from the BFI National Archive, supported by The Film Foundation, including BESIDE THE SEASIDE (Marion Grierson, 1935), THEY ALSO SERVE (Ruby Grierson, 1940), HOMES FOR THE PEOPLE (Kay Mander, 1945) and SOMETHING NICE TO EAT (Sarah Erulkar, 1967). As well as screening at BFI Southbank, the films will feature in a new DVD boxset and there will be a collection of complementary work available to watch on BFI Player. The season at BFI Southbank will also include a free collection in the Mediatheque, a free display in the Mezzanine Gallery dedicated to pioneering filmmaker Jill Craigie, and a study day during which experts explore the careers of directors whose work have been restored as part of this season. There are works that reveal the impact of war on families, examine housing conditions, expose barriers against inclusive societies: both then and now there are women on the frontline, telling stories.
Full details of the season, including special guest Q&As will be announced soon.
SEEN & HEARD: DARING FEMALE COMING-OF-AGE FILMS
SEEN & HEARD, which runs at BFI Southbank from 1 February – 15 March, is a season celebrating the women who are reclaiming their coming-of-age stories. Here the filmmakers (all of whom are women) focus not on mean-girl cheerleaders, precocious Lolitas or magical makeovers, just searing, realistic portrayals of complex, adolescent young women experiencing the intense pleasures and pains of growing up.
Following February’s screenings, the season continues in the first two weeks of March with further sensitive and truthful portraits of young women, and a celebration of the women bringing these stories to the screen. These include distinctive early works from acclaimed directors, like Cate Shortland’s SOMERSAULT (2004) and Céline Sciamma’s WATER LILIES (2007), alongside work from some of the most exciting voices to have emerged in recent years, such as Houda Benyamina’s DIVINES (2016), Nijla Mu’min’s JINN (2018) and HIKARI’s 37 SECONDS (2019). From Sofia Coppola’s compassionate reimagining of infamous 18th-century French queen MARIE ANTOINETTE (2006) to a realist ride with gen-Z New York skaters in Crystal Moselle’s SKATE KITCHEN (2018), these films explore a range of female coming-of-age experiences, united by the universal joys and pains of growing up.
Also playing alongside SEEN & HEARD is the BFI Release of LA MIF (Fred Baillif, 2021), a blazing and absorbing drama set in a care home for at-risk teenage girls, released in selected cinemas UK-wide from 25 February. Filmmaker Fred Baillif deploys a documentary style and shifting narrative perspectives to bring us into the different worlds of seven young women who have found themselves in residential care, compelled to find family in each other. A former social worker himself, Baillif workshopped extensively with social workers and LA MIF’S cast of first-time actors in order to create a startlingly authentic portrayal of young women coming of age in chaotic and often brutal circumstances.
IN THE EYES OF A SILENT STAR: THE FILMS OF ASTA NIELSEN
BFI Southbank’s celebration of Danish star of silent cinema ASTA NIELSEN, programmed by film historian and writer Pamela Hutchinson continues in March. IN THE EYES OF A SILENT STAR: THE FILMS OF ASTA NIELSEN will explore her vibrant career in 1900s European silent film – a performer with boundless range, unique sensitivity and unforgettably hypnotic eyes. The second part of the retrospective in the first two weeks of March will feature work from the latter part of Nielsen’s career, including dark thriller IN THE EYES OF THE LAW (Willy Grunwald, 1919), a flexible-minded adaptation of HAMLET (Svend Gade, 1921), and Nielsen’s first sound role and final dramatic film role IMPOSSIBLE LOVE (Erich Waschneck, 1932).
Full details of the programme are available in a dedicated season press release on the BFI website.