Adam Frost and Melanie Patrick of the British Film Institute take a look at film noir and what makes a film noir-ish.
"Foregrounding the back of Martin Luther King’s head, Selma’s poster is an act of protest in itself. But as a recent book on black movie poster art shows, many past poster designs have obscured, caricatured or edited out black actors altogether." Isabel Stevens writes on black movie poster art at the British Film Institute (BFI).
For the upcoming digitally restored theatrical re-release of Kubrick's classic Sci-Fi film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (previously, and previously) a beautiful new trailer for the movie has been put together by the British Film Institute. Via Polygon.
Over a hundred years ago, a most impressive collection of early motion pictures was collected by the Swiss Jesuit abbot, Josef-Alexis Joye, who collected a trove of films as a way of educating children and adults. In total, he collected around 2,500 titles between 1902 or 1904 and 1915. The abbot's collection was not forgotten or lost after his death in 1919 -- it was stored and cataloged, though in danger of deteriorating by the 1940s. A few decades later, Italian film historian Davide Turconi, fearing that the films would be entirely through deterioration, decided to clip a few frames from each print and save something of the collection. Luckily, his fears were unfounded, and many the films were preserved in the 1970s by David Francis of the National Film and Television Archive of the British Film Institute, where approximately 1,200 of the nitrate prints still exist. [more inside]
On 1st November 1988, ITV dispatched over fifty crews to chronicle the production, reception and marketing of British television, at a time when, with satellite television yet to launch, the four main networks were your only viewing choice. It became the documentary One Day In The Life of Television, which you can now watch in full on YouTube. [more inside]
In 1983, the film Where is Parsifal? was screened at Cannes and then it disappeared, more or less. BFI included it on their list of 75 most wanted films. The Telegraph summarized the "lost" title as "a farce loosely based on Molière’s Tartuffe, whose turbocharged cast includes Tony Curtis, Orson Welles and Donald Pleasence," but BFI noted that "the reviews were generally dreadful." In reality, the film wasn't so much lost as it was misplaced and/or over-looked. It has been available in Australia on VHS, and director Henri Helman kindly donated his personal 35mm print, with French subtitles, to be preserved in the BFI archive. But perhaps more interesting than the "lost" status of the movie is the people involved in its creation. [more inside]
The British Film Institute's YouTube channels offer a staggering amount (previously) of content on historical cinema, shorts, and discussion. Some short selections from the early and silent period of note - The Sick Kitten (1903) - How Percy Won The Beauty Competition (1909) - Tilly The Tomboy Visits The Poor (1910) - Suffragette Riot In Trafalgar Square (1913) - The Fugitive Futurist, in which a man on the run shows a device that can see far into the future (1924) - Vaudevillian legend Billy Merson Singing 'Desdemona'. Widely considered Britain's first sound film - (1927) Charley In New Town - part of an animated series from the Central Office, this one explaining the need for "New Towns." (1948) - Growing Girls, a filmstrip guide to puberty for young women (1951).
The Ministry Of Food was a British government ministerial posts separated from that of the Minister of Agriculture. A major task of the latter office was to oversee rationing in the United Kingdom arising out of World War II. They made many newsreels and PSAs to inform the citizenry how to use the food rationing system: Rationing is introduced in 1939 The new ration books are coming! Cod Liver Oil Here's spud in your eye Don't cut that bread! DON'T WASTE FOOD! Dig For Victory! Milk is here! In addition, some short films instructed people in how to best use the new rationing system : Two Cooks And A Cabbage How To Make Tea Rabbit Pie Buying black market meat: a Partner in CRIME A US view explaining UK rationing to the States.
BFI set to open its catalogue of 10,000 archive films to stream online Yesterday, the BFI released its five year plan 'film forever' . One of the key points is the development and launch of a BFIPlayer in 2013 which will stream the 10,000 films they aim to digitise by 2017. Other objectives are also outlined in the full plan, such as the money available for British film production rising to £24 milllion p/a.
Public Service Broadcasting are a British banjo and synth duo who construct music based on samples from public information and propaganda films. Their objective is to 'teach the lessons of the past through the music of the future'. Darlings of BBC Radio's 6Music they have just released their War Room EP constructed around archive wartime material from the BFI. Each track has an accompanying, excellently edited film on the Youtube [more inside]
How to replace an Imax Screen. London's BFI, after 13 years, needed a new screen. Not the simplest of jobs, given the screen is 85 feet x 65 feet in size. Luckily, when they did change it this week, they brought a camera along to take some pictures.
The British Council Film Collection "is an archive of over 120 short documentary films made by the British Council during the 1940s designed to show the world how Britain lived, worked and played. Preserved by the BFI National Film Archive and digitised by means of a generous donation by Google, the films are now yours to view, to download and to play with for the first time." A couple of essays and case studies also already up, with more to come.
The British Film Institute has a youtube channel with rare footage going back over 100 years, covering many aspects of British life. Highlights include: 'Solarflares Burn For You' (1973) (featuring a soundtrack by Robert Wyatt); Rush Hour, Waterloo Station (1970); London Bridge (1926); Productivity Primer (1964); Today in Britain (1964); Snow (1963); Holiday (1957).
"I can only talk about what has moved me or intrigued me," says filmmaker Martin Scorsese at the beginning of this four-hour documentary about his passion for U.S. cinema. "I can't really be objective here." Hallelujah! A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies is the perfect antidote to the forced and artificial doctrine of the American Film Institute's so-called 100 best films. The AFI's English cousin, the British Film Institute, did a brilliant thing in enlisting Scorsese--probably the most famous student of cinema in the U.S.--to open up and speak at length for this project about the history of artistic survival among Hollywood directors. Scorsese takes a highly intuitive and heartfelt approach in describing how a number of filmmakers--some famous and some forgotten--carefully layered their visions into their work, often against the great resistance or eccentric whims of powerful producers. Film clips are plentiful, but they are also more than window dressing for nostalgia buffs." Part 1 1:: 2:: 3:: 4:: 5:: 6:: 7:: 8 Part 2 1:: 2:: 3:: 4:: 5:: 6:: 7:: 8 Part 3 1:: 2:: 3:: 4:: 5:: 6:: 7:: 8 [more inside]
Christmas in the London Blitz, 1940; Making Christmas Crackers, 1910; Santa Claus, 1898; Christmas is coming, 1951: short films from the British Film Institute's wonderful Youtube Channel (including excellent playlists), which you can also explore through Google Earth using the kmz file found here.
Creative archive licence group at The Beeb. Today sees the launch of the Creative Archive Licence Group, a joint venture between the BBC, the Open University, Channel 4 and the BFI to provide legal content to the (initially UK only) public under a series of licences that are quite similar to those by Creative Commons. Although at present only a trial, the project timetable looks as though some good material will be made available.
The Mitchell and Kenyon collection consists of 800 rolls of nitrate film documenting scenes of everyday life in England between 1900 and 1913. This extraordinary archive, now painstakingly restored by the British Film Institute, includes footage of trams, soup kitchens, factory gates, football matches, seaside holidays and much else besides. Here are some sample images and a short clip of workers at a Lancashire colliery, all astonishingly evocative and reminiscent (to me) of Philip Larkin's poem MCMXIV: 'The crowns of hats, the sun / On moustachioed archaic faces / Grinning as if it were all / An August Bank Holiday lark .. Never such innocence, / Never before or since .. Never such innocence again.'
BFI presents screenonline | The British Film Institute announces the launch of screenonline: "This new site features an unrivalled collection of archive film and television footage from the bfi National Film and Television Archive.... [It] is the first time the bfi has given the public access online to its comprehensive collection of film and television material, giving teachers, students and film enthusiasts an exceptional opportunity to investigate British history, culture and society through cinema. "