BFI National Archive: Britain On Film, Nationwide and BFI Southbank

BFI National Archive: Britain On Film, Nationwide and BFI Southbank

Established in 1933, the BFI (British Film Institute) has wide range of purposes; from encouraging development of the moving image, archiving a record of daily life in the UK, and promoting education through the medium of film. With such an extensive influence, the BFI is one of the UK’s most important creative charitable organisations.

In 2012 the organisation started the immense task of digitising the archive; which comprises over 275,000 feature, fiction and non-fiction films – the earliest of which date back to 1894. After 3 years of work the National Lottery Fund released a further £5million of funding to the digitisation project, with the aim of digitising a further 10,000 titles by 2017.

Britain On Film, which opened on 7 July at BFI Southbank, is a major project from the BFI National Archive, regional and national archives, along with rights holders from across the UK. The project reveals new, and never before seen footage of our lives throughout the history of film.

The project tells the evolving story of change across the UK: with a solid mix of home movies, early actuality film and classic television dramas. Many of the titles included in the project are not available on DVD. God’s Own County: Yorkshire on Screen presents films describing a landscape of industrial powerhouses, harsh isolation and natural beauty. These collections will be available at nationwide “mediatheques”, which are bookable pods that allow users to enter the BFI Player and access the collections.

With showings at the BFI Southbank and at the 9 Mediatheques across the UK, it will be the first time that many of these films will have been shown. The BFI National Archive will also open up much of the archive to online access through the BFI Player; so that these overlooked and unknown works of videography can be accessed by viewers alongside interactive information.

The work that is shown this summer will be a glimpse into the rest of the archive, with more work being digitised and released to the public, the future looks exciting for Britain On Film.

Curated by the BFI and partner archives Britain On Film has been funded by BFI Unlocking Film Heritage, National Lottery Fund and supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Britain On Film, now showing, Nationwide and at BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, London. For more information visit

Find your nearest mediatheques here.

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1. Pool of London. From Britain on Film available at BFI Player.