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BFI To Open Refreshed Film Centre On South Bank

The BFI has announced that it will open the doors to its revitalised centre on the South Bank on February 1 2007.
The building will, for the first time, enable the BFI to present audiences with a full view of its activities, in a programme that fuses classic with contemporary, avant garde with traditional and world cinema with that more closer to home.
The refurbished spaces will in effect become the ‘front door’ to all the BFI’s work and when the building reopens it will be known simply as BFI Southbank. In addition to the current three cinema spaces, visitors will soon be treated to a number of exciting, new features and opportunities to engage with film:
  • BFI Mediatheque –14 state of the art viewing stations where visitors will be able to access from hundreds of hours of film and television from the BFI National Archive. Designed by David Adjaye, one of Britain’s most exciting architects
  • Gallery - 160 m2 double height space which will present screen-based works by leading UK and international contemporary artists who work with film, video and new technologies
  • Studio Cinema – drop in showcase cinema space showcasing archive and contemporary film, video and television material, as well as hosting talks, presentations and educational events
  • Project space – casual research, study and participation area equipped with a number of unique resources, largely drawn from the BFI’s collections. A series of innovative education projects will be on offer, engaging local film-makers and young people
  • Filmstore - A shop stocked and staffed by BFI experts, offering an extensive range of film and television books and DVDs.
Visitors will be able to relax in an additional, comfortable bar and café area equipped with Wi-Fi access and a new central point for box office, information and membership services will be located in the new foyer.
Access to the building will change from February 1 with visitors approaching via a new ‘lightbox’ entrance in Theatre Avenue (opposite the National Theatre).
Amanda Nevill, Director of the BFI commented: “The BFI has been an integral part of South Bank culture since 1951. BFI Southbank is the spark to ignite the imagination of visitors and film-makers through the full possibilities that a future landmark film centre could offer.”
Eddie Berg, Artistic Director, BFI Southbank commented: “When the National Film Theatre opened back in the early 1950s no one could have imagined the range of new and emerging technologies, or of the sheer scope of work that would emerge from film-makers, artists working in film, musicians, VJ’s and DIY producers. We plan to build on the traditions and histories of the BFI while engaging with new technologies and aesthetics as they unfold. BFI Southbank aims to reflect all of these developing influences on the cinematic form and experience. We want to help establish new agendas for the future.”
The opening programme in the Mediatheque includes a themed selection of shorts, features and documentaries from the BFI National Archive under the titles ‘London Calling’, ‘Essentially British’ and ‘Play for Today’. London Calling explores the capital’s past and present in what is the most extensive exhibition of film and television programming dedicated to the city and its way of life ever mounted.
The BFI is in advanced discussions with a range of national partners, including Quad in Derby, to establish further Mediatheques across the UK, thereby extending the reach of the BFI National Archive and providing a new context for showcasing regional archives.
A centrepiece of the screening programme when BFI Southbank opens will be a special run of Terence Davies’ 1988 masterpiece Distant Voices, Still Lives, including an onstage interview with the director himself. The film will also be distributed by the BFI to be shown at venues around the UK.
Also featured in the launch programme will be a season of 50 films that have inspired generations of film enthusiasts. The films, selected by programmers and curators across the BFI, comprise an unusually eclectic range of cinematic masterpieces greats and include features, shorts, documentaries, animation and experimental works. Full details will be announced in December 2006.

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