The partial relaxation of lockdown rules and regulations on Monday 17th May could not come soon enough for most of the UK population. From the thousands crowding the airports to escape to sunnier pastures to those like myself being able to enjoy a meal in a restaurant in relative comfort, as opposed to freezing outside in an anorak.
Alongside the joyous relief of cinema, theatre and sporting arena’s the euphoria was expressed by the CEO at BFI, Ben Roberts when he said ‘Well, this is a message I’ve been looking forward to writing for months – Today our BFI Southbank home opens its doors once again. We are so excited to welcome you back’.
I personally consider the BFI as an integral part of our National Heritage. I joined when I was about 16 years of age – I will skip how many years that’s was – but in my years as a member it has always provided me with a stream of marvelous and fabulous films – some of which if it was not for the BFI would be forgotten masterpieces.
During Covid, the guys and dolls at BFI have not been idle. They have moved entire seasons to BFI Player, introduced BFI at Home events, run a virtual London Film Festival and two BFI Flare festivals which has resulted in them reaching out to more people than ever across the UK. And, just to enhance that wonderful cinema experience, they have upgraded the sound system and installed a new laser projector. Watching films that you stream at home might be convenient and comfortable but the experience cannot equate with the thrill of walking through the doors on the South Bank and soaking up the atmosphere and sitting alongside other true film buffs
As ever there are some great films coming up. Some of which catch my eye are The Warriors – directed by Walter Hill, if you have not heard of this movie – check it out. They are showing Black Narcissus which seems to grow and grow in stature alongside all the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. If push comes to shove and I had only one choice I would go for Buster Keaton’s The General, delightful.
I am delighted that the BFI has kept its head above water during these recent difficult times, in fact it offers much more than just a venue to watch films, it supports and nurtures talent and projects in the UK. It is an integral part of our great and ever more successful Film and TV Sector.