The programme for April 2023 at BFI Southbank begins with Northern Voices, a season dedicated to exploring the northern talent and creativity that has driven distinctive storytelling across both film and television, as well as the major contribution the North has made to our national culture.
Working closely with partners HOME in Manchester and Film Hub North, this season will also feature screenings and events at HOME in Manchester and in Leeds, with further screenings expected to follow in the spring at cinemas across the North.
The season at BFI Southbank will include special events including Alan Bennett in Conversation on 17 April and the Northern Voices Forum on 23 April with special guests to be announced soon. The season will interrogate the myths about northern culture and look towards current representations of its many distinct districts. Above all, Northern Voices will celebrate the richness and quality of the work, past and present, from Colin Welland, Keith Waterhouse and Andrea Dunbar to Elaine Constantine, Jimmy McGovern, Terence Davies and many more.
There will also be a month-long season, Outsiders and Exiles: The Films of Jerzy Skolimowski, offering a rare opportunity to see the work of one of the world’s most remarkable filmmakers, whose latest film, the Academy Award nominated EO (2022), is in cinemas UK -wide now, courtesy of BFI distribution. The season, which is presented as part of the Kinoteka Polish Film Festival, will include a special event, In Conversation with Jerzy Skolimowski, on 28 March, allowing audiences to hear about what drives his creative passion and the working process that has resulted in his great international success.
Defying neat categorisation, Skolimowski has created a dynamic, provocative and acclaimed body of work that audiences will be able to discover on the big screen at BFI Southbank, while selected titles will also be released on BFI Player and on BFI Blu-ray, including feature debut Identification Marks: None (1964) and the film that sent its director into a lengthy exile, Hands Up! (1967/1981).
Completing the line-up of seasons in April will be a month of screenings dedicated to one of the biggest stars of Hollywood’s golden age, Ginger Rogers, including a BFI re-release of the sublime Top Hat (Mark Sandrich, 1935), which returns to selected cinemas UK -wide from 7 April. Like her fellow wise-cracking trailblazer Lucille Ball, Ginger Rogers learned her craft in a string of early shorts and B-movies, and wasn’t afraid of hard work or appearing unglamorous. Although she became a star through her celebrated dance partnership with Fred Astaire, no other woman in Hollywood moved between musical comedy, straight comedy and dramatic roles with such ease, or played each so convincingly.
Films screening in the season that demonstrate her remarkable range and talent will include 42nd Street (Lloyd Bacon, 1933), Vivacious Lady (George Stevens, 1938), Kitty Foyle (Sam Wood, 1940), Roxie Hart (William A. Wellman, 1942), The Barkleys of Broadway (Charles Walters, 1949), Monkey Business (Howard Hawks, 1952) and many more.
Highlights of the events programme at BFI Southbank will include a BFI Flipside UHD /Blu-ray launch for the new 4K restoration release of Full Circle: The Haunting of Julia (1978) followed by a Q&A with director Richard Loncraine and film historian Simon Fitzjohn on 19 April. Starring Mia Farrow and Keir Dullea, this is a rarely seen eerie cult chiller about a bereaved mother who flees her controlling husband, only to be haunted by apparitions of a ghostly child.
Also screening on 24 April will be Ridley Scott’s visually ravishing debut feature The Duellists (1977), starring Keith Carradine, Harvey Keitel, Albert Finney and Edward Fox. Scott’s film was adapted from a story by Joseph Conrad and features an early score by Howard Blake, who will take part in a Q&A following the screening on 24 April.
Screening on 13 April for only the second time since it was made, Storm Damage ( BBC , 2000) is an emotionally powerful and complex portrayal of the experiences of young people living within a care home in Brixton’s Angel Town, written by actor-screenwriter Lennie James. Adrian Lester plays an idealistic teacher-turned-care worker whose major challenge lies in turning the home’s primary delinquent, played by Ashley Walters, away from the negative and potentially fatal influence of a local gangster.
Achieving a cult status this very rare screening will hopefully help to rehabilitate this important film’s place in the history of Black culture on TV and will be followed by a panel discussion with Ashley Walters and Adrian Lester. Programmed in association with Dr Clive Chijioke Nwonka, associate professor of film, culture and society UCL , the film has also been made available for further screenings at Glasgow Film Theatre (15 April), Exeter Phoenix (19 April), Watershed Bristol (20 April) and HOME Manchester (26 April).
Now in its fourth year, Queer East will return to cinema screens across the capital in 2023 with another exciting line-up which mixes contemporary film with retrospective screenings that explore a diverse range of topical LGBTQ + issues through an incredible programme of cinema. Kicking off with an opening gala at BFI Southbank on 18 April and running until 30 April in London, Queer East will present a wide and varied programme of features, documentary, short film and artist’s moving image work, plus a VR cinematic experience, incorporating work from 18 countries across East and Southeast Asia and beyond, all of which showcase boundary-pushing queer cinema and art. The full programme will be announced soon.
On 27 April there will be a special screening of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s caustic satire of the Catholic church and the Italian bourgeoisie, Theorem (1968). Filmmaker and artist Bruce LaBruce has reimagined Theorem for his latest project, a photoshoot and exhibition for Doesn’t Exist magazine and a/political. Following the screening, LaBruce will share his creation with the audience and reveal how he concocted his 21st century vision of the 1968 classic.
Mark Kermode, one of the nation’s most respected film critics, also returns with regular event Mark Kermode Live in 3D at the BFI on 3 April. Joined by surprise industry guests, Kermode explores, critiques and dissects new and upcoming releases, film news, cinematic treasures and guilty pleasures.
New releases screening on extended run at BFI Southbank in April will include the BFI distribution release of the gripping and atmospheric Irish psychological drama God’s Creatures (Saela Davis, Anna Rose Holmer, 2022), which opens in cinemas UK -wide from 31 March. In a windswept fishing town on the Irish coast, factory worker Aileen’s (Emily Watson) days are brightened when, out of the blue, her prodigal son, played by Paul Mescal (who recently scored his first Academy Award nomination for his starring role in Aftersun), returns home after seven long years living abroad. However, her joy is cut short when one of her co-workers accuses him of sexual assault, creating divisions in the town’s close-knit community and within Aileen herself.
Also screening will be Sick of Myself (Kristoffer Borgli, 2022), a riotous dark comedy that takes gleeful aim at the art world, influencer culture and modern narcissism; and Rye Lane (Raine Allen-Miller, 2022) a hilarious feel-good comedy and irresistible love letter to south London about a chance meeting between Dom, who is coping with a particularly brutal breakup and Yas, a free-spirited, wannabe costume designer.
At BFI IMAX , new releases getting the big screen treatment in April will be Dungeons And Dragons: Honour Among Thieves (John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein, 2023) with an all-star cast including Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez and Regé-Jean Page as a band of unlikely adventurers who undertake an epic heist to retrieve a lost relic. Also screening will be Suzume (2022), the latest astonishing adventure from director Makoto Shinkai (Your Name, Weathering With You). As the skies turn red and the earth trembles, Japan stands on the brink of disaster. But one determined teenager, Suzume, sets out on a mission to save her country.
As well as the BFI re-release of Top Hat as part of the Ginger Rogers season, re-releases in April will include an extended run, from 14 April, of Martin Scorsese’s scorching critique of toxic masculinity Raging Bull (1980) and a pair of films by Isaac Julien re-released by the BFI to coincide with a major new retrospective dedicated to the artist and filmmaker taking place at Tate Britain.
In Young Soul Rebels (1991), which has been remastered by the BFI in 4K and will also be released on BFI Blu-ray, pirate radio hosts Caz and Chris decide to investigate the death of their friend, who was killed while cruising in a local park. With characters and soundtracks oscillating between 70s soul pirate radio, dancehall culture, National Front skirmishes and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, Isaac Julien’s debut feature exploring contemporary British identity has lost none of its power or resonance.
The Passion of Remembrance (1986), co-directed alongside Maureen Blackwood, follows the Baptiste family, who are caught in intergenerational debates reflecting black viewpoints on life in Britain; vividly remastered by the BFI National Archive in 4K and revived at last year’s BFI London Film Festival, it is a riveting allegory that foreshadowed contemporary debates about intersectionality.
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