50+ titles coming to BFI Player as BFI launches new sci-fi season
James R | On 17, Jul 2014
Over 50 titles will be added to the BFI Player later this year as part of the BFI’s new sci-fi season.
Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder is a three-month programme that will run from 20th October to 31st December. The season will see sci-fi – particularly British sci-fi – celebrated from big screen and the small screen, with screenings ranging from Primer (with a Q&A with Shane Carruth) and The Quatermass Experiemtn to Blake’s Seven and Flash Gordon. There will also be a premiere of the eighth season of Doctor Who. Deep Breath, a feature-length episode directed by Ben Wheatley, will preview on 7th August with a cast and crew Q&A.
Heather Stewart, Creative Director of the BFI, comments: “Sci-Fi has come to define the cinematic experience for audiences everywhere. We will celebrate the originality, the craftsmanship and the vision behind some of the most important film and television ever made.”
While this is all exciting in itself, the problem with BFI seasons is that it can sometimes feel rather London-centric. The British Film Institute, though, is taking big steps to avoid that this autumn. Embracing sci-fi’s reach to “audiences everywhere”, there will be over 1,000 screenings of classic films and TV shows at over 200 locations in the UK. That includes a BFI Sci-Fi Weekend at The British Museum plus events at Bletchley Park, the Eden Project and Jodrell Bank Observatory.
Cinemas will see re-releases of Stanley Kubrick’s 2011: A Space Oddysey from 28th November and Ridley Scott’s Director’s Cut of Blade Runner in early 2015, while Tomorrow’s Worlds, a four-part series in which historian Dominic Sandbrook explores science fiction in its many forms, will be transmitted on BBC Two.
A big part of BFI’s expansion plans, though, is digital video. Enter the BFI Player, which launched last year at the London Film Festival.
Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin is already available now ahead of the season, but more than 50 titles will be available to rent online from October to complement the BFI Southbank season and nationwide screenings.
Leading the digital pack is The Day The Earth Caught Fire, which will be available on BFI Player on Thursday 28 August – the same day as its screening at the British Museum.
The BFI Restoration of Val Guest’s classic sees life in a busy newspaper office turned upside down when escalating global freak weather conditions lead to the discovery that nuclear testing has knocked the Earth off its axis.
Free to view on BFI Player will also be the visionary silent short The Fugitive Futurist (Gaston Quiribet, 1924) which imagines how London will look in the future, now with a new score composed and performed by Drake Music, pioneers in the use of assistive technology for musicians with disabilities.
The BFI has also stepped up its Mediatheque presence across the country – a viewing station is even present in Birmingham’s recently opened central library. BFI Mediatheques around the UK will offer an extensive new streaming collection celebrating British TV’s contribution to sci-fi from late October 2014, featuring over 40 titles dating back to the 1950s. These will include Peter Watkins’ legendary docu-drama, The War Game (1965). rarely seen 1973 TV play A.D.A.M. and an episode of cult 1986 BBC children’s game show, The Adventure Game.
“Its calling card is visual spectacle, but at
its heart Sci-Fi is the genre for big ideas, revealing our hopes and fears for tomorrow’s world,” continues Stewart. “We have only glimpsed its full potential.”
You get the feeling that the BFI could easily be saying the same for its digital arm too.