From the dark satanic gasometers of King’s Cross in the Ladykillers to Beckton’s transmutation into Vietnam for Full Metal Jacket, London has long played a pivotal part in the story of cinema. *Gravelly voice* This summer the BFI celebrates that legacy with an epic season it's calling London On Film.
There’ll be over 200 films from the last 120 years spread across four months from 1 July to 9 October. As well as popular London classics there’ll be documentaries, archive footage and amateur home movies plus new discoveries, some of which have not been screened since they were first filmed.
The season is divided into three parts so it’s easier to get your head around. First up in July, it’s The Changing Face Of London, with a range of films showing how our urban fabric has inspired and shaped the films made here. Then in August, the focus switches to the citizens themselves with the Londoners strand. And finally, in September we'll get The City Reimagined, which explores how the capital has been used as a creative springboard by directors and designers.
Highlights we’re especially looking forward to include a new print of 1980’s The Long Good Friday with Helen Mirren getting right up Bob Hoskins nose, which acts as the season's curtain-raiser. Then there’s the stark and strange wrestling-themed noir Night and the City directed by Jules Dassin in 1950. Transport nerds will lap up Anthony Asquith’s silent thriller Underground, which captures the city’s tube network as it was back in the 1920s. As does the Boy Who Turned Yellow from 1972, which we haven't seen yet, but really want to now we've looked at this stunning clip:
Special events include the Soho Weekender on 24-26 July which brings together films from the glory days of the red light district turned film hub turned gay Mecca. And after the screening of films like West End Jungle (which was banned in the 60s) and Miracle In Soho, there’ll be a discussion about the area which, considering recent changes, promises to be lively. There’ll be similar Weekenders centring on films made in the East End and South Bank too.
Talks include Alan Parker on his puppy love story S.W.A.L.K. and James Fox on his unlikely role as a gangster opposite Mick Jagger in Performance. There’s also live music from Saint Etienne at a screening of How We Used To Live, the film they made with director Paul Kelly using archive material.
The full line-up for July will go up on the BFI website in the next few days with tickets going on sale on 2 June for BFI members and 9 June for the general public. The August and September line-ups will be announced later.