Tag Archives: film club

A New Wave of Booking Scheme Titles

We’re very excited to now have 18 new titles available to book now on the Booking Scheme from our new partnership with New Wave Films! We’ll also be adding two more from them in the coming months, An Episode in the Life of an Iron picker will be available to book from the 14 July and When I Saw You (which we will be showing at the Booking Scheme Preview Day) will be available to book from the 25 August.
The collection includes a varied collection of some of the most highly regarded world cinema of recent years.

Here’s a quick round-up of what’s on offer:

5 Broken Cameras | Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi | Pal, Isr, Fra, Net | 2011 | 94 mins
Available now

Winning the Audience Award at Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2012 and nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2013, 5 Broken Cameras follows a Palestinian farmer, Emad Burnat, and his non-violent resistance in the face of the Israeli army. Using footage collected over 5 years and 5 different cameras, 5 Broken Cameras documents first-hand the violence and intimidation witnessed against people living near the barrier.

A Christmas Tale | Arnaud Desplechin | France | 2008 | 150 mins
Available now

Junon, the matriarch of a bitter, feuding family learns she needs an urgent bone transplant and so, over Christmas, brings the family together. Amidst tensions involving mental illness, loss and banishment, the Vuillard family learn of Junon’s illness, but the decision about who will donate, and whether to go ahead with the operation, sparks bitter rivalries, arguments and tremendous fallings out. Cannes favourite Arnaud Desplechin, directs Catherine Deneuve and Mathieu Almaric in this dark comedy. The question really is, who will give their mother the greatest gift this Noel?

An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker | Danis Tanovic | Bosnia & Herzegovnia, France, Slovenia | 2013 | 75 mins
Available 25 August

A poor Roma family faces further troubles when the mother Seneda is told she needs an urgent operation after a miscarriage but they lack medical insurance and can’t afford the hospital bills. Tanovic makes use of non-professional actors who are playing out an episode from their own lives.

Caesar Must Die | Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani | Italy | 2012 | 76 mins
Available now
The latest film from the Taviani brothers, who have been making films for over 60 years, Caesar Must Die picked up the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2012. The film tells the story of preparations for a performance of Julius Caesar inside a high security male prison. As Shakespeare’s play is recreated on the stage, it is also given life in the experiences and memories of the prisoners.

Elena | Andrey Zyvagintsev | Russia | 2011 | 109 mins
Available now
Elena is the dutiful housewife of Vladimir. Elena and Vladimir met later in life and both have children from previous marriages. They come from drastically different backgrounds and Elena’s marriage has brought her financial security. When Vladimir has a sudden heart attack he finds himself reunited with his estranged daughter and, in a surprise move, rewrites his will to give everything to her. Elena starts to panic for her part in the will which she has been counting on to ensure she can support her unemployed son, whom Vladimir hates. Winning the 2011 award for Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival, Elena is a daring film about familial ties.

How I Ended This Summer | Aleksey Popogrebskiy | Russia | 2010 | 130 mins
Available now

Existential thriller How I Ended This Summer won the BFI Film Festival Film of the Year Award in 2010. Recent graduate Pavel and seasoned meteorologist Sergei have to work at a polar station on a desolate and deserted island in the Arctic Ocean along together for several months. Almost abandoned on this remote outpost, with failing equipment and an unclear purpose paranoia and suspicion mounts, and the two start to hold important information back from each other.

In The Fog | Sergey Loznitsa | Bel, Lat, Rus, Ger, Net | 2012 | 127 mins
Available now
At the Western Frontiers of the USSR in 1942, the region is under German occupation. Sushenya, a rail worker, is arrested with a group of suspected saboteurs and is the only one that is spared from hanging. His survival draws suspicion from the resistance fighters who believe he is a traitor and plot revenge. In the continual unexpected twist of events Sushenya is forced to make a moral choice under immoral circumstances.

Le Quattro Volte | Michelangelo Frammartino | Ita, Ger, Swi | 2010 | 88 mins
Available now

Le Quattro Volte quietly tells the story of the last days of an old shepherd who lives with his goats in a medieval village in the beautiful south of Italy. The passing of time and life is told through beautiful imagery and wavering between drama and comedy.

Like Someone in Love | Abbas Kiarostami | Fra, Jap | 2012 | 109 mins
Available now
Only Kiarostami’s second film to be made outside Iran, Like Someone in Love is set in Tokyo and concerns the relationship between an elderly professor and a young prostitute over the course of a day. Though he has hired her Takeshi has no interest in sleeping with Akiko but solely in having some company. Nevertheless Akiko’s jealous boyfriend is determined to confront Takeshi.

The Missing Picture | Rithy Panh | Cambodia, France | 2013 | 92 mins
Available now
This Oscar nominated documentary explores the director’s experiences of life under the Khmer Rouge. Mixing archive footage with hand-made clay figures to recreate scenes never filmed or footage since lost, this is a deeply personal and affecting portrait of life under dictatorship.

Nostalgia for the Light | Patricio Guzmán | Chile | 2010 | 157 mins
Available now

The Atacama Desert in Chile sees two distinct groups of people searching; one is a group of astronauts looking for answers in the cosmos, the other is a group of mothers, survivors of Pinochet’s dictatorship, searching for the bodies of their loved ones who may or may not have been buried in the desert. A stunning documentary, full of hallucinatory images and rare insight.

Once Upon A Time In Anatolia | Nuri Bilge Ceylan | Turkey, Bosnia & Herzegovnia | 2011 | 157 mins
Available now
Over the course of one long night a convoy of policeman, a medical examiner and the state prosecutor escort two prisoners over the Anatolian steppes. The prisoners have confessed to murder but are reticent about giving away the location of the body. It is not clear if they are simply forgetful, lost or trying to buy themselves times. As the night wears on the mystery deepens but Ceylan’s focus is on the effects of the crime on those who surround it than with the crime itself. A masterful, entrancing film.

Silence | Pat Collins | Ireland, Germany | 2012 | 87 mins
Available now
Eoghan is a sound recordist who is tasked with recording background noise devoid of any man-made sounds. To do so he returns to rural Ireland where he grows up and travels around the countryside. Along the way he encounters others and is drawn into considering his own past: why he left and what he left behind.

Sleep Furiously | Gideon Koppel | UK | 2008 | 94 mins
Available now

Koppel’s documentary is a loving study of the small town in Ceredigion where he grew up – and where his parents found refuge from the Nazi’s in World War 2. The town is in slow decline and the instigator for the film is the closing of the local school – but Koppel finds many in the town who are still determined to revive the local economy and to preserve their hometown.

Still Walking | Hirokazu Koreeda | Japan | 2008 | 115 mins
Available now
The Yokoyama family reunite at their parents home to commemorate the tragic death of the eldest son. Though the house has stayed the same since the family left home each member of the family has subtly changed. Set over the course of a single day Still Walking is a perfectly performed drama and possibly the best example of Koreeda’s remarkable ability to evoke a powerful and thought-provoking emotional reaction.

Tabu | Miguel Gomes | Portugal, Germany, Brazil, France | 2012 | 118 mins
Available now
A restless retired woman teams up with her deceased neighbor’s maid to seek out a man who has a secret connection to her past life as a farm owner at the foothill of Mount Tabu in Africa.

Uncle Bonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives | Apichatpong Weeasethakul | Thailand, France, UK, Germany | 2010 |  114 mins
Available now

As he lies dying on his deathbed Uncle Bonmee relates the story of his many past lives to his loved ones. In his last days he is cared for by the ghost of his wife. A strange, wonderful and entirely original film Uncle Bonmee was the recepient of the Palme D’Or in 2010.

Unrelated | Joanna Hogg | UK | 2007 | 100 mins
Available now
Unhappily married Anna escapes on holiday with her friends, Verena and George to Tuscany. Once in Tuscany Anna chooses instead to spend most of her time with Verena and George’s teenage children. Though initially welcoming the children turn against her after a chance accident. Hogg is justly celebrated for her razor sharp depictions of the middle classes and her talents are perfectly formed in this debut feature.

The Wall | Julian Pölsler | Austria, Germany | 2012 | 108 mins
Available now
A woman is staying in a cabin in the woods with two friends. When they fail to return from a trip to town she sets out to find out where they are. Near the cabin she is stopped by an invisible wall and soon discovers she is trapped alone in the outdoors. With only her dog for company the woman must learn to fend for herself. An adaptation of Marlen Haushofer’s seminal novel.

When I Saw You | Annemarie Jacir | Palestine, Jordan, Greece, UAE | 2012 | 98 mins
Available 25 August 2014
Set in 1967 in the refugee camps in Jordan, Tarek, 11, is one of many Palestinians who have fled across the border to escape the fighting. Tarek struggles to adapt to life in the camp and longs for a way out – and to search for his father. His curiosity leads him to a group of people who are refusing to give up hope of returning home and with them Tarek finds a new purpose. An optimistic and tender coming of age story, When I Saw You has drawn rave reviews and is sure to be a hit with community cinema audiences.

Book a film.

Epic of Everest exclusive interview!

You don’t have to be an expert on mountaineering to know that Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary were the first men to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain sixty years ago; it’s one of those amazing human achievements, like the moon landing, that everyone remembers. Since 1953 many others have succeeded in climbing the peak, including both Norgay’s and Hillary’s sons (Peter Hillary climbed Everest in 1990, Jamling Tenzing Norgay followed in his father’s footsteps in 1996). However the 1953 expedition certainly wasn’t the first time mountaineers had attempted to reach the summit, British mountaineers had been attempting the climb for 40 years before Hillary and Norgay’s success. In 1922 the very first British Mount Everest expedition attempted the ascent following a reconnaissance mission the preceding year (when British mountaineer George Mallory became the first European to set foot on Mount Everest’s slopes). Two years later a second British expedition was launched to attempt the first complete ascent, with tragic consequences.

The first two summit attempts in 1924, though unsuccessful, resulted in a world altitude record of 8,570 metres for British army officer Edward Norton. On a third attempt to reach the summit, mountaineers George Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine disappeared on the North-East ridge and the expedition was subsequently abandoned. Mallory and Irvine were last seen about 800 vertical feet (245m) from the summit, giving rise to the question: did they ever reach it? Mallory’s body was found in 1999, Irvine’s body, along with their camera, remains undiscovered.What is quite extraordinary is that this expedition was filmed, shot by mountaineer and filmmaker John Noel, who had fallen in love with mountains during his childhood in Switzerland. The original footage of this incredible, tragic story, one of the first ever films showing life in Tibet, has now been given a complete restoration by the BFI and features a specially commissioned score by Simon Fisher Turner, who also composed the distinctive soundtrack for The Great White Silence (1924).

The Epic of Everest, featuring three special introductions, will be available to BFFS members and associates to book from the BFI on DVD or Blu-ray at the special rate of £65 + VAT from the 1st January. To qualify for the offer bookings will need to be made by the end of March, though the screening can take place after that time! The BFI have also kindly allowed BFFS members and associates access to special marketing and educational resources including poster artwork, a selection of stills and programme notes. For further information on these, as well as your Member Offer code, please email rich.bffs@gmail.com

To book the film, please email bookings.films@bfi.org.uk or phone 020 7957 8935 with your Member Offer code.

In celebration of the release of The Epic of Everest and our special Member Offer, BFFS Managing Director Deborah Parker spoke to the director of the Kendal Mountain Festival, the UK’s biggest celebration of mountain film, about the significance of both the climb and the film.

Robin, what is it about mountains that fuels this desire to explore and conquer?

The attraction to mountains and mountaineering is, I suspect, quite a personal thing.

For me it’s very much about their stark, clean beauty; a place which in its best light, is beyond the mundane, an environment with an otherworldly feel with an almost spiritual context. And it’s certainly about being able to explore them, to see something new and to gain an understanding of a fascinating topography.

Conquest has no place (for me at least) in mountaineering. Yes, there is a degree of competition, but that is with oneself, trying to stretch yourself, to realise your athletic and intellectual potential. I’ve never felt a sense of conquest on a mountain, rather that I’ve been fortunate to get to a summit and just hope that my luck holds, so I can enjoy a beer at the bottom.

What impact did the 1924 expedition have on mountaineering?

Well it set back mountaineering on Everest for a decade.

I’m afraid some expedition members offended the Tibetan government by removing geological samples and by taking back a troupe of Tibetan dancers to perform in London. As a result no further attempts were allowed till 1933 after ‘political bridges’ were re-built.


The big focus from 1924 was obviously the loss of Mallory and Irvine and the way this was mythologised by Post WW1 Britain – and the ongoing obsession with whether, or not they reached the summit. Their loss cemented the view that Everest was very much a British – and Imperial – project set in a heroic mould. This would have a major effect on events around the mountain in the 1950s and the first ascent.

However, Mallory and Irvine’s demise did greatly detract from Edward Norton’s amazing attempt – when he set a height record which would last until the Swiss attempt on Everest’s South East Ridge in 1952. It’s interesting that none of the arguably better informed and equipped expeditions in the 1930s bettered his record. It’s a shame he isn’t more widely recognised.

The element of national prestige associated with Everest and Britain did accelerate the interest of other nations in the highest Himalayan mountains (what we’d now call the 8000m peaks), most notably the German connection with Nanga Parbat, the French with Annapurna, and the US and Italians with K2. Although this would take a number of years to fully emerge.

In a wider mountaineering context, Everest was often seen as a bit of a distraction – even a nuisance – by other mountaineers. Yes there was the undoubted appeal of climbing the world’s highest summit, but high-altitude mountaineering really doesn’t reflect the sporting joy of simpler climbing on lower peaks. This frustration was undoubtedly felt by Eric Shipton – who while well known for his Everest expeditions in the 1930s preferred low key trips such as his exploration of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary.

All the blame for the fact British alpinists lost the pre-eminence they’d enjoyed before WWI shouldn’t be attributed to our focus on Everest, but it was certainly a major factor.

It is thought that Mallory and Irvine may have reached the summit – what are your thoughts?


Possible, but highly improbable.

It remains a hotly debated topic and there’s a lot nonsense brought into the debate, but for me the key reason why they couldn’t have reached the summit is that they simply wouldn’t have had enough to drink.

The whole science around acclimatisation was only just emerging in 1924. Yes, they thought supplementary oxygen may be needed (it wasn’t as Everest has been climbed without it) and their clothing systems were remarkably efficient, but the key element, which only emerged after WWII (largely due to the research of Griffith Pugh) was the need for proper hydration. In 1953 every climber drank at least 5 litres of fluid a day. A simple statement, but one that belies the massive logistic support in getting stoves and fuel to the upper camps to melt enough snow and ice for water.

In 1924 they neither understood the critical need for full hydration, nor did they have the logistics in place to deliver it.

Throw in the other factors such as the technical difficulty of either the Second Step or the Norton Couloir (and we don’t know which of these approaches on the North East Ridge they opted for), the time of day they were last seen and the inability of their oxygen system to deliver a net physiological benefit and you can only conclude that they didn’t reach the summit.

What were the challenges of shooting at this altitude in 1924?

Considerable – even today.

The principal problem is the weight and bulk of the camera – just carrying it, never mind operating it at high altitude is an incredible challenge. Then there’s the cold, with its effect on film (it becomes brittle at low temperature) on the gearing of the drives, never mind the risk to the cameraman. Filming on Everest was and is a hugely difficult and dangerous thing to do.


John Noel didn’t film that high on Everest – but was filming higher than the summit of Mont Blanc – but he was still working in a very demanding environment. He was a remarkable man, who thought through the challenges involved and was well prepared. He adapted cameras and techniques based on the experience of Herbert Ponting (Scott’s cameraman in the Antarctic) and even brought in a ‘dark tent’ to develop the film rushes in the field.

It is only recently that footage has been secured from high on Everest – and certainly lightweight digital cameras now make it commonplace – and interestingly in 1953 moving footage wasn’t secured above the South Col.

Can you tell us about any other early mountain films?

John Noel had made and released a film of the 1922 expedition. The expeditions from the 1930s did film, but the results were not released to commercial cinemas or even, as far as I know, edited. Tom Stobart’s film of the 1953 expedition – The Conquest of Everest – was a considerable critical and commercial success and in many ways defined the genre of expedition documentary.

The first Mountain Film was made about Mont Blanc in 1905, but the filmmaker who really popularised Mountain – more accurately Berg Film, was the German filmmaker Arnold Fank.

How does John Noel’s film compare to the mountain films of today?

It stands up very well.

The BFI have done a great job with the restoration and it’s a joy to watch. While the film quality obviously can’t compare with modern material, it’s still of a high standard.

Epic_blue_iceBut for me the actual quality of the image is irrelevant, it’s about telling the story of the expedition and its climb – and in this it succeeds.

I’m a mountaineer, so I obviously have an interest in the subject, but in truth I thought the film would drag, so I went along to the premiere as much for the event and the drinks party afterwards. I couldn’t however, have been more engaged and the 80 minutes just flew by. Interestingly the person I’d gone with – she isn’t a mountaineer – thoroughly enjoyed it too!

Why do you think film societies and community cinemas should include Epic of Everest in their programme?

It’s an outstanding piece of filmmaking. It shows the mountain in a stunning way and it tells the story of what is probably the best known climb in history in an extremely watchable way.

It’s also a real piece of social history – which takes you back in a very immediate way.

Who are the mountain filmmakers of today that we should look out for?

Over the past 40 years – Leo Dickinson. Of the current crop in the UK, Alastair Lee and Paul Diffley, and the most outstanding adventure filmmaker worldwide is undoubtedly Anson Fogel.

About Robin

Robin Ashcroft
Robin Ashcroft is an experienced mountaineer; he has climbed extensively in the Alps, the Canadian Rockies, the Caucasus, Greenland and Antarctica. He is also a Director of Kendal Mountain Festival and has played a key role in establishing it as the world’s premier mountain film festival.
His interest in mountain film dates back to the 1980s when he worked with 16mm film and a windup Bolex camera to record an army expedition to Greenland. He is Vice President of the International Alliance of Mountain Film, has written two books and was producer of the BBC Radio Four Archive Hour Programme – Britain’s on Top of The World.
As Director of Britain’s first mountaineering museum he wrote and curated the award winning exhibition, Everest; The Top of the World, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the world’s highest mountain. He sits on the Council of the Royal Geographical Society and is a member of The Alpine Club.

Just in: The Comedian

Marking director Tom Shkolnik’s debut feature film, The Comedian centres on Ed, a call centre worker who part-times as a late night stand up in East London bars and shares an intimate friendship with flatmate, Elisa. When he meets a young artist, Nathan, they immediately start a passionate affair which threatens Ed’s relationship with Elisa. Continue reading

Alois Nebel

Forest Row Film Society Picks

In this post, Brad Scott from Forest Row Film Society in East Sussex, takes a look at five Booking Scheme titles.

Being Elmo

Being Elmo

Growing up in Baltimore in the 70s, Kevin Clash adored making puppets and giving shows locally. Picked up first by a local TV station, he later started working for the Jim Henson troupe, eventually becoming the creator of the character of Elmo on Sesame Street. This documentary is a delightful and uplifting account of one person following their passion, and will appeal to anyone who has loved the Muppets, Big Bird, Cookie Monster and any of the Henson creations. It’s not a film for very small children, since it has too many talking heads (not the rubber ones), but probably anyone over about twelve who has seen Sesame Street or is interested in how the shows are created will love this film. I thought it was fabulous.


About to start her retreat before taking her vows, Avril is a novice who has lived her entire life in the convent. Discovering she has a brother, she goes off on a search to find him, making her much more aware about the world outside. This is a charming French drama which is very easy on the eye; a good part of it is set in the Camargue, with good performances from the young actors. Avril also features Miou-Miou as one of the nuns, and one could imagine this film working well within a French strand or weekend. It’s not at all challenging and a bit implausible, but pleasant enough and none the worse for that.

Fear and Trembling

After a childhood in Japan, Amélie (Sylvie Testud (Lourdes)) moves back to Tokyo and lands a job at a big corporation. Here she finds that corporate life has some unexpected dimensions. In this tale of a clash of cultures, director Alain Corneau (Tous les Matins du Monde) gives us a (very) gentle comedy of manners as Amélie gets a series of dead-end jobs. Sylvie Testud’s performance won her a César and Prix Lumière in 2004.

The Conformist

The Conformist

Still wonderful to look at, with its beautiful cinematography, visual design, jump cuts and light, Bertolucci’s unpicking of Italy’s Fascist past remains a transfixing film. Jean-Louis Trintignant plays Marcello Clerici, uneasy with his own identity, caught between political and sexual norms and expectations, and complicit in the murder of his old professor.

Alois Nebel

Absolutely entrancing and evocative black and white rotoscoped film set in the Czech woods and Prague from the end of the war until the election of Vaclav Havel. Alois Nebel works at the station on the border in the Sudetenland, and is haunted by the past. Winner of the European Film Academy Animated Feature Film award, and has just had a great review in Sight and Sound (May 2013).

Brad Scott

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I Wish

New title – I Wish available April 1st

BFFS are delighted to continue bringing film society and community cinema programmers access to the fantastic and varied catalogue of Arrow Films (The Hunt, Cinema Paradiso and many more…)

The latest addition is the heart warming Japanese film I Wish

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05jKUWmgBQM?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]

Twelve-year-old Koichi lives with his mother and retired grandparents in Kagoshima, in the southern region of Kyushu, Japan. His younger brother Ryunosuke lives with their father in Hakata, northern Kyushu. The brothers have been separated by their parents’ divorce and Koichi’s only wish is for his family to be reunited. When he learns that a new bullet train line will soon open, linking the two towns, he starts to believe that a miracle will take place the moment these new trains first pass each other at top speed. With help from the adults around him, Koichi sets out on a journey with a group of friends, each hoping to witness a miracle that will improve their difficult lives.

I Wish is the latest film from Hirokazu Kore-eda,  the director of Nobody Knows and Still Walking.

Read the five star review from The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw

Read and download the BFFS programme notes to accompany I Wish – feel free to hand these out to your audience

Book now to screen the film from April 1st.

New titles: classic Sherlock Holmes

Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes
Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes

We are very excited to be able bring a collection of classic Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes to the BFFS Booking Scheme.

This series produced in Hollywood between 1942 and 1946 feature the world’s favorite detective and his sidekick Dr Watson battle against villains in the form of Nazi’s, master criminals and insurance frauds.

Individual screenings will be charged at the usual flat fee rate of £85 but for the special offer price of £145 you can screen any two – either as a double bill or on different nights. If you would like to screen more than 2 of the films, please get in touch for more special rates.

Holmes and Watson join up with the wartime British Intelligence service to stop Nazi saboteurs whose activities are announced by the mysterious ‘Voice of Terror’.

Holmes pretends to be a Nazi spy to aid scientist Dr. Franz Tobel (William Post Jr.) and his new invention, a bombsight, in escaping a Gestapo trap in Switzerland.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17lS2k-KhLo?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]

After the king of Rovinia is found murdered, Holmes and Watson are hired to escort his son and heir, Prince Nikolas, home. A flight is arranged but the aircraft can only take Holmes and Nikolas so Watson is ordered to follow on a passenger ship. On the voyage Watson learns that the plane crashed, and fears the worst…

A British agent carrying a vital document is murdered on his way to deliver it in the USA. Holmes deduces how he was carrying the document and goes to Washington with Watson to find the killer and retrieve the file before it falls into the hands of an “international spy ring”

Dr. Watson is serving as resident doctor at Musgrave Hall, a stately home which is also used as a hospital for a number of servicemen suffering from shell shock. He enlists the help of Holmes after his assistant is attacked. Scotland Yard detective Lestrade also arrives after the first in a series of murders which seem to be tied up with an ancient and apparently meaningless family ritual.

Theatrical Poster for The Scarlet Claw

Holmes investigates a series of bizarre apparent suicides among wealthy gamblers that he believes are being committed by a woman as cunning and dangerous as Moriarty.

Lord Penrose requests Sherlock Holmes’ help when his wife is found murdered in the village of La Mort Rouge. Sherlock is further intrigued when he receives a telegram from Lady Penrose herself, sent shortly before her death, also asking for his help. The villagers believe she is a victim of a legendary monster but Sherlock suspects a human culprit. Regarded by many as the best of the fourteen Sherlock Holmes films made by Rathbone and Bruce.

The theft of a valuable pearl with a sinister history is linked by Sherlock to a series of apparently motiveless murders. The master criminal Giles Conover and ‘The Hoxton Creeper’ appear to be behind the murders and Holmes and Watson must deduce what links the murders  before more victims are found.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJhJ9seU3Gs?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]

Holmes is contacted by an insurance agent, Chalmers, who tells him of a group of seven men known as ‘The Good Comrades’ who live together in a remote castle. One of the seven received a mysterious letter containing only seven orange pips. The following day he was found murdered an his body mutilated. A few days letter a second man received a letter containing six pips, and was also found dead shortly after. Chalmers suspects one of the seven is murdering the others in order to receive the extensive life insurance policy the group hold with him and begs Holmes to work out who it is before the rest are murdered.

Several young women are found murdered across London, each with a forefinger severed. Scotland Yard suspect a madman but Holmes believes there is more to it, and fears that Moriarty may have returned.

When the fabled Star of Rhodesia diamond is stolen on a London to Edinburgh train and the son of its owner is murdered, Sherlock Holmes must discover which of his suspicious fellow passengers is responsible.

Also known as Prelude to Murder  and Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Code , Dressed to Kill is the last of fourteen films starring Basil Rathbone. Three cheap musical boxes  manufactured in Dartmoor Prison are sold at a local auction house. However, a criminal gang is determined to steal and recover all three, even if it means committing murder. Holmes tries to recover the music boxes and crack the secret code contained in the tune before the gang can get what they want.

A fantasy programme…

To celebrate the new MPLC Collection I have had a go at picking my own programme of films from the list for my fantasy community cinema – housed in a rural village hall with bakery & pub attached.

The Bryony Village Cinema Autumn Season 2013

To kick my season off with a bang I have chosen a bona fide classic. Regularly voted the best car chase ever this Gene Hackman starring thriller won 5 Oscars on its release in 1971. Popeye and Buddy are New York Cops on the hunt for the source of European drugs flooding into the city. Groundbreaking in its day and the source of inspiration for generations of action movies that followed, what better way to get my audience coming back for more. And if they really loved it I’d have a special screening of the sequel.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP_7ZopT6oM?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]


One of the most critically acclaimed films of last year, I am (selfishly) programming this film because I missed it the first time round – but maybe my audience did too! The film is a powerful emotional thriller with a stand out performance from Elizabeth Olsen, a young girl who gets mixed up with a cult whose leader is played by the ever brilliant John Hawkes.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPLqzVECEhU?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]


Something a little bit different for my Halloween special, Gene Wilder stars as the grandson of the famous Frankenstein trying to play down the family fame. That is until he discovers his grandfathers journal, “How I Did It” and just can’t resist.

A hysterical parody of 1930s horror films from the director of Blazing Saddles.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOPTriLG5cU?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]


I couldn’t work for the British Federation of Film Societies and not include something with a  distinctly British feel. Based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s introspective sci-fi novel, Never Let Me Go follows a trio of children from their English boarding school to a shocking discovery that will stifle their yearnings for freedom and adventure. Andrew Garfield gives a heartbreaking performance and is my pick of the excellent cast which also features Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrea Riseborough.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXiRZhDEo8A?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]


  • December: Margaret | Kenneth Lonergan | US | 2011

There was an uproar in the critical community when this excellent film was only being shown at one London cinema last year. It was eventually picked up by some regional screens but in my duty to give my audience access to films that deserve to be seen – I have picked this engaging drama starring Anna Paquin as a 17 year old struggling to deal with her role in a fatal car accident.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POPLzI40Uiw?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]


What better treat for a Christmas ‘do’ than Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in sparkly frocks in this Howard Hawkes classic.

One that parents will be happy to bring their kids to, Wes Anderson‘s brilliant adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic.

(500) Days of Summer is a genuinely funny and endearing rom-com starring teen favourites (and heart-throbs!) Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt 

The teens (and Alien fans) of my village can’t get out to see the big blockbusters so they’ll thank me for giving them the chance to see Prometheus.

500 days

What do you think of my choices? What would you pick from the Collection for your film society or community cinema? You can see the full collection as part of the Booking Scheme Catalogue

Gael Garcia Bernal and Eugenio Garcia in England to promote NO

I had the absolute pleasure of spending time with Network Releasing this week in the run up to the release of Chile’s first Oscar Nominated Film NO.

Gael Garcia Bernal, the star of the film and Eugenio Garcia on whom his character was partly based were also in London to promote the film – you may have seen them on Newsnight or Channel 4 News but they also found time to record a special Q&A with Amnesty International

Read more about the release of NO 

Remember Film Societies and Community Cinemas can screen NO from 22nd February through the BFFS Booking Scheme.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMPNQzJF49E?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]

BFFS and the Motion Picture Licensing Company present the MPLC Collection

BFFS is absolutely delighted to announce a fabulous new deal with the Motion Picture Licensing Company which will add 52 ‘big studio’ titles to the BFFS Booking Scheme. The films range from much loved classics such as All About EveAn Affair to Remember and The Day the Earth Stood Still, to ‘must see’ recent and new features like Martha Marcy May MarleneThe Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and The Tree of Life and all will be available on a Screen Your Own Copy basis for the same initial price* as our other Booking Scheme titles – £85 with no extra VAT to pay . (This offers a £5 discount per title compared with booking directly with MPLC.) 

Judi Dench in Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Judi Dench in Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Deborah Parker, BFFS Managing Director said, “We are so pleased to have developed this special offer with MPLC; it’s a marvellous opportunity for BFFS members and associates to programme a greater variety of classic films and new studio releases at a discount. We’ve selected some much loved, and exciting new titles and I’m sure all societies will find something their audiences will adore.”

David Taylor, Commercial Manager of MPLC said, “It’s been a fantastic opportunity to work with BFFS  and make some of our many wonderful titles more easily accessible to members through the excellent BFFS Booking Scheme. We hope this and the great discount does help BFFS members put together some very interesting and varied programmes.”  

The full list of titles is available as part of the full BFFS Booking Scheme catalogue. All you need to do is fill in the usual Booking Form with the film and date and return it to BFFS, we’ll then process your booking and you’ll receive an email direct from MPLC with your licence.

*After your screening you will need to fill in a returns form as MPLC titles are booked on a commercial basis. You will pay the minimum guarantee of £85 or 35% of the box office income on takings above £258. We will then invoice you at the end of the month in which your screening takes place.

Watch 7 (yes, seven!) clips from NO

We recently brought you the very exciting news that BFFS Members and Associates have the opportunity to screen Oscar Nominated NO as part of the theatrical release so here is a clip to whet your appetite

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTPk-3w0Zgo?feature=player_embedded&w=640&h=360]

See more clips at Indiewire

If you want to screen NO from the 22nd of Febuary, you can download a Booking Form and see the terms and conditions on the BFFS Website