As VP techniques and technology continue to progress at an incredible pace there’s plenty to explore in Focus On: Virtual Production II from British Cinematographer.

BFI announces March programme highlights at BFI Southbank and BFI IMAX

Jan 26, 2024

The BFI has unveiled the programme for March 2024 at BFI Southbank, which includes the culmination of Magical Realism: The Film Fables of the Taviani Brothers. For more than 60 years the writer-director team of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have created unique films inspired by Italian politics, history, literature and film, shot through with playful cinematic invention and satirical humour that seduced, beguiled and captivated audiences. Curated by Adrian Wootton and presented in partnership with Cinecittà, this concluding part of our retrospective celebrates and explores the Taviani Brothers’ distinctive contribution to Italian cinema with films in which their love of cinema is immediately apparent, including their breakthrough film The Subversives (1967) and Paolo Taviani’s first film following the death of his brother, Leonora Addio (2022), along with titles that use real-life conflicts in Italy and elsewhere to anchor their stories, including The Night of the Shooting Stars (1982), The Lark Farm (2007) and the Taviani Brothers’ final film together, Rainbow: A Private Affair (2017).

BFI Southbank’s season dedicated to arguably the UK’s greatest ever film composer, John Barry, also continues until 12 March. Curated by Bob Stanley from Saint Etienne, John Barry: Soundtracking Bond and Beyond has, for the most part, focused on the London years of Barry’s career – spy films, swinging comedies and social realism – that created the distinctive, darkly beautiful John Barry sound. This last batch includes two classics and a couple of soundtracks possibly more well-known than the movies they accompany: George Lazenby’s sole outing as James Bond, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Peter R. Hunt, 1969), Walkabout (Nicolas Roeg, 1971), which inspired one of Barry’s most emotive and deeply memorable scores, Carol Reed’s final film Follow Me aka The Public Eye (Carol Reed, 1972), and Blake Edwards’ understated spy movie The Tamarind Seed (Blake Edwards, 1974).

BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival, the UK’s largest queer film event, returns with the best in contemporary LGBTQIA+ cinema from around the globe from 13 – 24 March, with the full programme being announced on 13 February. Meanwhile, other events in March will include a preview of High & Low – John Galliano (Kevin Macdonald, 2023) on 4 March. Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald turns his camera towards the life and career of the gifted fashion designer who caused outrage following a drunken, anti-Semitic tirade in 2011. Macdonald’s film investigates his career, and the context, including decades of industry pressure and drug and alcohol addiction, that surrounded his downfall. Elsewhere, the BFI’s Woman With A Movie Camera strand celebrates International Women’s Day with two film previews on 8 March. Ramata-Toulaye Sy’s atmospheric debut feature Banel & Adama (2023) is visually stunning, with bursts of colour weaving with magic realism and tender romance. When Banel and Adama decide they want to live away from their families, declining Adama’s birth right as village leader, chaos ensues in their Senegalese community. In addition, Milena Aboyan’s feature debut Elaha (2023) is a compelling character portrait and feminist journey of identity and self-discovery, powered by Bayan Layla’s astonishing, exuberant performance as Elaha who, convinced she must restore her supposed innocence ahead of her wedding, investigates the possibility of hymen reconstruction.

After nine hugely successful and award-winning series, a preview of Inside No. 9: The Final Series (BBC Studios, 2024) takes place on 11 March in the company of the creative team behind the show, Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and Adam Tandy who will reflect on their journey over the last decade which has included a 17th-century witchcraft trial, a brilliantly conceived silent burglary and a reunion of Psychoville favourites David and Maureen. Other TV previews include Mandy (Diane Morgan, 2024) on 12 March, followed by a Q&A with Diane Morgan. The nation’s hero of the zero-hours economy returns in another series that follows Mandy’s micro-aggressive adventures as she battles her cost-of-living crisis with several short-lived, ill-thought-through and poorly paid jobs. Meanwhile, with three of the original episodes missing except for their audio, Doctor Who: The Celestial Toymaker (Bill Sellars/Chloe Grech, 1966/2024) is a new animated version presenting the complete story 58 years after it first screened – with a preview at BFI Southbank taking place on 2 March. The Doctor, Dodo and Steven become the playthings of the sinister Toymaker when the TARDIS is compromised and forced to land in a strange world.

Kinoteka Polish Film Festival London presents the London premiere of Green Border (Agnieszka Holland, 2023) on 6 March including a Q&A with director Agnieszka Holland, who herself was the subject of a major BFI Southbank and Kinoteka Polish Film Festival season in 2016. Unflinching in its exploration of the dark depths of the human psyche, it draws on the real experiences of refugees journeying through the primeval forest on the Polish-Belarusian border to seek asylum. Working with refugees and professional actors, Holland presents a variety of perspectives, challenging us to confront complex moral choices. Elsewhere, Busting The Bias presents Special People (Justin Edgar, 2007) on 2 March followed by a Q&A with director Justin Edgar and actor Dominic Coleman. Special People questions condescending outreach projects, self-defeating attitudes within the disabled community and the vacuity of the film business, all with a sly wink and a healthy helping of self-parody. This is a Relaxed Screening event presented with subtitles, including descriptions of non-dialogue audio, with Audio Description available.

Two film previews this month play in partnership with Glasgow Film Festival. The insightful new documentary Frank Capra: Mr America (Matthew Wells, 2023) uses previously unseen archive footage to explore the life and career of the Hollywood filmmaker. It’s an especially timely moment to review his work, which brought comfort to a world-weary audience, at a time of war and economic hardship, through its depiction of decent, ordinary people winning against the odds. A preview plays on 1 March followed by a Q&A with director Matthew Wells. Meanwhile, Josh O’Connor excels as a grief-stricken Englishman recently released from prison in La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher, 2023). He joins a group of grave-robbers seeking Etruscan artefacts but finds himself drawn to the former maid of his dead girlfriend’s mother, played with gusto by Isabella Rossellini. Rohrwacher’s heady mix of gritty social drama and magical realism feels perfectly at home in this spellbinding tale of intrigue set in Tuscany in the 1980s, which previews on 3 March.

This month’s Family Funday preview is Academy-Award nominee Robot Dreams (Pablo Berger, 2023) on 3 March, which includes a Robot Dreams drop-in workshop where visitors can create pictures and animations – free to ticketholders of the film. Told entirely without dialogue, Robot Dreams is joyful and thought-provoking in equal measure, skilfully delivering its message to young and old alike. Living a solitary life and longing for fun and excitement, Dog sends off for a robot friend. When it arrives, the two make an immediate connection and Dog’s life is transformed. BFI Southbank’s monthly event, Mark Kermode Live in 3D at the BFI, will take place on 4 March. A conversation between the audience and one of the nation’s favourite and most respected film critics, Mark Kermode will be joined by surprise guests from across the film industry to explore, critique and dissect current and upcoming releases, cinematic treasures, industry news and more.

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