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Century of Cinema

Personal and profound look into lives immersed in film. These documentaries about films and culture show the medium's role in love and war, nostalgia and national identity.

Cinema was born in the late 19th century when inventors in three different countries almost simultaneously developed the technology to shoot moving film and to project it. The Lumiere Brothers were the first in Paris, 1895. To celebrate cinema's centenary, in 1995 the BFI produced a series of documentaries in which talented directors were invited to contemplate their own national cinemas. The results ranged between highly personal and profoundly universal, and together constitute this collection, Century of Cinema.

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Night of the FilmmakersNight of the Filmmakers

Documentary199551 minsDirector: Edgar Reitz

From the director of Heimat, a mini-epic about the history of German cinema.

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100 Years of Polish Cinema100 Years of Polish Cinema

Documentary199661 minsDirector: Pawel Lozinski

A history of Polish movies perceived by cinemagoers of all ages.

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Typically BritishTypically British

Documentary199476 minsDirector: Stephen Frears

Stephen Frears explores the wealth of stylish and familiar images created by the British film industry in the 20th century, aided by fellow directors Alexander Mackendrick, Michael Apted, and Alan Parker and writer Gavin Lambert.

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Irish Cinema - Ourselves Alone?Irish Cinema - Ourselves Alone?

Documentary199651 minsDirector: Donald Taylor Black

Irish images, foreign fathers: asking why a nation's cinematic identity has been outsourced.

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A Century of Australian CinemaA Century of Australian Cinema

Documentary199668 minsDirector: George Miller

Mad Max director George Miller explores the tradition of film production in Australia.

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Cinema of Unease A Personal Journey by Sam NeillCinema of Unease A Personal Journey by Sam Neill

Documentary199552 minsDirector: Sam Neill

Take a trip with Sam Neill through his country's celluloid culture.

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Yang ± Yin - Gender in Chinese CinemaYang ± Yin - Gender in Chinese Cinema

Documentary199779 minsDirector: Stanley Kwan Kam-pang

An inspirational and star-laden journey through Chinese cinema in the company of John Woo, Chen Kaige, Ang Lee and Tsui Hark.

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A Century of French CinemaA Century of French Cinema

Documentary199550 minsDirector: Anne-Marie Miéville

Six regions, six films appraised for cultural and historical meaning. Produced by Jean-Luc Godard.

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100 Years of Japanese Cinema100 Years of Japanese Cinema

Documentary199652 minsDirector: Nagisa Oshima

Archive propels argument in this fascinating exploration of the social and cultural importance of Japan's film heritage.

More Century of Cinema films in our Subscription collection.