In his latest captivating endeavour to explore the great American institutions, legendary documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman turns his inquisitive eye to the New York Public Library. It encompasses 92 branches throughout Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, and receives 32 million online visitors annually. NYC’s beloved institution is an incredible resource of knowledge as well as community support for all the city’s inhabitants, no matter their social status or ethnicity.
Wiseman goes behind the scenes to record animated board meetings, talks with guest speakers such as Patti Smith and Elvis Costello, book club events and donors’ dinners, as well as the day-to-day activity of lending books. Wiseman’s patient, observational style, combined with his deft editing, draws you into this fascinating world. The result is a thought-provoking love letter to a model of inclusion and knowledge sharing, and a topical reminder of the preciousness of libraries everywhere.
Documentary 2019 93 mins Director: Alexandre O. Philippe
The untold origin story behind Ridley Scott’s Alien, one of Hollywood’s most beloved and iconic shockers.
Documentary 2019 89 mins Director: Alan Elliott
Aretha Franklin, at the height of her powers, returns to the music which nurtured her prodigious talent.
Documentary 2019 95 mins Director: Penny Lane
An unexpectedly funny, charming and thought-provoking documentary about a group who celebrate difference, and challenge the link between religion and state in the US.
Documentary 2018 95 mins Director: Julien Faraut
Mastery, showmanship and the art of filming tennis are laid bare in an entertaining, innovative archive documentary that’s like no sports film you’ve seen.
Documentary 2017 98 mins Director: Steve Keeble
Telling the untold stories from the early days of the UK AIDS pandemic; by the people who were there and the people who supported them.
Documentary 2018 94 mins Director: Tim Travers Hawkins
Telling the historic story of whistleblower Chelsea Manning; the journey of her fight for survival and dignity, and her transition from prisoner to a free woman.
BFI London Film Festival Presents
Drama 2016 111 mins Director: Barry Jenkins
Winner of the 2017 Oscar for Best Picture (eventually!), Barry Jenkins’ intoxicating drama follows the furtive life of a gay black boy through 80s Miami.
Science Fiction 2016 116 mins Director: Denis Villeneuve
Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner star as the humans who make first contact with extra-terrestrial visitors in this richly textured sci-fi from director Denis Villeneuve.
Drama 2016 137 mins Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams shine in this devastating, Oscar-winning drama from Kenneth Lonergan about a man’s painful hometown return.
Drama 2016 84 mins Director: Hope Dickson Leach
Hope Dickson Leach's hugely impressive first feature about a middle class farming family’s crisis, set against the backdrop of the Somerset floods.
Action and Adventure 2016 90 mins Director: Ben Wheatley
Ben Wheatley’s (High-Rise, Sightseers) all-guns-blazing bullet opera, starring Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy and Armie Hammer.
Drama 2015 131 mins Director: Paul Verhoeven
Isabelle Huppert gives an unforgettable performance in Paul Verhoeven’s provocative thriller about one woman’s response to a violent attack.
Directed by Frederick Wiseman
Documentary 2014 181 mins Director: Frederick Wiseman
The inner workings of London’s National Gallery are laid bare in this absorbing, forensic examination by revered filmmaker Frederick Wiseman.
Drama 2018 177 mins Director: Carlos Reygadas
One of cinema’s great visual poets, Carlos Reygadas returns with this thrillingly natural account of a marriage in crisis - acted by Reygadas himself and his real-life wife.
Drama 2018 102 mins Director: Ondi Timoner
Matt Smith stars as legendary photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in this full-frontal homage to the devilish bad boy, whose sex life fuelled his career.
Comedy 2018 90 mins Director: Jim Cummings
Following the death of his mother, an emotionally unstable cop sees his life slowly unravel in this extraordinary tragicomedy.
Drama 2018 101 mins Director: Tom Harper
This delightful and infectiously joyous film finds a young woman balancing her dreams of being a country music star with the responsibilities of motherhood.
Drama 2018 124 mins Director: Christiaan Olwagen
A Boy George-obsessed smalltown boy joins the South African Defence Force army choir, in this quirky Apartheid-era musical drama.
Comedy 1967 21 mins Director: Ian Fordyce
This incomplete episode features only the show’s opening and first sketch, plus a brief fragment of the lengthy ‘Judge Not’ sketch, with the remainder presented as audio-only or script.