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Mark Kermode Introduces

The UK's best-known film critic gives an exclusive introduction to classic films he's chosen from BFI Player.

Each one probes the making and meaning of the film, and explains why it's essential viewing.

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The Lodger: A Story of the London FogThe Lodger: A Story of the London Fog

Crime192691 minsSilentDirector: Alfred Hitchcock

Ivor Novello plays a strange lodger who may be behind a number of Jack the Ripper-style killings in Alfred Hitchcock’s silent thriller.

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Dead RingersDead Ringers

Horror1988116 minsDirector: David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg's multi award-winning psychological thriller exploring the bizarre lives of identical twins Elliot and Beverly, both played by Jeremy Irons.

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GodzillaGodzilla

Horror195492 minsDirector: Ishiro Honda

The original Godzilla - arguably the definitive monster movie - both a bold metaphor for the atomic age and a thrilling powerhouse of pioneering special effects.

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FitzcarraldoFitzcarraldo

Drama1981157 minsDirector: Werner Herzog

One of Werner Herzog's most acclaimed and audacious films, Fitzcarraldo tells the incredible story of Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, an opera-loving fortune hunter who dreams of bringing opera to the heart of the Peruvian jungle.

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Of Time and the CityOf Time and the City

Documentary200874 minsDirector: Terence Davies

Brilliantly mixing archive film and music, Liverpool-born director Terence Davies reflects with wit and wisdom on a times of change, for good or ill

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The Red ShoesThe Red Shoes

Drama1948135 minsDirector: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

Moira Shearer’s ballerina is torn between love and her career in Powell and Pressburger’s hugely influential melodrama.

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La Belle et la BêteLa Belle et la Bête

Fantasy194695 minsDirector: Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau’s ravishingly restored 1946 film is a cinematic classic. “Five stars. [This] magical exploration of the fairytale is a compelling and bizarre masterpiece” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

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Capricorn OneCapricorn One

Science Fiction1977123 minsDirector: Peter Hyams

Stunning sci-fi thriller steeped in post-Watergate paranoia, following a hoaxed mission to Mars and a trio of astronauts' desperate flight for survival, with Elliott Gould, James Brolin and O.J. Simpson.

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The Day the Earth Caught FireThe Day the Earth Caught Fire

Science Fiction1961100 minsDirector: Val Guest

The BFI’s HD remaster of the British sci-fi classic. A journalist discovers that the Earth has been knocked off its axis and is moving ever closer to the sun. Is the Earth doomed?

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That Sinking FeelingThat Sinking Feeling

Comedy197990 minsDirector: Bill Forsyth

Before Gregory's Girl, Bill Forsyth mate this equally hilarious caper about a group of unemployed teenagers who hatch a plan to steal a job lot of stainless steel sinks.

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HelenHelen

Thriller200975 minsDirector: Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor

An inventive and acclaimed British feature following the transformation of a teenager who agrees to portray her missing college friend in a highly detailed crime reconstruction.

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Radio OnRadio On

Road movie1979100 minsDirector: Chris Petit

Chris Petit's cult classic is one of the most striking feature debuts in British cinema – a haunting blend of edgy mystery story and existential road movie.

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MaitresseMaitresse

Drama1976113 minsDirector: Barbet Schroeder

Gerard Depardieu plays the young innocent who falls for the mysterious maitresse Ariane (Bulle Ogier), a leather clad dominatrix, in Barbet Schroeder’s controversial film.

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Highway PatrolmanHighway Patrolman

Drama1991104 minsDirector: Alex Cox

Alex Cox’s Mexican film follows the journey of a highway patrolman whose idealism eventually gives way to inevitable corruption.

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Brief EncounterBrief Encounter

Romance194686 minsDirector: David Lean

Noël Coward’s tale of a love affair, thrillingly played out with tight British reserve.

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Interior. Leather Bar.Interior. Leather Bar.

201360 minsDirector: James Franco and Travis Mathews

James Franco and Travis Mathews recreate explicit footage cut, rumoured to be lost, from one of the most notorious gay features ever made.

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Ordet.Ordet.

Drama1955125 minsDirector: Carl Th. Dreyer

Carl Theodor Dreyer’s beautifully photographed tale explores the religious intolerance and familial tensions within a Danish farming family.

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Un Chien AndalouUn Chien Andalou

Animation & Artists Moving Image192816 minsSilentDirector: Luis Buñuel

A scabrous study of desire, the subconscious and anti-clericalism - Buñuel and Dalí’s provocative first film is a classic of Surrealist cinema.

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RashomonRashomon

Crime195088 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

Credited with bringing Japanese cinema to worldwide audiences, Akira Kurosawa’s breakthrough tells the story of a murder in the woods from four differing perspectives.

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The Draughtsman's ContractThe Draughtsman's Contract

Period drama1982107 minsDirector: Peter Greenaway

Peter Greenaway became a director of international status with this witty, stylised, erotic country house murder mystery.

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The Valley (Obscured by Clouds)The Valley (Obscured by Clouds)

Drama1972105 minsDirector: Barbet Schroeder

Different worlds collide when a chic young diplomat's wife meets an intriguing adventurer and his hippy friends in Barbet Schroeder's striking second feature.

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Prick Up Your EarsPrick Up Your Ears

Biopic1987110 minsDirector: Stephen Frears

A celebration of outrageous British playwright Joe Orton’s irreverent and charismatic talent, starring Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina.

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A Night to RememberA Night to Remember

Disaster1958123 minsDirector: Roy Ward Baker

Widely regarded as the finest film account of the sinking of the Titanic, this moving seafaring disaster tale will grip you from start to finish.

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Nosferatu the VampyreNosferatu the Vampyre

Horror1979107 minsDirector: Werner Herzog

English language version of Herzog’s stimulating take on the Dracula story starring Klaus Kinski, with echoes of Murnau’s 1922 Nosferatu.

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Rome, Open CityRome, Open City

War1945103 minsDirector: Roberto Rossellini

Roberto Rossellini’s landmark of Italian neorealism often cited as one of the greatest films ever made.

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The Fall of the House of UsherThe Fall of the House of Usher

Animation & Artists Moving Image198216 minsDirector: Jan Svankmajer

The first of Švankmajer's 'tactile experiments', chosen partly because the title was on an official list of 'approved' texts. In this version there are no humans, just a glimpse of a live raven as the camera roams around an eerie derelict house.

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The Company of WolvesThe Company of Wolves

Fantasy198495 minsDirector: Neil Jordan

Angela Carter and Neil Jordan's magical, radical take on Little Red Riding Hood.

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I Am DivineI Am Divine

Documentary201390 minsDirector: Jeffrey Schwarz

A unique documentary about a unique person – follow Divine’s life from humble Baltimore beginnings to superstar status as the Queen of Cult.

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Black NarcissusBlack Narcissus

Drama1947101 minsDirector: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

Tensions grow when a group of nuns open a convent in the Himalayas in Powell and Pressburger’s remarkable melodrama, starring Deborah Kerr.

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GenevieveGenevieve

Comedy195383 minsDirector: Henry Cornelius

Classic British comedy about two vintage automobile enthusiasts racing from Brighton to London.

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Bad TimingBad Timing

1980122 minsDirector: Nicolas Roeg

Nic Roeg's complex, elusive cult classic is a Vienna-set tale of all consuming passion, starring Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell and Harvey Keitel.

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Battleship PotemkinBattleship Potemkin

Historical drama192569 minsSilentDirector: Sergei M. Eisenstein

A fixture in the critical canon almost since its premiere, Eisenstein’s film about a 1905 naval mutiny was revolutionary in both form and content.

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ElenaElena

Drama2011105 minsDirector: Andrey Zvyagintsev

Andrey Zvyagintsev (Leviathan, Loveless) relates a taut, caustic tale of need and greed leading to desperate deeds; a bleak and brilliant study of contemporary Russian mores.

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Countess DraculaCountess Dracula

Horror197094 minsDirector: Peter Sasdy

An ageing countess finds that if she bathes in the blood of virgins her youth is restored.

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PasoliniPasolini

Biopic201484 minsDirector: Abel Ferrara

Willem Dafoe plays the controversial filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini in this dark, daring drama about the director’s final days, from Abel Ferrara.

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Night Will FallNight Will Fall

Documentary201475 minsDirector: André Singer

An unforgettable, compelling account of the production and subsequent restoration of a withheld film recording the liberation of Nazi concentration camps in 1945.

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Blithe SpiritBlithe Spirit

Comedy194596 minsDirector: David Lean

A séance results in a man’s first wife returning from the dead in Noël Coward’s wonderful comedy.

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Celine and Julie Go BoatingCeline and Julie Go Boating

Drama1974194 minsDirector: Jacques Rivette

Jacques Rivette’s biggest commercial hit is an exhilarating combination of theatricality, paranoia and ‘la vie parisienne’, around an entrancing examination of making and watching films.

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The Ipcress FileThe Ipcress File

Crime1965108 minsDirector: Sidney J. Furie

The coolest spy of all – Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer – makes his brilliant big screen debut in this landmark British spy thriller.

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A Matter of Life and DeathA Matter of Life and Death

Fantasy1946104 minsDirector: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s timeless romantic fantasy, with David Niven as an airman trapped between life and death.

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HadewijchHadewijch

Drama2009102 minsDirector: Bruno Dumont

A Catholic nun falls in with some young Arabs and embraces fundamentalist Islam in Bruno Dumont’s provocative film.

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Hands of the RipperHands of the Ripper

Horror197185 minsDirector: Peter Sasdy

In Edwardian London, a series of gruesome murders match those of the Whitechapel Ripper, revealing an unlikely suspect.

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This Filthy EarthThis Filthy Earth

Drama2001106 minsDirector: Andrew Kötting

Andrew Kötting's tragic tale of passion and survival, following the existence of two sisters amidst a landscape of rural hardship and a community consumed with superstition

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The Lady VanishesThe Lady Vanishes

Thriller193896 minsDirector: Alfred Hitchcock

An old woman disappears mysteriously on a busy train in Hitchcock’s delightful classic.

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L'Age D'OrL'Age D'Or

Animation & Artists Moving Image193063 minsDirector: Luis Buñuel

Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali unite for this masterpiece of cinematic surrealism remains as brilliantly witty and shocking as ever, more than 80 years on.

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The ArborThe Arbor

Biopic201090 minsDirector: Clio Barnard

Clio Barnard's film about Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar mixes reconstruction, interviews (performed by actors) and scenes from the plays.

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UndergroundUnderground

Romance192893 minsSilentDirector: Anthony Asquith

The BFI National Archive restoration of one of Anthony Asquith's finest silent films set in London's Underground, with a new score.

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DogtoothDogtooth

Drama200993 minsDirector: Yorgos Lanthimos

Yorgos Lanthimos' scary, witty tale of a dysfunctional Greek family is original, ingenious and sadly relevant as a study of parent-child relationships

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Red RoadRed Road

Thriller2006110 minsDirector: Andrea Arnold

Andrea Arnold’s highly acclaimed film, winner of top prizes at Cannes and the BFI London Film Festival, is a haunting drama about a woman confronting past demons.

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Las acaciasLas acacias

Road movie201183 minsDirector: Pablo Giorgelli

Pablo Giorgelli's debut is a slow, touching Argentinian road-movie about a quiet trucker warming to a woman and child he reluctantly gives a lift to

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UnrelatedUnrelated

Drama200896 minsDirector: Joanna Hogg

On a Tuscan break a fortysomething woman finds herself drawn to the company of a group of partying teens, including a young Tom Hiddleston (in one of his earliest roles).

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The Phantom of the Opera (1925)The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Period drama192591 minsSilentDirector: Rupert Julian

'Man of a thousand faces' Lon Chaney stars in the first version of Gaston Leroux's oft-filmed novel.

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Bullet BoyBullet Boy

Drama200586 minsDirector: Saul Dibb

Ashley Walters impresses in the hard-hitting Hackney drama that’s still one of the best of Britain’s black urban crime films.

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Land and FreedomLand and Freedom

War1995105 minsDirector: Ken Loach

Ken Loach’s passionate war drama follows an idealistic young Liverpudlian (Ian Hart) who fights for the international brigade during the Spanish Civil War.

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My Brother the DevilMy Brother the Devil

Drama2012107 minsDirector: Sally El Hosaini

Sally El Hosaini's feature debut tells of the love and disenchantment of two British-Egyptian brothers as gangs, drugs and sexuality come between them.

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Within Our GatesWithin Our Gates

Drama191974 minsSilentDirector: Oscar Micheaux

Oscar Micheaux’s startling silent classic – the earliest surviving feature from an African-American director – presents a fascinating black counterpoint to Griffith’s Birth of a Nation.

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Distant Voices, Still LivesDistant Voices, Still Lives

Biopic198884 minsDirector: Terence Davies

Terence Davies' debut feature is a remarkable evocation of working-class family life in the 40s and 50s and a visionary exploration of memory.

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For Those in PerilFor Those in Peril

Drama201392 minsDirector: Paul Wright

An intense and mysterious drama about the lone survivor of a strange fishing accident who’s outcast and persecuted by his fellow villagers.

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By Our SelvesBy Our Selves

Animation & Artists Moving Image201580 minsDirector: Andrew Kötting

The latest psycho-geographical excursion from Andrew Kötting and Iain Sinclair

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The ImmigrantThe Immigrant

Comedy191724 minsSilentDirector: Charles Chaplin

One of Chaplin’s most famous early shorts finds the Little Tramp aboard a ship bound for America, mistakenly accused of being a pickpocket.

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A Personal Journey... Part 1A Personal Journey... Part 1

Documentary199572 minsDirector: Martin Scorsese and Michael Henry Wilson

The first part of Martin Scorsese's 'personal journey' through American Cinema.

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Things to ComeThings to Come

Science Fiction193697 minsDirector: William Cameron Menzies

H.G. Wells' chilling vision of the future, which imagines the 20th Century as a near-endless war and struggle against tyranny, remains a key milestone in British science fiction.

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FaceFace

Crime1997101 minsDirector: Antonia Bird

Robert Carlyle and Ray Winstone are members of a criminal gang that tears itself apart after a heist goes wrong, in Antonia Bird’s stylish thriller.

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Short Term 12Short Term 12

Drama201397 minsDirector: Destin Daniel Cretton

A care-worker is confronted by a troubled teen whose case history provokes an unwelcome reminder of her own concealed and traumatic past.

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Red DesertRed Desert

Drama1964117 minsDirector: Michelangelo Antonioni

Antonioni's mid-career masterpiece stars Monica Vitti as an emotionally anguished young woman embarking on a tentative affair with a businessman (Richard Harris).

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The Elephant ManThe Elephant Man

Biopic1980124 minsDirector: David Lynch

David Lynch's moving true-life tale of the severely deformed Joseph Merrick and his rescue from the hell of a Victorian circus sideshow.

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Le MéprisLe Mépris

Drama1963103 minsDirector: Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard conducts an autopsy of love and the creative process, as a boorish film producer dismantles a seemingly strong marriage.

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Peeping TomPeeping Tom

Drama1960101 minsDirector: Michael Powell

Michael Powell’s dark, disturbing, once controversial tale of a shy camera technician who films women as he kills them is now rightly deemed a classic.

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The Railway ChildrenThe Railway Children

Period drama1970109 minsDirector: Lionel Jeffries

The beloved children’s classic about a London family who move near a Yorkshire railway station; one of the classiest examples of British period nostalgia.

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Amores perrosAmores perros

Drama2000148 minsDirector: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Alejandro González Iñárritu's (Birdman, The Revenant) gripping debut feature is a savagely brilliant triptych around the theme of animalistic desires.

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Love and Death on Long IslandLove and Death on Long Island

Comedy199889 minsDirector: Richard Kwietniowski

John Hurt stars in Richard Kwietniowski’s comedy of fame and obsession about an older man (Hurt) who becomes infatuated with a young Hollywood actor (Jason Priestley), and proceeds to track him down.

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MotherMother

Thriller2009129 minsDirector: Bong Joon-ho

Cult Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s (The Host, Snowpiercer) fourth feature is a startlingly original and thrilling account of the limits of maternal devotion.

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SymptomsSymptoms

Drama197691 minsDirector: José R. Larraz

The official British Palme d'Or entry at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival, Symptoms is a sophisticated modern gothic horror film exploring the themes of sexual repression and psychosis.

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Fear Eats the SoulFear Eats the Soul

Melodrama197493 minsDirector: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Fassbinder’s international breakthrough, this unconventional love story combines lucid social analysis with devastating emotional power.

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Breathless [À bout de souffle]Breathless [À bout de souffle]

Film noir196090 minsDirector: Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard’s extraordinary debut feature, an insouciant and iconoclastic crime film that paved the way for the French New Wave.

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RanRan

Drama1985154 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa’s visually spectacular epic transplants Shakespeare’s King Lear from Celtic Britain to feudal Japan.

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Immoral TalesImmoral Tales

Anthology1974103 minsDirector: Walerian Borowczyk

Walerian Borowczyk presents four stories of sexual taboos throughout the ages, in his highly controversial classic of 1970s erotic cinema.

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The Devil's BackboneThe Devil's Backbone

Horror2001108 minsDirector: Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo Del Toro’s elegant and chilling ghost story, set in an orphanage for victims of the Spanish Civil War, which is haunted by the spectre of young boy.

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Billy LiarBilly Liar

Comedy196398 minsSilentDirector: John Schlesinger

Tom Courtenay is the clerk whose overactive fantasies compensate for a dull provincial life, in this classic film from the British New Wave.

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The HuntThe Hunt

Drama2012111 minsDirector: Thomas Vinterberg

Mads Mikkelsen stars in a distressing examination of a false indictment, and the collective hysteria that ensues, in this electrifying drama from Festen director Thomas Vinterberg.

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Brick LaneBrick Lane

Drama200797 minsDirector: Sarah Gavron

Sarah Gavron’s subtle and intelligent adaptation of Monica Ali’s acclaimed novel charts the experiences of a Bangladeshi woman in London.

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The HostThe Host

Science Fiction2006115 minsDirector: Bong Joon-ho

Bong Joon-ho's barnstorming yet highly original monster movie follows an eccentric family's attempts to rescue the daughter snatched by a huge amphibious creature.

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Bicycle ThievesBicycle Thieves

Drama194889 minsDirector: Vittorio De Sica

Vittorio De Sica’s story of a father and son searching for a stolen bicycle on the streets of Rome is a classic of post-war Italian cinema.

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Amour FouAmour Fou

Period drama201492 minsDirector: Jessica Hausner

Jessica Hausner’s long-awaited follow-up to Lourdes is a devilish anti-Rom-Com in which a German poet seeks mates for a suicide pact.

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GomorrahGomorrah

Crime2008132 minsDirector: Matteo Garrone

Matteo Garrone's unnervingly authentic Naples crime drama won the Grand Prix at Cannes before inspiring a hit TV series.

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Edith WalksEdith Walks

Documentary201761 minsDirector: Andrew Kötting

Andrew Kötting undertakes a pilgrimage in honour of Edith Swan Neck, first wife of King Harold, in this eccentric odyssey in search of English identity.

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The Tree of Wooden ClogsThe Tree of Wooden Clogs

Period drama1978186 minsDirector: Ermanno Olmi

Ermanno Olmi’s Palme d’Or-winner, about the hardships faced by peasants in late 19th-century Lombardy, is a masterpiece of neorealism.

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VictimVictim

Drama1961100 minsDirector: Basil Dearden

This thought-provoking classic stars Dirk Bogarde as a homosexual lawyer who risks his career to hunt down a blackmailer.

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DelicatessenDelicatessen

Comedy1990100 minsDirector: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Jeunet and Caro's endlessly inventive and wildly enjoyable post-apocalyptic black comedy, about a sinister butcher and the circus clown who becomes his nemesis.

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Night MovesNight Moves

Thriller2013113 minsDirector: Kelly Reichardt

Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning star in a taut political thriller about radical environmentalists planning to commit an act of eco-terrorism.

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BlancanievesBlancanieves

Drama2011105 minsDirector: Pablo Berger

Pablo Berger’s imaginative black-and-white ‘silent’ movie relocates the story of Snow White to 1920s Spain – complete with bullfighting dwarfs