The first ever BFI Mediatheque in Scotland will open in Glasgow’s Bridgeton Library at the newly redeveloped Olympia cinema site from Friday 22nd February 2013, offering a new opportunity for visitors to discover the riches of our film and television heritage for free.
The BFI Mediatheque in Glasgow has a specially commissioned collection of Scottish film and television, entitled Scottish Reels, drawn from the collections of the BFI National Archive and Scottish Screen Archive and spanning more than a century of Scottish life and culture. Highlights of Scottish Reels include street scenes in Glasgow from 1901, early colour footage of tartans from 1906 and 1950s colour travelogues recording Scotland’s epic landscapes. Sean Connery (pictured above) makes a rare television appearance in The Bowler and the Bunnet (1967), a documentary he directed about the decline of the Glasgow shipyards. There’s a rich vein of political television drama including the ground-breaking Culloden (1964) and The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil (1974), alongside lyrical film-making (Bill Douglas’ bleak and beautiful autobiographical Trilogy, 1972-78). Big screen classics are also celebrated with films such as Ealing’s subversive comedy of whisky smuggling in the Hebrides Whisky Galore! (1949), chilling occult thriller The Wicker Man (1973), Bill Forsyth’s delightful comedy Local Hero (1983) or Danny Boyle’s thrilling debut Shallow Grave (1994).
The Scottish Reels collection will be permanently available alongside over 2,500 films and TV programmes in Glasgow and at BFI Mediatheques around the UK. Her Majesty the Queen recently visited the BFI’s flagship Mediatheque on a tour of BFI Southbank (October 2012).
Heather Stewart, Creative Director, BFI said, “We are delighted to be working with colleagues in Scotland to bring the riches of these extraordinary national collections to the general public. There’s a wonderful excitement about seeing our world through the eyes of those long dead. Seeing a film shot on Jamaica Street, Glasgow in 1901 gives you a real sense of the past in a way that no other medium can.”
BFI Mediatheques are now located in Glasgow, London, Derby, Cambridge, Newcastle upon Tyne and Wrexham. Additional BFI Mediatheques will open during 2013 with announcements expected later in the year.
All BFI Mediatheques are free to access. Anyone can drop in to browse an extraordinary range of over 2,500 complete films and television programmes drawn from the BFI National Archive and partner collections. The sheer diversity of the collection is dizzying: from vintage Morecambe and Wise, Monty Python or Top of the Pops to Edwardian natural history including unclassifiable gems such as The Acrobatic Fly (1910) or Claude Friese-Greene’s The Open Road (1926) a journey through Britain filmed in colour in 1925, from Land’s End to John O’Groats. There’s silent comedy from pioneers such as R.W. Paul c.1903, documentary footage from Mitchell & Kenyon (1900 – 1912), or contemporary delights in films such as Ken Loach’s The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006) or Julien Temple’s London: The Modern Babylon (2012). There are collections featuring the film-making of our industrial past, showing shipbuilding, coal-mining and steel-making, and films revealing the colonial histories of Tibet and India, alongside the finest in British television drama. A wide range of other themed collections are available, exploring aspects of British social and cultural history from the 1890s to today, and new titles are added regularly. Whatever your age or interest there’s guaranteed to be something that’s sure to excite and delight.