NFT Box Office
020 7928 3232 „
I became a BFI member late last year. One of the "Perks" is supposed to be free entry for 2 to any standard screening. What they sent me was a voucher which unbeknownst to me expired at the end of January. I have emailed them as I had assumed the ticket would be valid to the end of my membership which is September this year but it seems they have no intention to of recompensing me in any way. This has made the BFI appear to me an unreputable company and one you shouldn't give your money to.
The success of the post-war Festival of Britain's Telekinema exhibit led to the opening of the first National Film Theatre on 23rd of October 1952. Originally located for the first five years of its life in a site now located next to the London IMAX, it is likely to be situated near to its original site again, when the British Film Institute brings all its resources together in the planned Film Centre. Waterloo remains its home as the current building has been situated between the Royal Festival Hall and the National Theatre - underneath one of Waterloo Bridge's arches - since the 15th October 1957. Originally only housing one screen, private donations enabled a further two screens to be added. (One of which was part of the Museum of Moving Image.) Throughout the past fifty years this national resource has provided a programme which cannot be surpassed anywhere in the World in its diversity; including films from every continent, era and genre. Today the NFT stays true to many of the components that made up both the Telekinema and the first season of the NFT. Both contained elements of film history with the Telekinema's screening of 'The Magic Box' , a feature about film's pioneers, and the NFT's 'Personality Review', which was a series of clips of cinema's influential figures. Today the NFT screens many seminal films, such as the silent film 'Metropolis', which is due to be shown throughout January 2003. The NFT is privileged in being able to screen pretty much every type of film available, and tries to show the films in the best possible conditions, with pianists providing the accompaniment for silent films, as they would have when the films were released - quite an achievement when you consider 'Metropolis' is around three hours long! Early on retrospective seasons were introduced with one of the first being devoted to Alfred Hitchcock. Recent retrospectives have included those of James S
tewart (a number of which were Hitchcock films), and Alec Guinness. Today the NFT does not just offer viewing films as a way of learning about cinema, but also runs workshops for adults and children. January 2003's adult workshop is 'The World in 1900: Screening and study day' where postgraduate students and those with a keen interest in early cinema are given a unique introduction to films pioneers and its context in the Victorian era. 'Animation: Transformations' is accompanied by the film 'Send More Candy' where children have a chance to experience an element of animation first hand, focusing on the film's theme of changing environments. Insights into films and their creation are regular given through the longest-running, internationally renowned film and television interviews. Since Gene Kelly's interview in 1980, the Guardian interviews have included many of cinema's most influential figures. Recent interviewees have been Quentin Tarantino, Jane Campion, Woody Allen and Christopher Nolan. The latter of which also included the showing of one of Nolan's short films, and a preview of his latest film 'Insomnia'. Experimental film was also given prominence in the NFT's roots. Telekinema screened 3D films, and the NFT included Norman McLaren's stereoscopic animation films, and is still trying to show new forms of film through such seasons as David Bowie's Meltdown 2002 during June last year. Unusually for such an institution they have never shied away from showing controversial films. Originally set up as a private cinema club to avoid the censorship laws which were then in place, it continues to show potentially contentious films such as David Cronenberg's 1996 film, 'Crash' which showed people becoming sexually aroused by car accidents and their victims. In 1960 the NFT became the first cinema in West to screen Chinese films, and contin
ues to show a variety of films, both past and present - occasionally devoting seasons to particular countries. 2002 saw India's past being celebrated in a season devoted to the Indian director Satyajit Ray, along with India's present in Mira Nair's 'Monsoon Wedding'. Every November the NFT, along with several other cinema's in Central London, becomes home to the London Film Festival. NFT Members are given a special opportunity to buy tickets before they go on sale to the general public. This year I was privileged enough to see four films - three of which I would never have been able to see without this wonderful event. 'Black and White' is a film about an Aborigine accused of murdering a young girl during the 1950's in Australia, 'This Is Not A Love Song' was a film showing the potential uses of digital film, and 'Dolls' was a Japanese film infused with mythic quality. The fourth film was a preview of Steven Soderbergh's 'Full Frontal', which examines movies and Hollywood. Screened with many of these films were short films, which I would never have had the opportunity to see otherwise. It is also home to the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and the TV2000 Television Festival. The latter of which stays true to the 'Telekinema' exhibit where television programmes were shown off-air. The odd television programme can still be seen today, with 'made for television' film's occasionally being seen in the schedules. Mike Leigh's 'Abigail's Party' being one of the most recent examples, and one which had a profound affect on the career of this talented director. Complementing the resource is a Film Café, a licensed bar, serving light meals, that looks out on to the Thames. Here you can take the chance to dissect the film you've just seen to your heart's content in a pleasant atmosphere. (Although occasionally the bar staff are a littl
e on the slow side.) Possibly, this might be a chance to glance at the notes that you can collect as you walk into the auditorium, (they're located just by the door). It's possibly not advisable to read these before the film, because they do have a nasty habit of containing spoilers. Generally these are written to a fairly high standard, although once or twice I have found them to be a little superficial or badly written. One minor gripe I have with the NFT is partly to do with its recent redesign. Although the décor has been made a little less shabby, and the seating is generally comfortable, NFT2 is not particularly good for those of shorter leg. Essentially they are slightly too high, making me feel like a small child again, and slightly too long - meaning that the seat digs into the back of my leg - becoming quite uncomfortable if the film happens to be a long one. This aside, I will be renewing my annual Membership in February*, as there are a number of benefits, that do not include the fascinating programme of films, and priority booking for Film Festivals. Firstly, there is the programme that is sent out to you monthly. This includes listings of special events and special offers, along with the a short description of each film, and a little information on this month's featured director/actors. Each film is listed in the programme in a particular group, but there is an index and a 'Diary', (both found at the back of the programme) that make planning your viewing easy. Discounts are also available on Sight and Sound Magazine, BFI Library Pass, and a number of Faber & Faber books in their Directors series. The most frequently used benefit is the discount of £1 on your and up to three of your friends' tickets. The National Film Theatre is a fantastic resource, and one that cannot be surpassed anywhere in the World. So, for anyone interested in the diverse medium that is film and who lives in London o
r the surrounding area Membership of the National Film Theatre is an absolute must. If you don't live in London, a visit might be well worth the effort and expense! __________________________________________ *Annual Membership Prices: Adult Cost - £20.00 (£18 if paying by Direct Debit) Concessions - £13 (£12 if paying by Direct Debit) Presently a voucher for one free ticket on a buy one get one free basis is sent out with every new membership, including renewals. Telephone Number for Membership: 0207 815 1374 Gift Membership is also available on the above number. __________________________________________ Ticket Prices: Mont - Thurs £6.20, concessions £3.60 Friday matinees £4.10, concessions £3.60 Other times £6.20, £4.50 (£1 extra without Membership card) Box Office Telephone Number: 0207 928 3232 Less detailed programmes can be picked up from the NFT itself. For further information (including film listings): www.bfi.org.uk/showing/nft/