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The Revolution of BFI Southbank

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What’s in a name? Next week marks the grand opening of BFI Southbank, a £6 million development at the historic site of the National Film Theatre. This exciting project brings forth a plethora of amenities and experiences that are sure to captivate film enthusiasts and curious visitors alike.

A Gateway to Film History

BFI Southbank introduces the innovative concept of a “mediatheque,” granting open access to a constantly expanding collection of titles from the prestigious BFI National Archive. Beyond this, visitors can explore a stunning gallery, browse through a filmstore bursting with captivating books, DVDs, and unique BFI merchandise. Ladies, imagine a stylish purse adorned with vintage images of sunbathing belles from iconic Mitchell and Kenyon films—simply irresistible. For the tech-savvy crowd, there’s a state-of-the-art digital studio as well. And let’s not forget the new bar and lounge area, perfect for mingling and discussing the magic of cinema.

During the press launch, the air was filled with excitement as workmen hurriedly put the finishing touches on the venue, determined to meet the grand opening on March 14. Even in its incomplete state, the new facilities exuded an undeniable charm. With a sleek glass-fronted entrance welcoming visitors just across from the National Theatre, the stage was set for an unforgettable experience. The gallery, already hosting an exhibition by media artists Jennifer and Kevin McCoy titled “Tiny, Funny, Big and Sad,” astounded guests with its meticulously crafted miniature recreations of beloved films like Bonnie and Clyde and Weekend, featuring matchbox cars as the stars of the show.

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A Name Controversy

However, amidst the excitement, a few observers expressed their discontent with the new name: “BFI Southbank.” They couldn’t help but question the decision to abandon the iconic NFT name. One disgruntled voice remarked, “BFI Southbank sounds like a furniture store with its own cashpoint.” Nevertheless, BFI director Amanda Nevill staunchly defends this change, highlighting the broader vision behind it all.

“The National Film Theatres 1, 2, and 3 still stand proudly, preserving their original names,” Nevill asserts. “However, this new development represents a gateway to the entire BFI experience—a place where people of all ages can fully immerse themselves in the wonders of film. In light of this, concerns about the name seem rather trivial.”

While the NFT name continues to hold a special place in the hearts of fervent film lovers, it is evident that BFI Southbank is more than just a name—it is a stepping stone. The long-term aspiration is to establish a National Film Centre, combining the essence of a cinematheque with a cutting-edge research facility.

A Cinematic Future

The specifics of this ambitious undertaking are yet to be determined, including its estimated cost. Currently, a feasibility study is underway, exploring potential locations to house this future film haven. During the launch, Shaun Woodward, the minister for creative industries and tourism, encouraged Nevill to garner the support of Prime Minister Gordon Brown. “We know Mr. Brown is a fervent film enthusiast,” Nevill remarks, hopeful for the chancellor’s backing.

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With projections suggesting that the existing building, whether referred to as the NFT or BFI Southbank, will reach the end of its lifespan around 2013, Nevill ponders the future. “Wouldn’t it be tragic if, by then, our country no longer had a national film center or any form of cinematheque?” she wonders. The next six years will be devoted to persuading the government about the pressing need for such a center and reassuring loyal patrons that the venue’s new identity doesn’t diminish its worthiness.

In conclusion, BFI Southbank emerges as a testament to the ever-evolving landscape of film. It is a place where past and future coexist, where artistry and technology converge, and where the love for cinema transcends names and boundaries. Let us embrace this exciting chapter in the ongoing cinematic journey, and remember, “Ratingperson” is here to guide you on your exploration of the world of film and beyond. Join us at Ratingperson to embark on an unforgettable adventure.

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