BFI Southbank to celebrate master filmmaker Satyajit Ray with complete retrospective this summer

The BFI has today announced the full programme for SATYAJIT RAY: THE LANGUAGE OF FILM, a season celebrating one of the true masters of world cinema.

Satyajit Ray’s centenary in 2021, as well as 75 years of Indian independence, mark a timely juncture to showcase his complete body of remarkable work including his ‘Apu Trilogy’ PATHER PANCHALI (1955), APARAJITO (1956) and THE WORLD OF APU (1959), THE MUSIC ROOM (1958), THE LONELY WIFE (1964), DAYS AND NIGHTS IN THE FOREST (1970) and many more.

Programmed thematically by Sangeeta Datta, the season is presented in association with the Academy Film Archive and will include numerous restorations on 35mm from their archives, as well as three 4K restorations made by the Criterion Collection and the UK premiere of four brand new 4K restorations presented by NFDC – National Film Archive of India.

One of the highlights of the season will be a BFI re-release of THE BIG CITY (1963), in selected cinemas UK-wide from 22 July and screening on extended run at BFI Southbank. Set in mid-50s Calcutta, in a society still adjusting to Independence and gripped by social and financial crisis, this powerful, progressive cinema classic sees a middle-class housewife brilliantly and excitingly defy expectations and find herself becoming a successful businesswoman.

There will be a screening of Ray’s adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s short stories THE POSTMASTER and SAMAPTI (1961) on 7 July introduced by Aparna Sen, who made her screen debut in the latter, and has since become India’s greatest and longest-standing female writer-director. Sen will also make an appearance at BFI Southbank as part of this year’s LONDON INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL on 2 July, with an In Conversation event followed by a screening of her powerful new film THE RAPIST (2021).

Sangeeta Datta will give a richly illustrated talk to introduce audiences to the films screening and their thematic curation, as well as offering close analysis of key titles in THE FILM LANGUAGE OF SATYAJIT RAY on 6 July. Ray’s recurring themes will be highlighted alongside his filmmaking style, with contributions on Ray’s work from expert speakers, including those working in the Indian film industry today. There will also be an afternoon of talks and discussions offering different approaches to appreciating Ray, and looking at his influences and legacy: SATYAJIT RAY: HIS HOME AND THE WORLD on 16 July will welcome expert speakers who will trace key themes in his work including the city and what it represents, the women in his films, the use of music (often composed by Ray himself), and the development of his distinctive cinematic language.

BFI MEMBERS BOOK CLUB: SATYAJIT RAY will take place in the BFI Reuben Library on 15 August offering BFI Members a chance to explore, alongside the BFI’s expert collections team, the wealth of literature charting Ray’s impact on Indian cinema, alongside a journey through his fascinating life. BFI Southbank’s FILM WALLAHS series, which showcases new South Asian and world cinema, is programmed in homage to Satyajit Ray in July; RAAHGIR (Goutam Ghose, 2019), screening on 11 July, is an epic and elemental journey through a relentless monsoon that follows a man and woman driven by hunger to search for work in the nearest town. Screening with RAAHGIR will be a selection of short films commissioned as part of the UK Asian Film Festival’s 2021 Ray of Hope competition. These nine winners will showcase their three-minute shorts inspired by the work of Satyajit Ray.



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