The BFI has announced the full programme for CINEMA UNBOUND: THE CREATIVE WORLDS OF POWELL AND PRESSBURGER, a major BFI UK-wide film celebration of one cinema’s greatest and most enduring filmmaking partnerships.
The celebration will kick off this Autumn with the BFI Distribution re-release of I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING! (1945), recently restored by the BFI National Archive and The Film Foundation, and back in cinemas UK-wide from 20 October 2023.
The season will mark the 75th anniversary of the iconic dance film, THE RED SHOES (1948), with a dazzling FREE exhibition at BFI Southbank, THE RED SHOES: BEYOND THE MIRROR, running from 10 November 2023 to 7 January 2024.
For the first time the exhibition will open up public access to a wealth of material related to the film, preserved by the BFI National Archive, including around 100 unseen costume and production designs, treatments, scripts, behind the scenes photographs and posters. These items will be presented alongside key loans including the iconic red ballet shoes featured in the film, loaned to the BFI by the Martin Scorsese Collection; personal items from Moira Shearer’s family estate; and costumes and props from Matthew Bourne’s recent ballet adaptation.
THE RED SHOES will also be re-released in cinemas UK-wide from 8 December, while Bloomsbury will publish a new BFI Film Classic about the film by Pamela Hutchinson on 5 October.
The big screen celebration will also feature a UK-wide cinema programme presented in partnership with the BFI Film Audience Network and a major retrospective of Powell’s and Pressburger’s work – together and separately – at BFI Southbank, which will premiere new restorations by the BFI National Archive and The Film Foundation of THE SMALL BACK ROOM (1949) and PEEPING TOM (1960).
CINEMA UNBOUND will also present a number of 4K remasters made by the BFI National Archive, including rarities, early films made by Powell before he met Pressburger, and a selection of Powell’s and Pressburger’s home movies.
Following the huge success of the inaugural BFI Film on Film Festival, the season will offer audiences a chance to experience the magic of seeing films projected on film, with new 35mm prints of BLACK NARCISSUS (1947), which premieres tonight at Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore as part of Il Cinema Ritrovato, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP (1943), THE TALES OF HOFFMANN (1951) and THE RED SHOES (1948) all made with funding from the National Lottery and the additional support of donors to the BFI’s Keep Film on Film campaign.
BFI Distribution will also release a Blu-ray of Powell’s bold realisation of Bartok’s only opera BLUEBEARD’S CASTLE (1964), newly restored by the BFI National Archive and The Film Foundation, unavailable for many years. The film’s pristine restoration will also screen in cinemas during the season.
There will be a new book published in partnership with Bloomsbury on October 5 – The Cinema of Powell and Pressburger will be a lavishly illustrated collection of essays with contributions from Thelma Schoonmaker, Tilda Swinton, Sandy Powell, Tim Walker, Michelle Williams Gamaker and many more, bringing a series of fresh perspectives on the filmmaking duo and spotlighting previously unpublished material from the BFI National Archive. A selection of titles will also be available to watch nationwide on BFI Player, from beloved classics to early rarities.
The BFI will also reveal, through online content, the projects that could have been – using the wealth of material from the Powell and Pressburger paper collections preserved by the BFI National Archive. The BFI will tell the story of films that Powell and Pressburger wanted to make, and the talent they wanted to work with, although sadly these projects weren’t to be. They ranged from The Tempest, starring James Mason and Mia Farrow, and the Broadway adaptation of Ondine, intended for Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer, to Thirteen Ways to Kill a Poet, an ambitious series conceived for television, to have focused on different poets, and to have involved a wide range of contributors, from Martin Scorsese to Francis Ford Coppola, Paul Schrader to David Bowie, and Kenneth Anger to David Cronenberg, as well as a proposed film of Ursula Le Guin’s classic fantasy trilogy The Tales from Earthsea.
CINEMA UNBOUND is conceived by lead season programmer Robin Baker (BFI National Archive Head Curator), James Bell (BFI National Archive Senior Curator of Fiction Film) and Claire Smith (BFI National Archive Senior Curator of Special Collections), featuring work by expert teams from across the BFI, with a major focus on BFI National Archive restoration and conservation work.