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BFI set to provide greater public access to UK's film and TV heritage as it announces two regional partner Mediatheques on anniversary of London launch.

11 March 2008

The BFI can confirm today that by December 2008 two new BFI Mediatheques will have opened

The first at QUAD, Derby’s new £10 million centre for art and film, and the second in Cambridge at the redeveloped Library Central. These partnerships will further increase public access to the riches of the BFI National Archive as well as giving people unique access to specially curated regional film and television collections.

Amanda Nevill, Director of the BFI comments: “When we opened the first Mediatheque at BFI Southbank exactly a year ago we always said we wanted to create opportunities to make archive film more widely and easily available to people living outside London. Now, with two Mediatheques due to open by the end of the year in the East Midlands and in Cambridgeshire, we are a step closer to opening up the BFI National Archive to everyone across the UK. We look forward to setting up similar partnership initiatives in other regions.”

Keith Jeffrey, Director of QUAD commented: "QUAD is very excited to be the first partner BFI Mediatheque. The Mediatheque at BFI Southbank has been a great success attracting thousands of visitors and invigorating an appetite for archive film and television. We're delighted to pioneer this fantastic digital jukebox in the East Midlands."

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Martin Curtis, said: "Cambridgeshire is delighted to host one of the first regional partner Mediatheques. It will be a great addition to Library Central and is an exciting project that fits perfectly with our vision of what is needed in a modern Library in a major centre for academia."

Fulfilling its aim to become an open door to the BFI National Archive and giving unprecedented access to the world’s most significant collection of film and television material, the BFI Mediatheque in its first year has been a resounding success. Now containing over 800 hours of material and over 1000 different titles that have been digitised thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Mediatheque at BFI Southbank has welcomed more than 29,000 visitors over the last 12 months who have watched 1.5 million minutes or more of archive film and television material, much of it unseen since it was first made. The technology to power the Mediatheque has been provided by Hewlett-Packard, principal sponsor of BFI Southbank.

To celebrate the first birthday of the BFI Mediatheque, curator Robin Baker was asked to compile in chronological order the Top Ten most popular titles viewed on demand by visitors. Demonstrating the sheer breadth of material in the BFI National Archive, the Top Ten spans a century of British film and television and ranges from minute long films to full length features:

BFI Mediatheque First Anniversary Top Ten

Baby's Toilet (1905)
Nothing to do with potties... Baby gets a good wash.

The Acrobatic Fly (1910)
Roll up, roll up! The fly circus is in town!

Blackmail Test Take (1929)
Hitchcock gets dirty with his leading lady.

Colour on the Thames (1935)
A rare glimpse of 1930s London in colour. The Thames has never looked lovelier.

Two Cooks and a Cabbage (1941)
How not to boil a cabbage.

Audrey Hepburn Test (1952)
Early silent colour footage of the future Holly Golightly.

Sparrows Can't Sing (1962)
Cockney comedy starring a BAFTA-nominated Barbara Windsor.

Another World by Sean Connery (1962)
A slightly awkward Sean Connery makes an appeal on behalf of the RNIB.

Les Bicyclettes de Belsize (1968)
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Hampstead-style.

Bullet Boy (2004)
A young man struggles to avoid a life of crime after being release from jail.


The Mediatheque

Since it opened to the public on 14th March 2007 over 2000 people a month have visited the Mediatheque at BFI Southbank, enjoying unprecedented access to the BFI National Archive. All of the material on offer is drawn from the BFI National Archive and is either about Britain, features Britain or focuses on Britain’s role in the world. Over 800 hours of digitised material is viewable at 14 stations, seating a maximum of 29 people. Each month approximately 50 additional hours of material is added.


What is a Mediatheque?

A Mediatheque is a place to enjoy hundreds of British films and television programmes from the BFI National Archive, totally free, at the click of a mouse. Most (85%) are not available on DVD, and a Mediatheque is the only place you can enjoy many of these hidden gems. The Mediatheque offers a window on the collections of the BFI National Archive, the most significant film and television archive in the world. The Mediatheque allows unprecedented access to our film and television heritage. You can watch as much or as little as you like at a Mediatheque: sit back and enjoy an entire feature film or take a quick look at fondly remembered advertisements; use the database to search on a variety of subjects or browse to discover unexpected delights.

The BFI Mediatheque is open daily Tuesday 13.00 - 20.00; Wednesday - Sunday 11.00 - 20.00. Book in advance for a viewing station which can seat between one to four people, or simply turn up. Book for as little as 15 minutes or as much as two hours. Tel: 020 7928 3535 or simply turn up.

What films can I see?
Research what you’d like to view in advance www.bfi.org.uk/mediatheque