National Media Museum blog

We explore the science, technology and art of the still and moving image, and its impact on our lives.

Watch rare and extraordinary film and TV in our BFI Mediatheque

A trip to the cinema usually takes place to discover bold, new and exciting movies or, alternatively, to re-visit films which have been labelled as classics, features which have grown in our affections over the years.

BFI Mediatheque, however, aims to create a whole new experience for fans of film and television alike, boasting an incredible catalogue of over 2,500 titles, taken from the extensive BFI National Archive and featuring, amongst others, special collections inspired by our former TV Heaven gallery and an ode to Yorkshire named ‘God’s Own County’.

The best way of describing the experience is, in many ways, like a library with books replaced by the moving image – documentaries, kids’ TV, feature films and long forgotten shows from the past are all available in the archive. Everything from much loved retro TV programmes through to incredible rarities, including the early work of Alfred Hitchcock, are available for viewers to watch – rather amazingly, like libraries, access to all these resources is free too!

BFI Mediatheque

In a world of Youtube and other online file sharing sites, a project such as this rests its success entirely in what it can offer the viewer (aside from legality and a high quality of sound and image of course).

Firstly, the wide array of programmes available means that the facility is perfectly suited to those looking to explore curios and oddities, with a fantastic outlet for individuals to find these pieces with great ease.

Mediatheque is also ideal even for individuals with more serious intentions – students writing about film or media have a whole treasure trove of resources available to them at the click of a button. Stored and filed with usability in mind, it’s easy for everyone to find the content they need regardless of theme.

Whether you’re looking specifically for British literary film adaptations (Mediatheque boasts features such as Dracula, Nighteen Eighty-Four and Wuthering Heights), Music documentaries (Johnny Cash in San Quentin, Shellshock Rock and Finisterre) or movies from the Victorian and Edwardian period (Queen Victoria Visits Sheffield, A Kiss in the Tunnel and Alice in Wonderland), you’re likely to find it in our Mediatheque facility.

The experience itself – much like a trip to the cinema is only partly about the film (and partly about the experience which surrounds the occasion too) – a trip to BFI Mediatheque is a rather unique occasion. Once you’ve selected the film you’d like to watch on one of the monitors, you can lean back and enjoy your selection in peace – the stereotypes of phones going off disrupting your viewing need not apply here. Each pod retains its own privacy from the public, leaving you to watch your selections alone or with a small group of friends. It’s an ideal location for those with serious study on the mind and, equally, those who would like to trawl through vast archives with only a couple of clicks of a button.

And if you’re not within easy reach of Bradford, there are seven other BFI Mediatheques to choose from – London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Derby, Glasgow, Newcastle and Wrexham.

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About Kieron J Casey

I work as a Marketing Executive at the National Media Museum by day and spend my evenings usually engrossed in films or, failing that, books about films.

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