This is a film still from SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY which screens at BFI Southbank as part of their reopening programme (May to June 2021).

NOW BOOKING: BFI Southbank Reopening Programme (from 17 May 2021)

BFI Southbank has announced their reopening programme with booking opening from 06 May for the general public (members can book earlier)! We’ve chosen some highlights…

By RADIANT CIRCUS // Twitter @radiantcircus | Instagram @radiantcircus

The BFI has announced their reopening programme on the Southbank and it’s a full-blown celebration of cinema as you might expect!

The programme breaks down into four main strands, devoted to Dream Palace, Robert Altman, Her Voice (we’ll explain that below!) and Big Screen Classics, alongside a clutch of new releases. There are also some special guest appearances as the UK’s film festivals return to the big screen including: Tongues on Fire: UK Asian Film Festival (26 MAY to 06 JUN); Sheffield Doc/Fest (04 to 13 JUN); Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival (17 to 24 JUN); and, London Short Film Festival 2021 (25 to 30 JUN).

We’ve taken a look at the programmes and chosen some of our favourite looking attractions. We’ll offer a full programme roundup in our monthly guide for May, coming soon.

BFI Southbank reopening programme projects from 17 May. Public booking opens on 06 May. BFI Champions can book from 03 May, and members from 04 May.


“We celebrate getting back in to the cinema with some of our favourite filmmakers and friends.”


There are so many delights in this selection, where pretty much everything screens with a celebrity intro, we’ve had a difficult time whittling it down… With a socially distanced gun held to our temples, we would probably pick the following, with SYNDROMES & A CENTURY as our standout choice (simply because RADIANT CIRCUS loves everything Weerasethakul and, if we’re being honest, watching his slow moving films at home is a tough gig…)

Includes: CAR WASH 35MM (d. Michael Schultz, 1976) + Intro by Gurinder Chadha (21 MAY 20:55); SYNDROMES & A CENTURY 35MM (d. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006) + Pre-recorded intro by director Chaitanya Tamhane (24 MAY 20:30 + 19 JUN 17:50); THE ELEPHANT MAN (d. David Lynch, 1980) + Pre-recorded intro by Prano Bailey-Bond (15 JUN 17:45 / 19 JUN 12:00); and, THE WARRIORS (d. Walter Hill, 1979) + Intro by director Asif Kapadia (21 JUN 18:00).


“We pay tribute to one of the most distinctive and audacious American directors.”


The sort of loving retrospective you’ve missed from BFI. Films we’ve picked include some favourites and one we knew nothing about (SECRET HONOUR – an adaptation of a one-man play about Richard Nixon featuring Philip Baker Hall). The season includes an online talk by programmer Geoff Andrew (24 MAY 19:00) and a panel discussion about Women In The Films Of Robert Altman (17 JUN 19:00). There’s a lot on 35MM and a some 4K restorations for the format enthusiasts amongst you.

Includes: OC & STIGGS 35MM d. Robert Altman, 1985 (09 JUN 20:40 / 22 JUN 18:00); POPEYE 35MM d. Robert Altman, 1980 (13 JUN 12:50 family screening / 29 JUN 17:50); QUINTET 35MM d. Robert Altman, 1979 (12 JUN 18:10 / 30 JUN 20:45); and, SECRET HONOUR 35MM d. Robert Altman, 1984 (16 JUN 18:00 / 27 JUN 15:50).


“We invite you to revel in the artistry of these amazing Black women performers.”


A season of showstoppers including both documentaries and musical numbers and, for old curiosity’s sake, THE WIZ (which is a movie musical we always want to love but just can’t… RADIANT CIRCUS also thinks BFI has programmed the wrong SPARKLE…, but enough negatives!). There’s plenty here to wrap your eyes and ears around, but we’ve chosen SIREN OF THE TROPICS as our featured attraction.

Includes: SIREN OF THE TROPICS aka La sirène des tropiques d. Mario Nalpas & Henri Étiévant, 1927 (19 MAY 18:10 & 05 JUN 12:20); STORMY WEATHER 4K d. Andrew L Stone, 1943 (19 MAY 20:50 & 05 JUN 15:00); … BUT THEN. SHE’S BETTY CARTER d. Michelle Parkerson, 1980 + GOTTA MAKE THIS JOURNEY: SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK d. Joseph Camp, 1983 (29 MAY 12:10 & 07 JUN 18:00); and, WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT d. Brian Gibson, 1993 (04 JUN 18:00 & 26 JUN 20:45).


“A collection of the best the big screen has to offer.”


Everything’s B&W in this reopening selection from world cinema’s finest hours. For us, the standout attraction is So Mayer introducing Sally Potter’s THE TANGO LESSON.

Includes: CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 aka Cléo de 5 à 7 d. Agnès Varda, 1961 (22 MAY 21:00 / 10 JUN 21:00 / 21 JUN 15:00); THE BIG CITY aka Mahanagar d. Satyajit Ray, 1963 (23 MAY 12:10 & 23 JUN 17:40); THE TANGO LESSON 35MM d. Sally Potter, 1997 + Pre-recorded intro by So Mayer (09 JUN 17:50); THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (Director’s Cut) d. Peter Bogdanovich, 1971 (21 MAY 20:30 / 31 MAY 12:50 / 07 JUN 17:45).




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*THE SMALL PRINT: Opinions author’s own. // As accurate as we could make it. Apologies for any errors. Updates & corrections will be made to the online version only. // Event dates/times/formats are subject to change by the venue/organiser. Events may already be sold out at the time of posting, so please click quickly. // We try to list as many original format screenings as we can (8 to 70MM), but sometimes formats change due to age of the print, availability, logistics etc, so please check ahead with your venue if the format is your thing. // All images are used in the spirit of fair use for reporting & review – no ownership is implied or intended / unless otherwise credited to RADIANT CIRCUS as the original rights holder. We will remove any images immediately upon request – just get in touch. // We don’t filter our listings by age/certification: all readers & subscribers should therefore be 18+. // Finally, we always try to follow The Carny Code by “not screwing up anyone else’s game”, but everyone can make mistakes… If something does go wrong, we will always do our best to put it right. //.