What Is the British Film Institute?


Quick Answer

The British Film Institute is a charitable organization that supports the arts of filmmaking and television production through activities such as operating cinemas and film festivals, supporting film education programs in schools, and maintaining the world's largest film archive. The BFI also releases films on DVD and Blu-ray disc, publishes Sight & Sound Magazine, and produces television programs related to film.

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Full Answer

The BFI National Archive collects and preserves films and TV programs from the 19th century through the 21st. The archive focuses most of its efforts on British works but also contains international material. The BFI also collects books, journals and other printed materials that deal with film, which are housed in the BFI Reuben Library.

The BFI also operates the London IMAX cinema, showing major first-run releases, and the BFI Southbank, a repertory cinema in London showing critically acclaimed films. Those venues host the BFI's annual festivals, which include the London Film Festival, the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, and the Future Film Festival. The 2015 London Film Festival featured 240 films from 72 countries.

The BFI has published Sight and Sound magazine since 1934. The publication takes an egalitarian approach, reviewing small arthouse releases as well as major films. The magazine publishes the Critics' Top 10 Poll and Directors' Top 10 Poll, ranking the top 10 films of all time from both perspectives.

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