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Britain on Film FAQ

Answers to common questions about the BFI’s Britain on Film project.

Can I get hold of a copy of one of the films?

The best way to watch the films is on BFI Player, our video on demand streaming service available in the UK only. We have curated the films to tell the story of Britain on Film, the rights to the films belong to a huge number of owners and many are rights restricted so are not available outside BFI Player.

Are you accepting films found by the public for the project?

We’re always interested in hearing about location-specific UK film and television materials we might not know about. However, in the first instance the best approach is to approach the archive that covers your local area as they will have more details about location-specific materials of local relevance. Read more about the archives covering the nations and regions of the UK.

Why aren’t all titles free?

The majority of content on the map is free, but obligations to rights holders require some content to be paid for.

How is digitised content placed on BFI Player protected from unauthorised copying and distribution, and why can’t I see it outside of the UK?

BFI Player is only available to audiences in the UK. It uses industry-standard digital rights management and geo-blocking to protect content from unauthorised copying and distribution. This is in line with the rights agreements on BFI Player content. However, do please check the BFI YouTube channel as wherever possible (and rights permitting) we have also made content from Britain on Film available there which can be accessed by an international audience, and we will continue to do so as the project develops.

If I spot somewhere or someone I know or want to comment on the films how can I?

We really want to encourage people to interact and share these films and urge people to use the share links on BFI Player and get involved on our Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.

Who owns Britain on Film? Is it the BFI?

This project is a collaboration between the UK’s 13 national and regional archives, the BFI National Archive and rights holders across the UK to achieve the story of Britain on Film. The BFI, as the lead body for film and under its Film Forever strategic plan, has responsibility for managing and co-ordinating Britain on Film.

How do you choose which films to digitise?

An expert team of curators from across the UK select:

  • Films that will engage and appeal to audiences across the UK and feature as wide a geographical spread as possible – by working with regional and national film archive collections the BFI is able to reach collections covering the whole country.
  • Films that represent a spread across time.
  • Films that are not available anywhere else and have not been seen either at all since they first appeared or widely (particularly online).
  • Films that plug the gap in periods of filmmaking where there isn’t much content available, particularly from the birth of cinema in 1895 – to the birth of sound in 1929.

There are no films on the map for my area?

We will be continuing to add more films to the Britain on Film map over the coming months and years. So please do check back to see new releases that may be from or near your local area.

Can I screen any of the films from Britain on Film publically?

To show any of the films on BFI Player to an audience on any size screen, you need to first obtain permission from the film’s rights-holder and a fee may apply.

For BFI National Archive titles please contact our bookings team. For other archive titles please contact the relevant organisation.

If you have any other questions:

For BFI Player enquiries, read the frequently asked questions about BFI Player.

For questions about the archives, either contact your local archive or find out more about the BFI National Archive.

  • Britain on Film map

    Britain on Film map

    1,000s of films, beautifully preserved. 120 years of British life, unseen until now.

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