Scotland’s first BFI Mediatheque to open in Glasgow

A specially commissioned new collection of classic Scottish film and television will be unveiled at Scotland’s first BFI Mediatheque, at Glasgow’s Bridgeton Library.


The Wicker Man (1973)

The Wicker Man (1973)

The BFI is pleased to announce that the first ever BFI Mediatheque in Scotland will open in Glasgow’s Bridgeton Library at the newly redeveloped Olympia building from Friday 22 February 2013, offering a new opportunity for visitors to discover the riches of our film and television heritage for free.

The BFI Mediatheque in Glasgow has a specially commissioned collection of Scottish film and television, entitled Scottish Reels, drawn from the collections of the BFI National Archive and Scottish Screen Archive and spanning more than a century of Scottish life and culture.

Highlights of Scottish Reels include street scenes in Glasgow from 1901, early colour footage of tartans from 1906 and 1950s colour travelogues recording Scotland’s epic landscapes. Sean Connery makes a rare television appearance in The Bowler and the Bunnet (1967), a documentary he directed about the decline of the Glasgow shipyards.

There’s a rich vein of political television drama including the groundbreaking Culloden (1964) and The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil (1974), alongside lyrical filmmaking (Bill Douglas’ bleak and beautiful autobiographical Trilogy, 1972-78).

Big screen classics are also celebrated with films such as  Ealing’s subversive comedy of whisky smuggling in the Hebrides Whisky Galore! (1949), chilling occult thriller The Wicker Man (1973), Bill Forsyth’s delightful comedy Local Hero (1983) or Danny Boyle’s thrilling debut Shallow Grave (1994).

The Scottish Reels collection will be permanently available alongside over 2,500  films and TV programmes in Glasgow and at BFI Mediatheques around the UK. Her Majesty the Queen recently visited the BFI’s flagship Mediatheque on a tour of BFI Southbank (October 2012).

Heather Stewart, Creative Director, BFI said:

We are delighted to be working with colleagues in Scotland to bring the riches of these extraordinary national collections to the general public. There’s a wonderful excitement about seeing our world through the eyes of those long dead. Seeing a film shot on Jamaica Street, Glasgow in 1901 gives you a real sense of the past in a way that no other medium can.

Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life said:

Bridgeton Library has been a huge success since it opened in early December 2012. It has already firmly established itself in the local area as a community venue where people can already access all kinds of services and the opening of the BFI Mediatheque will ensure its position as a resource for people from all over Scotland.

BFI Mediatheques are now located in Glasgow, London, Derby, Cambridge, Newcastle upon Tyne and Wrexham. Additional BFI Mediatheques will open during 2013 with announcements expected later in the year.

All BFI Mediatheques are free to access. Anyone can drop in to browse an extraordinary range of over 2,500 complete films and television programmes drawn from the BFI National Archive and partner collections.

The sheer diversity of the collection is dizzying: from vintage Morecambe and Wise, Monty Python or Top of the Pops to Edwardian natural history including unclassifiable gems such as The Acrobatic Fly (1910) or Claude Friese-Greene’s The Open Road (1926) a journey through Britain filmed in colour in 1925, from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

There’s silent comedy from pioneers such as R.W. Paul c.1903, documentary footage from Mitchell & Kenyon (1900 – 1912), or contemporary delights in films such as Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) or Julien Temple’s London: The Modern Babylon (2012).

There are collections featuring the filmmaking of our industrial past, showing shipbuilding, coal-mining and steel-making, and films revealing the colonial histories of Tibet and India, alongside the finest in British television drama.

A wide range of other themed collections are available, exploring aspects of British social and cultural history from the 1890s to today, and new titles are added regularly. Whatever your age or interest there’s guaranteed to be something that’s sure to excite and delight.

Scottish Reels

Ten to try – some key titles in this special BFI Mediatheque collection

Jamaica Street, Glasgow (1901)
A breathtaking glimpse of city life on the cusp of the Edwardian era, courtesy of Messrs Mitchell & Kenyon.

Tartans of the Scottish Clans (1906)
Plenty of kilts (but no Celts) in this early colour marvel by pioneer G.A. Smith.

St. Kilda – Britain’s Loneliest Isle (1928)
Take a voyage from Glasgow to St Kilda: precious scenes of the Western Isles and crofting life.

Whisky Galore! (1949)
Ealing’s gently subversive comic favourite about whisky smuggling in the Hebrides.

The Kilties Are Coming (1951)
Meet the Royal Kiltie Juniors, a predominantly female variety act who can turn their hand to singing, dancing, comedy and

The Heart Is Highland (1952)
British Transport Films’ nostalgic colour ode to the life and landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, and its romantic, dramatic past.

Gregory’s Girl (1980)
John Gordon Sinclair stars in Bill Forsyth’s much-loved comedy of the travails of teenage love.

The Ship (1990)
Powerful production of Bill Bryden’s spectacular shipbuilding drama, filmed in Harland & Wolff’s shed in Govan, Glasgow.

Red Road (2006)
Andrea Arnold’s stark thriller about a CCTV operator at Glasgow’s condemned Red Road estate, as she tracks the man who destroyed her life.

New Town (2009)
Mark Gatiss stars as a comically po-faced architect in Annie Griffin’s left-field BBC Four murder mystery, set in Edinburgh’s upscale Georgian district.

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