New video-on-demand service BFI Player unveiled

The BFI launches a brand new video-on-demand service offering six collections, including day-and-date releases for The Selfish Giant and The Epic of Everest and our biggest ever archive release.


Mitchell and Kenyon: St Barnabus School, Blackburn (1905)

Mitchell and Kenyon: St Barnabus School, Blackburn (1905)

BFI Chair Greg Dyke today unveiled the BFI Player, a brand new video-on-demand platform for the millions that enjoy independent and specialised film and who will now get the full BFI experience, wherever they live. Available nationwide from 9 October, the BFI Player will support the UK’s film industry by offering new distribution opportunities while making great film accessible to the widest possible audience across the UK.

Launching to coincide with the BFI London Film Festival, the BFI Player is a pioneering new way of taking cultural assets into the digital age and will offer a mix of six collections, including behind the scenes at the festival, contemporary and archive films – including GOTHIC and Cult cinema –and, for the first time ever, the full 28 hours of rare Edwardian film footage from filmmakers Mitchell and Kenyon.

Offering a mix of free (approx. 60%) and pay-per-view (approx. 40%) content that includes over 1,000 items of content, including hundreds of feature films in the launch period, the BFI Player will go further than current VOD platforms by offering deep exploration and understanding of film content, chosen and contextualised by the experts at the BFI, all in HD quality. The BFI Player will evolve and grow as new partners and increasing content come on board over the coming months with Phase 2 of the BFI Player set to launch in early 2014.

Special events will be a feature of the BFI Player. Today it is also announced that Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant will launch on the BFI Player simultaneously with its UK theatrical release on 25 October and the BFI restoration of The Epic of Everest on 18 October will launch on the BFI Player on the same day as its premiere at the BFI London Film Festival and UK release on 18 October.

The Epic of Everest (1924)

The Epic of Everest (1924)

Greg Dyke, BFI chair, said:

The launch of the BFI Player is a defining moment in the BFI’s 80 year history – it will unlock the past, present and future of British film and, most importantly, offers a new deal for UK audiences to get great films out to as many people as possible across the UK. I’m really excited about the BFI Player’s potential. The BFI is pivotal to identifying great films and nurturing and giving a voice to great filmmakers in the UK and now offers a platform to take these stories out to whole new audiences.

Edward Humphrey, BFI Director of Digital said:

Audience behaviour has shifted to embrace digital platforms, now the BFI Player gives us a foundation from which we can support a digital future for film lovers and bring the story of film to a truly national audience. The UK film industry leads the world in digital innovation and we hope the BFI Player will quickly become an essential element in the distribution models of tomorrow.

The BFI Player will launch with seven different collections:

  • London Film Festival Presents; exclusive red carpet action, talent interviews and special behind the scenes access to the UK’s most important film festival
  • Backed by the BFI; the best of British cinema – a showcase of some of the finest films, many funded by the BFI Film Fund
  • Edwardian Britain;  for the first time ever all 28 hours of the extraordinary films of pioneering filmmakers Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon, c.1900 – 1912
  • GOTHIC: The Dark Heart of Film; The BFI’s blockbuster project featuring four compelling themes Monstrous, The Dark Arts, Haunted and Love is a Devil
  • Cult Cinema; a passport to an exciting and surprising world of cult British cinema from the BFI’s Flipside DVD label
  • Inside Film; films about filmmaking for filmmakers and all those who love cinema
  • Sight and Sound Selects (from their Greatest Film poll); a growing selection of the best films of all time

Enabling distributors, empowering filmmakers

The BFI Lottery Film Fund invests in distinctive new British filmmaking on every step of the journey – from development to production to distribution. The BFI Player brings our support full circle, bringing the best of contemporary British cinema directly to audiences.

The Selfish Giant (2013)

The Selfish Giant (2013)

The Selfish Giant, from content partner Artificial Eye, is the critically acclaimed debut fiction feature from Clio Barnard and will be available through the BFI Player on 25 October, the day it premieres in UK cinemas. Co-developed and financed by the BFI Film Fund, The Selfish Giant won the Europa Cinemas Label as Best European film in Director’s Fortnight at Cannes 2013, and premieres in the UK at the BFI London Film Festival.

Breathing new life into the landscape for innovative release models, the BFI Player will provide a richer and wider relationship between distributors and fans of independent cinema across the UK.

Working with major partners

The BFI has a new partnership with ITV Studios to bring content from the latest BFI blockbuster project GOTHIC to the BFI Player.

Dan Gopal, SVP, Global Digital Media & Home Entertainment, ITV Studios Global Entertainment (ITVS GE) said:

The BFI is dedicated to preserving and promoting British film culture and at ITVS GE we own the rights to the renowned Rank and ITC film libraries, so together we can make these collections accessible online to fans of classic British cinema across the UK.

Mitchell & Kenyon's Employees Leaving Storey’s Moor Lane Mill, Lancaster (1902)

Mitchell & Kenyon's Employees Leaving Storey’s Moor Lane Mill, Lancaster (1902)

Making the archive accessible: a platform for incredible stories

The discovery of the films of Mitchell & Kenyon was one of the defining moments in British film history, transforming these former footnotes to history into major pioneers of cinema who captured the lives of ordinary people as no other filmmakers have done. Never before available to the general public in its entirety, the complete collection now contains more than 800 films (more than 28 hours) with many from the towns and cities of the north east of England, but which includes films from Scotland, Wales and Ireland – areas of the UK that were previously not recorded on film. Street scenes, factory gate and industrial scenes, holiday outings, fun-fairs, sporting events, processions, carnivals, celebrations – all bring Victorian and Edwardian history to life (1900-1912) in fascinating and vivid detail, revealing a time beyond living memory.

The Epic of Everest is the 57th BFI London Film Festival’s Archive Gala on the 18 October and, alongside its UK theatrical release that day will be simultaneously available on the BFI Player. The Epic of Everest is a largely unseen masterpiece – a record of the remarkable third expedition to Mount Everest in 1924 by renowned climbers Mallory and Irvine. The film is directed by Captain John Noel and is commonly considered to be one of the most extraordinary treasures in the BFI national film archive. The Epic of Everest is debuting on the BFI Player 89-years after the climb and 60-years after Everest was officially conquered. The film is a fascinating insight into Mallory and Irvine’s doomed expedition, poignantly capturing the tragedy of the expedition and also offers some of the earliest film footage of life in Tibet.

The BFI Player is working with two lead technology partners. Online video playback in HD quality is provided by Ooyala and the web user interface has been designed and built by Capablue.

Read more

Back to the top

See something different

Subscribe now for exclusive offers and the best of cinema.