BFI to join VOD craze


“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.” – Greg Dyke, BFI Chairman.

It’s exciting stuff. Yersterday, Greg Dyke announced that a new video-on-demand platform will be launched nationwide on 9th October – coinciding with the BFI London Film Festival. This BFI player will shed light on all the cinephiles who crave for inependent and specialised film. It will be the BFI experience from home – a great treat – and no doubt will boost the UK film industry by offering new distribution opportunities. To be honest, it’s about time.

The player – for PCs, Macs, tablets and iPhone – will have a mix of different collections from cult British cinema to films about filmmakers and cine literate freaks. It will also hold special simultaneous distribution events, as seen with Ben Wheatley’s A Field in England. Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant will launch on the player alongside it’s theatrical release on 25th October. It’s said there will be many more significant events like this in the near future, including a restoration of The Epic on Everest!


This may all be arousing news, but you have to raise concerns for the arthouse cinemas who were previously the prior market for independent and specialised film. Is it right that the arthouse genre should be made easily accessible to the mass audience? The appreciation may not be the same. However, I’m sure the cinema audiences will still be alive, after all, everyone loves a trip to the picture house.

Edward Humphrey, BFI Director of Digital, says: “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.” What I want to ask is how come we’re not aspiring to an international audience? It seems to me, the UK industry has always acted too isolate towards our cinema. Humphrey goes on to proclaim: “The UK film industry leads the world in digital innovation.” Hard to believe when America has enough VOD platforms to be classed as contagious, but I’m sure Humphrey knows best – it’s all with good intention.

Whatever the outcome may be for BFI’s player, it’s certainly cheerful news and as Dyke said, “a defining moment in the BFI’s 80 year history.” I look forward to embracing this history on the 9th October.


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