Queen Victoria's long reign famously saw extraordinary advances: in industry, transport, science, culture... But one vital innovation is too often missed: the moving image, the last great invention of the age. Yet film forever changed the way we see the world. And even before the French Lumière brothers presented their first demonstrations in London in 1895, British filmmakers were beginning to make their mark. Now, for the first time, we are making publically available all of the BFI's collections of British films made in the first six years of the medium - from 1895 to 1901.
Capturing the beauty and brutality, the magic and madness of rural Britain.
Immerse yourself in the films featured in Paul Wright's captivating archive odyssey.
Public Information Films
Stop! Look! Listen! For decades public information films have been educating, persuading and above all warning us of hidden dangers.
Dreams, memories and reveries - the collected works of one of Britain's most distinctive filmmakers.
This colourful and challenging collection explores screen representations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lives over the past century.
Powers of Persuasion
A sneak preview of a major new collection tracing the history of British screen advertising.
Born Digital: First Cuts
Eleven innovative short films about the digital experience, commissioned by the BFI, BBC Four and BBC Arts to mark the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web in 2019.
Edwardian Britain on Film
Welcome to a lost world. These amazing films, lost for nearly a century, offer something close to time travel - a journey into the Britain of our great grandparents, courtesy of filmmakers Mitchell and Kenyon.
Disabled Britain on Film
This diverse and fascinating collection looks at representations of disabled people on screen over the past ten decades. It offers a glimpse into the lives and experiences of people often hidden from screen history, and a chance to see how contemporary disabled artists and filmmakers are insisting that their own images and voices must be seen and heard.
Women with a Movie Camera
Great films incite, others vex, a few elate. From pre-war to the present day, these remarkable works by international women directors do all that and more.
Most Popular Free 2018
Our national fabric has many threads and deep colour. Each year, it gets more vivid and popular…
Celebrating side-splitting film and TV, from slapstick legends to today's anarchic voices.
Suffragettes on Film
"You have to make more noise than anybody else!," cried Suffragette pioneer Emmeline Pankhurst. But how to make more noise in silent film?
13 new short films from new and emerging animators, commissioned through a prestigious initiative by the BFI, BBC Four, and BBC Arts.
NHS on Film
Film has the power to change lives – and even save them. No surprise, then, that moving images have played an important role in one of the world’s greatest public health services.
1918 on Film
The final year of the war was a tough one for British film, but the industry did its patriotic best.
An animated portrait of a nation, brought to life frame by painstaking frame
Jewish Britain on Film
Jewish life on screen: a century of insights and hidden histories
Football on Film
Football and film: two giants of 20th century spectacle. Born just a few years apart, film and the professional game have grown up together, as this fascinating collection shows.
Black Britain on Film
Striking, illuminating and sometimes surprising images of black culture, community and characters, spanning over a century of British film and TV.
India on Film: 1899-1947
An extraordinary collection of films capturing India before independence.
1917 on Film
A fourth year of war and no end in sight. Government propaganda stepped up, and even animation took a dark turn... What our forebears saw in cinemas a century ago.
1916 on Film
The war dragged on - and on… but cinemas offered more news from the Front, while trying to entertain those at home. Watch along with cinemagoers a century ago.
1915 on Film
As a nation steeled itself for a long war, cinemas offered desperately wanted information - and welcome distraction. Find out what Britain watched a century ago.
1914 on Film
What did our forebears watch a century ago? Discover the cinema of 1914 in this very mixed programme from the year the world changed.
An eccentric excursion to the furthest fringes of youth culture and alternative lifestyles, as captured in archive film and TV.
Most Popular Free 2017
Our national fabric has many threads and deep colour. Each year, it gets more vivid and popular…
Vibrant snapshots of life in member states across the 20th century, both before and after the foundation of the Commonwealth.
Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film
Gothic horror and romance tales feed on our darkest fears and desires, and conjure the creatures of the night into being.
Tennis on Film
Quiet Please! Our unique collection serves up some nine decades of court action from Wimbledon and other UK tournaments.
Every generation finds its own beat, and every scene has been caught on camera. This toe-tapping tour guides us through pop's glorious past.
It's time to join the ghosts of Christmases past as we celebrate a century of festive film.
The Pleasure Principle
From Victorian voyeurism to Soho striptease: how a hidden film industry emerged to satisfy the sexual appetites of (male) viewers.
It's the big day and you're invited: a multitude of marriages, caught on film since the 1910s.
The Arts on Film
Behind the canvas with a movie camera: you can almost smell the turpentine in these fascinating portraits of artists at work.
Home Movies & Amateur Film
Celluloid scrapbooks: the most intimate and personal of films invite us into Britain's birthday parties, back gardens and beach holidays.
Mischievous mermaids, murderous minors and military mayhem are among the highlights of this collection of long hard-to-see titles.
The March of Time
Time Marches On! Though perhaps most famous today for inspiring the opening of Citizen Kane, The March of Time was a truly trailblazing series.
London Film-Makers' Co-op
Celebrating 50 years of the LFMC (now Lux), the ground-breaking production and distribution cooperative for artists’ moving image.
BFI Future Film Festival
Celebrating ten years of the BFI Future Film Festival with a selection of award-winning films and audience favourites.
Film Academy Shorts
We present the very best shorts by young filmmakers, produced through the BFI Film Academy.
Shakespeare on Film
All the world's a cinema! How a century and more of filmmakers have raided, remade and refashioned the bard.
Railways on Film
Tracking shots: cinema and the railways have enjoyed a long journey together, starting in the Victorian era and yet to hit the buffers.
Animals on Film
"Never work with animals or children," runs the old film industry saw. But British filmmakers have proven adept at both - and especially animals.
Steel on Film
With its glowing rivers of liquid metal and dazzling showers of sparks, steelmaking is the most colourfully cinematic of industries.
Coal on Film
Coalmining is visually unique, dramatic, elemental, iconic - and a huge filmmaking challenge. Small wonder that it's the industry with the richest and deepest screen history of all.
Textiles on Film
From cotton reels to reels of film: with its restless looms, vibrant colours and rich textures, Britain's textiles industry offers cinematic pleasures by the yard.
Shipbuilding on Film
Every ship launch is an epic. The majestic glide of the colossus into the waiting waters is a spectacle made for filming.
The Home Front
Sandbags and searchlights, firefighters battling blazing streets; trains packed with departing children or servicemen... film has given us some of our most enduring images of war.
Films to fall in love with. Films to break your heart.
Sci-Fi - Days of Fear and Wonder
Take a trip around the blazing worlds of sci-fi as we undock a blockbuster celebration of this most spectacular of movie genres.
Never Mind The Ballots
As election fever grips Britain (or doesn't), we get on our soapbox to present a fascinating collection of political and campaigning films.
South Asian Britain on Film
Discover a rich history reaching back over a century as we celebrate South Asian communities and culture across Britain.
Cycling On Film
The bike is back! British cycling is enjoying a 21st-century renaissance, so what better time to celebrate a century of cycling on film?
WTF - A Box of Odd
What’s that Film?! If you’ve a taste for the curious or the kitsch, the bewildering or the bizarre, then look no further. Our selection of rare archive treats will satisfy the most adventurous palate.
Chinese Britain on Film
Chart the representation of Britain's Chinese communities in film, from exotic Other to more authentic self-portraits, in a collection of rare, strange, witty and touching films.
Listen to Britain 2017
Celebrating 75 years since Humphrey Jennings and Stewart McAllister’s original film, BBC Four and BFI NETWORK, in association with Wingspan Productions, have partnered to offer the next generation of UK filmmakers the opportunity to present their diverse and unique perspectives on modern Britain.
Punk’s mad parade burnt bright and quick, feeding on the public’s limitless love of disgust. Works from Julien Temple and Captain Zip immerse you in the movement, with music from The Undertones and more.
Unavailable on DVD
This collection showcases a selection of hard-to-see features that are unavailable to watch anywhere else (legally) in the UK.
Britain on Film: Out of the Rubble
Penny Woolcock’s Out of the Rubble is an archive documentary compiled from films digitised for our Britain on Film project. Here we present Woolcock’s work alongside the original films that inspired it.
Royal Geographical Society
Ascend the Himalayan peaks, sail through mighty oceans and traverse thickets of African jungle – all in one extraordinary collection of films.
Films for kids have changed dramatically over the last 100 years, as seen in this family-friendly collection.
Cinema of WWI
A young film industry just settling into its own home - the cinema - found itself enlisted to record, report and dramatise a war unlike any other.
To mark this year's Refugee Week, BFI and Counterpoints Arts have compiled a collection of films that explore refugee experiences in the past and present and across different parts of the world.
The London Topographical Society
Films digitised with the support of The London Topographical Society, the charity which charts our capital’s history, growth and topography.
John Akomfrah Selects
A stunning selection of films from the Arts Council England film collection, curated by John Akomfrah for ‘History is Now: 7 Artists Take On Britain’ (Hayward Gallery, 10 February – 26 April 2015).
A piece of aged silverware represents the game at its simplest and, dare we say it, most romantic. Our collection brings you giants and giantkillers, long-forgotten clubs and euphoric crowds.
Most Popular Free 2015
BFI Player was the birth of a notion, a mirror to reflect moving image history and heritage. Many stories are told, from towns reborn and hope renewed to fires lit and changes forced. Behold this year's most popular.
China on Film
Travel back in time to a lost China with this collection of extraordinary, rare and beautiful travelogues, newsreels and home movies from the first half of the 20th century.
Who Can You Trust?
From the collections of the BFI and its partner archives, a host of rarely seen British thrillers highlighting Britain's often idiosyncratic take on the genre.
Five short films available for free online throughout BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival, in partnership with the British Council.
The First World War dead were commemorated as they fell. That act of remembrance has never ceased. For the survivors, it invokes a range of emotions, not least pride, sorrow and anger.
Cricket on Film
When cricket is played, it seems as if summer will never end. And when cricket is filmed, summer can last for ever.