The term “archive film” can encompass fiction features, shorts, silent movies, non-fiction local and/or social history films, from documentary television news pieces to home movies. Much of the advice offered in this section applies to all these types of film – both as reissues from distributors and as collections in regional and national film archives – while some of it is specific to social history shorts in particular.

Why programme archive film?

Screening films from the past can capture the imagination, whisking people back to a bygone era and tapping into the appeal of reconnecting with the norms, fashions and quirks of the past.

Programming archive film can help differentiate your venue or festival from mainstream cinemas, as a place to experience something unique and largely unseen. Screening social and/or local history film in particular can position a cinema as a community venue making a valuable contribution to social cohesion. Working with a national or regional film archive can help expand your networks and potentially open up further opportunities for projects and funding. Moreover, archive film screenings can be very popular with audiences.

Enabling audiences access to film heritage is part of the BFI’s strategic priorities for audiences for  2017– 2022.

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