Archive DVD labels #2: BFI

The DVD publishing arm of the British Film Institute (BFI) has been very active in recent years, not just releasing quality editions of films from a variety of countries and timespans (including the Free Cinema and Lotte Reiniger sets), but also a series of documentary releases which includes focus on the mining, shipbuilding, and steel industries; public information films; the output of the British Transport Films and General Post Office Film Unit; a three volume set of the works of Humphrey Jennings; a collection of films around the British pub; and two explorations of social documentary in Land of Promise and Shadows of Progress.  There have also been discs focusing on London – the Wonderful London and A London Trilogy sets.

The Flipside label has focused on forgotten gems from the past such as The Bed Sitting Room, Privilege, Lunch Hour, and The Party’s Over; while the recent Gothic season on the big screen led to a number of archive television releases including the long sought-after series Dead of Night (sadly incomplete), Supernatural, the Play for Today Robin Redbreast, and Schalcken the Painter.  The upcoming Sci-fi series will include a release of the legendary series from the 1960s, Out of the Unknown, across six discs.

Finally, children’s and silent cinema has not been neglected.  The Childrens’ Film Foundation sets have been very popular, including two serials from the Famous Five books of Enid Blyton.   In terms of silent cinema, The Epic of Everest and The Miners’ Hymns joined the roster recently complementing releases such as South and The Great White Silence.

The BFI DVD label is a wonderful enterprise releasing affordable gems other labels probably wouldn’t touch.  My favourite recent release of theirs is probably the Ghost Stories for Christmas compilation, bringing together in particular the 1970s classics such as The Treasure of Abbot Thomas and The Ash Tree, plus a few more recent entries into the genre.