The launch hosted a jovial panel including Mike Newell, director of the award-winning Four Weddings and a Funeral and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and screenwriter of the new British romantic comedy Man Up by Tess Morris. Discussing the future of love on the silver screen, the panel were both nostalgic about the legacy of love in cinema and optimistic about its future. Though tales of love can often lead to broken hearts, there was a sweeping air of merriment throughout the cinema as the infectious vivacity of love-themed movies broke out. This season is sure to warm the cockles of even the hardest hearts.
Rhidian Davis’s opening speech to the launch was buzzing with contagious excitement and riddled with clips of famous love scenes from timeless movies, including the first onscreen kiss from the 1896 film The May Irwin Kiss and also the renowned diner scene with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally. Davis gleefully reminded us all why cinema tells the love story in a way unlike any other medium. The way a camera can capture the love between two people and evoke it so beautifully in its music is potent and adept at tugging on the audience’s heartstrings.
The season will be hosting a number of exciting events, from Q&As with the likes of Mike Newell after a screening of Four Weddings and a Funeral (date TBC) and director Gina Prince-Brythewood and actor Gugu Mbatha-Raw of Beyond the Lights on the October 29th. Panel discussions will take place on such topics as ‘The Feminist’s Guide to Love on Screen’ with filmmakers Desiree Akhavan (Appropriate Behaviour) and Campbell X (Stud Life), film theorist Laura Mulvey, critic Sophie Mayer and the BFI’s Jane Giles, as well as one on romance in TV soaps, entitled ‘Hollyoaks to EastEnders: Love and Sex in the Television Soap’ which will host current soap-stars in the panel.
Another event to note down on the calendar is ‘Jane Austen Day’ where in between and after screenings of Sense and Sensibility (1995) and Clueless (the famous adaptation of Austen’s Emma in 1995), audiences can partake in regency dance classes with Nonsuch and also a 90s Valley Party. Invited to dress in either period garb or 90s fashion, it’s sure to be fun-filled and love-filled occasion.
There will be a 70th anniversary re-release of Brief Encounter (1945) at the BFI as well as site-specific and immersive screenings around the UK. A 50th Anniversary re-release of Doctor Zhivago starring the late Omar Shariff will occur on November 27th, being presented in cinemas across the UK. BFI IMAX will also host screening of epic romances including Gone With the Wind (1939), Titanic (1997), Cleopatra (1963) and A Matter of Life and Death (1946).
A blend of classic romance and modern love, tragedy and comedy, the season is looking to be one of great passion and diversity in its approach to the endless theme of love in cinema. Questions such as ‘is romantic comedy a lost genre?’, ‘where is the leading man in romantic comedy?’ and ‘who really does believe in love now?’ were just some thrown up in the panel discussion at the launch. Davis even highlighted the youth of today’s clear belief in love seen in the raging success of box-office smash The Fault in our Stars in 2014. Following this, he announced the new ticket discount at the BFI for people aged 25 and under, to buy last-minute £5 tickets to a show at the BFI London Film Festival on the day, 45 minutes before the screening.
The BFI has compiled a stellar season celebrating the universal theme of love in all its varying capacities. Between the special events, panel discussions and nostalgic screenings, there is something here for all people, of all ages, to love.