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is the leading repertory cinema in the UK specialising in seasons of classic, independent and non-English language film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...
s and is operated by the British Film Institute
The British Film Institute is a charitable organisation established by Royal Charter to:-Cinemas:The BFI runs the BFI Southbank and IMAX theatre, both located on the south bank of the River Thames in London...
The National Film Theatre was initially opened in a temporary building (the Telekinema
The Telecinema was a small cinema built specially for the Festival of Britain's London South Bank Exhibition in the summer of 1951. It was situated between Waterloo Station and the Royal Festival Hall....
) at the Festival of Britain
The Festival of Britain was a national exhibition in Britain in the summer of 1951. It was organised by the government to give Britons a feeling of recovery in the aftermath of war and to promote good quality design in the rebuilding of British towns and cities. The Festival's centrepiece was in...
in 1951 and moved to its present location in 1957, replacing the Thameside restaurant on the site. Subsequently, Southbank Centre expanded its buildings to meet the National Film Theatre from the south, while the Royal National Theatre
The Royal National Theatre in London is one of the United Kingdom's two most prominent publicly funded theatre companies, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company...
now occupies the area to the north-east.
On 14 March 2007, the National Film Theatre was relaunched as BFI Southbank in considerably enlarged premises, taking over space that had been used by the Museum of the Moving Image. In addition to the three pre-existing auditoria, the complex now includes a studio, a médiathèque, gallery space, a shop, and a bar and restaurant run by Benugo.
Location and architectural details
It is sited below the southern end of Waterloo Bridge
Waterloo Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge crossing the River Thames in London, England between Blackfriars Bridge and Hungerford Bridge. The name of the bridge is in memory of the British victory at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815...
, forming part of the cultural complex on the South Bank
South Bank is an area of London, England located immediately adjacent to the south side of the River Thames. It forms a long and narrow section of riverside development that is within the London Borough of Lambeth to the border with the London Borough of Southwark and was formerly simply known as...
of the River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...
. The site comprises three cinemas and studio space, as well as cafes and exhibition space. It also has a large bar area in the foyer, where smaller performances are sometimes held.