Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film – cultural project



The British Film Institute (BFI)’s Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film, is a 2013 project celebrating one of Britain’s biggest cultural exports as revealed through four compelling themes: Monstrous, The Dark Arts, Haunted and Love is a Devil.

“With over 150 titles and around 1000 screenings Gothic features spectacularly terrifying special events to thrill every corner of the UK. The project also incorporates the longest BFI Southbank season yet (four months), UK wide theatrical and DVD releases, an education programme, a new BFI Gothic book and a range of partnerships, special guests and commentators, including project ambassador Christopher Frayling. Gothic will explore film’s most popular theme, spawning some of the medium’s most iconic, powerful and terrifying scenes and characters whose lasting popularity just refuses to die.

Gothic will celebrate the very British genius – rooted in literature and art – that gave rise to some of the most filmed characters in our on-screen history: Dracula, Frankenstein and Jekyll & Hyde. Gothic introduced the nation to sex, unleashing dark passions and breaking taboos along the way, circumventing what was acceptable to view on screen and then selling it to America – who imported the genre with true bloodlust.


Heather Stewart, Creative Director, BFI said: “With BFI Gothic, Britain will be filled with dread and fuelled by lust. Gothic has never been more potent or popular, reflecting the turbulent times we are living in, our deepest fears and hidden passions.

The British discovered sex in vivid Technicolor through Gothic. With a new generation gripped by the post modern Gothic world of Twilight’s ‘vegetarian’ vampires, Harry Potter’s spells and E.L. James’s 50 Shades, its meaning has mutated yet again. It’s now time to look back into the deep dark beating heart of Gothic film and give audiences the authentic thrill of this shape-shifting, perennially popular genre.”


BFI Gothic includes:

• the BFI Monster Weekend at the British Museum with outdoor screenings of Night of the Demon, Dracula and The Mummy (29/30/31 August)

• an exciting new partnership with The National Trust that will take us to some of the most historic places in the UK including Calke Abbey, Derbyshire and The Sticklebarn Pub in the Lake District

• a new partnership with Film4 that will find us celebrating ‘Dark Arts’ together over the Hallowe’en period, with a season on the channel that includes titles from Gothic and other films in a similar vein

• a return to Somerset House on 15 August with a special BFI talk by Jasper Sharp on ‘Asian Gothic and the Japanese Ghost Story’, part of the Behind the Screen strand of Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, before the evening’s outdoor screening of the BFI’s 35mm print of Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood

• The Edinburgh International Festival (9 August – 1 September, presents composer Philip Glass’s magical reimagining of Jean Cocteau’s 1946 La Belle et la Bête during this year’s Festival on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 August. La Belle et la Bête is organised and presented by the Edinburgh International Festival and is part of the BFI Gothic season

• working with the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in conjunction with their ‘Witchcraft & Wicked Bodies’ exhibition, 27 July – 3 November 2013 and Filmhouse, Edinburgh which will be presenting a Gothic season of films and events

• The Shining (1980) presented outdoors at Mapledurham House, Oxfordshire by Cult Screens (13 September)

• a Gothic double bill (film tbc) on 26 October at Cornerhouse Manchester by Manchester Metropolitan University as part of their city-wide Gothic Manchester events programme

• a new partnership with Abertoir: Wales’ International Horror Festival (5 – 10 November)

• a new partnership with the UK’s oldest costume house, Angels Fancy Dress, will give audiences all over the UK the opportunity to get into the spirit of Gothic with discounted costume hire and purchase during the project

The longest-running season (4 months) of film, television and events ever to be held at BFI Southbank with special guests appearing on stage alongside exclusive previews including Roger Corman, George A. Romero, Jane Goldman and many more

Eight new BFI DVD releases with DVD and Blu-ray premieres including the much-wanted BBC TV adaptation of Sheridan Le Fanu’s Schalcken the Painter. For younger viewers there will be Bumps in the Night; three scary stories from The Children’s Film Foundation film library

Nationwide BFI cinema releases of Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre – launching with Hallowe’en previews – and Jack Clayton’s The Innocents, released on 13 December

The lavishly illustrated new BFI publication Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film, featuring new essays by filmmakers and scholars such as Guillermo del Toro, Sir Christopher Frayling, Marina Warner, Roger Corman, Mark Kermode and Jane Goldman`

‘13 x 13’ – a major BFI Education programme inspiring a Gothic imagination in younger audiences, launching on Friday 13 September.

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