Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds of Powell and Pressburger at King Street

Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds of Powell and Pressburger is a major BFI UK-wide film celebration of one of the greatest and most enduring filmmaking partnerships in the history of cinema: Michael Powell (1905 to 1990) and Emeric Pressburger (1902 to 1988), best known for iconic films including The Red Shoes (1948), A Matter of Life and Death (1946) and Black Narcissus (1947), the latter of which premiered this year at Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore as part of Il Cinema Ritrovato, screening from a brand new 35mm print made by the BFI. 

From Martin Scorsese to Matthew Bourne, Kate Bush to Tilda Swinton, Powell and Pressburger have influenced creatives for decades and this is the largest and most wide-ranging exploration ever undertaken about the work of the legendary writer-producer-director team. The celebration will kick off this autumn with the BFI Distribution re-release of I Know Where I’m Going! (1945), recently restored by the BFI National Archive and The Film Foundation in association with ITV and Park Circus, playing at King Street on 5 & 9 November

“Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s bold, original and beautiful films changed cinema,” says Arike Oke, executive director of Knowledge and Collections, “and the potency of their vision still resonates today across the creative worlds of art, design, theatre and dance brought together so sublimely in their productions.

She continues: “Martin Scorsese, Derek Jarman, Kate Bush, Matthew Bourne, Sally Potter, Wes Anderson, Manolo Blahnik – just some of the great artists whose work owes a debt to The Archers’ films. Headily romantic, but also daringly political, the partnership that produced such passionate British productions as A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes was rooted in a fusion of the English with the European, of the conservative with the progressive, that demonstrates that the best British film always has diversity at its heart. Theirs was a cinema unbound, which BFI are thrilled to present in as complete a form as possible for audiences across the UK to enjoy today, and to help inspire the next generation of fearless creators.”

Thelma Schoonmaker, film editor and widow of Michael Powell, says: “It is my honour to be, alongside Martin Scorsese, the keeper of the legacy of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. And I am indebted to the BFI National Archive, and their expert conservation, preservation and curation teams, who have worked tirelessly for years to restore many of their films and bring this vast project to audiences around the UK. Along with The Film Foundation, the BFI have long championed Powell and Pressburger’s work, and it is a joy that audiences now have the opportunity to immerse themselves fully in their creative universes – from rarely seen early works to their unrivalled masterpieces.”

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