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New BFI Filmography reveals complete story of UK film


TODAY (SEP 20), the BFI launched the BFI Filmography, the world’s first complete and accurate living record of UK cinema that means everyone – from film fans and industry professionals to researchers and students – can now search and explore British film history, for free.

A treasure trove of new information, the BFI Filmography is an ever-expanding record that draws on credits from over 10,000 films, from the first UK film released in cinemas in 1911 through to present day, and charts the 250,000 cast and crew behind them.

There are 130 genres within the BFI Filmography, the largest of which is Drama with 3,710 films. Additionally, the numbers reveal that when it comes to film, laughter is nearly four times more popular with filmmakers than love, with 2,347 Comedy films versus 625 Romance films.

More films are made about War than any other subject (582 films) and only 146 have Sex as a theme. The most featured character is Queen Victoria who appears in 25 films, followed by Sherlock Holmes (24 films) and James Bond (21 films). UK filmmakers are also more interested in Europe than Great Britain, with 527 films having Europe as a subject, compared with 431 on Great Britain.

The BFI Filmography launches with new and revelatory findings about the gender imbalance in UK films, both in on-screen and off-screen roles. Carried out in partnership with innovation foundation Nesta, the findings show that women are still not accurately represented, and are more often cast in gender stereotypical unnamed roles (such as prostitutes, housekeepers and nurses).

They also tend to have shorter careers and on average make fewer films than male actors. Behind the camera there have been some improvements in the gender balance, with the percentage of crew members who are women rising from 3% in 1913 to 34% in 2017. Conversely, in several departments, such as Photography and Music, women still comprise less than 10% of senior crew members.

Overall, under 1% of crews are majority female and only 7% since 2000. Documentary is the category most made by women post 1990 (31%), but is one of the genres that features women the least (26%).

Whilst the BFI Filmography launches with a detailed look at gender, it is the intention to continue to build on the data, to provide a greater understanding of representation on and off screen. Work towards this began in 2016, with the BFI Black Star research study finding that 59% of films released in the last 10 years did not include a single black actor.

Heather Stewart, BFI Creative Director, said “With the creation of the BFI Filmography, with a complete data set from 1911 to the present day, we now know for the first time ever, exactly how many films have been made and released, when and by whom. At a time when the UK film industry is burgeoning, the BFI Filmography is an invaluable resource for anyone with an interest in film, providing evidence that can help inform policy, the future of the industry and its workforce.”

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