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BIMI (Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image) is a unique place. An exciting research forum housed in a beautiful cinema, BIMI pursues an imaginative public-engagement agenda that combines original and ambitious film curating with top-quality academic research and creative interaction with the artistic and cultural community of London, UK, and beyond.

We programme about 70 events per year, spread over three terms from October to July. These include screenings, discussions, conferences, study days, lectures, book launches and performances, plus our annual international Essay Film Festival (in collaboration with Institute of Contemporary Arts), which has already become a key reference in the film festival circuit (

All of our activities take place in the Birkbeck Cinema, Gordon Square, which features 16mm and twin 35mm projectors in addition to high-quality digital projection. The variety of formats and the quality of our facilities make BIMI an ideal location for research-led events focusing on the presentation of film, television and video materials from across the artistic and cultural spectrum, and drawing on the full historical range of moving image culture (including archival prints and even magic lantern shows).

We think of our Cinema as a laboratory for ideas, debate and experimentation, embodied by the projection of images and sounds that can move us, surprise us, and inspire us to thought and action.

Our programme is built principally around key thematic STRANDS, all of which involve collaboration with colleagues from across Birkbeck and beyond.

Some of these strands are termly: Guilt Group, Digital Animation, Cinephiles, LUX Artists Moving Image, Sci/Film, Urban Change, Fruitvale Film Club, Children’s Film Club. Others are annual, such as the Pittsburgh Lecture, Human Rights Cinema, and the AL Rees Lecture.

We also regularly programme Essay Film special events and preludes, in preparation for our annual Essay Film Festival.

In addition to these thematic strands, we organise many one-off events in response to proposals received from colleagues at Birkbeck and from the wider research community, as well as from cultural institutions and other creative partners.


Our events are open to everyone, and almost all of them are free.

As our programme addresses a variety of social, political and cultural issues related to academic research, we attract a broad range of people to our events, including academics, students, artists, curators, independent researchers, activists, and the general public.

Whilst we have a core audience of people interested in film and the moving image generally, and curious to see a variety of rarely screened films and other works, our public tends to change from event to event based on the topic. In some cases, the content of an event may attract a specific community, as occurred with events about pre-revolutionary popular Iranian cinema, the Senegalese historian Cheikh Anta Diop, the Brazilian works of Vivian Ostrowsky, and the essays films of Lebanese filmmaker Jocelyne Saab. In other cases, we may draw a crowd that is specifically interested in a political or social theme or an area of cultural practice, such as the Digital Animation strand, the Fruitvale Film Club, or our events around Urban Change.

14th June 2019

Personal Problems, dir. by Bill Gunn (USA, 1980)


By Russell Banfield Bill Gunn had little time for Hollywood. After achieving some success with the screenplay to The Landlord, dir. by Hal Ashby (USA, 1970), Gunn’s directorial debut, Stop (1970), so incensed Warner Brothers who claimed Gunn deviated far from his own script that the film was never released. His next film, Ganja and Hess (1973), fared…

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12th June 2019

From Self-Portrait to Selfie: Event Notes and Resources

the gleaners and i agnes varda

On Friday 5th July the Birkbeck cinema will host the Self-Representation in Visual Culture research group for the launch of their latest publication, the edited collection From Self-Portrait to Selfie: Representing the Self in the Moving Image, published by Peter Lang. You can register your attendance for free here. Established in 2013, the Self-Representation in…

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1st June 2019

BIMI-PITT Research Workshop: “Displacement in Film and Visual Culture”

highway hearing

By Russell Banfield Friday 17thMay, Panel #5: Displacing Communities Over the course of three days, the third edition of the BIMI-PITT Research Workshop, a joint venture between the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image and the University of Pittsburgh to share and develop research, covered a wide range of subjects, all based around the notion…

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1st June 2019

Doozy, dir. by Richard Squires (UK, 2018)

doozy film

By Russell Banfield Where does the character end and the actor begin? That’s the question behind Doozy, an essay film by Richard Squires that weaves academic commentary, animated dramatizations, and childhood recollections to explore the life and career of Paul Lynde, a closeted gay actor who voiced some of Hanna-Barbera’s best-loved villains, but who struggled with…

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22nd May 2019

Life, Above All: Interview with Actor Harriet Manamela

By Mickey La Rosa Life, Above All (Oliver Schmitz, 2010) screened at BIMI on May 3, 2019 as part of the Guilt Working Group's ongoing series at Birkbeck. Below is an interview with its star, Harriet Manamela, conducted by Film Programming and Curating student Mickey La Rosa. It was originally posted on his blog. (more…)

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22nd May 2019

Films with a Mission: Medical Films from the Catholic Mission Archives

films with a mission bimi screening

By Tom Baker The formerly narrow history of British documentary has been expanded greatly in recent years to allow room for early innovators of the form working outside the cinema space. Alongside better-known names such as John Grierson, Bill Mason, Lindsay Anderson and his Free Cinema associates, the re-release and reappraisal of educational features and…

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8th May 2019

Art at the Frontier of Film Theory Workshop: Laura Mulvey and Lucy Reynolds

laura mulvey in conversation bimi event

  By Russell Banfield Strange and Magical. That’s how Laura Mulvey described this exhibition of her and Peter Wollen’s extraordinary impact on film theory, art history, and avant-garde filmmaking. Letters, diagrams, sketches, scripts, and notes are all displayed relating to four of the six films Mulvey and Wollen made together: Penthesilea: Queen of the Amazons (1974),…

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27th February 2019

A Conversation Up in the Sky: a preview of Adam Kossoff’s ‘Through the Bloody Mists of Time’

  By Fernando Chaves Espinach Walter Benjamin and Humphrey Jennings never met, but the two intellects surely have much to say to each other in Adam Kossoff’s new film. On February 8th, the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (BIMI) at the Birkbeck Cinema enjoyed their impossible conversation as a preview screening of Through the…

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27th February 2019

Let Them Speak: Women’s Voices in Helena Solberg’s short films

Author: Fernando Chaves Espinach Date: 12/02/2019 The final sequence of The Interview (1966) is jarring. After watching a woman preparing for her wedding and listening to middle-class women voicing their opinions on sexuallity and education, we cut to agitation in the streets. Manifestations, placards, masses: society in turmoil, at the gates of a military dictatorship.…

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5th February 2019

Marilyn Monroe: a reappraisal

This recording comes from a discussion between Laura Mulvey and Jacqueline Rose following a screening of Niagara (1953). The recording can be accessed here: Niagara (1953) A newlywed couple, the Cutlers, arrive at Niagara Falls and meet another couple, the Loomis', of differing ages, who are always arguing. Mrs Cutler spies Mrs Loomis kissing another man,…

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