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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.

10th July 2018

Crafting Resistence: Interview with Jasmine Gideon

‘Crafting Resistance: the art of Chilean political prisoners’ examines how craftwork made by political prisoners during their internment in the 1970s by the military regime led by General Pinochet has contributed to the mental health and well-being of those involved, particularly following their exile to the UK. The film engages with important issues around forced…

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22nd June 2018

Tragedy and Sexuality: Black Narcissus

by Billy Stanton On Friday 15th June the ‘Tragedy and Sexuality’ series at Birkbeck cinema, organised by James Brown and on this occasion introduced by Carmen Mangion, concluded its current program of screenings with the classic Black Narcissus, one of the jewels in the crown not just of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger but of…

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14th June 2018

Ulrike Ottinger: Director’s Statement on Chamisso’s Shadow

Across the weekend of July 20th-22nd we will be presenting the UK premiere of Chamisso's Shadow in partnership with The Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM), the Goethe-Institut and LUX and with support from the Open City Documentary Film Festival, and in association with the German Screen Studies Network. Below, reproduced from…

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11th June 2018

BIMI Children’s Film Club: Lotte Reiniger

by Billy Stanton Saturday 9th June saw the return of the Children’s Film Club to Birkbeck Cinema with a special presentation of six fairytale animations from German film-maker Lotte Reiniger, hosted and presented by Esther Leslie. Screened were Puss in Boots (1954), Aladdin and the Magic Lamp (1954), Cinderella (1954), The Sleeping Beauty (1954), Hansel…

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8th June 2018

Tragedy and Sexuality: L’Éternel Retour

By Billy Stanton May 26th saw a rare screening of Jean Delannoy’s  L'Éternel Retour at the Birkbeck Cinema as part of the ongoing ‘Tragedy and Sexuality’ season. Written by Jean Cocteau, the film serves as a sort of a predecessor to his famous La Belle et La Bete (1946), drawing upon similar fairy-tale elements and…

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8th June 2018

Cinephiles: The Bad and The Beautiful

by Billy Stanton Friday 1st June marked the screening of a beautiful 35mm print of Vincente Minnelli’s 1952 ‘The Bad and The Beautiful’ as part of the ongoing Cinephiles strand programmed by Dr Michael Temple. The strand focuses on films about film-making, and Minnelli’s work represented a move for the series from the silent era…

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8th June 2018

Records of War: Film, History and the Art School

Conny Klocker, intern at the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (BIMI) and PhD candidate at the School of Law writes on a recent screening of 1930s propaganda film.  As part of the UCL Festival of Culture, the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (BIMI) was showing two propaganda films about the Italian invasion in…

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8th June 2018


by Billy Stanton On the 28th of April the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image hosted “Clues, Histories, Mysteries and Mystories”, an event dedicated to essay films focusing on international, personal and familial history in the first-person mode; what was demonstrated by the films shown and the speakers arguments was the potential held by this specific…

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5th June 2018

Interview with film programmer and freelance writer Jonathan Ali

Ahead of the screenings of  The House on Coco Road (Damani Baker, 2016) and  Memories of a Penitent Heart(Cecilia Aldarondo, 2016)  on June 22nd and 23rd we speak with the Jonathan Ali, the programme's curator. The title of this programme, 'Of Great Events and Ordinary People', comes from a Raul Ruiz documentary, why did you chose it as…

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1st June 2018

Focus on James Mason

by Billy Stanton Saturday 26th May saw a very special event at Birkbeck cinema: the launch of Sarah Thomas’ BFI Film Stars book on James Mason, accompanied by papers from Thomas and Adrian Garvey, and a presentation of a rare 35mm print of Max Ophüls’ classic noir-melodrama The Reckless Moment (1949). In front of a…

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