New BFI Filmography reveals the complete story of UK film, 1911-2017

The British Film Institute (BFI) has launched the BFI Filmography, which it described as “the world’s first complete and accurate living record of UK cinema.” This means that “everyone – from film fans and industry professionals to researchers and students – can now search and explore British film history, for free.”

The BFI Filmography is an ever-expanding record that draws credit from 10,000 films, from the first ever UK film released in cinemas in 1911 to present day, and charts the 250,000 cast and crew members behind them. It lists 130 genres, the largest of which is “Drama,” with 3,710 films. Other categories include “Comedy,” represented by 2,347 films, and “Romance,” with 625 films. The BFI Filmography also reveals that Queen Victoria is the most featured character in British movies – she appears in 25 films, closely followed by Sherlock Holmes, featured in 24, and James Bond, who appears in 21 films. Interestingly, the list also reveals that UK filmmakers are more interested in Europe than Great Britain, with 527 films having Europe as a subject, compared with 431 on Great Britain.

Among the other facts revealed by the BFI Filmography, one can see that Judi Dench is the most prolific female actress working today, having appeared in 41 UK films. She is followed by Maggie Smith, who has appeared in 40 films. Lewis Gilbert, known for such features as Alfie (1966) and Educating Rita (1983), is the most prolific living director, having made 33 films (although his last feature, Before You Go, was made back in 2002). He is followed by Ken Loach, who has directed 27 films so far (his last film, I, Daniel Blake, won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2016).

On a negative note, the BFI Filmography launches with new revelatory findings of the gender imbalance in UK films, both in on-screen and off-screen roles. For example, the BFI press release states: “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%).” The press release also states: “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.”

Listed above are only a few facts that may be observed from the BFI Filmography. The list is constantly evolving, with new information being added as UK feature films are released in cinemas. The BFI Filmography is available to the public via the BFI website now at https://filmography.bfi.org.uk/

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