Samsung TV's BFI film app unlocks century old movie content

Prestigious film archives opened up to all

Samsung and BFI have teamed up to produce the BFI smart TV app – a portal into the classic content that makes up the film institute's archives.

Samsung has been ramping up its Smart TV content for some time now, with everything from house hunting (Smartmove) to music (Ministry of Sound) is catered for, and there are plenty of movie services on the platform.

But the BFI app promises never-before-seen footage, exclusive features and what can only be described as a curiosity shop of content.

Speaking at the launch, with TechRadar in attendance, BFI's head curator Robin Baker said about the service: "In our archive there is a group of movies that were made around 110 years ago by Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon. For film collectors, it couldn't get much more important than this footage – these films humanise the past."

BFI Samsung app

These films are to be made available through the app in the Treasures from the Archive section, which is a slice of curated content that will also include rare screen tests and archaic adverts.

Exclusive content

The exclusivity of the footage is key to the app, as Baker notes: "A number of these films have been made available before, but generally tiny clips or little sections on a DVD and what is so fantastic about what we are doing today is making complete sections of these films available for the first time.

There is about an hour of footage in the collection that hasn't been seen by anyone except for a handful of people in the BFI."

BFI Samsung

Given that the material on show is archived, don't expect your flatscreen to flatter the footage. But the rareness of the clips that are being made available is impressive - most of which won't have been seen outside of the BFI's own building on London's Southbank.

Other 'channels' of the app include a Beginnings section, where famous folks' debuts are showcased, interviews with directors and a section that will be filled with festival goodies once the BFI Film Festival returns in October.

There will also be a film of the week, starting with Peter Greenaway's, A Zed and Two Noughts and Martin Scorsese's episode of Century of Cinema.

BFI Samsung

Edward Humphry, digital director of the BFI said: "We have partnered with Samsung for many years now and we are pleased to the extent of which Samsung share our vision for film.

"Last October the BFI launched its 'film forever' five year plan and within that we reaffirm our commitment to ensuring the nation can enjoy and explore its film heritage.

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"Essential to that is the national collection, a huge body of work that we hope to make available to a wider group of audiences in the UK and easier access to that content is really essential to what we are doing."

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Marc (Twitter, Google+) is the content team lead for Future Technology, where he is in charge of a 14-strong team of journalists who write many of the wonderful stories that end up on TechRadar, T3.com and T3 magazine. Prior to this he was deputy editor of TechRadar, had a 10-month stint editing a weekly iPad magazine, written film reviews for a whole host of publications and has been an integral part of many magazines that are no longer with us.