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Brum and Beyond: West Midlands on Screen

With the third new BFI Mediatheque of 2013 opening at the state-of-the-art Library of Birmingham this September, we’re casting our eyes westward, to the UK’s second city and the broader West Midlands region.

Bhaji on the Beach (1993)

Bhaji on the Beach (1993)

This new collection brings together titles from the BFI National Archive and Media Archive for Central England (MACE), illuminating a century of life in this hugely diverse region. The bold architecture of post-war Birmingham, hailed as a vision of the future in later travelogues, is a world away from the Edwardian city captured by Mitchell & Kenyon’s camera. A long-lost Coventry is also revealed in a 1902 recreation of Lady Godiva’s legendary procession. The collection includes some of the landmark TV drama produced in the region, while a special selection of local news footage from MACE documents an extraordinary cultural diversity. Here is just a taster of the collection.

Ten to try

University Procession on Degree Day, Birmingham (1901)
Gents sporting spectacular Edwardian facial hair celebrate alongside female students in this extended offering from Mitchell & Kenyon.

A City Reborn (1945)
Coventry prepares to rise from the ashes of WWII in this moving docu-drama.

Let’s Go to Birmingham (1962)
Passengers recline, liveried waiters serve from sparkling silverware, and an England only visible by rail slips by to Johann Strauss’ Perpetuum Mobile.

Black Country Food (1972)
Local delicacies such as faggots, grey peas and chitlings are on offer for the more adventurous visitor.

A New Home for Dave Hill from Slade (1973)
ATV Today’s reporter braves screaming teens to join the Wolverhampton group’s guitarist as he moves into a new pad in Solihull.

Gangsters (1976)
Opening ‘incident’ of the tough crime series set in the Birmingham underworld.

Telly Savalas Looks at Birmingham (1981)
‘This is my kind of town’ – Kojak himself narrates this pun-filled early ’80s travelogue.

Bhaji on the Beach (1993)
A group of Asian women swap Brum for the beach in Gurinder Chadha’s exuberant feature debut.

Anita & Me (2002)
A Black Country village in the ’70s is not an easy place to fit in for a young Sikh girl in this star-studded comedy based on Meera Syal’s novel.

Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story (2008)
Julie Walters steps into the sensible shoes of a fellow West Midlands icon.

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