Once Upon a Time in the North West

To mark the opening of the BFI Mediatheque at Manchester’s stunning new Central Library, this collection looks to the UK’s North West.

Featuring 100 film and TV titles drawn from both the BFI National Archive and North West Film Archive, this collection spans more than a century and tells a story of massive change – through early actuality film, home movies, classic TV drama and contemporary features. And, as ever, many titles are unavailable to view elsewhere.

One of the UK’s most diverse regions – culturally, economically and politically – the North West covers Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. While the vibrant city of Manchester is at the heart of this collection, you can journey far beyond: to the exhilarating Lake District and remote Scottish borders; to the historic trading port of Liverpool with its iconic vistas of the River Mersey; and to the Victorian holiday resorts along the bracing shores of the Irish sea. Here’s just a taster of what to expect…

Ten to try

Panoramic View of the Morecambe Seafront (1901)

Take a gentle stroll along the promenade in this Lancashire resort’s heyday.

Building a Motor Car (1913)

A car is born at the Vulcan works, Southport.

Glimpses of a Manchester Popular Rendezvous (1924)

Enjoy the Piccadilly Dance Salon’s ‘cool perfumed atmosphere with lighting that enraptures’ – for just one and sixpence.

Hell is a City (1959)

A tough thriller with Stanley Baker on a murder hunt in Manchester.

Letter to Brezhnev (1985)

Two Merseyside girls escape their humdrum lives for a night on the town in writer Frank Clarke’s memorable, low-budget hit.

Cracker (1993)

Robbie Coltrane makes his debut as troubled Manchester psychologist-detective Fitz.

Mardi Gras (1996)

A record of celebration and commemoration in Manchester’s Gay Village.

24 Hour Party People (2002)

Welcome to ‘Madchester’! Steve Coogan stars in Michael Winterbottom’s exuberant biopic of Tony Wilson and Factory Records.

Housewife, 49 (2006)

Barrow-in-Furness housewife Nella Last was the inspiration for Victoria Wood’s moving drama, set during WWII.

Of Time and the City (2008)

Terence Davies’ gorgeous film-poem about his native Liverpool.

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