BFI National Archive FAQ

Frequently asked questions about the BFI National Archive and access to our collections.

I’m looking for a particular film or television programme. Does the BFI National Archive hold a copy?

You can search our collections online to find out if we hold a copy.

Can I see a particular film or television programme, or obtain a copy on DVD?

Once you know that we hold a copy of the film or TV programme, please consider these options.

We have several digital services that provide access to films and television programmes in the collection. These include:

  • BFI Screenonline – a guide to UK film & TV history, with hundreds of hours of rare footage, available in schools, colleges and public libraries.
  • BFI Mediatheques – complete films and TV programmes available to view free of charge in London, Derby, Cambridge, Wrexham and Newcastle.
  • BFI InView – A collection of non-fiction film and television for academics and FE/HE students of 20th century British history.
  • YouTube – The BFI’s own channel, making the archive’s collections available worldwide.

A selection of films preserved in the archive is available on BFI DVD and Blu-ray.

If you’re a non-commercial researcher or student you may be able to view the film on BFI premises, but this depends on the type of material we hold. Please contact our Research viewing services for advice.

Unfortunately we aren’t resourced to supply bespoke DVD copies on demand due to copyright restrictions and high aggregate costs.

I’d like to see a film which is not available on DVD, or in BFI Mediatheques or BFI Reuben Library.

If you’re a researcher or student, please contact our research viewing service for terms, conditions and charges.

What does the BFI National Archive collect?

The BFI has a responsibility to collect British and British-related films and TV programmes. We aim to acquire all British feature films that have been released into cinemas, as well as significant artists’ moving image work, short films, trailers and home movies by British film personalities.

Our collection also includes major British documentaries but also covers newsreel, industrial, educational and scientific filmmaking, political and campaigning films, advertising and amateur filmmaking.

We collect television programmes from all sources, but have statutory responsibility for ITV, Channel Four and Five and a close archival collaboration with the BBC.

You can read the BFI National Archive collections policy and more about our collections online.

I’d like to donate a film to the BFI National Archive. Who should I contact?

The BFI National Archive collects British and British-related films and TV programmes, and paper collections relating to the British film and television industries.

Please get in touch with our fiction, non-fiction, television or special collections curators to tell us about what you’d like to donate.

I am a filmmaker. How do I license extracts of BFI material for my new production?

Please contact our archive footage sales team for advice.

I am a producer. How do I license extracts of BFI material for my new production?

Please contact our archive footage sales team for advice.

I own copyright. How do I gain access to material preserved in the BFI National Archive?

As a copyright owner of material preserved in the BFI National Archive you can find out more about access to materials online.

I am the rights holder. How do I gain access to material preserved in the BFI National Archive?

As the rights holder of material preserved in the BFI National Archive you can find out more about access to materials online.

I represent a FIAF member archive. Who should I contact for information and access?

Please contact our Collections Gateway team and we’ll respond to your enquiry.

I am a festival or cinema programmer. Who should I contact for information and access?

Please contact our bookings team for advice.

I am a student. How can I view a film from your archive?

If the film isn’t available on DVD, or in BFI Mediatheques or BFI Reuben Library, please contact our research viewing service for advice.

Unfortunately we aren’t resourced to supply bespoke DVD copies on demand due to copyright restrictions and high aggregate costs.

I am not a researcher. How can I learn about film or view a film from your archive?

Explore film to search film and TV information.

You can explore the BFI’s holdings by searching the collections. Look out for symbols that indicate digital resources are available to view in BFI Reuben Library. You can watch over 2,000 complete films and TV programmes free of charge in BFI Mediatheques.

I have some new information to add to your database or think the data you have is incorrect.

We welcome feedback to help us improve our database and enrich our knowledge. We aim to verify any information provided, but data will only be added if it falls within the remit of the BFI collection and documentation policy, where we prioritise material held in the collections. Please consult the policy document before submitting any new data. We are not able to guarantee an immediate response or the addition of the information within a specified timeframe.

Please contact our information team about our database.

  • BFI National Archive

    BFI National Archive

    We care for one of the greatest collections of film and television in the world.

Read more

Back to the top