The latest content and news from the Barbican. Book tickets at
The latest content and news from the Barbican. Book tickets at

A Year of Film in Focus

From cinematic craft to science fiction, archival discoveries to audience curated seasons, feminism, social documentary, critical thinking and more from our repertory series plus provocative installations and some Academy Award nominees – in 2017 we put Film in Focus across our art, music, theatre and of course, film, programme.

To help you start building your watch list, we’ve broken down 2017 into your own year of film, sharing some of our highlights to see us through from January to December.

What are you looking forward to seeing? Share in the comments below.



Since the mid-1990s, we have been recording our ScreenTalk interviews, building an enviable collection of cassette tapes (we’re talking before the advent of digital recording here!), scribbled with names – or unlabelled – and piled high in a tucked away archive room. In 2017, we’ll be undertaking a major new project to digitize some of our favourite ScreenTalks through the decades and make them available to you as part of a free audio archive on our website. You’ll get one each month – and while we can’t announce the full list yet, we can reveal Ken Loach (The Wind That Shakes the Barley, 2006), Joanna Hogg (Exhibition, 2011) and Ben Wheatley (High Rise, 2016) will feature.

Another auditory experience, as part of our celebration of Philip Glass’ 80th birthday, we’ll present the UK premiere screening of Godfrey Reggio’s Visitors (2013), a wordless portrait of modern life revealing humanity’s trancelike relationship with technology. The original score by Glass will be performed live by the BBCSO, conducted by Michael Riesman.


In The Craft of Film, we’ll celebrate the skills and teamwork involved in making a film itself, highlighting ten cinematic ‘crafts’ from directing to costume design with a season of European feature films. For even deeper understanding of how the craft affects our viewing experience, we’ll be inviting a host of film experts for extended ScreenTalks and masterclasses including award-winning Romanian actor Anamaria Marinca (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) and acclaimed German cinematographer Fred Kelemen (The Turin Horse).

Over in The Curve, conceptual documentary photographer Richard Mosse presents an immersive multi-channel video installation in collaboration with composer Ben Frost and cinematographer Trevor Tweeten. Having worked as an accredited journalist embedded in the US military, Mosse has been using an export controlled camera and thermographic imaging technology to create an artwork about the refugee crisis unfolding in the Aegean Sea, the Persian Gulf, off the coast of Libya, in Syria, the Sahel, and other locations.


Throughout 2017, we’ll be exploring the cultural influence of film and cinema’s role in challenging marginality in society in our Cinema Matters repertory programme, divided into bimonthly strands. In March, we’ll be looking at ‘What the Movies Do To Us’, honing in on the cultural influence of movies including a double bill of Sherlock Jr (Buster Keaton, 1924) and The Cameraman (Edward Sedgwick, 1928).

On the stage, Academy Award nominee John Malkovich stars in Michael Sturminger’s music-theatre piece, Call Me God: The Final Speech of a Dictator against a backdrop of the mighty Union Chapel organ. Exploring tyranny and despots’ megalomaniac delusions of divine providence, this one-man performance pits words against music, dictatorship versus delusion, and at its terrifying heart, an actor who spares no-one – least of all himself.


In spring, it’s over to you… What London Watches: Ten Films that Shook Our World invites London to tell us about their most important films to form a season celebrating the diversity of London. A special advisory panel, chaired by Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, including experts Keith Shiri (Africa at the Pictures), Catherine Des Forges (Independent Cinema Office), Cary Sawhney (London Indian Film Festival), Selina Robertson (Club des Femmes) and Dave Calhoun (Time Out London), plus two of our Young Programmers, will curate 10 titles from the pool. These films will then be screened in our Cinemas as we celebrate film’s ability to influence societal, technological and creative change and London’s position as one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world.

April also sees our doors and ears open for another weekend of classical music beyond the concert hall as Sound Unbound: The Barbican Classical Weekender returns with the help of our artistic partners the London Symphony Orchestra, BBCSO, Britten Sinfonia, the Academy of Ancient Music and Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Expect more world premieres and established classics, symphony orchestras, intimate solo recitals and vocal performances – plus with Film in Focus, performances exploring the relationship between music and film.



In May, our Cinema Matters series continues, this time shining a light on ‘The Battle for Representation’, looking at cinema’s crucial role in challenging the marginalisation of minorities and the dispossessed – including Black Girl (Ousmane Sebene, 1966) and Offside (Jaraf Panahi, 2006).

Renowned for merging live onstage film with theatre, Toneelgroep Amsterdam have a reputation for the cinematic. As part of their theatre residency, Ivo van Hove directs Obsession, starring Academy Award nominee Jude Law and based on Luchino Visconti’s first feature film. Obsession (1943) gave rise to Italian neorealism, a cinematic movement highlighting the struggles of ordinary people in a time of upheaval.


From film feminism to New Queer Cinema, celebrated critic and author B.Ruby Rich has been at the forefront of the most exciting global cinema for forty years. Now, in collaboration with Club des Femmes, we welcome B.Ruby Rich back to the UK for Being Ruby Rich, a weekend of screenings including Lizzie Borden’s Born in Flames (1983) and a keynote address and Q&A with B.Ruby Rich. These June events follow on from a showing of Lynn Hershman Leeson’s kaleidoscopic documentary !Women Art Revolution (2010) in March.


In June, we host Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction – a genre-defying exploration of one of popular culture’s most celebrated realms. With work from The Paul G. Allen Family Collection, concept art and original models from Godzilla, Stargate and Dark City, original manuscripts from authors such as Jules Verne plus new commissions from artists and special effects studio, Into The Unknown brings together the contemporary and the historical to present a new, global vision of science fiction.

Keeping with the science fiction theme, in the Hall, techno pioneer Jeff Mills presents From Here to There, a series of innovative conceptualised events marrying symphonic sounds with other artforms. The residency boasts three UK premieres including Life to Death and Back combining documentary, contemporary dance, live music and Egyptian mythology; Fantastic Voyage as Mills DJs a live cine-mix soundtrack to Richard Fleischer’s cult film plus a 21st century meditation on our understanding of the solar system in a piece inspired by Holst’s The Planets. There’s also another chance to see Mills perform Light From The Outside World with Britten Sinfonia.


We welcome the return of Shubbak, London’s largest festival of Contemporary Arab Culture as it presents its main film programme in our cinemas for the first time. The festival will include films by new and established artists, profiling emerging and notable Arab filmmakers and film that were pivotal in shifting artistic, cultural and political trends.


For the first time, we’ll be bringing film outside the cinema with the Barbican Outdoor Cinema. Complementing our summer exhibition, Into The Unknown, you’ll be able to enjoy specially curated science fiction screenings in the shadow of the Barbican’s dystopian towers, including Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.


New York in the 70s and 80s was a time of fear, poverty, uncertainty and unparalleled artistic freedom. In our autumn film season, The Grime and the Glamour: NYC 1976-90 captures a time of historical change and creative energy. Explore a city poised between desolation and gentrification; the bohemian bourgeoisie on the margins of Manhattan; the filmmakers of the East Village ‘scene’ with films including The Blank Generation (Ivan Kral, Amos Poe, 1976), Desperately Seeking Susan (Susan Seidelman, 1985), Permanent Vacation (Jim Jarmusch, 1980) and Wild Style (Charlie Ahearn, 1983).

Following on from the success of Scenes from a Marriage, Toneelgroep Amsterdam’s residency continues with an adaptation of two more Ingmar Bergman films, After the Rehearsal/Persona. Citing Ingmar Bergman as one of his favourite filmmakers, Ivo van Hove gives film a home on the stage in this double bill about the story of the chaotic lives of theatre people, exposing the fine line between art and reality, illness and normality.



Experimental filmmaker John Akomfrah will create a new work for The Curve. Akomfrah’s films investigate subjects like memory, identity and post-colonialism. Last year, he presented a standout work at Venice 56th Biennale, Vertigo Sea, a three-channel video installation comprising of thousands of hours of archival footage with new material and a hypnotic sound score focussing on a range of histories from whaling, deep sea excavation and migration.

Bringing October to a close, on 26 October we remember the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution with the Kino Klassika Foundation and a screening of Sergei Eisenstein’s 1928 cinematic masterpiece, October: Ten Days that Shook the World plus a live orchestral accompaniment by the London Symphony Orchestra.

November & December


In the conclusion of our Cinema Matters strand, ‘Time, Memory and Dreams’ explores film, inscribing and unspooling in time and the representation of time, memory and dreams including Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu, 1949) and Valerie and her Week of Wonders (Jaromil Jires, 1970).


Enough to start planning? Browse our full Film in Focus season spanning our programme on our websiteSign up to our Film newsletter to make sure you’re amongst the first to know about tickets and programme announcements.

Find us on Twitter for more of our 2017 season highlights.

Read the full press release for our season announcement.