This week sees the opening of Scotland’s first BFI Mediatheque, the online resource offering members of the public free access to thousands of hours of TV and film which, in many cases, aren’t available to watch anywhere else.
Scotland’s Mediatheque is located in Glasgow’s Bridgeton Library, in the newly refurbished Olympia building, which was first opened as a music hall in 1911 before becoming a cinema in 1924. The building closed in the 1990s but has recently been restored to its former glory.
First established at the BFI, formerly the National Film Theatre, in London, Mediatheques contain computer terminals which allow the user to browse a catalogue of titles, from vintage television dramas to documentaries and feature films.
To accompany the Glasgow BFI Mediatheque, a new collection of Scottish film and television, Scottish Reels, has been curated. The collection has been sourced from the BFI National Archive and Scottish Screen Archive and cover more than a century of Scottish life and culture.
Highlights include street scenes in Glasgow from 1901, early colour footage of tartans from 1906 and 1950s colour travelogues recording Scotland’s epic landscapes. Sean Connery features in The Bowler and the Bunnet (1967), a documentary he directed about the decline of the Glasgow shipyards.
Scottish cinema is represented with films such as Gregory’s Girl (1981), Local Hero (1983) and one of the earliest films to feature the Loch Ness monster legend, 1934’s The Secret of the Loch (which also boasts David Lean as its film editor).
Ahead of the official opening of the new Mediatheque, I caught up with the curator of the BFI Mediatheques, Simon McCallum, to find out what visitors can expect from the venue.
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Visit the BFI Mediatheque website to find out more about the collections and how to get to Bridgeton Library.