Screenings celebrate Powell and Pressburger’s Scottish connection

Scottish cinemas are hosting screenings across the country as part of the BFI’s major new season celebrating legendary filmmaking duo, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds of Powell and Pressburger, supported in partnership by the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) with the support of National Lottery, will bring the films of Powell and Pressburger back to Scottish screens this autumn.

Powell and Pressburger created classics of British cinema’s golden age, including The Red Shoes (1948), Black Narcissus (1947), A Matter of Life and Death (1946) and I Know Where I’m Going! (1945). Their groundbreaking filmmaking techniques, breadth of imagination and subject choices have inspired generations of creatives including Greta Gerwig, Martin Scorsese, Tilda Swinton and Kate Bush.

The UK-wide celebration kicks off on the big screen with the BFI Distribution re-release of Scotland-set I Know Where I’m Going! newly restored by the BFI National Archive and The Film Foundation in association with ITV and Park Circus – and back in cinemas from 20 October. BFI Distribution is also re-releasing iconic dance film The Red Shoes, also licensed from Park Circus/ITV, in honour of its 75th anniversary, from 8 December.

The season will reignite audience awareness of Britain’s most enduring filmmaking partnership, who had a special connection to Scotland. Prior to his long-standing collaboration with Pressburger, Powell directed The Edge of the World (1937), filmed on Foula in the Shetland Islands. The Scottish isles then provided the setting for two Powell and Pressburger films: The Spy in Black (1939), filmed on Orkney, and I Know Where I’m Going!, filmed on the Isle of Mull.

Glasgow Film Theatre, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Eden Court Theatre, Screen Argyll and others will mark the season with curated events featuring special guests, or in memorable locations from the films.

Writer and film critic Pamela Hutchison – who has written a new book published by Bloomsbury for the BFI Film Classics series on The Red Shoes – will tour Dundee Contemporary Arts, The Birks Aberfeldy, The Hippodrome Bo’ness and Eden Court Theatre to take part in Q&A screenings, thanks to Glasgow Film Theatre. She will attend the 35mm screening of The Red Shoes at Glasgow Film Theatre on Friday 1 December.

Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT)

GFT will show a range of Powell and Pressburger titles from 20 October – 23 December, many of them on 35mm. This includes the new 35mm print of The Red Shoes, which features Dunfermline-born Moira Shearer in the lead role.

They will welcome guests to discuss the enduring legacy, and contemporary perspective, of the films, including: Scotsman film critic Alistair Harkness, Rafa Sales Ross and Raymah Tariq in a panel review of A Canterbury Tale (1944) on 22 November; Professor Ian Christie; and activist film collective, Invisible Women.

Plus, Emeric Pressburger’s grandsons, Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald and Trainspotting producer Andrew Macdonald, will give an introduction to The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp on 12 November.

Tickets will go live today, Thursday 12 October, at

Paul Gallagher, Programme Manager, Glasgow Film Theatre, says: “Powell and Pressburger’s films have a power and creativity that still feels unique, and I’m thrilled to have the chance to present so many of their films to new and returning audiences at GFT over this packed season. It’s also great to be partnering with some inspiring guests – from Invisible Women looking at Powell and Pressburger’s incredible influence, to Professor Ian Christie, who will dive into the duo’s connections to Scotland – as well as re-teaming with New Media Scotland for Black Narcissus: Atmosphere – a screening that is guaranteed to stimulate audiences’ senses!”

Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA)

Dundee Contemporary Arts’ 14-screening retrospective will take place from 14 October – 12 January, with every title in the season introduced by a film expert.

Contraband (1940) on 12 November will be introduced by Dr. Caitlin McDonald of University of Dundee, whose work will be published in an upcoming anthology book, The Cinema of Powell and Pressburger. Coinciding with her new exhibition at DCA, award-winning artist Michelle Williams Gamaker will present two films, The Thief of Bagdad (1940) on 9 December and Black Narcissus (1947) on 35mm on 10 December, each accompanied by her own short films – The Eternal Return and House of Women respectively.

Psychological thriller Peeping Tom (1960) screens as part of DCA’s Halloween horror strand, Dundead, on 29 October.

They will close the season with a screening of I Know Where I’m Going! on 35mm, presented in collaboration with V&A Dundee to celebrate its Tartan exhibition. Other 35mm screenings will include The Spy in Black on 22 October and The Boy Who Turned Yellow on 25 November, introduced by Discovery Film Festival’s Mike Tait.

Tickets are available here.

David Nixon, Head of Cinema, Dundee Contemporary Arts: “We’re delighted to be celebrating the filmmaking careers of Powell and Pressburger, who produced and directed some of the most memorable, creative and influential films in cinema history, with a 14-film retrospective.

We look forward to showcasing the true breadth of their filmography by screening some of their lesser-known films alongside their all-time classics, including some on 35mm film. Each of our screenings will be introduced by an expert, an artist or a partner organisation, offering audiences different perspectives on and routes into their vast filmography.” 

Screen Argyll

Screen Argyll will reflect on the history, heritage and Gaelic culture of island life through a celebration of the Powell and Pressburger films inspired by island communities.

From September to December, they will partner with local organisations and venues on Orkney, Mull, the Isle of Tiree, Barra, Oban and Bo’ness to bring the films to rural audiences in atmospheric locations, or in the communities that inspired them. Films in the programme include The Spy in Black and Return to the Edge of the World (1978), in which director Michael Powell revisits the remote island of Foula forty years after shooting his first major film there.

A weekend of screenings on Tiree (21 – 22 November) will include I Know Where I’m Going! alongside the projection of St Kilda’s Britain’s Loneliest Island on The Signal Tower at Hynish.

Their bespoke assets for the season include: a map of the Isle of Mull filming locations used in I Know Where I’m Going!; film notes; and an illustrated talk.

All programme information will be available on the Screen Argyll website.

Jen Skinner, Screen Argyll, says: “I am so excited to bring these films back to the communities and landscapes that inspired them. Powell and Pressburger captured the dramatic beauty and drama of island life. Edge of the World resonates powerfully today with our fragile island communities and the new challenges we face with housing and second home ownership. I Know Where I am Going! is a classic and every islander knows what it is like to be stuck waiting for a ferry!”

Rest of Scotland

Eden Court Theatre will celebrate the creative partnership of Powell and Pressburger in Inverness and across community cinemas in the Highlands, from 3 November. Their programme will launch at the 21st edition of the Inverness Film Festival (3-9 November) and will include a double-bill of The Spy in Black and Contraband on 28 December. Screenings will take place in community venues in the Highlands between January – March 2024.

The UK-wide programme, funded by the National Lottery, includes over 56 special events and screenings. New Media Scotland’s immersive screenings of Black Narcissus will travel across the UK, arriving at Glasgow Film Theatre on 20 November. Presented in collaboration with Caron (the perfume house in Paris that formulated the original ‘Narcisse Noir’ scent that features in the film) synchronised wind and scent effects will transport the audience to the film’s Himalayan setting.

Other events will include:

  • The Hippodrome, Bo’ness (December 2023) – screenings of A Matter of Life Death, I Know Where I’m Going! and The Red Shoes (presented in partnership with Glasgow Film, featuring a Q&A with Pamela Hutchinson)
  • The Birks (late 2023/early 2024) – screenings of The Red Shoes (also presented in partnership with Glasgow Film, featuring a Q&A with Pamela Hutchinson), I Know Where I’m Going!, A Matter of Life and Death and Black Narcissus
  • On Fife (January 2024) – a screening of The Red Shoes at the Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline, to coincide with Dunfermline-born Moira Shearer’s birthday

Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds of Powell and Pressburger is supported in partnership by the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN). Film Hub Scotland is one of eight BFI FAN Hubs set up across the UK to extend film choice, increase and broaden film audiences, supported by National Lottery and Screen Scotland funding.

Nicola Kettlewood, Manager, Film Hub Scotland, says: “The films of Powell & Pressburger continue to inspire filmmakers and delight audiences. We are very pleased to be able to award BFI Lottery Funding to allow audiences across Scotland to enjoy these films and learn more about this fascinating duo.”