Funding will support the digitisation of 10,000 titles.

Applications have opened today (Sept 8) for the BFI’s Unlocking Film Heritage Digitisation Fund.

A total of £5m ($8.1m) is available over a three-year period through an award of National Lottery funding to the BFI to fund the digitisation of 10,000 titles.

Holders of “important” British film and television items will be eligible to apply for funding for digitisation and the BFI hopes to bring films back to the big and small screen, often not available or seen since first made.

Heather Stewart, creative director at the BFI and executive in charge of the UFH project, established last year, said: “The UFH project is an astonishing opportunity to make some of the unseen and unheralded glories of British cinema available to the widest possible range of audiences.

“We are working with rights holders and partners to bring these films into the 21st century and stimulate a renewal of interest in our shared history as captured on film.”

The work will be divided into separate strands: 5,000 from the BFI National Archive and 5,000 from the significant public collections and rights holders’ collections in the UK.

One of the key aims of the project is to make as much film as possible accessible via the BFI’s VoD platform, BFI Player and through a wide range of educational resources.

It will also ensure that the UK’s screen heritage is safeguarded for future generations and is widely available for education and viewing.

The priority for this phase of the project is to find films which meet the criteria of public and cultural value, which have a strong audience appeal and make a contribution to a series of curatorial themes: in particular films which can be used to explore Britain on film, or feature key anniversaries, seasonal and regional festivals, customs and events.

Britain on Film is one of the key parts of the project and will include films which have strong sense of place, revealing the wealth of British landscapes and architecture, in both rural and urban settings. Diversity in subject matter and material that will appeal to diverse audiences are key priorities.

To ensure value for money in digitisation and consistency of technical standards, a network of partnerships with commercial providers has been set up.

The project will also see the establishment of a National Catalogue of British Film, with every film listed being given a unique entry in the Entertainment Identifier Registry using a new international standard for film cataloguing.

The full guidelines for applicants are published on the BFI website at: