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Restored Suffolk feature film to be screened this weekend

A much-loved Suffolk feature film has been restored and will be shown at special screenings this weekend.

Directed by Sir Peter Hall in 1974, Akenfield was one of the first British films to be part financed by television and cinema. The digital remastering is the work of the BFI National Archive in conjunction with the East Anglian Film Archive (EAFA), owned and operated by the University of East Anglia.

Filmed in and around Charlsfield in Suffolk, it was local people who had the starring and support roles, acting out the stories of three generations of one family under Hall’s direction, based on a short script written by Ronald Blythe, author of Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village. EAFA has stored the master copies of Akenfield and additional publicity material, including the 1974 trailer, since 2004, in its state-of-the-art vaults in Norwich.  

Akenfield will headline a programme of films of rural Suffolk to be screened as part of Films on The Farm at Jimmy’s Farm, near Ipswich, on July 8, 9 and 10. The screenings are part of a national celebration of the nation’s films from archives across the UK and showcased as the Britain on Film collection on BFI Player.

Often described as “a work of rural realism”, the publicity surrounding Akenfield was ground-breaking for the time. In November 1974 it was the first British film to open the BFI London Film Festival and 14 million viewers watched it on television when it was broadcast in January 1975. It also featured on the front cover of the TV Times.

Akenfield is the only feature film held on deposit at EAFA and the archive’s director, Dr Keith Johnston, said: “We are very pleased that Akenfield has been digitised by the BFI and that audiences will have an opportunity to enjoy this outstanding film which EAFA has preserved for many years.”

Following the screenings, the film will be made available on BFI Player and released on DVD and Blu-ray by the BFI on July 25.

Tickets for the film screenings are available here

Top image: Andrew Hitchcock, Pixlr, creative commons.