Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Film Institute launches first digital archive in Wales

A BFI Mediatheque
The BFI Mediatheque allows people to access rare footage

The British Film Institute (BFI) is to launch its first "digital jukebox" in Wales, allowing people to access its archive.

In March, Wrexham Library will be the home of the first ever BFI Mediatheque outside England.

The system allows people to watch films and TV programmes from the national archive free of charge, and there are currently 1,500 titles available.

Wrexham council said it was "proud" to host the first Mediatheque in Wales.

The BFI said more than 85% of Mediatheque titles had not been released on DVD or online.

This is a fantastic opportunity for people to see rare films and TV programmes, along with many old favourites
Bob Dutton, Wrexham councillor

It describes the system as an "ever expanding digital jukebox".

Amongst the material available are 50 themed collections, including British fashion, rare home movies filmed by ex-pats, a tribute to Britain's favourite female comedians and sex education films through the ages.

They also hold material relevant to the areas they are in.

The latest Mediatheque will be launched when Wrexham Library re-opens in March following a revamp.

Amanda Nevill, BFI director, said: "Film provides such a tantalising view of how the people of Britain lived and worked and played over the past century or more.

"The public is clamouring to see it and it is the job of the BFI to look after the national collection of archive film and television and make it more widely and easily available to everyone, regardless of where they live."

Councillor Bob Dutton, of Wrexham council, said: "Wrexham Library is proud to lead the way with the BFI Mediatheque as it will be the first such centre in Wales.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for people to see rare films and TV programmes, along with many old favourites.

"I'm also pleased that the BFI Mediatheque will house a wealth of archive material and film relevant to Wales, much of which has not been seen for many years."

The BFI has Mediatheques in London, Derby and Cambridge.

It also plans to open one in Newcastle this spring, and eventually wants one in every UK nation and region.

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