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Samsung unlocks treasures of cinema with new BFI app

A new BFI app for Samsung smart TVs opens a world of film legends and amazing unseen footage from the dawn of the 20th century.

Samsung is unlocking hidden treasures of British cinema history. A new BFI app for smart TVs opens a world of film legends and amazing unseen footage, giving us a rare glimpse into the past.

The app includes rare films from the Edwardian period, lost for over a century but now accessible on your TV at the touch of a button.

I headed to the British Film Institute on London's sunny South Bank to check out some of the footage. Film recorded out and about on summer days in Blackpool and Chester see Edwardians mucking about in a more relaxed fashion than we're used to seeing.

Much of the footage was captured by Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon, who travelled the country capturing a vanished Britain in the early years of the twentieth century.

The amazing footage dates back as far as 1901, when enterprising cameramen pitched up at busy piers, outside factories and on crowded rivers to film people hanging out, before showing them the footage the next day.

It really is extraordinary to see olde-timey folk messing about on their day off, a lovely reminder that the stiff and posed pictures we're used to seeing don't necessarily give a true portrayal of our forebears.

The app contains seven channels, featuring full-length features, shorts, interviews, documentaries and films from the BFI London Film Festival.

The channels are Films of the week, this month featuring Peter Greenaway’s A Zed and Two Noughts; In Conversation, including chats with the legendary likes of Danny Boyle, Michael Caine, and Julie Walters; Insights, filled with documentaries; a channel dedicated to the BFI London Film Festival; and Highlights, which does what it says on the tin, including interviews with John Travolta, Ridley Scott and Joss Whedon.

The final channel is Treasures from the Archive, curated by the experts at the BFI National Archive and including quirky stuff like an early Audrey Hepburn screen test, the Mitchell and Kenyon films, and early short films by now-famous filmmakers such as Ridley Scott, Shane Meadows and Ken Russell, featuring early turns from the likes of Daniel Craig, Samantha Morton and Sean Bean.

Do you use the apps on your smart TV? Are you looking forward to getting a glimpse into the past? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook wall.