EDIT 2 September – I would like to thank the BFI Southbank for keeping their word, and refunding our tickets. Thumbs up.
This was going to be a review of the screening of Jacques Tourner’s 1957 horror classic ‘Night of the Demon’ at the British Museum, as part of the BFI’s Gothic season.
However, for reasons which I will explain below, this is a ‘NON-review’!
We had bought tickets back on the first day of Members’ priority booking, and although the tickets clearly said ‘unallocated seating’ we thought, OK, we will make sure we get there nice and early for a good view of the screen. The Gothic screenings are twice the usual price of BFI screenings, so we thought we were in for a special, comfortable evening in an atmospheric setting.
Arriving tonight at 7.30pm we were surprised to see no seating available and people sitting in groups on the floor. We thought we would at least try and sit on the grass to make the best of it but were told that whole area (the best section in front of the screen) was restricted to VIPs only.
Remember that ‘unallocated seating’ promise on those expensive tickets? My husband and I have been to an outside screening before, of Mozart’s Requiem, in Vienna. This was a screening for free, with chairs provided in a lovely setting. So for £15 or thereabouts a ticket I did expect something a bit more than sitting on concrete at the back of a courtyard, or standing around.
We sought out a BFI employee near the box office who at first said that emails had also been sent out to ticket holders explaining there were no ‘seats’ (no email was received). As I have a recurring back problem and my husband has problems with his knee we would not have turned up had we been aware of this as neither of us can sit for long periods of time on the floor.
However the chap from the BFI was glad to take our tickets back and promised to refund our debit card, saying we were not the first people to complain at this incorrect description on the tickets.
I’ll let you know if we receive our refund.
My point of drawing attention to this is not to get at the BFI. I am a member there and have been for several years. I support all their seasons and have been particularly interested in the Gothic season announcements. ‘Night of the Demon’ itself is an excellent film and I would have loved to see it on the big screen – but if I am being asked to sit on the floor I would not expect to pay twice the price of a comfy seat within the Southbank.
It seemed that bringing one’s own seat was not allowed either, although you could purchase a ‘bum box’ (a cardboard seat you had to construct yourself). The only actual ‘seating’, on concrete benches, was restricted to disabled only, which I can understand, but why on earth couldn’t the BFI and/or the British Museum either provide some temporary seating for such screenings (like our hosts did in Vienna) or make it clear that these expensive screenings are not really ‘unallocated’ (because the best spots are reserved for VIPs) and are not ‘seating’ either (a seat by definition is something to sit on, provided by the event organiser, and not a patch of concrete floor).
A copy of the above has been emailed to the BFI Southbank today, and I have also posted on their Facebook page and Twitter feed.