Bill Douglas at 90: Watch the story of one of Britain’s finest filmmakers and creator of Exeter’s renowned cinema museum.

The documentary shows the extraordinary friendship between Bill and his lifelong friend and collaborator Peter Jewell

The story of Bill Douglas – one of Britain’s finest filmmakers and creator of Exeter’s renowned cinema museum – will be on show in the city as part of a special event to mark what would have been his 90th birthday.

People will have the chance to see a documentary showing the extraordinary friendship between Bill, who died in 1991, and his lifelong friend and collaborator Peter Jewell. Together they built the collection that founded The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum at the University of Exeter.

The documentary has previously been shown at the Glasgow and Venice film festivals. This is the first time it has been shown in England.

It includes 8mm footage – never seen before – showing Bill’s talent developing at the very start of his career.

The home movies were made between 1966 and 1969 before Bill – often seen as Scotland’s greatest filmmaker – attended the London Film School, using a camera Peter had given him as a present for Christmas in 1965. Footage includes fascinating details of life in Soho in the 1960s, as well as holidays and Bill’s first attempts at making fiction films in different styles featuring his friends.

The films are now part of the thousands of artefacts held by the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, the UK’s leading museum dedicated to the moving image. The museum was founded from the huge collection of cinema and optical media ephemera that Bill and Peter had collected and was gifted to the University of Exeter by Peter after Bill’s death. The museum also holds Bill’s working papers on his career.

The pair had met while doing their National Service in the RAF in Egypt, and this is documented in Bill’s third film My Way Home.

The documentary is directed by Jack Archer and made by Hopscotch Films in Glasgow. It was originally developed by filmmaker Andy Kimpton-Nye and Jack was assisted in the filming by former University of Exeter student Dan McKay who graduated in 2022. The documentary features contemporary film makers, including Lynne Ramsay and Lenny Abrahamson, discussing the impact of Bill’s work on their careers in the documentary.

Bill Douglas My Best Friend will be shown at the Exeter Phoenix on Saturday 20 Apr 2024 at 2pm. Tickets are available at