I know that MoC Blu-Rays are region free, is BFI the same deal? Or are they Region B?
See above! (I'm assuming your post was originally somewhere else?)
Incidentally, MoC Blu-rays are not
invariably region-free - For All Mankind
is coded for Region B. Which I'm actually quite pleased about, because I was getting thoroughly sick of this myth that MoC are somehow negotiating wizards who can persuade any rightsholder to let them go region-free and the BFI have this evil "policy" (a word I see far too often in this argument) to go in the other direction - the fact is, if MoC licensed and released those titles, they'd have to region-code too.
EDIT: Oops, found this
. A shame Salo
is Region B - is there any reason why some are and some aren't?
BFI policy is to go region-free whenever possible. Unfortunately, Hollywood studios and their agents almost invariably insist on region-coding their titles, and make it a contractual condition - in other words, if the BFI ignores this and releases the disc region-free, the repercussions could be severe, affecting far more than just the BFI's Blu-ray catalogue. (It's no exaggeration to say that the BFI's entire business plan across the full range of its activities is massively
reliant on maintaining good relationships with rightsholders - without those, loads of BFI projects from South Bank seasons to online projects like Screenonline and the Mediatheque to archive restorations just wouldn't be possible).
So far, the Region B titles have all come from the United Artists back catalogue, though upcoming releases like Privilege
(Universal), The Leopard
and The Innocents
(both Fox) will also definitely be Region B, and for the same reason. The situation with For All Mankind
suggests that it's also highly likely that if the BFI collaborates with Criterion on a Blu-ray release that Criterion will insist on region-coding - they region-code all their own discs to region A, and will expect their partners to do the equivalent for their territory.
Of course, you could take a stand and refuse to licence anything that's going to be compulsorily region-coded - but in doing so, you'd shut off a vast range of titles, many (if not most) of which will be amongst the most lucrative ones in the catalogue. The Leopard
was a huge hit on DVD, and hopefully the Blu-ray will be similar - which means that it'll effectively subsidise the riskier releases.