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A British empire of their own? Jewish entrepreneurs in the British film industry

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Spicer provides an overview of the contribution of Jewish entrepreneurs to the British film industry from its beginnings through to the present. He argues that film was an open and rapidly expanding industry that offered exciting opportunities in production, distribution and exhibition for individuals regardless of class, background or ethnicity; it thus provided an arena in which Jewish traditions of risk taking, independence and ambition could thrive, though not without courting anti-Semitic prejudice. As the industry contracted from the 1950s onwards there were less opportunities, but nevertheless the Jewish presence remained strongly represented. Overall, he argues, the shape and contours of British cinema as it evolved are inconceivable without acknowledging the Jewish influence.

Keywords: Jewishness; Jews; United Kingdom; anti-Semitism; cinema; entrepreneur; film industry

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of the West of England

Publication date: October 1, 2012

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  • The Journal of European Popular Culture investigates the creative cultures of Europe, present and past. Exploring European popular imagery, media, new media, film, music, art and design, architecture, drama and dance, fine art, literature and the writing arts, and more, the journal is also of interest to those considering the influence of European creativity and European creative artefacts worldwide.
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