Early days of short film production at the British Film Institute: origins and evolution of the BFI Experimental Film Fund (1952-66)
Author: Dupin, Christophe
Source: Journal of Media Practice, Volume 4, Number 2, 1 October 2003 , pp. 77-91(15)
Abstract:Between 1952 and 1965, the British Film Institute financed or part- financed, via its Experimental Film Fund, a total of 50 short films. If many of these films have since been forgotten, a number of them have left their mark on British film history, while their makers have since entered the pantheon of British cinema and television. Yet, little academic or other literature has ever been written on the subject. When the Experimental Film Fund's work has been mentioned in histories of British cinema, these mentions have often undermined the Fund's achievements in the specific context of 1950s and 1960s British cinema. When BFI-funded films from that period have themselves been a subject of study (for instance Free Cinema films), the vital institutional link between the BFI and these films has generally been ignored. The purpose of this article is therefore not only to attempt to rehabilitate the work of the Experimental Film Fund, but also to examine the strict constraints under which it had to operate, as a result of which the scope of its action and influence was inevitably limited. However, a rigorous assessment of the BFI's film-funding achievements in the 1950s and 1960s has to take into account the evolution of the Institute's initial position on that question in the changing cultural context of the post-Second World War period, which eventually led to the setting-up of the Fund in 1952. This `pre-historical' analysis will be our first task.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2003-10-01
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