The cinema and the public: a critical analysis of the origin, constitution, and control of the British Film Institute (1934)

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are we pledged as to the character that the film institute, if it ever exists, will assume."* 4. HOPES OF RECONSTRUCTION. Each of the four main defects of the proposed Institute which I have detailed was, it will be seen, serious ; and there were some who regarded one or more of them as insurmountable. Others (including myself), still convinced that the Institute scheme, for all its faults, did seem to provide one possible basis for building up something of real value, believed that each of these defects, however serious, might, given a spirit of co-operation, be ultimately overcome. Care, for example, might be taken, not to follow, but to avoid the unfortunate examples of many foreign Institutes ; public opinion, deeply concerned in the problem of censorship, might insist on the Institute facing instead of running away from it ; the scheme's marked lop- sidedness on the class-room side might gradually be corrected ; whilst steps might at the same time be taken to see that the educational world as a whole and not merely a small section of it were itself (together with all the other more general interests) adequately represented. None of these remedies could have been easily effected. But all, or almost all, of them might have been achieved sooner or later— on one assumption : that, whatever necessary changes were made, the Institute was afforded and retained that " indisputable commercial disinterestedness " on which its promoters had rightly insisted. An Institute built on that firm basis, and securely tied to it by the appointment by the State (or some recognised public authority) of distinguished independent governors, might survive almost any initial * Parliamentary Debates —House of Lords—Vol. 85, No. 72, Cols. 656-7. Page 20