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

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(C III. THE BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE." 1. ATTITUDE OF THE FILM TRADE. Unfortunately, all such hopes have been shattered by the events of the last eighteen months. The " British Film Institute " which has now been set up, while retaining all the defects, has abandoned almost all the redeeming features of the National Film Institute of June, 1932, including that one feature which made even its worst defects appear to some not insurmountable — absolute independence. The National Film Institute outlined by the Educa- tional Commission in their report was to have a Royal Charter and State-appointed governors ; and entire inde- pendence of commercial control. The " British Film Institute "* now in being has governors appointed not by the State but by the film trade and a small group of educationalists ; and is, to a large extent, as I will show, under the control of commercial interests. Moreover, its registered constitution itself makes it certain that it shall always remain so. When the Educational Commission brought for- ward its original proposal, it met with widespread * In Scotland, which is far ahead of England in these matters, all the film societies and educational and other bodies concerned with the cinema are actively engaged in creating a Scottish Film Federation. It is hardly to be expected that they will agree to sacrifice their independence and initiative in order to become an offshoot of the " British Film Institute " ; still less that they will allow themselves to be stampeded into such a course by the statement of Mr. J. W. Brown, its general manager, at one of their recent meetings (reported in The Glasgow Herald, January 15th, 1934), that," if they formed an entirely independent Scottish film institute, the British Film Institute would probably be forced to form Scottish branches." Page 22