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

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antagonism from the various sections of the film trade. Neither of the two great trade bodies—the Cinemato- graph Exhibitors' Association and the Kinematograph Renters' Society—was represented on the Commission. Many of the leading men in the industry expressed their strong antipathy to the activities of a group of educationalists, whom they characterised as " busy- bodies " or " uplift merchants " with no real knowledge of the great industry in which they were interfering. It was assumed by the trade, with some justification at first, though less and less as time went on, that the pro- portion of Sunday cinema receipts paid into the Cine- matograph Fund would inevitably be used to finance the Institute ; and it was commonly referred to by the trade journals as " the uplift tax." No responsible leader in the Industry would deny that, at that time, the film trade, taken as a whole, was vigorously, even bitterly, opposed to the whole proposal.* There were exceptions—notably Mr. Simon Rowson, President of the British Kinematograph Society, who, in two important letters in The Times'], expressed the view that some kind of film institute might be useful to the trade, no less than to other allied interests. But even he insisted that any such Institute, if set up, must be controlled by the trade itself. The Secretaries of the Commission replied, rightly, that the only possible Institute was an entirely independent one, " established under Royal Charter or other public authority," on which, not one, but all interests should be represented ; * See, for example, this reference in a leading article in The Cinematograph Times (the official organ of the Cinematograph Exhibitors' Association) for January 27th, 1933 : ' When the idea was originally mooted during the discussions on the Sunday Enter- tainments Bill, it aroused hostility from the trade because it emerged from an " uplift " cloud. The proposal was objected to bv the trade." t Letters dated August 3 and August 10, 1932. Page 23