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

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members, but by governors two-thirds of whom are irremovable save by their own organisations. Condition i— the exclusion of all " purely trade matters "—is, taken alone, enough to sterilise the Institute at the outset, since every cinema problem must sooner or later affect the film trade in one way or another and can, if desired, be interpreted by the trade, or its representatives among the governors, as a" purely trade matter." It is true that three or more of the other governors, if they agree to question such an interpre- tation, can do so ; but this involves an elaborate process of Legal Arbitration* which is unlikely to be invoked, except as an extreme measure which could hardly fail to break up the Institute. In regard to the vital matter of feature films, for example, these non-trade governors, with their limited experience, must, if they are not to split up the Institute internally, leave them entirely to the highly-experienced producers of such films, and thereby confine the Institute's chief activities to films for the class-room —which is largely a domestic problem for teachers and is certainly not the problem Parliament had principally in mind. Condition 2— the exclusion of any attempt to interfere with film censorship —debars the Institute from the very beginning from dealing with the one problem which to many—including, on the one hand, those who regard the cinema as a new art-form requiring the largest possible measure of freedom, and, on the other, large numbers of clergy and social workers who think it already has too much— is the most important and most urgent of all cinema problems.f Alike for those who regard the present censorship system as too strictj or * Section III in the Memorandum of Association. t Many of them are, of course, not so much concerned with the machinery of censorship as with the more fundamental problem of the film standards which should govern all censorship. X E.g., many members of Film Societies. Page 26