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

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as insufficiently strict J ; for those who favour some form of State censorship, a censorship by an inde- pendent body, or a modified form of the present trade censorship ; and for those, including many important women's associations and other public bodies,** who, while giving their general support to the present system, wish to see it strengthened by a greater sense of responsibility on the part of local licensing authorities —for all these alike, the Institute has already, by this clause in its Constitution, rendered itself completely impotent. I express no opinion regarding any of these varied and often contradictory points of view, but merely state that, to all of them equally, the Institute can only afford a false sense of security. For, although they may imagine that, now it is in being, there is no longer any need for their own activities, they may not be aware that the Institute can neither deal with any complaints nor give any advice nor even answer any question regarding any of these problems, but can only place all such communications in its capacious waste- paper basket. % E.g., the Edinburgh Cinema Inquiry Committee, who sent a deputation to the Under-Secretary for Scotland a few days ago to urge a Departmental Inquiry into the whole question of film censor- ship. The deputation (according to To-day's Cinema, January 9th, 1934), included representatives of the Church of Scotland, the Educational Institute of Scotland and the Edinburgh Juvenile Organisations Committee. Scotland, realising some of the insur- mountable limitations of the " British Film Institute " in this and other directions, is wisely preparing to cut itself off from its operations by setting to work to build up a Federation or Institute of its own. But the same restrictions apply to the similar Cinema Inquiry Committees, and particularly to the National Cinema Inquiry Committee, which have similar objects in England. Sir Charles Grant-Robertson, the Chairman of the last-named Committee, has recently expressed his view that the limitation of the Institute's purposes and its practical absorption by the trade have very seriously diminished its independence and value. ** E.g., The National Council of Women, The Mothers' Union, The National Federation of Women's Institutes and the Public Morality Council. Page 27