Professor Nowell-Smith and Dr Dupin are jointly researching the history of the British Film Institute (BFI) from its foundation in 1933 to the present day with the aid of a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Since the 1930s, the BFI has been at the heart of film culture in Britain, housing the National Film and Television Archive, running the National Film Theatre, distributing films and latterly videos and DVDs, publishing books and the magazine Sight and Sound, and pioneering film and media education at all levels. Perhaps surprisingly, this turbulent and fascinating history has never been systematically researched. This AHRB-funded project aims to fill the gap.
The lecture will be in two parts, followed by discussion:
Christophe Dupin, “Before Film studies: The BFI, film culture and film appreciation, 1933-1966”
Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, “Cultural revolution at the BFI: film education engages with the intellectual mainstream, 1966-1975”
Geoffrey Nowell-Smith is a former Head of Education (1978-80) and of Publishing (1980-88) at the BFI. He was on the editorial board of Screen from 1975 to 1985 and was Editor of the magazine in 1977. He is the editor of the Oxford History of World Cinema (1996) and the author or editor of various books on European cinema. His book Making Waves: New Cinemas of the 1960s is forthcoming from Continuum in November.
Christophe Dupin worked for the BFI National Library and the BFI’s Knowledge Department from 1999 to 2004, while writing a PhD on the history of the BFI’s Experimental Film Fund and Production Board. He has curated a number of events around the Free Cinema movement and produced Free Cinema’s 50th Anniversary DVD box set for the BFI. Among his recent publications are ‘The Postwar Transformation of the British Film Institute and its Impact on the Development of a National Film Culture in Britain’, Screen, 47:4 (2006), ‘The Origins and Early Development of the National Film Library: 1929-1936’, Journal of Media Practice, 7:3, (2007), and “The BFI and Independent British Cinema in the 1970s”, in Robert Shail (ed), British Cinema and the 1970s, (BFI, forthcoming).