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Shadows of Progress (BFI) in November

On 15 November 2010 the BFI releases a deluxe DVD box set Shadows of Progress: Documentary Film in Post-War Britain 1951-1977.

A feature of November's pan-BFI Boom Britain campaign*, this 4-disc set contains 32 films and is accompanied by a 100-page book, in a deluxe presentation box. This landmark collection brings together for the first time almost 14 hours of film material preserved in the BFI National Archive, telling the previously untold story of British documentary filmmaking through the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Britain emerged from the Second World War a changed country. In an era of inevitable and far-reaching change, the country's documentary filmmakers set out to engage with the country's people and places, values and industries in fresh, exciting ways.

Out of the shadows cast by the celebrated documentarists of the wartime years, such as Humphrey Jennings and Paul Rotha, emerged the likes of John Krish, Eric Marquis and Derrick Knight, each of whom employed bold and distinctive new techniques in order to tackle an increasingly diverse array of subjects.

This collection redefines the filmmaking of a critical era of Britain's history. These films and filmmakers have been unjustly overlooked and under-appreciated, yet the films presented here - commissioned by private industry, commercial sponsors, Government departments and independent charities - are every bit as inspired, ground-breaking and indispensable as anything produced by the Free Cinema or British Documentary Movements.

More on the Boom Britain campaign and a one minute trailer for the DVD box-set can be found here:

Highlights include: To Be a Woman (1951) – an argument for equal pay looking at women’s place in society; The Elephant Will Never Forget (1953) – an emotive farewell to London’s last tram; the Oscar-winning Thursday's Children (1954) – a gentle and considered look at educational provision for deaf children, Portrait of Queenie (1964) – a celebratory portrait of Queenie, blues singer and landlady of an East London pub; Time Out of Mind (1968), a startling, stylistic documentary about mental health and The Shadow of Progress (1970) a multi-award-winning documentary about the environment.

This set includes new filmed interviews with some of the directors, and a 100-page illustrated book containing new introductory essays, notes and recollections. Contributors include Lord David Puttnam and historian Dominic Sandbrook.

Shadows of Progress is the companion to the BFI’s acclaimed DVD Land of Promise: The British Documentary Movement 1930-1950 which is reissued on 15 November 2010.

RRP is £34.99 for both sets.

Disc 1 – The Island
David (Paul Dickson, 1951)
To Be a Woman (Jill Craigie, 1951)
The Island (Peter Pickering, 1952)
The Elephant Will Never Forget (John Krish, 1953)
Sunday by the Sea (Anthony Simmons, 1953)
Henry (Lindsay Anderson, 1955)
Foot and Mouth (Lindsay Anderson, 1955)
Birthright (Sarah Erulkar, 1958)
They Took Us to the Sea (John Krish, 1961)
Faces of Harlow (Derrick Knight, 1964)

Disc 2 – Return to Life
Thursday's Children (Lindsay Anderson & Guy Brenton, 1954)
There Was a Door (Derek Williams, 1957)
People Apart (Guy Brenton, 1957)
Return to Life (John Krish, 1960)
Four People (Guy Brenton, 1962)
A Time to Heal (Derrick Knight, 1963)
Time Out of Mind (Eric Marquis, 1968)

Disc 3 – The Shadow of Progress
Three Installations (Lindsay Anderson, 1952)
The Film That Never Was (Paul Dickson, 1957)
Stone Into Steel (Paul Dickson, 1960)
From First To Last (Anthony Simmons, 1962)
People, Productivity and Change (Peter Bradford, 1963)
Shellarama (Richard Cawston, 1965)
Picture to Post (Sarah Erulkar, 1969)
The Shadow of Progress (Derek Williams, 1970)

Disc 4 – Today in Britain
Today in Britain (Peter Hopkinson, 1964)
I Think They Call Him John (John Krish, 1964)
Portrait of Queenie (Michael Orrom, 1964)
Education for the Future (Derrick Knight, 1967)
Tomorrow's Merseysiders (Eric Marquis, 1974)
Time of Terror (Eric Marquis, 1975)
The Shetland Experience (Derek Williams 1977)
Extra: Perspectives on documentary filmmaking (2010)

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