The BFI has launched Britain on Film, a new project that reveals hidden histories and forgotten stories of people and places from the key film and TV archives of the UK, including South West Film and Television Archive (SWFTA).
There is a wealth of material in the collection from South West England including the British Surfing Team riding the waves in Newquay to the early morning bathers diving of the pier in Plymouth Sound, from footage of Helston‘s famous Flora Festival to a fashionista introducing the latest 70s trends from London to Truro.
The archive is on BFI Player, giving everybody in the UK free access to 1,000s of film and TV titles about where they live, grew up, went to school, their family, friends â€“ or any subject of interest.
By 2017, thanks to National Lottery-funding, and the support of the EsmÃ©e Fairbairn Foundation, 10,000 film and TV titles from 1895 to the present day will be digitised. The public can get involved with the project via Twitter (#BritainOnFilm) and Facebook, with a campaign launching today that sees 60 films from all over the UK released over 60 days, and special screenings, events and partnerships across the UK.
Also announced is a newly-commissioned film from Penny Woolcock, using this archive material.
Through the project, Britain on Film curators have found extraordinary footage of ordinary people from across the collections. This newly accessible film and TV presents a Britain that is vibrant, diverse and eccentric whilst shining a light on issues and situations that affect every generation.
Highlights in the South West of England Film and Televisions archives include:
The British Surfing Team in Newquay (1978), pioneers of the Cornish surfing scene Nigel Semmens and Steve Daniel ride the waves and are interviewed about being the best of British in their chosen sport. * Both Nigel and Steve are available for interview
Helston’s famous Flora Festival features in This England – Cornwall: Helston Furry Dance and Villages (1934), and Born of the Sea (1949), a charming portrait of a small coastal community in Coverack.
Plymouth Flying Boats (1927), filmed by amateur photographer and local butcher, Claude Redvers Endicott, captures the fleets of seaplanes that flew in to land on Plymouth Sound.
Seven o’clock Regulars Swimming Club (1929), early morning bathers dive off the pier and swim in Plymouth Sound.
Alice in Plymouth Civic Centre Wonderland (1962), watch Alice explore the new modernist building to introduce Plymouth’s latest administrative centre to the general public.
Footage of one of the very first horse-drawn barge trips along the Grand Western Canal in Tiverton that has been transporting passengers through the idyllic mid-Devon countryside since 1974.
Models showcase the latest fashion in Truro (1970), Truro is treated to models displaying the fashion of the age and a fashionista discusses the latest 1970s trends.
Many of these films have never â€“ or rarely â€“ been seen and can now be searched for by specific UK locations through BFI Player’s ground-breaking new Film and TV Map of the UK, which also enables people to share films with their family, friends and communities.
Through Britain on Film a moving and intimate portrait of the diversity of British life is revealed by professional and amateur footage of vanished landscapes, urban and rural communities, historic traditions and folklore, people at work, at play and British characters in all their unique glory. Newsreels, advertisements, home movies, forgotten TV shows, and films by government departments all offer surprising insights into British life in the 20th century.
Robin Baker, head curator, BFI said: ‘For 120 years cameras have captured almost every aspect of life in the UK on film, but too often these have been inaccessible to all but the most determined researchers. Now Britain on Film is transforming access to films from the UK’s archives and making them available, no matter where you live’
Stacey Anderson, executive archive director, SWFTA said: ‘SWFTA is delighted to be supporting Britain on Film and Unlocking Film Heritage Project through the provision of film from our collections.
‘Films are made only in their time which gives them great authenticity and takes people straight back to that time.
‘The UFH Project allows SWFTA to reach audiences on an unprecedented scale, allowing us to bring alive any given moment in time, and encouraging viewers to attach personal or shared emotions and thoughts to those moments â€“ in a sort of shared dialogue -through the discovery and dissemination of amazing film content. We’re very excited to be part of that!’
Britain on Film is a result of the BFI National Archive and the UK’s 13 national and regional screen archives and rights holders joining forces to bring these films together with a major programme of curation and digitisation that started in 2012 and continues until the end of 2017.
Pop over and start exploring Britain on Film.