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British Film Institute


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


Founded in 1933 amid bitter debate about the role of film education and film culture in Britain. Since then, it has had to struggle to maintain its independence as an institution that exists essentially within the public sphere, in the face of industry pressure and changing government policies. Throughout its history it has played a crucial innovative role in film culture. One of the Institute's first responsibilities was to set up a National Film Library (the origin of the present National Film and Television Archive). It also took over the journal Sight and Sound in 1934, and created an exhibition wing with the foundation of the National Film Theatre in 1952. From its inception, the BFI has been concemed with defining and promoting film education and it is primarily through these activities that its work has made a unique contribution to the development of film theory. Intellectual innovation and debate has always benefited from the backing and dissemination available through the BFI's different activities, most particularly the film distribution library, publishing, and the specialized information service and book library. In the mid-1960s the Education Department of the British Film Insitute adopted a new, dynamic policy toward film criticism and F ilm studies that provided a crucible for emergent film theory. It is possible to date the new initiatives from the appointment ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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