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The Documentary Film Movement is the name given to the group of British
filmmakers, led by John Grierson, who were influential in British film culture in the
1930s and 1940s.
1 Principles
2 History
3 See also
4 Further reading
5 External links
The founding principles of the movement were based on Grierson's views of
documentary film. He wished to use film to educate citizens in an understanding of
democratic society.
The movement began at the Film Unit of the Empire Marketing Board in 1930. The
unit was headed by John Grierson, who appointed apprentices such as Basil Wright,
Arthur Elton, Edgar Anstey, Stuart Legg, Paul Rotha and Harry Watt. These
filmmakers were mostly young, middle-class, educated males with liberal political
views. In 1933, the film unit was transferred to the General Post Office.
From 1936, the movement began to disperse and divisions emerged. Whereas
previously the documentary film movement had been located in a single public sector
organisation, it separated in the late 1930s into different branches, as filmmakers
explored other possibilities for developing documentary film. By 1937, the movement
was spread across four different production units: GPO, Shell (headed by Anstey),
Strand (headed by Rotha) and Realist (led by Wright).
In 1939, Grierson left Britain to work with the National Film Board of Canada, where
he remained until 1945. In 1940, the GPO Film Unit was transferred to the Ministry of
Information and renamed the Crown Film Unit.
Documentary News Letter
Aitken, Ian (ed.), The Documentary Film Movement: An Anthology (Edinburgh,
Aitken, Ian, Film and Reform: John Grierson and the Documentary Film
Fox, Jo, 'John Grierson, his "documentary boys" and the British Ministry of
Information', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 25 (2005), pp. 345
Hood, Stuart, 'John Grierson and the documentary film movement', in James
Curran and Vincent Porter (eds.), British Cinema History

Sussex, Elizabeth, The Rise and Fall of British Documentary: The Story of the Film
Movement Founded by John Grierson
Swann, Paul, The British Documentary Film Movement, 1926-1946
BFI Screenonline: Documentary
Cinema of the United Kingdom
Films by year
(Films AZ)
Pre 1920 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930
1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942
1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955
1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968
1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981
1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Production companies
and studios
Aardman Animations BBC Films Big Talk Productions British Lion Films DNA
Films Double Negative (VFX) Ealing Studios Elstree Studios Eon Productions
Film4 Productions
Goldcrest Films Hammer Film Productions
HandMade Films Heyday Films The Imaginarium Studios London Films Palace
Pictures Passion Pictures The Pinewood Studios Group (Pinewood Studios
Shepperton Studios) Recorded Picture Company Scott Free Productions Syncopy
Inc. S4C Films Thin Man Films Vertigo Films Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden
Warp Films Wimbledon Studios Working Title Films
Amicus Productions Associated British Picture Corporation British Instructional
Films British National Films Company Bryanston Films Denham Film Studios
Eagle-Lion Films Eros Films G. B. Samuelson Productions Gainsborough Pictures
General Film Distributors Halas and Batchelor Hemdale Film Corporation Ideal Film
Company MGM-British Studios Merton Park Studios Rank Organisation Southall
Studios Tempean Films Tigon British Film Productions Warwick Films Woolf &
Freedman Film Service
BAFTA British Board of Film Classification British Film Institute BFI National
Archive BFI Southbank British Society of Cinematographers Children's Film
Foundation Cinema Exhibitors' Association National Film and Television School
National Media Museum Northern Ireland Screen Scottish Screen UK Film Council
Actors and actresses Cinematographers Directors Editors Producers Production
designers Score composers Screenwriters
British Academy Film Awards British Independent Film Awards British New Wave
Carry On Cinematograph Films Act 1927 Documentary Film Movement Eady
Levy Ealing Comedies Edgar Wallace Mysteries Free Cinema Gainsborough
melodramas Harry Potter History of British film certificates Home Video Charts
James Bond London Film Festival Look at Life London in film National Theatre
Live Telecinema Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy