An Uncompetitive Cinema: The British Fiction Short Film in the 1960s

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This article offers a historical study of short films and their place in the British cinema programmes of the 1960s as a way of exploring the monopolistic practices which characterised the film industry during this period. Focusing on the short fiction/entertainment film is a particularly useful way of studying competition in the industry because the problems of financing, distribution and exhibition which characterised film production were felt more keenly by those working on short films than they were by those working solely in the feature film sector. The 1960s, and more specifically the mid-1960s, represented a key moment in the history of the short fiction film in Britain. The year 1966 saw the publication of the Monopolies Commission report into the dominance of the cinema circuits by Rank and ABC, a document which heralded recognition of the problems facing short film-makers (and film-makers in general). This article will tell the story of how the producers and distributors of short films in the 1960s jostled to find a space for their products among cinema programmes already replete with Rank and ABC’s Look at Life and Pathé Pictorial lifestyle documentary serials, and this history will in turn highlight the ways in which the conservative nature of the industry hampered the growth of a healthy, creative short film sector in Britain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalHistorical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Mar 2017

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