The Camera is Ours: Britain's Women Documentary Makers
From the female pioneers in the 1930s to the rich contemporary scene, women documentarians tell a vibrant story.
ohn Grierson is sometimes referred to as the father of British documentary and is credited with coining the term ‘documentary’. However, from the outset there were pivotal female influences on the genre, including Grierson’s sisters Ruby and Marion. We’re delighted to showcase Ruby’s work alongside that of other pioneering documentary makers in many digital restorations from the BFI National Archive. These films are at the heart of the BFI’s project to raise the visibility of the women who’ve been making documentaries for almost 100 years. These are works that reveal the impact of war on families, examine housing conditions, expose barriers against inclusive societies: both then and now there are women on the frontline, telling stories.
- Ros Cranston, BFI National Archive curator
Documentary drama197340 mins Location: Stepney
Tired of being hassled by the police and with no job opportunities, a group of teenage East End lads plan to rob a bank.
Documentary193314 minsSilent Location: Westminster
London at its best? This gorgeous lyrical portrait was made by pioneering female director Marion Grierson.
Current affairs197827 mins Location: Brixton
World in Action interviews the residents of Haycroft Road, Brixton as a controversial by-election stokes concerns about race and immigration.
Documentary193724 mins Location: South Cerney
A key social issues film documentary from the British Documentary Movement, this two-part film follows the establishment of social enterprises in England and Wales.
Documentary19867 mins Location: South Shields
An unusual mix of pastel, photos, film and line drawings conjures a story of the River Tyne, from its source at the Scottish border to its mouth at South Shields.
Is this the scariest public information film ever? This hard-hitting warning against 'stranger danger' was considered too distressing to be broadcast on television.
Documentary194833 mins Location: Dunfermline
Kay Mander's film about the planning for Dunfermline’s post-war reconstruction is a fascinating record of the idealism of mid-20th-century town planning.
Documentary195522 mins Location: Brighton
A ghost of Brighton's Regency past returns to explore his old haunts in a colourful yarn set in 1950s Sussex-by-the-Sea.
School programme and Educational film195511 mins Location: Finchley
Everyday family life in suburban North London - as seen by folk learning English in the 1950s.
War194664 mins Location: Plymouth
This stylish film shows the cramped life of one family in post-war Plymouth, and expands on the contentious plans for the city's rebuilding.
Documentary193618 mins Location: Farne Islands
You don't have to be an ornithologist to enjoy this playful documentary about the Farne Islands' avian population
Vivid and alarming safety film shot at Teversal, Thoresby and Welbeck Collieries in Nottinghamshire.
Travelogue193515 minsSilent Location: Bournemouth
Anyone for a trip to the seaside? From Bournemouth to Margate via Brighton and Folkestone – sunny delights in abundance.
Documentary195118 mins Location: Bristol
How a thousand years of history have helped the West Country capital to emerge from the blitz as a modern city of art and industry.
Travelogue193712 mins Location: Finchingfield
Rural life in the Essex villages of Finchingfield and Great Bardfield - and the mixed reactions of older residents to changing times.
Documentary drama192939 minsSilent Location: Welwyn Garden City
This striking female-focused silent drama muses on the long-term perils of sexually transmitted diseases
Documentary197326 mins Location: Nottingham
The styles, streets and music of 1970s Nottingham are engagingly evoked in this industrial process film.
Industry sponsored film197035 mins Location: Port Talbot
Building a new harbour at Port Talbot - it’s a man’s world in which the only females are a dredger and two seafaring vessels.
Documentary19418 minsSilent Location: London
The children of the London Blitz are the focus of this punchy and poignant documentary.
Documentary193618 mins Location: Farne Islands
The birdlife of Northumberland's Farne Islands comes under the spotlight in this pioneering documentary from the Secrets of Life nature series.
School programme and Educational film193710 mins Location: Hereford
A subtly charming portrait of agricultural life in the west of England, featuring some fine pedigree cattle.
School programme and Educational film19379 mins Location: Plympton
A charming 1930s geography lesson on dairy farming around the lush pasturelands of Wixenford Farm near Plymouth.
Public Information Filler194112 mins
Poetic tribute to Mrs Turner's vegetable growing prowess, plus the delights of "wartime steaks"
Documentary19409 mins Location: Westminster
Urban nature explored in this wonderful short film looking at the lives, habits and habitats of London’s pigeon population.
Prevention of cross Infection: Respiratory Tract Infection in Children's WardsPrevention of cross Infection: Respiratory Tract Infection in Children's Wards
How an outbreak of streptococcal infection spreads – droplet by droplet – and how it can be prevented.
Frida Kahlo’s Corset is a short experimental drama that follows a journey of transformation by the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) who wore a series of orthopaedic corsets because of impairment.
Documentary194711 mins Location: Aberdeen
Power cuts, housing shortages and exorbitant rents – Aberdeen man Norrie Williamson goes head to head with his greedy landlady
Government sponsored film194924 mins Location: Bishop Auckland
A rare outing for a 1945 drama documentary on local studies education in Bishop Auckland by one of Britain's pioneering women directors.
Documentary194642 mins Location: Banbury
For an impression of what life was like in rural Oxfordshire in the mid-1940s, look no further than this documentary
Documentary196524 mins Location: Selby Canal
The 1960s and the peak of youth hostelling: hiking around the country, school trips, bunk beds, self-catering and crazy dancing to pop music.