Film Preview: Love Letters and Live Wires: GPO Highlights, 21 September, Cameo Cinema

4 Sep

Occasionally an event or screening pops up in Edinburgh or Glasgow that I feel privileged to be promoting here, even in a small way. Coming to Edinburgh’s Cameo on Sunday 21 September is a compilation of short films called Love Letters and Live Wires: Highlights from the GPO Film Unit and it does the cineast’s heart good to see this sort of thing arriving in Scotland.

With the British Film Institute (BFI) celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year, there are lots of events taking place to publicise their role of “promoting understanding and appreciation of Britain’s rich film and television heritage and culture” (it says here) and this is one of them. I’ll leave it to the BFI’s blurb to explain the rest:

“In 1933, the General Post Office made history by founding its own film production unit. The GPO Film Unit would become internationally renowned as a centre for creative, exciting public information films, leaving us perhaps the most evocative record of the 1930s zeitgeist on celluloid.

“This selection of some of its greatest short films, in new prints from the BFI National Archive, showcases the Unit’s sheer range: from quintessential documentary (Night Mail) to avant-garde animation (Trade Tattoo) and even musical comedy (The Fairy of the Phone). Made by such varied talents as Grierson, Cavalcanti, Len Lye and Norman McLaren, the films bring alive a revolution in mass communications as epoch-changing then as the internet is now.”

Sounds great doesn’t it? OK so it’s not a blockbuster, part of a superhero trilogy or anything as modern as that, but if we want to better understand how films – documentaries in particular – have got where they are today, and also catch a glimpse of a world now long gone, then this is one way to do it.

Sadly I’m going to be out of town on the day so can’t make it along. Shame.

Please a trip over to the Cameo website to find out more about Love Letters and Live Wires – and here’s hoping we see more of the same soon.

You might also want to visit the BFI’s YouTube page to see some fantastic old clips from around Britain, such as the following clip of Edinburgh City Centre, circa 1926:

Image copyright BFI


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