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LONDON – The British Film Institute has snapped up worldwide rights to the Children’s Film Foundation (CFF) collection of around 400 movies, British short films and serials produced for young audiences from the 1950s to the 1980s.
The CFF was a non-profit making pan-industry initiative, set up in 1951 by the owner of the Odeon and Rank movie theater chains, tasked with making “home-grown entertainment for young cinemagoers to see at the ‘Saturday morning pictures’.”
The Foundation occupies a distinct place in British movie industry history and is the subject of fuzzy warm nostalgia for many film and television executives.
Directing talent including Michael Powell, Lewis Gilbert, Alberto Cavalcanti and John Krish all worked for the CFF and familiar British film and TV names such as Francesca Annis, Michael Crawford, Susan George, Richard O’Sullivan, Dennis Waterman, Keith Chegwin, Gary Kemp, Leslie Ash, Phil Collins, Sadie Frost and Matthew Wright all passed in front of CFF lenses.
BFI head of content Jane Giles said: “These films are a fascinating historical record of children’s entertainment over 40 years with much to say about society. We hope that adults with fond memories will be keen to introduce them to younger generations.”
The films are now preserved in the BFI National Archive.
A selection of titles are scheduled to unspool at BFI Southbank before release on BFI DVD over the next few years.
The first DVD release, pencilled in for July 2012, will be The Children’s Film Foundation Collection: London Tales, containing three London-based adventures; The Salvage Gang (1958), Operation Third Form (1966) and Night Ferry (1976).
To launch the DVD series, The Salvage Gang and Operation Third Form will be screened at BFI Southbank in July with Krish, director of The Salvage Gang and its leading actors Frazer Hines and Amanda Coxell, on hand to introduce the films.
The CFF became the Children’s Film and Television Foundation in 1982 and film production finally stopped in 1987 as television took young audiences away from the Saturday morning pictures.
The Children’s Film and Television Foundation is now known as The Children’s Media Foundation and is chaired by Anna Home.
“We are delighted that the BFI is safeguarding the future of the CFTF library and that it will become available to a completely new audience. These films are examples of great storytelling specifically created for children,” said Home.
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