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British Cinema - How British is British Film?

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Kirsty Worrow

on 23 March 2018

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Transcript of British Cinema - How British is British Film?

The Contemporary British Film Industry: Context and Debates
Aims of this session...
Define ‘British film’;
Identify problems facing the British film Industry both in production and at the British and international box office;
Evaluate the ‘Britishness’ of British film products.
How many British films can you think of in one minute?
For a further minute, share your ideas with a partner.

Deciding what constitutes a 'British' film is problematic.
Consider the following possibilities:
Defining British Film
Made in Britain using British talent, creatives and technicians?
This is England
(Meadows, 2006)
Darkest Hour
(Wright, 2017)
(Mendes, 2012)
Harry Potter
films (2001-2011)
Made outside the UK using British talent, creatives and technicians?
(Mendes, 2015)
(Nolan, 2017)
Funded by British sources (BFI, Film4, BBC Films, etc.) that make money for the British film industry?
I, Daniel Blake
(Loach, 2016)
The King's Speech
(Hooper, 2010)
Films made by British Production Companies aimed primarily at a British audience?
(Bracewll, 2015)
Sunshine on Leith
(Fletcher, 2013)
(McQueen, 2008)
Films made by British Production Companies aimed at an international audience?
Kingsman: The Secret Service
(Vaughn, 2014)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
(McDonough, 2017)
Baby Driver
(Wright, 2017)
The nationality of any film is actually determined by the source of the funding.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Ex Machina -
Kingsman: The Secret Service
- UK/US/France/Netherlands
- UK/France
Casino Royale
(UK/Czech Rep/US/Germany/Bahamas)
T2 Trainspotting
What's the Answer?
In pairs, discuss what types of film British cinema is associated with.
What We Do Well...
Heritage Films
Horror Films
A good horror film doesn't rely on a big Hollywood budget.
As a low budget genre, horror is favoured by our filmmakers who struggle to get domestic funding.
The financial constraints often mean directors and producers have to be more inventive.
The result - British horror has a reputation for being innovative and scarier than US horror.
The Descent
(Marshall, 2005)
Sightseers (Wheatley, 2012)
(Lowe, 2016)
Ghost Stories
(Dyson & Nyman, 2018)
Crime Films
Romantic Comedies
Films that are based on British source material?
Harry Potter

James Bond

British literary adaptations; Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, etc.
Often known as 'period dramas', these films draw on Britain's history and include literary adaptations.
Focus on British landscapes and traditional class system.
(Wright, 2007)
(Kapur, 1998)
The King's Speech
(Hooper, 2010)
The Iron Lady
(Lloyd, 2011)
Vanity Fair
(Nair, 2004)
Far From the Madding Crowd
(Vinterberg, 2015)
These films are almost the antithesis of Heritage Films.
Crime cinema tends to focus on the working or under class and emphasises the regional. Again, the budgets are often low and this promotes innovation.
Since the 1970's British Crime films have gained a reputation for being stylish and violent.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
(Ritchie, 1998)
Layer Cake
(Vaughn, 2004)
Green Street
(Alexander, 2005)
Starred Up
(Mackenzie, 2013)
Legend (Helgeland, 2015)
Focusing on characters in the upper-middle class, these films idealise and romanticise contemporary Britain.
Often referred to as 'Brit-Com', our rom-com output grew in popularity in the 1990s.
The British rom-com is usually set in London and the home counties and typically contrasts the iconic and cosmopolitan city with traditional and 'quaint' rural landscapes and communities.
The British founded production company, Working Title, and writer Richard Curtis have been responsible for many of the most iconic examples (
Love, Actually,

Four Weddings and a Funeral,
Three Billboards
wins Best British Film @ 2018 BAFTA Awards
British Social Realism
The most 'typically British' film movement - More than the more conventional genres, social realism has shown provided a way for filmmakers to hold a mirror up to Britain.
BSR filmmakers push the boundaries in the effort to put the experiences of real Britons on the screen, and shaping our ideas of what British cinema can be.
Nil By Mouth (
Oldman, 1997)
A Room for Romeo Brass
(Meadows, 1999)
(Huda, 2006)
All or Nothing
(Leigh, 2002)
Morvern Callar
(Ramsey, 2002)
I, Daniel Blake
(Loach, 2016)
You are going to undertake a 'synthesis' activity.

You are going to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the British film industry.
Then, write up your findings. This summary should include THREE conventionally presented quotations (one from each), using the example sentence structures provided.
Collect key points and identify strengths and weaknesses.
You will do this by reading and annotating (highlighting and making notes on) any three of the articles from the piles on your table.
Your summary can be handwritten, and should be at least a page long.
You should also make reference to TWO statistics from the BFI report.
British Film in 2017
Full transcript