Distribution

The Camera is Ours: Britain’s Women Documentary Makers

Dir: various

UK

1935-67

97 minutes

PG

Play Dates

  • Show All
  • South West
  • Midlands
  • Wales
  • South East
  • London
  • Scotland
  • North
  • Northern Ireland

Barn Cinema

14/06/2022

- 16/06/2022

Totnes

Broadway Cinema

08/07/2022

- 14/07/2022

Nottingham

Chapter

05/07/2022

- 07/07/2022

Cardiff

Chapter

03/07/2022

- 07/07/2022

Excluded Dates: 4th

Cardiff

Chichester Cinema at New Park

22/08/2022

- 22/08/2022

Chichester

Conquest Theatre

23/11/2022

- 23/11/2022

Bromyard

Dochouse

11/06/2022

- 16/06/2022

Excluded Dates: 12th to 15th

Camden,

London

Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA)

25/06/2022

- 30/06/2022

Excluded Dates: 26th to 29th

Dundee

Eden Court Theatre

19/06/2022

- 23/06/2022

Excluded Dates: 21st & 22nd

Filmhouse

07/07/2022

- 07/07/2022

Edinburgh

Glasgow Film Theatre

14/06/2022

- 15/06/2022

Glasgow

Hebden Bridge Picture House

02/07/2022

- 02/07/2022

Hebden Bridge

ICA

03/06/2022

- 09/06/2022

Excluded Dates: 6th

Westminster,

London

JW3

23/06/2022

- 26/06/2022

Excluded Dates: 24th & 25th

Camden,

London

National Library of Scotland

21/09/2022

- 21/09/2022

Glasgow

Queen's Film Theatre

23/06/2022

- 23/06/2022

Belfast

Saffron Screen

12/06/2022

- 12/06/2022

Saffron Walden

The Dukes

02/07/2022

- 07/07/2022

Excluded Dates: 3rd to 6th

Lancaster

The Hippodrome

25/09/2022

- 25/09/2022

Bo'ness

The Roses Theatre

27/06/2022

- 30/06/2022

Excluded Dates: 28th

Tewkesbury

Ultimate Picture Palace

07/06/2022

- 12/06/2022

Excluded Dates: 8th to 11th

Oxford

Warwick Arts Centre

11/07/2022

- 14/07/2022

Excluded Dates: 13th

Coventry

Barn Cinema

14/06/2022

- 16/06/2022

Totnes

Broadway Cinema

08/07/2022

- 14/07/2022

Nottingham

Conquest Theatre

23/11/2022

- 23/11/2022

Bromyard

Warwick Arts Centre

11/07/2022

- 14/07/2022

Excluded Dates: 13th

Coventry

Chapter

05/07/2022

- 07/07/2022

Cardiff

Chapter

03/07/2022

- 07/07/2022

Excluded Dates: 4th

Cardiff

Chichester Cinema at New Park

22/08/2022

- 22/08/2022

Chichester

Saffron Screen

12/06/2022

- 12/06/2022

Saffron Walden

Ultimate Picture Palace

07/06/2022

- 12/06/2022

Excluded Dates: 8th to 11th

Oxford

Dochouse

11/06/2022

- 16/06/2022

Excluded Dates: 12th to 15th

Camden,

London

ICA

03/06/2022

- 09/06/2022

Excluded Dates: 6th

Westminster,

London

JW3

23/06/2022

- 26/06/2022

Excluded Dates: 24th & 25th

Camden,

London

Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA)

25/06/2022

- 30/06/2022

Excluded Dates: 26th to 29th

Dundee

Eden Court Theatre

19/06/2022

- 23/06/2022

Excluded Dates: 21st & 22nd

Filmhouse

07/07/2022

- 07/07/2022

Edinburgh

Glasgow Film Theatre

14/06/2022

- 15/06/2022

Glasgow

The Hippodrome

25/09/2022

- 25/09/2022

Bo'ness

Hebden Bridge Picture House

02/07/2022

- 02/07/2022

Hebden Bridge

National Library of Scotland

21/09/2022

- 21/09/2022

Glasgow

The Dukes

02/07/2022

- 07/07/2022

Excluded Dates: 3rd to 6th

Lancaster

The Roses Theatre

27/06/2022

- 30/06/2022

Excluded Dates: 28th

Tewkesbury

Queen's Film Theatre

23/06/2022

- 23/06/2022

Belfast

“The trouble with you is that you look at things as though they were in a goldfish bowl. I’m going to break your goldfish bowl” Ruby Grierson, to her brother John

John Grierson is sometimes referred to as the father of British documentary and credited with coining the term documentary itself. But from the beginning, female innovators were at work within the genre, including Grierson’s own sisters Ruby and Marion, and we’re delighted to showcase their work alongside that of other pioneering female documentary makers in this revelatory programme of new digital restorations.

It begins with Marion Grierson’s lyrical and inventive Beside the Seaside (1935) which uses a witty array of techniques to stylish effect. In They Also Serve (1940) Ruby Grierson’s dramatised documentary is dedicated to “the Housewives of Britain”. A public information film by Brigid ‘Budge’ Cooper, Birth-day (1945) explores the mysteries of maternity – this is the real Call the Midwife! – while Kay Mander’s powerful Homes for the People (1945) uses the then radical technique of allowing working-class women to describe their own lives. Finally, the psychedelic spirit of the 1960s is ushered in by Sarah Erulkar’s Something Nice to Eat (1967), featuring Jean Shrimpton.

Click here to download stills.

Please note that: Beside the Seaside and Birth-day include scenes reflecting harmful racist views that were pervasive at the time of their making. 

Restored by the BFI National Archive and The Film Foundation
Restoration funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation

 

Play Dates

Booking Information

Email:
bookings@independentcinemaoffice.org.uk

Available Formats

DCP & DVD

Distributor

Independent Cinema Office (ICO)

Blu-ray / DVD Bookings:
Independent Cinema Office (ICO)

Terms

35% vs £100 + transport

Trailer

About the Programme

Beside the Seaside

dir. Marion Grierson, 1935, 23 mins

Marion Grierson directed the lyrical, witty and inventive Beside the Seaside in 1935 – the year before the widely admired Night Mail (1936). The Grierson name is synonymous with the British documentary story, rarely, however is Marion Grierson the focal point. She was the youngest sister of John Grierson, who introduced her to filmmaking and she swiftly became an accomplished director, deftly using an inventive array of cinematographic techniques to stylish effect. Following her marriage to fellow documentary filmmaker, Donald Taylor, and the birth of their first child, she stepped back from film directing.

They Also Serve

dir. Ruby Grierson, 1940, 9 mins

As sister to Marion and John Grierson, Ruby played a pivotal role in the success of the early days of the genre. She challenged her brother – often referred to as the father of British documentary: “The trouble with you is that you look at things as though they were in a goldfish bowl. I’m going to break your goldfish bowl.” She went ahead and smashed the glass, starting with her (uncredited) work on Housing Problems. She told the working-class residents who feature in the film: “The camera is yours. The microphone is yours. Now tell the bastards exactly what it’s like to live in slums.”

She went on to make over ten films, including some for the war effort. She was killed in 1940, whilst making a film about the evacuation of children to Canada when the liner they were travelling on was torpedoed. They Also Serve is a dramatised documentary dedicated to ‘the Housewives of Britain’ and the emphasis is very much on dutiful service of a domestic kind. The film follows a day in the wartime life of ‘Mother’, who is ever-smiling in her support of her weary husband and truculent daughter. Despite it all, she counts herself lucky.

Birth-day

dir. Brigid ‘Budge’ Cooper and assistant dir. Mary Beales, 1945, 22 mins

Directed by Budge Cooper/Mary Orrom (there are differing accounts of who did what) and photographed by the legendary cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky (Get Carter) this dramatised public information film encourages expectant mothers to take advantage of existing maternity services. It demonstrates social attitudes of the era with a man explaining details of pregnancy and childbirth in a classic example of what would today be called “mansplaining”.

Brigid “Budge” Cooper worked as a ‘continuity girl’, producer and director. Pragmatic and determined, when making a film for the National Coal Board she challenged the official ban on women going down a mine – she took the matter to court, and won. Mary Beales (later Orrom) also worked for the NCB Film Unit, as well as later becoming an admired sculptor.

Homes for the People

dir. Kay Mander, 1945, 23 mins

From continuity girl to director and back to continuity girl, Mander’s career in the film industry took some unconventional turns. She spent her teenage years in Berlin in the 1930s working as a receptionist at Goebbels’ International Film Congress. Mander used this opportunity to make contacts within the British film industry, resulting in a job at Alexander Korda’s London Films.

One of her most powerful and radical films is Homes for the People which used the bold yet simple technique of allowing working class women to describe their living conditions, one of them vividly slating the design of her suburban house and summing up: “I call it a muck-up.”

Something Nice to Eat

dir. Sarah Erulkar, 1967, 21 mins

“Cooking is a kind of loving.” Featuring Jean Shrimpton, and sponsored by the Gas Council, this film encapsulates the spirit of the 1960s in a gloriously entertaining, sometimes patronising and always visually inventive tribute to the delights of good food, preferably prepared using a gas cooker.

Subscribe to our mailing list

What would you like to receive emails about?
* indicates required