The emergence of the British documentary film movement marked a seminal moment, not only in the history of film, but also in modern British history. As well as providing Britain with its first self-consciously national cinema, the story of the documentary film movement illustrates some of the hardier debates in the historiography of twentieth-century Britain, including new developments in the conceptualization of citizenship, the growth of mass communications and the path of modernism. The cinematic output of the public bodies which sponsored the movement, such as the Empire Marketing Board (EMB), the General Post Office (GPO), and the wartime Ministry of Information, as well as commercial companies such as the Realist Film Unit and Strand Films, played a fundamental role in visualizing a modern British identity and providing its soundtrack. By celebrating the...

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