"The View from Here" - The British Council's Film Exhibition (4 August - 24 September) collects progadanda films of yesteryear



View From Here: The British Council Film Collection 
(4 August – 24 September 2014)
British Council HQ, 10 Spring Gardens, London, SW1A 2BN (MAP LINK)

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday: 9.30–18.00
Saturday and Sunday: 12.00–16.00
Free of charge. No booking required


View From Here is a new interactive exhibition exploring the British Council's Film Collection. The Film Collection is made up of dozens of archive films that were commissioned to show 'the best of Britishness' in a bygone era. During the 1940s the British Council commissioned these 100 or so cultural propaganda films that covered all aspects of UK life. The idea was to distribute them all over the world,  so as to create a positive image of Britain as a pleasant place to live.

Tying in with the exhibition at their HQ,  the Council has put the entire Collection now online (you can see them here), and the new exhibition features original production materials as well as three newly-commissioned short films inspired by the Collection by filmmakers John Akomfrah, Mark Cousins and Penny Woolcock .

A brief history of the collection.

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From the British Council Site:

August 2014 | British Council, Spring Gardens, London SW1
View From Here, a new interactive exhibition exploring the British Council Film Collection, kicks off from Monday 4 August. Featuring archive films from the 1940s, a wealth of background information and the premiere of three newly-commissioned short films - keep reading to find out how to WIN an invite to our exclusive Private View.

View From Here, a new exhibition exploring the British Council Film Collection of archive films showing UK life in a bygone era, opens at the British Council’s London headquarters on Monday 4 August.


During the 1940s the British Council commissioned over 100 cultural propaganda films that covered all aspects of UK life. Distributed all over the world, they were seen by millions and left an indelible impression of Britain as a green and pleasant land.

With the entire Collection now online (you can see them here), this new exhibition featuring original production materials - as well as three newly-commissioned short films inspired by the Collection by filmmakers John Akomfrah, Mark Cousins and Penny Woolcock - highlights the themes, cinematography and individuals that shaped this image of Britain.

There were 112 films produced from the late 1930s to early 1950s in the original Collection, produced in the early years of the British Council and designed to project the 'best of Britishness' to audiences in embassies, consulates and classrooms around the world at a time of global conflict. All are now online giving a rare glimpse into aspects of UK life ranging from England’s pubs and Sheffield’s steel industry to London’s preparations for war, our health, education and justice systems, alongside obsessions with tea, cricket and the British bobby.

About the Commissions:

Mark Cousins’ But Then Again, Too Few to Mention: A Life of Bob
The film takes as its starting point images of the children portrayed in the Collection to imagine a touching story of one simple man.

Penny Woolcock’s Jerusalem
This film uses repetition to explore the difference between the Britain portrayed by the films and the one that actually existed.

John Akomfrah’s The Silence
Using the Collection film Education Of The Deaf (1946) as its narrative spine, The Silence explores the implication of lives lived in silence, through multiple strands of one central life.

Exhibition Details


View From Here: The British Council Film Collection 
(4 August – 24 September 2014)
British Council HQ, 10 Spring Gardens, London, SW1A 2BN (MAP LINK)


Opening Hours
Monday to Friday: 9.30–18.00
Saturday and Sunday: 12.00–16.00
Free of charge. No booking required

Guided tours
A tour of the exhibition, conducted by one of the exhibition curators, will take place every Friday at midday for the duration of the exhibition. Tours have a capacity of 20 people and you can book your place by emailing ViewFromHere@britishcouncil.org. Tours will last approximately 30 minutes and are free of charge.