With the 2011 Swindon Film Festival in full swing, Swindon Arts Centre Manager Clarry Bean has unearthed some information about the town’s very first film festival in November 1950.
It ran for six days, and like this year’s, was organised by Swindon Film Society. It was held as part of Swindon’s 1950 Jubilee celebrations.
Film Festival organiser Barbara Hoffbauer is fascinated by the information in the programme. “It’s a really interesting mix of films, some that were very new for its time, and some classics from the silent era, including Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford. There were a couple of westerns, which of course were very popular at that time, a documentary, and a contemporary Italian comedy drama.
"They also showed a 1948 film called a ‘Quartets’, which was based on Somerset Maugham stories’ and had two very young and unknown actors among the cast who went on to become legends of British cinema – Honor Blackman and Dirk Bogarde.
"And it’s interesting to see that the Friday night session was ‘amateur film night’, when local film makers submitted there work for public viewing – evidently a very popular event. It’s just like our Festival now really – something there for everyone!”
Clarry found the article about the 1950 Festival in a publication called Spotlight, which was the monthly journal of the Swindon & District Theatre Guild. It sold at sixpence an issue. The Film Festival article says that prices of admission to the films ‘range from one shilling upwards’ (from 10p in today’s money).
The 2011 Film Festival event on Thursday 10 March has a connection with the discovery of the 1950 programme. Called CAMERAMAN, it’s a documentary about the British-born cinematographer Jack Cardiff, pictured below.
Barbara said, “Jack’s film making career spanned all the way from the silent movies in the 1920’s, right up to films like Rambo II in the 1980’s.
"But it was around 1950 that he was making some of his best known films like The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, and The African Queen. It’s quite fascinating to see how some of the ‘special effects’ were created in those days – this is a definite ‘must-see’ event for film lovers.”
The film is showing at Swindon Central Library at 7.45 pm. See the Festival website www.swindonfilmfestival.org , or call 01793 330639, for information about how to get tickets.