British Universities Film & Video Council

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Conference to celebrate 30 years of film on Channel4

The University of Portsmouth are organising a major conference at BFI Southbank on 1st and 2nd November to celebrate 30 years of film on Channel 4. The event brings together media historians and key personnel from the film and television industries to celebrate Channel 4’s contribution to British film culture over three decades, and to debate the future of public service broadcasters’ support for the UK film industry in the light of Lord Chris Smith’s Film Policy Review. 

The conference, timed to coincide with Channel 4’s 30th birthday on 2nd November, will be the showcase of a four-year Portsmouth-based project sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in partnership with the British Universities Film and Video Council (BUFVC).

This first major assessment of how the channel’s remit effectively merged the UK’s film and television industries is being led by Dr Justin Smith, Reader in British Film Culture at Portsmouth’s Centre for Cultural and Creative Research.

Dr Smith said: “In the early 1980s British cinema was in the doldrums but Channel 4’s new Film on Four strand quickly transformed the traditional 90-minute TV drama, producing hits like My Beautiful Laundrette and Letter to Brezhnev which enjoyed cinema releases before television broadcast. These films have become national treasures and it’s no exaggeration to say that Film on Four brought the British film industry back from the brink in the 80s.”

The conference will also include a special screening at the Charlotte Street Hotel on 1 November (along the street from Channel 4’s original home). The channel’s first Chief Executive Sir Jeremy Isaacs and award-winning director Stephen Frears will introduce a screening of the landmark Film on Four: My Beautiful Laundrette.

The 30th anniversary event will also launch a new digital resource produced by the research team in collaboration with the BUFVC and Channel 4’s archivist Rosie Gleeson. The weekly Press Information Packs were one of the channel’s many broadcasting innovations, and the full run from 1982 to 2002 will be available to academic researchers in a searchable database on the BUFVC’s website in 2013.

For further details visit the Channel 4 and British film culture website

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