Ever heard of the Children’s Film and TV Foundation? It was founded in 1951 by Lord Rank (he of the Rank Organization – if you’re old enough you may remember the iconic ‘Gong Man’) and funded by the Eady Levy, with the enlightened aim of making British films for British children. Over more than 50 years of activity it produced well over 150 low-budget features and TV series. Sadly it’s now defunct, as try though it did, it could not persuade the Lottery Film Fund, nor anyone else to provide niche funding for children’s films after the demise of the Eady Levy. However the CFTF’s catalogue of films has been handed to the BFI who are gradually releasing some of the highlights on DVD.
Scary Stories the 4th volume of the CFTF collection is released on September 23rd, including a film by John Krish, Out of the Darkness.
Krish also directed another film The Salvage Gang which follows the adventures of three children in pursuit of a bed through the streets of late 50’s London. I showed it to a group of primary school children and asked them to tell me all the things that seemed different about the lives of children then compared with now. They produced some fascinating responses, not least of which was the greater respect with which the adult characters treated the children! It’s also a great film to show to demonstrate the many ways in which London has changed since those children’s grandparents were young. The Salvage Gang is included in London Tales (Vol 1), and other volumes are titled The Race is On (Vol2) and Weird Adventures (Vol 3) , which includes neglected films by Powell and Pressburger (The Boy who Turned Yellow) and Alberto Cavalcanti.
I’m including the DVD titles because the BFI make them very hard to find out about on their website and they don’t seem to be listed under the ‘Family’ section of the BFI shop website. The only sure way to find them seems to be to type their titles into the Search bar. They can be ordered from the BFI and also from Amazon.