THE FESTIVAL OF Britain, from 3 May to 30 September 1951, aimed to provide respite from the effects of World War II by celebrating the nation's past achievements in the arts, industry and science, as well as looking hopefully to a future of progress and prosperity. It marked the halfway point of the century, a natural moment at which to take stock and examine advances in British society. The Director General of the Festival, Gerald Barry, promised `a year of fun, fantasy and colour', an interlude of `fun and games' after the long run of wartime austerity. 1
Film was integral to the Festival of Britain. It related to the Festival's three main areas of concern, the arts, industry and science. Britain's role in international ﬁlm culture had already been established by the growth of the British documentary movement since the 1930s. The Festival of Britain therefore seemed a natural place to demonstrate the fruits of British ﬁlm production. The Festival of Britain site in London on the South Bank featured a purpose-built ﬁlm theatre, the Telekinema, for big-screen public television broadcasts and the showing of specially commissioned Festival ﬁlms. 2 The Television Pavilion also displayed a brief history of the new medium. Cinemas around the nation featured seasons of classic British ﬁlmmaking. The exhibitions themselves also used ﬁlm as a tool for expressing concepts and processes that could not easily be displayed. So ﬁlm was not only a medium for the exposition of ideas within the Festival of Britain exhibitions, it also contributed to the entertainment on offer.
Originally the plan for a 1951 festival derived from the centenary of the Great Exhibition of 1851 which showcased the achievements of newly industrialised Victorian society and its global empire. Gerald Barry, editor____________________