This record is held by Save the Children UK

Details of FILMS
Reference: FILMS



Save the Children was involved in using film from a very early time. As early as 1921, the Fund sent G H Mewes, a Daily Mirror photographer, to Russia to film scenes of the famine there. This was a very effective fundraising film - a version with Japanese titles was sent to Japan and may have been effective in raising money there - and was followed in 1922 by a follow up film also shot by Mewes in Russia showing the SCF at work in the famine areas. Mewes also appears to have shot footage in Austria, Hungary, and the Near East for other fundraising purposes.


After this, SCF use of film petered out and only in the postwar period was film again used to any great extent. In the late 1950s, attempts were made once again to promote SCF work with the aid of films. From the 1980s SCF tended to make promotional videos and much of the later SCF production and other material with an SCF connection are available on VHS copies in the video library.


Some of these films were originally shot by other Save the Children organisations and adapted for use by SCF (UK), which equally prepared some copies of its own films for showing abroad. TV companies and other organisations have also often been willing to let SCF have copies of films for fundraising purposes. Some of these are still in the holdings and are recorded here.


Most of these films are to a large extent appeal-based. Many would have been shown at branches or to schools or occasionally in cinemas. A few have had a television showing.


In 1958, on the initiative of Peter Blatchford, SCF Public Relations Officer, Stephen Peet, a director / cinematographer who had made training films in Africa, was sent to Korea to film SCF's work in Korea. Some of the money was provided by the BBC, in return for TV broadcast rights. On his return, Stephen Peet put together the film A Far Cry, which was broadcast on the BBC at Easter 1959 to great acclaim. With other material from the trip, he then made a short appeal film, Children of Korea. He also prepared a section of A Far Cry for BBC children's TV and this material was subsequently used as a film for child audiences - Mr Kim and the Beggar Boys.


In many cases, footage from earlier films has been reused in later films. For instance, a short excerpt from the lost film, Laurence Olivier reads from William Blake (1960) is used in SCF Quiz (1965). Other footage which appears to have been lost include Report From Greece (1956); there is a reference in the Council minutes in January 1936 to 'a film of the Hoxton [nursery school] Christmas Party which had been shown at over 2,000 cinemas throughout the country.'


All the early films are at the National Film Archive. It is hoped eventually to transfer the remainder there soon. All films are on 16mm gauge unless specified otherwise and there may still be other production material around.


The copyright in films is a complex issue. The first ten films here are certainly or probably made before 1 July 1957 and therefore are in copyright for 50 years after the death of the cinematographer, scriptwriter or possibly director. (Apparently - the situation could be more complex). Broadly speaking, it seems that the copyright in the other films is valid for 50 years after first publication.


Famine - the Russian Famine of 1921


1922. 32 mins (9 mins + 23 mins) Black and white; mute. 35mm. Some picture loss in reel 2. Two reels, shot in the province of Saratov in Russia in November and December of 1921 (reel one) and July/August 1922 (reel two) by G H Mewes, a Daily Mirror photographer who had worked in Russia in 1914-18. Film shows: scenes of desolation, starving children, children being fed, people being buried, refugees leaving the famine area; Map of food supply route and famine area, Laurence Webster and others organising feeding; Farrar, Nansen and Armstrong Smith working in the area, food kitchens, peasants harvesting, happy children. A fundraising film for Save the Children. [The only known copy of this is in the National Film Archive] [Video library number 803]


Salvage - Austria [aka Salvage in Austria]


1922. 8 mins. Black and white (amber tint); mute. Neg only. 35mm. Film apparently shot c. August 1922 by G H Mewes for Save the Children Fund. Krems Sanatorium; Vienna home for children; children making garments. [The only known copy of this is in the National Film Archive]


Children See it Thru [aka The Children See it Through]


1941. 8 mins. Black and white; sound. 35mm. Paul Rotha Productions. Sponsored by SCF: Film describing the war-time work of SCF (air-raid shelters, day nurseries, residential nurseries) made for the benefit of American supporters and sent to the Save the Children Federation in America. Initiated by Mrs Charles Bosanquet of the Nursery Schools Committee and funded by Mrs Arthur Duckworth. Commentary spoken by Arthur Mann, European correspondent of the New York Evening Post. Produced / directed by Yvonne Fletcher. [Only known copy is at National Film Archive]




1947. 7 mins. Black and white; mute. 35mm. Postwar relief work in Noisy-le-Sec, just outside Paris. SCF staff giving out relief; bombed areas. [Only known copy is at National Film Archive]


Report from Greece


1956. Black and white. c 10 mins. A documentary about SCF child welfare projects at Ioannina and in Greek mountain villages. No copy of this film is known to exist of this, although footage from it appears to have been used in the SCF film Our World of Children, 1963 (see below); a transcript of the film appears in a leaflet, also called Report from Greece, in the Fundraising section.


Sir Laurence Olivier reads from William Blake


1960 Black and white; sound. 3 mins. Appeal film. [No known copy of this in existence]


Save the Children Fund/Kestrel Film


1969 (uncompleted). c 50 mins. Colour; sound. Film commissioned by SCF with London Weekend Television in 1968. Due to SCF dissatisfaction with the film it was abandoned at rough cut stage and following a legal dispute the rough cut film and all production material were deposited at the National Film Archive in 1971. Recent (1992) attempts there to find the rough cut have so far been unsuccessful. Producer Tony Garnett. Directed by Ken Loach. Includes interviews with Chris and Lena Monument (staff in charge of Hill House project), Sir Colin Campbell, Kenyan opposition leader Oginga Odinga and others (Ngugi/Kanti). Commentary by Alan Dobie (and Jim Allen?). For further details see DG papers and Design/PR files. [All existing film material is at the National Film Archive.]


Children Learning by Experience [aka Learning to Live]


1947. 23 mins. Black and white; sound. Film made by the Realist Film Unit for use in teachers training colleges. About how children learn. Includes footage of the Camel Club in Bethnal Green. Director Margaret Thompson, commentary by Bruce Belfrage. [Only copy is at the National Film Archive]

Date: 1921 - 1999

The references in this list have been artificially created for the Access2Archives Website. For each film, the reference is constructed from the Video Library Number (where one exists) followed by the title of the film in brackets.


For example: 833 (The Homeless)

Held by: Save the Children UK, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Save the Children

Physical description: 77 FILMS
  • Child welfare

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