Into Archive Film: Past Present Future

Lotte Reiniger
Lotte Reiniger

At Into Film we're committed to championing all forms of film. Inspired by the BFI's Britain on Film project, we aim to encourage teachers, educators, children and young people to learn more about the fascinating world of archive films and film archives.

What is archive film?

Archive film does not simply mean 'black and white'. Archive film embraces many different types of film because it refers to material held and preserved in an archive. Depending on the archive, this material can span the history of cinema (and TV) and might include fiction, documentary, newsreel, industrial, educational and charity films, government films, artists film and video, political and campaign films, advertising, travel and anthropological films and amateur film/home movies.

Find out more about the UK's national and regional film archives here.

What kind of archive film will you find on the Into Film catalogue?

There are three examples of archive film that you will find on the Into Film catalogue:

  • Films made before 1929, including largely silent early forms of fiction, animation and documentary film.
  • Films made by amateur filmmakers or home videos from throughout the years, including our vast catalogue of Into Film youth-made films.
  • Newsreels and documentation of past events or people.

An invaluable source of social and cultural history, these films capture key moments in time whilst documenting traditions, people and movements across the years.

Where can you start exploring archive film in the classroom or your film club?

Alongside a number of archive films there is a diverse selection of teaching resources on our website that highlight the range and value of archive film. Britain on Film is a major five-year project from the BFI National Archive and the UKs regional and national archives. It comprises a collection of 1,000s of newly digitised archive films, tagged by location, with the aim of giving everyone in the UK free access to film (and TV) titles showing where they live, grew up, holidayed, or any place of interest in Britain.You can find archive films shot in or near your area here.

A list of other UK national and regional film archives can also be found here. Browse  Into Film resources and film lists that support learning about archive film below.

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