‘Industrials’ and ‘educations’, promotional and corporate films and videos, like amateur film, have in recent decades begun to receive attention, but barely a dozen books can be cited which seek to place these films in a broad context. FILMS THAT WORK offers, for the first time, a distinct theoretical framework in which to consider this archive of non-canonical non-fiction film.
More than that, it makes a rare contribution to bridging the chasm between English language and continental European film studies -- not just the Shell Film Unit but the Dutch side of its activities; not just sponsorship in the US but film as vocational training in France; not just film and Taylorism but also European uses of film to propagandise it. In short, this is one of the few books to give equal – if not additional -- weight to non-fiction film activity in continental Western Europe.
And FILMS THAT WORK achieves this in no dry and inaccessible manner. On the contrary, fascinating nuggets are to be found throughout: 150 copies of newsreels made pre-WW II by the Czech Bat‘a shoe company and sent out to its 800 shops, Switzerland as corporate films' 'Hollywood', transvestite Krupps employees at a works-party filmed in 1936.
FILMS THAT WORK marks a step-change in the study of non-fiction cinema outside the documentary canon.
Professor Brian Winston
Lincoln Professor of Communications
University of Lincoln
|Industrial films have been around since the first decades of the Twentieth Century, but until recently they have largely been ignored in cinema scholarship. Films that Work is a masterful contribution to the growing literature in this area, and it does more than fill in the gap. Sensitive to both aesthetic practice and social context, its essays offer a comprehensive introduction to the sponsored film’s international history. This brilliantly researched and engagingly written collection is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the vital place of the moving image in industrial relations.
Associate Professor and Associate Chair
Department of Cinema Studies, NYU
Coeditor, Social Text
|Films That Work represents the leading edge of a new era in media research. The history of nontheatrical films - productions that greatly outnumbered the commercial features we have long studied - is now being written in scholarly form. Hediger and Vonderau‘s anthology of new essays sets a high standard, demonstrating how significant this research can be and how much we have yet to learn about the thousands of such films awaiting rediscovery in archives and private collections.
-- Dan Streible, New York University