CALL FOR ARTICLES
“A Newsreel of Our Own”: the culture and commerce of local filmed news
Special issue of the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television.
The international history of the ‘major’ newsreels and their activities in free-market countries has been relatively well studied by film historians. There is also a growing corpus of literature on newsreel production and distribution in ‘closed’ markets that were controlled by authoritarian regimes: “No-Do” in Franco’s Spain, “Luce” in Mussolini’s Italy, “Die Deutsche Wochenschau” in Hitler’s Germany, and several newsreels in the Soviet Union. However, there is a lack of comparative research on local producers’ attempts to break the hegemony of international newsreel companies.
Many small countries without a national film industry or centralized newsreel production were worried about the creeping cultural and economic imperialism (particularly from the United States, Great Britain, and France) that foreign-made filmed news represented. Individual businessmen and organized interest groups (political parties, cultural organizations) therefore tried to create newsreels of their own, which were to ’emancipate’ or ‘enlighten’ their own people. Most of these newsreels were produced without substantial government funding and therefore expensive, which made it easy for international companies to undersell them. In addition, local production companies typically did not have a large catalogues of feature films at their disposal, making it difficult or impossible to sell their newsreels as part of a larger distribution package. These conditions often doomed local newsreels to a short existence and has relegated them to footnotes in film history.
This thematic issue of the HJFRT will explore the history of locally-produced newsreels. The focus is on the initiatives of small companies, organizations and communities. State produced newsreels, funded or made obligatory by political regimes, will not be included. Submissions are welcomed on the commercial aspects (financing, production, and distribution) of local newsreels as well as on their structure and content. Of particular interest is the extent to which local newsreels did (or did not) model themselves after their international competitors. The substance of the newsreels is also of special interest, particularly the ways in which those newsreels tried (or not) to offer ‘other’ kinds of news. Also welcome are analyses on the political, social, and cultural discourses surrounding those newsreels.
If you would like to be considered for inclusion in the issue, please send a short abstract by 4 April 2011, where you summarize your contribution. Please also include a short CV and a selected list of publications. The editors of this theme issue will get in touch with everyone before 4 May 2011 and invite some authors to submit a complete manuscript. Articles, ideally between 6000 and 8000 words (including notes and references), should be sent to the editors by 3 October 2011. Accepted and revised contributions will be due by 6 February 2012, with the issue scheduled to appear in the second half of 2012.