Directed by: Rob West
Released: 2022 (educational)
Year of Production: 2021
Running Time: 73 min
Subtitle Options: English Closed Captions
Subjects: European Studies, History, Cinema and Film
HOW ONE MAGAZINE TRANSFORMED BRITISH PHOTOGRAPHY
Picture Post was Britain's best-selling weekly magazine during the 1940s and early 50s. Through its picture stories, Picture Post pioneered a completely new approach to the portrayal of British life, and in doing so helped to shape modern British photography.
PICTURE STORIES, a feature-length documentary, explores that revolution through the eyes of some of Britain’s leading documentary and street photographers, and through archive interviews with Picture Post photographers, writers and editors.
Picture Post is arguably the most important magazine in British social history. It was born under the threat of War, and survived and flourished under the intense bombardment of the Blitz. Extraordinarily, during the height of World War II, Picture Post was looking ahead to post-War life and to the possibility of fundamental social reform.
Picture Post had a huge impact on national awareness of social conditions in Britain and of the need for a reformed welfare state and a national health service. It brought cutting-edge photography, and the picture story, to a mass audience. It changed people’s understanding of their own country by showing, vividly, what British life was really like.
I wanted to bring the extraordinary story of Picture Post and its photographers to modern audiences. Many of the things we take for granted in photography, and our understanding of photographs and picture layout, started with Picture Post. Many of our ideas about British society were forged by Picture Post and its unique group of creators.
"With photospread succinctness, Rob West’s inspiring documentary ... lays out the case for Picture Post's pioneeringly demotic photojournalism, high artistic credentials and impact on public policy." -The Guardian
"Picture Stories gives almost everything a viewer interested in British social history could want: we get the chronology, technical commentary on what worked about the magazine’s format, an acceptance of some of the flaws in the processes – with admissions of staging photos in some cases not shied away from, and a flawless research process that has unearthed almost every conceivable voice from which we’d want to hear. " -Set the Tape
About the Filmmaker
Rob West is an independent filmmaker. His first feature-length documentary, “Tales from the Two Puddings”, about the legendary Two Puddings pub in Stratford, East London, won the 2017 UVFF Best Documentary Award. He has produced and directed a number of short documentaries in London, Bangladesh, East Africa and Cambodia, exploring the stories of communities in unique environments.
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