98 years ago Jack Cardiff started his career as a child actor in the film business. He actually never retired from the film business and when he passed away in 2009 he had made it to 90 years working in film.
From an early age, he was fascinated with the mechanics of cinematography, and in 1928 was given his first break as a camera operator on the first American Technicolor film ever made in England. In his career, he worked with an array of acclaimed actors, directors and producers, and was to go on and photograph films such as ‘The African Queen’, ‘Rambo’, Powell & Pressburger’s ‘A Matter of life and Death’ and ‘Black Narsissus’, which recieved his first Oscar in 1947.
During World War 2 he was assigned films to photograph about the war effort. One of these films was called ‘Steel’.
‘Steel’ was made in 1945 as World War 2 was approaching its end. Shot in several locations around England, this beautiful film shows the process of making steel chronicling the journey from the iron fields to the steelworks.
This 30-minute film uses the American process of Technicolor to spotlight some of the highly skilled craftsmen who for generations devoted their working lives to steel.
It’s an incredibly fascinating piece of film making which shows amazing footage of blast furnaces and forges in a time when protective clothing consisted of a pack of cigarettes and a pair of sunglasses.
For these people it’s not only their industrial heritage, it's their family history.
Our Kickstarter campaign is to restore this 67-year-old film to its former Technicolor glory. The detailed and highly skilled restoration process will be taken on by The British Film Institute (BFI) in London, which has restored and made new prints of more than 300 films since 1990.
As the lead charity for film in the UK, the BFI was established in 1933 to champion moving image culture for the benefit of as wide an audience as possible. It relies on the support of film-lovers who want to help preserve not only our film heritage but also our cultural and socio-historical heritage, to undertake restoration work of this nature.
Once restored, we hope Steel will form the centrepiece of This Working Life: Steel, a season of screenings and events celebrating industrial heritage on film at the BFI’s flagship London venue, BFI Southbank, in February 2013, also being screened at the prestigious American Film Institute in Los Angeles.
This season will also be supported by education events as well as online educational resources.
Steel was originally commissioned by the British Council and forms the centrepiece of the British Council Film Collection, an extraordinary archive of over 120 short documentary films made during the 1940s designed to show the world how Britain lived, worked and played. (There are several other films in the Collection also featuring the work of Jack Cardiff which can be viewed online at www.britishcouncil.org/film)
Risks and challenges
This project provides a unique opportunity to bring this film back to its former glory. Without that, it will be left and this wonderful film will be missed by a new generation of documentary audiences.
Why me, because I have a direct link to the story, to the film and to the man who made it, Jack Cardiff, my father.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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