Chapter Five

Michael Arrowsmith
Wednesday 13 March 2019


On set with the Gold Coast Film Unit in 1956, courtesy of Information Services Department, Ghana.


This chapter analyses the films and varied practices of local government units that emerged from the Colonial Film Unit in the 1950s, with a particular focus on those in the Gold Coast (Ghana), Nigeria, Jamaica and Trinidad. Set up in the last decade of British rule, these local units sought to manage and mediate the moves towards political independence, often against a backdrop of violence and unrest (most notably in the example of Malaya). In analyzing films of independence ceremonies, the chapter shows how this particular moment (the move from colonial to independent state) was articulated on film and foregrounds the continuities, as much as the ruptures, that mark this period. The chapter introduces a swathe of previously un-accessed films, personal interviews and government documents from archives around the world and finally reflects on the legacies, place and significance of these units and films today. 






P. 195

WATCH: Farmer Brown Learns Good Dairying (Martin Rennalls, Jamaica Film Unit, 1951)

P. 196

READ: George Noble, “Cameraman on the Gold Coast,” Colonial Cinema, June 1952, 36-39.

P. 197

WATCH: The Boy Kumasenu (Sean Graham, Gold Coast Film Unit, 1952)

PP. 197-198

READ:The Boy Kumasenu,” West African Review, September 1952, 884-887.

READ:Film Production in the Gold Coast,” West African Review, September 1952, 888-889.

READ: Stephen Watts, “On the African Movie Menus,” New York Times, 26 April 1953, II, 4.


P. 201

WATCH: Progress in Kojokrom (Sean Graham, Gold Coast Film Unit, 1953)


P. 201

WATCH: Mr Mensah Builds a House (Sean Graham, Gold Coast Film Unit, 1955)

P. 202

WATCH: I will Speak English (Gold Coast Film Unit, 1954)

P. 209

WATCH: Nigeria’s First Women Police (Federal Information Service Production Unit, 1956).

P. 210

READ: Tom Hodge, “Eleven Years of the Malayan Film Unit: A Record of Solid Achievement,”  Educational Screen and Audio-Visual Guide, November 1957, 538-539

READ: “Presenting The Malayan Film Unit,” Film News, Fall 1955, 13-28.

P. 211

READ: “Riddle of Royal Films Decision,” Daily Mail, 20 March 1956, 7.

P. 212

WATCH: Giant in the Sun (Sydney Samuelson, Northern Nigerian Information Service, 1959)

P. 214

READ: Victor Gover, “A Brief Review of the Services Provided by the Overseas Film and Television Centre for Film Units working in Africa,” Colloquy of the Official Information Services in Black Africa, Brussels, 1958, International and Universal Exhibition, Brussels, July 1958.

P. 215

READ: Norman F. Spurr, “Experience with Two Films in Tanganyika,” Health Education Journal 13:1, March 1955, 81-85.

P. 217

READ: George Pearson, “Overseas Film and Television Centre Training School,” Colloquy of the Official Information Services in Black Africa, Brussels, 1958, International and Universal Exhibition, Brussels, July 1958.

P. 218

WATCH: Let’s Stop Them (Martin Rennalls, Jamaica Film Unit, 1953).

P. 221

WATCH: It Can Happen To You (Martin Rennalls, Jamaica Film Unit, 1956).

P. 224

READ:Home-made Documentary for the Screen,” Daily Gleaner, 15 February 1952, 5.

P. 224

WATCH: Churchill Visits Jamaica (Jamaica Film Unit, 1953).

P. 225

READ: Martin Rennalls, “Visual Education in Jamaica,” Colonial Cinema, March 1953, 15-19.


P. 228

READ: Information Office, Annual Report of the Information Officer, Trinidad and Tobago, 1951 (1951), 13-18.

P. 230

WATCH: Government by the People (Jamaica Film Unit, 1960)

P. 230

WATCH: Towards Independence (Jamaica Film Unit, 1962)

P. 233

WATCH: Freedom for Ghana [Extract] (Sean Graham, Ghana Film Unit, 1957).

P. 233

WATCH: Merdeka for Malaya (Malayan Film Unit, 1957)

P. 234

READ: Daily Graphic Reports on Freedom for Ghana.

Ghana Film Unit did Excellent Work,” Daily Graphic, 11 May 1957, 7.

“800 See Birth of a Nation,” Daily Graphic, 10 May 1957, 7.

“Freedom for Ghana Show in London,” Daily Graphic, 31 May 1957, 6.

P. 235

READ: “‘Merdeka’ Film for Foreign Lands,” Straits Times, 19 September 1957, 7.

P. 237

READ: Alexander Shaw, The Uganda Film Unit. Final Report on the Project – Period September 1961 to December 1964, (UNESCO, 1965).

READ: Basil Wright, The Uganda Film and its Development, 18 November-22 December 1966 (Paris: UNESCO, 1967).

P. 239-240

READ: Films From Ghana (Ghana Information Services, 1962)

READ: Films we have Produced, (Accra: Ghana Film Industry Corporation, 1974).


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