Jill Craigie (1911 – 1999) was one of Britain’s earliest women documentary makers. Her career as a pioneering film-maker has been largely eclipsed in public memory by her position as a public advocate for feminism and as the wife of former Labour party leader, Michael Foot. Although a handful of other women managed to work in creative roles in the sector, Craigie’s films stand out because of their overtly feminist and socialist politics, and their attempt to juggle activism and entertainment. The project aims to explore Craigie as a significant force in British cinema history whose films warrant closer attention.
Craigie’s principal films were:
The Flemish Farm (1943 – script by Jill Craigie). Watch →
Looking Through Glass (1943 – script by Jill Craigie). Watch →
Out of Chaos (1944, writer and director), the first arts documentary which features sculptor Henry Moore, and painters Paul Nash, Stanley Spencer and Graham Sutherland. Watch →
London Terminus (1944 – script by Jill Craigie). Watch →
The Way We Live (1946, writer and director) is a witty, polemical documentary which explores post-war urban reconstruction with an eye on the needs and aspirations of ordinary people. Watch →
Children of the Ruins (1948, director). Watch →
Blue Scar (1949, writer, director) was Craigie’s only feature as a director. Set in a Welsh mining village the film uses a realist style to explore the issue of nationalisation and the aspirations of a new generation. Watch →
To Be Woman (1951, writer, director and producer). An independently produced documentary offering a forceful, early argument about equal opportunities. Watch →
Together these works present a unique, woman’s perspective on the cultural and political challenges the nation faced during and after World War Two.
Through the 1950s Craigie moved into screenwriting with two films directed by Ronald Neame:
The Million Pound Note (1954) is an adaptation from Mark Twain and starring Gregory Peck. Watch →
Windom’s Way (1957) is also an adaptation; the film stages a couple’s attempts at reconciliation against a colonial setting. Watch →
Who Are The Vandals? (1967, director). Watch →
Craigie was also extensively involved in radio, television and print journalism. She returned to documentary film in her 80s with a response to events in Yugoslavia Two Hours From London (1995). Watch →