2020 History Feature

Here is the shortlist for our 2020’s History Feature category, recognising uses of archival footage in history focused feature-length productions – of 60-minute duration or longer – such as documentaries or docudramas that deal with historical events, people or issues.

A British Guide to the End of the World

Director: Daniel Vernon
Archive Researcher(s): Matthew Sanger
Archival Sources: Imperial War Museums, Personal home movies from contributors, BBC, MACE (Media Archive for Central England)
Production Company: Erica Starling Productions
Country of Production: United Kingdom

Synopsis:, A British Guide to the End of the World uses extraordinary unseen archive and exclusive testimonies from people directly involved in Great Britain’s nuclear story. Accompanied by an atmospheric score, the film features classified footage, hidden for decades, as well as television reports and government information videos that retain the spirit of Cold War paranoia. 

Archival Highlights: Formerly classified films from the Ministry of Defense, uncatalogued material from defunct regional TV stations and films tracked down to people’s lofts are weaved together for this examination of Britain’s nuclear story.

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché

Director: Pamela B. Green
Archive Researcher(s): Pamela B. Green, Cosima Littlewood, Joan Simon, Daniela Roth and Christine Leteux
Archival Sources: Swedish Film Institute, Library of Congress, Lobster Films, EYE Film Institute, Gaumont-Pathé Archives
Production Company: Be Natural Productions
Country of Production: United States, United Kingdom
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTrAe9J8ZM0

Synopsis: When Alice Guy-Blaché completed her first film in 1896 Paris, she was not only the first female filmmaker, but one of the first directors ever to make a narrative film. Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché follows her rise from Gaumont secretary to her appointment as head of production in 1897, and her subsequent illustrious 20-year career in France and in the United States.

Archival highlights: A film that was instrumental in increasing the profile of its subject by contributing to the ongoing discoveries of her work by finding 15 films prior thought lost and incorporating them into the film itself.

They Call Me Babu

Director: Sandra Beerends
Archive Researcher(s): Hans van der Berg, Dorette Schootemeijer
Archival Sources: Eye Filmmuseum, Sound and Vision Netherlands
Production Company: Pieter van Huystee Film
Country of Production: Netherlands
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flSkgW_UjY4

Synopsis: They Call me Babu is a film about native Indonesian girls working as nannies (pembantu) for the colonial Dutch. Set against the backdrop of the Second World War and the struggles for independence in Indonesia, the film is told from the perspective of Alima, beginning with her decision to flee from an arranged marriage to work as a pembantu. Alima tells her story over unique footage from various archives.

Archival Highlights: Drawing from over 500 sources, They Call me Babu weaves home movies filmed in the Dutch colonies into a memorable and personable commentary on colonialism and Indonesia’s struggle for independence.