John Grierson

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John Grierson

John Grierson (April 26, 1898 – February 19, 1972) was one of the first and most influential documentary filmmakers in the history of cinema. [appointment required]

John_Grierson’s Biography

Born in Deanston, Scotland, Grierson went to the University of Glasgow where he studied communication before deciding on film. His first film entitled Drifters (1929), about herring fishermen in England. After the premiere of Drifters with great success realized with funds granted by the Marketing Board of the Empire (Empire Marketing Board), which would ask him to continue with his task in addition to becoming the director of the Films Unit of the same (EMB Film Unit for its acronym in English).

Being a creative person, extremely organized and disciplined, he was in charge of recruiting an army of prospects to promote the new task of the Films Unit, people with little or no experience; people who over time became great directors of the documentary genre and who with their films helped to promote a new image of the working class and the importance of their work in the industrial development of Great Britain.

Grierson continued at the head of the Film Unit for several years where he became known as the “documentary godfather”. In 1933 the Marketing Board of the Empire disappears and the Films Unit becomes part of the general post office taking the name of the Films Unit of the General Post Office (GPO Film Unit), of the which Grierson continued to be its director until 1938 when he was invited to Canada.

Invited by the Canadian government to study the film production of that country, he proposed to the government the creation of a national agency for the coordination of film production. The following year 1939, Canada created the national commission of films, that soon would become National Film Board of Canada (of which Grierson would be its first commissioner. When Canada entered the Second World War in the same year, the Board (NFB) focused on the production of films for propaganda purposes, many of which were directed by Grierson himself.

After the war, his production focused on the lives of Canadians. The National Film Board of Canada is an institution recognized worldwide for the production of high quality films, many of which have won Academy Awards.

In 1957 Grierson received a special award at the Canadian Film Awards ceremony.

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