You are here: Home About Collection Descriptions British Film Institute (BFI)
Document Actions

British Film Institute (BFI)


Mitchell & Kenyon Collection

Mitchell & Kenyon was a late Victorian and Edwardian film company based in Blackburn in Lancashire - hitherto best known for minor contributions to early fictional narrative film and for fake Boer War films. The Mitchell & Kenyon collection, however, consists almost entirely of actuality films commissioned by travelling fairground operators for showing at local fairgrounds or other venues across the UK.

The collection was stored for many decades in two large barrels following the winding-up of the firm, and was discovered in Blackburn in the early 1990s by local businessman and historian Peter Worden. The Peter Worden Collection of Mitchell & Kenyon Films is now being preserved by the BFI.

Topical Budget

Topical Budget was a silent British newsreel that ran for almost twenty years from September 1911 to March 1931. Once it was established, two issues a week were released, each issue containing around four to six stories. By far the majority of these stories have survived, making a collection of over 7000 items, which is now housed and owned by the BFI.

In early cinema, films of newsworthy events were known as "topicals", hence the name that the Topical Film Company gave to itself and its product. "Budget" was a common newspaper name at the time, so the Topical Budget was so named to project the image of up-to-the-minute coverage coupled with the serious reportage of hard news.

Like some newspapers, Topical Budget also brought out regional editions. One or two of the main stories would be replaced with items of local interest in certain parts of the country. This unique approach allowed Topical Budget to cover stories which the larger newsreels would overlook, or to cover local stories in more depth.

The Topical Film Company committed to making a high quality package covering international events of world significance as well as quirky and unusual items. The 1910s and 1920s saw massive upheaval and change in Britain and the world, and Topical's experienced team of cameramen were on hand to cover it all. The issues of the day were presented alongside eccentric and idiosyncratic stories from around the country.

As a result, the Topical Budget Newsreel Collection covers all the politics, sporting events, international crises and conflicts and royal stories you could wish for, as well as painting a fascinating and distinctive picture of the triumphs, troubles and eccentricities of British life and the British people.

Topical Budget was historically the smallest of the three British silent newsreels, but it has three unique distinctions which separated it from its rivals, the French owned Pathe Gazette and Gaumont Graphic. Firstly it was the only wholly British owned newsreel of the silent era. Secondly the Topical Film Company, which produced it, was the only company in the UK to specialise just in the making of news films, and thirdly it is now the only major British silent newsfilm independently held and controlled, making it the ideal alternative source for 1910s and 1920s newsfilm.

With the bfi's ongoing commitment to opening up the holdings of the National Archive, more and more Topical Budget stories are becoming accessible. In 2004 the bfi website will host a searchable database of over 1700 stories, many newly remastered onto digibeta for instant access to programme makers.