Birmingham born Sir Michael Balcon is featuring in a brand new exhibition at the Parkside gallery. The exhibition is dedicated to the film producer whose work had a huge impact upon the British film industry for over half a century. Balcon produced a vast filmography of over 350+ films and mentored the likes of David Puttnam and Sir Alan Parker.
Balcon was involved in many areas of the industry including studio head at Gaumont-British and Ealing Studios. He received a knighthood in 1948 for his services to the film industy and helped set up the BAFTA awards. Balcon was an integral part of the British Film Insitute (BFI) experimental Film fund in the 50’s, now known as the BFI Film fund headed by Ben Roberts.
Born at his father’s tailoring shop in Birmingham in 1896 and part of a family of eastern European origin that had migrated to the UK Balcon was able to be at the forefront of the British film industry. He had a strong eye for talent and is credited with giving Alfred Hitchcock his first film role.
During the 1920’s Balcon teamed up with two fellow film pioneers Oscar Deutsch and Victor Saville. Oscar Deutsch later went on to set up the iconic ODEON film circuit applying the art deco talents of Birmingham architects, Harry Weedon Partnership. Mean-while Victor Saville left for Hollywood where he became an A list movie director. These three ‘Brummies’ who were brought up but a few miles from each other revolutionised UK film in the ‘20’s and ‘30’s in respect to their work rate, entrepreneurialism, innovation and success.
The exhibition seeks to explore the life and times of Sir Michael Balcon exploring themes such as the immigrant ‘arrivals culture’ and the collaborative work that he undertook throughout his career. The show will also explore Balcon’s time at Gainsborough and Gaumont along with his prolific work at Ealing studios. The show reflects upon Balcons legacy and raises questions about Birmingham as a film city and the legacy for the new generation.
Professor Roger Shannon will be curating the show which aligns with his passion for Film and Television and his research in UK film policy and Independent Film. Roger has previously organised a symposium on Balcon’s career in 2012, he will be supported by film experts at the BFI, Mac cinema, Flatpack Film festival and Birmingham City University.
Birmingham’s Film Knight will take place between 12thSeptember – 21st October 2016.