In 1950, a body was established to provide the Left and in particular the Communist movement with films from the Socialist part of the world. This was Plato Films Ltd and its managing director was
Although not, strictly speaking, a Party organisation, Plato could be considered as the “outcome of the desire for the Party to have its own film library”. Using the slogan 'See the other half of the world', Plato was established as a centre for distribution for films that were coming into the
Plato also filmed and produced many records of events for the Party, often with the cameramen Manny Yospa, Lewis McLeod, or Jeff Perks. Over the years, the unveiling of the Marx memorial, the funerals of Communist leaders, Party Congresses, festivals, demonstrations and the like were filmed. Television, now growing spectacularly, developed a huge appetite for archival material and Plato (and its successor) was able to easily supply this with its highly significant collection of films of Communist and other events.
But, in 1959 Plato was hit by a libel suit issued by lawyers on behalf of former Nazi General Hans Speidel and the West German government, which possibly provided the money for Speidel's defence. General Speidel contested the views presented in a GDR documentary, distributed by Plato. In late June 1961 the case ended in the House of Lords: the German Democratic Republic, with the recent construction of the Berlin Wall were forced to go on the defensive and were no longer interested in the case and Speidel was willing settle the matter. Although the case ended inconclusively, Plato had to take precautions and
Therefore, on 5th July 1959 Educational and Television Films Ltd was incorporated, which traded up until 2002. A beneficial side-effect of the Speidel case was that Plato/ETV forged strong links with the GDR, resulting in co-productions with their film and television outputs. Educational and Television Films also assisted East German camera crews coming over to the
In the 1970s ETV made a major contribution to the
When the lease on ETV’s premises ran out, the company stopped trading after more than 52 years and donated its archive collection to the British Film Institute. It was then that Stanley, his partner Hilda Forman, and assistant, Betty Baker, finally retired.
Be the first to comment