Children's Film Foundation

Last updated
Children's Film Foundation
Formation1951;71 years ago (1951)
TypeFilm and television production
Headquarters London, England

The Children's Film Foundation (CFF) was a non-profit organisation which made films for children in the United Kingdom originally to be shown as part of childrens' Saturday morning matinée cinema programming. The films typically were about 55 minutes long.



The Foundation was formed in 1951 following the Wheare report that criticised the suitability of American programming for Saturday morning pictures. [1] [2] Mary Field was appointed chief executive. [1] The Foundation was initially funded by the Eady Levy (a tax on box office receipts), receiving 5% of the Levy and the initial budget was £60,000 per year. [2] [1] The Foundation made around six films a year; [3] most lasted less than an hour and were shot in less than two weeks. [2]

The films featured future British stars including Leslie Ash, Keith Chegwin, Phil Collins, Michael Crawford, Phil Daniels, Dexter Fletcher, Sadie Frost, Susan George, David Hemmings, Frazer Hines, Gary Kemp, Richard O'Sullivan, Linda Robson, Pauline Quirke, Sally Thomsett, Dennis Waterman, Carol White, Jack Wild and Matthew Wright. [2] [1]

The films also include early films from British directors such as James Hill, Gerald Thomas, Don Chaffey, Lewis Gilbert and John Guillermin. [1] It also used established directors such as Charles Frend and The Boy Who Turned Yellow (1972) was the last film production by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. [2]

Some of the films were critically recognized, winning awards at the Cannes Film Festival, Moscow Film Festival and Venice Film Festival. [1] [3]

The films were also popular on US TV and in 16mm showings in public libraries in Germany, Japan, Canada and South Africa. [3]

By 1980, attendances for Saturday morning matinées were dwindling and the Foundation's annual funding was reduced from £530,000 a year to £330,000. [3] The Eady Levy was abolished in 1985 and the Foundation made a few further films in the mid-1980s, by which time it had been renamed the Children's Film and Television Foundation. [4] Its last production was Just Ask for Diamond in 1988. [2] It made no films of its own after the mid-1980s, but it survived under its revised name, and in recent years has provided funding for other projects.

Many of its films, dating back to the 1960s, were shown on the BBC in the 1980s, in the Friday Film Special strand. [2]

Frank Richard Wells (1903–82), second son of H. G. Wells and Amy Catherine Robbins, was a main executive at the CFF. [5]

In 2012 The Children's Film and Television Foundation changed its name and broadened its role to become the Children's Media Foundation. [6]

Its archive is now held at the BFI National Archive.

Selected filmography


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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Parkinson, David (30 October 2018). "5 things to know about the Children's Film Foundation". BFI. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Roberts, Andrew (September 9, 2010). "How the Children's Film Foundation once dominated Saturday morning cinema". The Guardian .
  3. 1 2 3 4 Falk, Quentin (27 October 1979). "CFF faces new threat to survival". Screen International . p. 20.
  4. "CFF/CFTF". The Children's Media Foundation. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  5. Shail, Robert (March 21, 2016). The Children's Film Foundation: History and Legacy. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN   9781844578603 via Google Books.
  6. "The Children's Media Foundation Ltd". Companies in the UK. Retrieved 8 August 2015.