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Scottish Cinema and the Flu Pandemic of 1918-19


TALK with Dr Trevor Griffiths
14:00, 36M (ava 48hrs)


Our traditional cuppa event goes online this year, so put the kettle on and join us for the latest HippFest commissioned silent film talk.

Over the last twelve months, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the country’s entertainment sector, with cinemas across the country closed and film releases withdrawn… but what lessons can we draw from the responses of the cinema industry to the pandemic over a hundred years ago?

In this illuminating talk, Trevor Griffiths explores the close parallels with the Scottish film exhibitor experience during the 1918 - 19 flu pandemic. The so-called ‘Spanish flu’ struck a cinema industry, which was still young and which had already endured four years of war. These challenging years were compounded by mounting criticism for the cinema’s alleged moral corruption of young audiences. In examining the steps taken at the time to check the spread of infection we learn about attitudes of the day towards cinema, the impact of the pandemic on the industry at a key stage in its development, and that lockdown and social distancing are nothing new.

Supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and National Lottery funding from the BFI.

Dr Trevor Griffiths is based at the University of Edinburgh and has published widely on aspects of Scottish cinema history. He was co-investigator on the recently completed AHRC-funded project on Early Cinema in Scotland, which was published in 2018 by Edinburgh University Press.


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