Arts & International Affairs: Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2018 - Page 18

ARTS & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS is a common experience not to get replies from these oriental countries ‘at least for a long time, sometimes if ever’” (UNESCO 1958a). She was also in charge of writing the introduction to the catalogue, but her narrative choices proved a source of some contro- versy. An early draft version of the introduction referred to a “surprising number of films of the very highest quality.” UNESCO’s Department of Mass Communications pointed out that the “reference ‘to the surprisingly’ high quality of Oriental films had a somewhat condescending flavour” (UNESCO 1959), and the controversial word was deleted. Some of her personal opinions seem to have nevertheless slipped through the editing net: “Beauty of photography—a marked characteristic of these short films—is some- times spoilt by inferior scripting and presentation, making the film a surface record rath- er than a true interpretation. Sometimes a well-meaning desire to reform has marred the fresh vision of the film and loaded it with a heavy commentary of facts and figures. On the other hand there are many films which, however simple their techniques, produce a thrill of direct experience and comprehension, and touch the senses and the heart as well as the mind.” (Holmes 1959). The critical tone might be explained by the fact that Winifred Holmes herself was a filmmaker. Born in 1903, she was raised in India and had previously worked as a journalist, writer and poet. Her film career took off in the 1950s and she made more than a dozen documentaries in the U.K., Afghanistan, Nepal and the West Indies. Perhaps for this reason, her criticism is only directed at the documentaries in the catalogue. Later on, she became an advocate of women’s rights in the Middle and Far East as the chairman of the Women’s Council (The Times Digital Archive 1995). Even though the film-makers behind the contents of the catalogue are spoken of in the introduction with both criticism and praise, their voices are only heard filtered through Holmes’ interpretation and thus they regrettably will only be mentioned here briefly. As both UNESCO and the BFI seemed unwilling to assist the potential screeners with obtaining the films, the contact information of the distributors was to be included in the descriptions. The catalogue was distributed in 3,000 copies to organisations such as the National Commissions for UNESCO, television stations, film distributors, national fed- erations of film clubs, and film critics. Along with the film-makers, a number of other ac- tors thus helped the catalogue to reach its goals, shedding light on the fact that UNESCO was well aware of the role individual people, commercial actors and NGOs had to play. Thus, the nation states form merely one, although significant, level of actors within the complex apparatus that is UNESCO. The role of non-state actors is not the only factor widening the scope of the construction of a world according to UNESCO. The catalogue project clearly aims to inspire hope in people’s minds that war or peace are not only something decided by governments, but something that can be influenced by people’s own attitudes and understandings of each other and their world. One of the most signif- icant principles on which the whole existence of UNESCO is based, is stated in its Con- stitution: Sustainable peace must be founded “upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind,” which in turn can only be achieved through mutual understanding (UN- 18