British photographic history

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Digitised film resource: 70 years of NATO at the IWM

Following an extensive digitisation project commissioned by NATO, over 2000 titles of official footage are now available for licensing via IWM Film. This project is part of an exclusive global licensing distribution partnership between IWM and NATO, marking the 70th anniversary of the creation of NATO, the world’s strongest political-military alliance, on 4 April 2019.

The NATO film collection comprises approximately 350 hours of film material taken in the late 1940s through to the 1990s, including documentaries, newsreel, and record footage in both colour and black and white film. Providing a unique insight into the Cold War era, early films depict the rush to create economic, political and military stability in post-war Europe, whilst later films encourage international unity and concepts of shared peace and security.

Hidden gems include colour footage of a divided Berlin in the 1960s and Humphrey Jennings’ final film. Other highlights from the over 2000 titles include the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949, intervention in the Bosnian war (1992-1995), as well as a documentary film about how the alliance works. 

View NATO films currently available on the IWM Film site. The sub-sections include:

Marshall Plan Films (1949-1954)
SHAPE Film Library (1944-1964)
NATO Documentaries (1952-1990)
NATO Log Collection (1965-1994)

David Walsh, Digitisation Preservation Consultant at IWM says: "The digitisation of this important collection was the result of a four-year effort by a dedicated team to sift, sort and catalogue the nearly 17,000 reels of film originally deposited with IWM by NATO. The work has not only resulted in the creation of high-quality 2K digital access files of the films, but also facilitated the storage of original film masters in suitable archival conditions for their long-term preservation."  Ineke Deserno, Head of Archives at NATO says: “It is very timely this film collection is available at the moment of NATO’s 70th Anniversary, with so much reflection now taking place on the long history since the beginning of that transatlantic bond. The materials digitized by IWM represent some of the key moments in time, with some very rare footage, for telling the story of the Alliance to the world. NATO is grateful for the invaluable expertise from IWM to help the Alliance preserve this important collection and make it available for a new generation of storytellers to share NATO’s history.”

See more here.

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