What is Montagu's Daughter?

We live in interesting times.

In earlier, equally interesting times - during the 1930s, the 1960s, the 1970s and 1980s - film-making and film culture was part of the political landscape, not merely documenting the tensions and conflicts of British society but participating in them.

Montagu’s Daughter is a blog dedicated to film and media politics. There are lots of political blogs out there. There are many devoted to film and media. There are less that combine the two. Montagu’s Daughter attempts to go somewhere to fill that gap.

Of particular interest to Montagu’s Daughter is cultural politics and cultural policy. It was started as the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government took power and quickly set about dismantling the welfare state. This, it seems to me, is a cross-roads in British politics and in British culture. Is neo-liberalism to become dominant, or is there the spark of an alternative? Are we to have a barren, neoliberal culture, or a vibrant oppositional one? A political commentary on the cuts in cultural funding seemed worthwhile. Montagu’s Daughter is also concerned with other aspects of film, media and culture and particularly activist and other political media. For media studies types, it is a question of structure and agency.

It is named after Ivor Montagu – film-maker, critic, communist intellectual, political activist and table tennis enthusiast. Other than appropriating his name to suggest a suitably esoteric connection with the history of politicised British film culture, there is no particular relevance. This is not a communist - or table tennis - affiliated blog.

Random quotes:

“It isn’t possible for us to plant the idea of a new economic order without a new culture as well . . . culture has to provide new ways of feeling and enjoying life, different from irrational consumption. This is the basis of ‘imperfect cinema’. Since we’re creating a society which although it’s full of imperfections will finally achieve a new kind of human productiveness, I suggested a cinema which though it has its imperfections is essentially much more consistent with real human needs.”
Julio Garcia Espinosa

"The cinema is an instrument of the bourgeoisie; it was created to serve this purpose. To watch a movie, we need a theatre, a projector, etc. This condition makes it impossible to show a film in a factory, for the working class. We have not developed the means to use film as a working class tool."
Tomas Gutierrez Alea

“Who can say where cultural activity ends and propaganda begins?”
John Reith

“[The] idea of extracting an idea . . . from the past is a thing that the poet does for himself and especially it is a thing that he can do for the community; I mean he can try to tell them who they are. Now he can’t tell the community who they are unless he does two things: unless he talks about the things that the community knows about. The things that they’re interested in, and unless he also looks on the community’s past – at the figures, the monuments, the achievements, the defeats, or whatever it may be, that have made the community what it is.”
Humphrey Jennings

“I never felt in any way threatened by my Tory political masters as I did by New Labour from day one. I mean these people have done Cultural Studies courses so they know that art is a bourgeois con-trick.”
Colin MacCabe