Past screening

John Krish 1923–2023: On Freedom

Directed by: John Krish
Runtime: 1h 16min Certificate: 12A


Directed by: John Krish
Runtime: 1h 16min Certificate: 12A
Topics: History & Archive

Marking the centenary of British documentary filmmaker John Krish, On Freedom presents two rarely screened films and a discussion of Krish's work, in an event curated by Jessie Krish and Stanley Schtinter.

During his 40-year career – which began assisting Harry Watt and Humphrey Jennings in the Crown Film Unit during WWII – John Krish (1923-2016) created work across a variety of subjects: from education to social care, and from prison reform to an elegy for the last London trams. This programme considers the frequent description of Krish as a humanitarian filmmaker and his treatment of the documentary form.

Screening Programme:

Let My People Go (1961, 23 mins)
A purposeful attempt to educate and sensitise British audiences to the terrible meaning of Apartheid in South Africa, Let My People Go intercuts dramatised reconstructions with newsreel material, some of which was smuggled out of South Africa. Produced for the Comittee to Boycott South African Goods by a crew who donated their labour, the film’s television release was pulled due to the objections of a cigarette advertiser, and the South African Embassy put out a public notice in UK national broadsheets warning against its cinematic release (it played at Oxford Street’s Academy Cinema, the short accompanying screenings of Jean-Luc Godard’s iconic A Bout de souffle). Let My People Go won the BAFTA United Nations Award and was nominated for an Oscar.

H.M.P. (1976, 53 mins)
Originally commissioned as a film to recruit prison guards, H.M.P follows three trainee guards through the prison to meet its on-site chaplain. H.M.P.’s journey through a UK facility, presented as a place of daily reproductive activity, opens onto unresolved questions about the purpose of prison, and how concepts of justice mutually shape and are shaped by individuals, institutions and their differences.

Following the screening, Anti-Apartheid Movement activist Suresh Kamath, and Kimberly Schreiber, Associate Lecturer in History of Art at University College London, will join a conversation on the ethical contradictions shaping Krish’s humanist films, and their relevance today. 

John Krish 1923–2023: On Freedom is the first in a two-part focus on John Krish, which continues at Close-Up Film Centre in 2024 with the event John Krish 1923-2023: Dr Death.

Raising the subject of struggle against forced occupation, resonant at this point of crisis in Gaza, and honouring John Krish’s humanitarian legacy, this event aims to raise funds for the British Red Cross Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territory Appeal. If you would like to make a donation, we invite you to do so via this link. There will be an opportunity to donate via cash or card at the event.

With thanks to Powerhouse Films for providing access to their 2K restoration of Let My People Go, which will be available on Blu-ray on 29 January 2024 as an extra on their Indicator release of John Krish’s 1970 feature The Man Who Had Power Over Women.