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Shown by Request (1947)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

On a quiet summer evening locals make their way to the village hall for a screening of Cyprus is an Island (1946). Inside, the projectionist laces up the film while the audience take their seats in the makeshift cinema. A mobile film unit transports films, a screen, a projector and portable generator, from the Central Film Library's headquarters in South Kensington, London, to a remote area of Britain. Factory workers watch the cinemagazine Workers and War-Front (1942-1945) in the canteen during their lunch break. Later in the afternoon management and foremen of the same factory watch a film on production management. Films and projection equipment are ferried by boat to a school on an island off the coast of West Scotland.

An architectural model shows the layout of the Central Film Library, and the work of each department in the organisation is explained in detail. Workers sort and assign numbers to new prints in the Intake and Labelling Room. The new film, New Builders (1944), is screened to library staff in the viewing theatre while a set of prints for the same title is delivered to the temperature-controlled Circulation Stacks. Staff in the Programme Room deal with requests for films and suggest titles to borrowers and pass on orders for films to the Despatch Room. Here, staff arrange for prints to be taken from the Circulation Stacks and loaded onto the trolley ready for despatch. A returned print is then passed on to the Examination Room, where prints are cleaned, examined for scratching, torn sprocket holes or other damage.

A mobile film van delivers a film to a hospital. A scientific training film is screened to nurses; members of a farmers' club watch a film about agriculture; schoolchildren are shown a film about Scottish history; housewives watch with interest a film about children's health, while elsewhere, a film about urban planning is screened to teenagers at a youth club as material for discussion.