Homes for the People (1945)

Ordinary women make the case for an ambitious postwar housebuilding programme in this remarkable pre-election film.

Film details

  • Director

    Kay Mander

  • Country

    Great Britain

  • Year

    1945

  • Genre

    Documentaries

Alternative titles

  • Homes for the People Original

Cast & Credits

Introduction

Homes for the People was made for the 1945 Labour Party election campaign, and sponsored by the leftwing newspaper the Daily Herald. Conscious of the importance of women’s votes after their contribution to the war effort, the Labour Party wanted to present its postwar reconstruction policies from a woman’s perspective.

The film shows how ordinary women lived during the 1940s. The interviewees aren’t glamorised, nor are their responses scripted. Director Kay Mander sat beneath the camera and prompted her subjects with questions, allowing the women to talk as they go about their domestic work, rather than speaking directly to camera.

Like Ruby Grierson on the groundbreaking Housing Problems (1935), Mander built an empathy with her subjects that resulted in an extraordinarily honest portrayal of ‘ordinary’ woman. Mander’s film, though, goes further than Grierson’s, declaring much of British housing substandard and insisting that women shouldn’t accept this.

Homes for the People is more than just a remarkable social document; it also illustrates an advance in the documentary technique, giving its subjects a more openly direct voice than had previously been seen in British non-fiction film.

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