Basil Wright (United Kingdom)

Basil Wright was born in 1907. He graduated from Cambridge University. Shortly after he was recruited by John Grierson to join the Empire Marketing Board's film unit (in 1930). Wright's 1934 film Song of Ceylon is his most celebrated work as a director. Later Wright acted as producer and wrote the script for famous Night Mail (1936) co-directed with Harry Watt. It was him who brought poet W. H. Auden to the film unit. Auden´s verse was included in the film´s closing sequence. During WW2 Wright worked only as a producer. Among the best known films he produced for Crown Film Unit are Humphrey Jennings' A Diary For Timothy (1946) and A Defeated People (1946). He returned to direction in the early 1950s, his films included Waters of Time (1951), World Without End (1953) directed with Paul Rotha for UNESCO and The Immortal Land (1958). During the 30s and 40s, Basil Wright had contributed to the theoretical development of documentary in the movement’s journals Cinema Quarterly, World Film News and Documentary Newsletter. In his films Wright combined an ability to look closely and carefully at a subject with a poetic and often experimental approach to editing and sound. In Britain he is commemorated with a film prize awarded biennially by the Royal Anthropological Institute.


  • O'er Hill and Dale
    17´, UK, 1932
  • Liner Cruising South
    UK, 1933
  • The Song of Ceylon
    38´, UK, 1934
  • Night Mail - together with Harry Watt
    25´, UK, 1936
  • Children at School
    23´, UK, 1937
  • The Face of Scotland
    14´, UK, 1938
  • This Was Japan
    11´, UK, 1945
  • Waters of Time - together with Bill Launder
    37´, UK, 1951
  • World Without End - togehter with Paul Rotha
    UK, 1953
  • The Stained Glass at Fairford
    26´, UK, 1956
  • The Immortal Land
    39´, UK, 1958

Doc Alliance Members

Doc Alliance is a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.