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Catherine McGahan

Catherine is our curator specialising in documentary film. She has been with the BFI since 2001. Her main specialism is the history of the British documentary from the 1920s to the present. Other areas of specialism include the history of official films, in particular the work of the Central Office of Information from 1946 to its closure in 2012; films used as evidence in Courts of Trial, and the history of health issues on film: she produced the BFI DVD release The Joy of Sex Education (2008).

Catherine has contributed chapters to the anthologies Shadows of Progress: Documentary Films of Post-War Britain (Palgrave/BFI, 2010), and Ealing Revisited (Palgrave/BFI, 2012). She regularly contributes short essays to BFI DVD booklets, Screenonline and the Mediatheque.

Articles by Catherine McGahan

1 - 8 of 8

  • 10 great British films directed by women

    With Joanna Hogg’s third film, Exhibition, confirming her as among our best new directors, we look back at some of the finest films directed by women in the UK.

    Thursday, April 24, 2014


  • 10 great films about sex

    As Lars von Trier’s Nymph()maniac arrives in cinemas and on the BFI Player, we survey sex on film with a list of some of cinema’s naughtiest classics.

    Friday, February 21, 2014


  • From the Magazine

    The essay film

    Andrew Tracy explores the characteristics that have come to define this most elastic of forms, while eight more contributors highlight a dozen influential milestone essay films, from Jean Vigo to Chris Marker.

    Saturday, August 3, 2013

    Deep Focus

  • Sheffield stoked by Jarvis Cocker and The Big Melt

    Jarvis Cocker led a blazing live soundtrack to BFI archive footage of our steelmaking past on the opening night of Sheffield Doc/Fest 2013.

    Thursday, June 13, 2013


  • The joys of analogue

    As digital technology takes over, so our affection for analogue grows. Joseph Ernst’s short film Londoners delights in the textures of archaic camera technology to document street life in the modern capital.

    Thursday, May 16, 2013


  • Steel and the early films of Penny Woolcock #2

    Curator Catherine McGahan explains how the steel industry documentary When the Dog Bites found filmmaker Penny Woolcock moving in a new, more experimental direction.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013


  • The Grierson Awards 40 years on

    The 40th edition of the Grierson Awards revealed the modern British documentary in fine fettle. But what would John Grierson himself have made of the contenders?

    Saturday, November 24, 2012


  • From the Magazine

    Film of the week: The House I Live In

    ‘Underclass loses drugs war’, finds Eugene Jarecki’s sharp and sweeping exposé of the subject, a heartfelt mix of the personal and political.

    Friday, November 23, 2012

    Reviews and recommendations

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