A pioneering figure in nonfiction filmmaking, Grierson was the first to use the term "documentary," in a review of Robert Flaherty's "Moana" (1926). Returing to Britain in 1927 after a stint in the US, he petitioned the Empire Marketing Board to investigate the propaganda potential of film and was commissioned to form a unit within the organization. Inspired by the success of his first effort, "Drifters" (1929), a study of North Sea fishermen, he amassed a talented group of proteges whose work he encouraged and supervised.
When the EMB was dissolved in 1933 Grierson's unit moved to the General Post Office (GPO), where their work included the outstanding "Night Mail" (1936). In 1937 Grierson established the Film Centre consultancy, serving as an advisor on, among other projects, the European editions of the US series, "The March of Time." He also set up supervisory film panels in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Scotland.
Although Grierson would only direct one more film, "The Fishing Banks of Skye" (1935), he remained a driving force behind documentary movements worldwide. He also continued writing influential essays on documentary cinema, which were later collected in the volume "Grierson on Documentary" (1946).
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Received a Rockefeller Research Fellowship to study effects of communication media on public opinion in USA
First to use the term "documentary" in film review of "Moana"
Returned to Great Britain
Founded film unit at the Empire Marketing Board (EMB)
Film directing debut, "Drifters"
Moved film unit to General Post Office (GPO)
Founded Film Centre Advisory Organization for documentary filmmakers
Founded National Film Board of Canada
Formed The World Today Inc. production company in USA
Appointed director of Mass Media at UNESCO
Became Controller of Films at the Central Office of Information in London
Host of weekly British television show "This Wonderful World"
Taught at McGill University in Canada